I guess there’s one thing we should clear up first: no one chooses to be born a girl.
It happens. Throughout history, being born a girl has always meant something. It meant being the one who had to be taught lady manners, prepped to tend the man you would most likely be forced to marry, and learn all about the house chores you probably wouldn’t care about unless they told you it was your job from the day you were born.
It could even make you a suspect of witchery in the Salem witch trials back in the 1690’s—actual true story in case you were wondering. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/55276/17-signs-youd-qualify-witch-1692, 17 Signs That You’d Qualify as a Witch in 1692 by Leah Beckmann)
So perhaps women have always been driven down the rougher path of society for the last couple of centuries. Especially nowadays that’s easier to notice they are not portrayed as equals, but as inferiors that can be insulted, mistreated, underpaid, and—disgusting, but necessary to point out—sexually or emotionally abused.
Women often feel like animals on a circus cage, waiting for the showman to force them into performing stunts for the world to see.
Violence in general, however, is something that’s proven to happen regardless of how much precaution there is. Think about the United Nations—its goal is to protect the human rights, and yet countries in Africa and the Middle East stare at the sky that’s filled with smoke and bombs instead of clouds and stars. This is a horrible reality that’s not only happening in this moment but a ridiculous amount of people don’t even acknowledge it, and the problem with this is the fact that it makes imagining a world without it very hard.
I’d like to be a writer/journalist one day, so I know I have quite the ability to imagine scenarios that are not necessarily real just yet. What pains me is the fact that the idea of a world that’s free of violence on itself, but also violence directed at women—by all means, directed at me—seems too perfect to be true.
However, as utopic as it may seem, I still believe it’s possible.
And I’m here to tell you how.
I come from a small country—Costa Rica. You’ll most likely hear about it as a paradise for vacationing, and I don’t blame you. Our beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls, mountains, and nature spots are quite breathtaking, but it’s not the complete story of this tiny bridge that connects North America with South America.
A friend of my mom’s recently moved here from Bulgaria. She’s beautiful, funny, smart, and of course, is still learning to get around the place. About three weeks ago she called my mother, panicked, worried about some guys yelling things at her as she walked down the street. She’s not very good with Spanish just yet, which meant she couldn’t understand anything these guys were telling her.
Of course, we then had to explain to her that they were cat-calling her—a phenomena that is very common here. (And when I say very common, I mean there is a 99.99% chance of a guy honking their horns or yelling sexual, rude, and inappropriate comments at you if you’re walking down the street.)
Just this year, 23 women have been murdered, and no one’s talking about it. Their deaths matter for a week or so before the tabloids switch to a much more appealing subject like soccer and politics. Violence against women is constantly being buried under less important events that mask up society’s hypocrisy. It’s not hard to figure out certain jobs care about hiring men over women, and that includes them asking if you wanted to have kids someday, because why would they give the job to someone whom they’d be obligated to pay if she got pregnant?
The world we live in is quite hostile, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a physiological factor but a cultural one. Ever since the 1970’s, the feminist movements have risen more and more, solely because women all over the world are fighting together so that everyone else understands it’s not okay to put boundaries to someone just because they were born a different sex.
We can do heavy jobs, we can direct companies, we can be single and sustain ourselves, we can raise kids and work at the same time without the help of a man or a significant other if that’s what we wanted—hell, we could do whatever we proposed ourselves and it just requires one thing: determination.
The problem here is that people take this empowerment and turn it over. They use words like “feminazi”, term that’s not only ridiculously offensive but far off the actual truth. No one is trying to eradicate men from Earth, that’s not what a world without violence against women looks like. This isn’t revenge or an evil plan to torture guys; this is women trying to work together with men to construct a world based on equality principles that respect people whichever their sex, gender, skin color, nationality is.
So when they ask me what a world without violence directed at women looks like, I think more about a world were people don’t care if you’re born with male or female genitalia, or if you feel like a girl or feel like a boy—they care about what you do for everyone else, about what you do to change the world you live in so that other people can enjoy it too.
And that applies to overall violence.
People should care less about how powerful they look. No one cares if you have better nuclear weaponry than that country, if you have more oil reserves, or if you could destroy this planet with one phone call—no one gives a crap. All that matters is that you actually use that power to help others. The line between selfless and cynical is way thinner than people realize, which is why it’s of essence that women out there—and men—open their mouths and share their stories to help others open their eyes.
Believe it or not, those self-help books are wrong. No, humans are not meant to be alone. Yeah, maybe happiness does start with loving yourself, but humans are social beings. We’re meant to live in a society, which kind of forces us to coexist with one another. And we should face this problem like a writer faces writing their first novel. It may seem impossible at the beginning, there will be rough chapters, most likely three or four emotional breakdowns along the way, but always remaining constant, knowing that you can’t write a story that’s not well balanced.
No one should care if you’re born a girl or a guy. That’s not what this is about.
This is about knowing and understanding that mistreating someone is wrong. That small complex of superiority that certain people have, I believe, is nothing more than a simple echo of their own insecurities, because if I remember correctly, there is nothing more powerful than the voice of a woman who knows what she wants.
There’s nothing more powerful than someone who is willing to change the world to make it a better place.