There are so many things women should stop doing, beginning with pulling their own selves down. Because can we ever move towards equality if we’re walking two steps back for every step feminism takes ahead? We deny ourselves the rights and lives we were born to have and shape because patriarchal diktats command us to.
But how much of it is the fault of women really? We have been continually conditioned to fit into normative standards that keep the status quo of the gender hierarchy intact. A toe out of line threatens to topple the entire ladder that allows only men to occupy the highest rungs. And that is precisely what the movement striving for gender equality aims to do: topple it all the way down.
As large as the fight sounds to be, it starts from a very individual place. Where each woman takes it upon herself to try and break out of the mould eons of oppression have cut out for her. Believing in women’s equality begins at believing in yourself.
Some Things Women Should Stop Doing:
1. Apologising for having an opinion
Why do women feel they have to shut themselves up before someone else does? Catch themselves in the middle of an intelligent (even unintelligent) sentence to avoid being labelled as ‘loud’ or other similarly wicked descriptors reserved only for women? Why must we apologise for having minds that can thinks and tongues that can speak independently?
Speak openly. Think out loud. Opine, opine, opine.
2. Self-pity and making yourself feel small
In opening up themselves to the world, women often tend to size down on their own identity. We rob ourselves of our own strength, agency, choices and drift towards feeling small as a way of self-preservation. Is it not unfair that women are having to diminish their place in the world just so they can fit into society’s stifling boxes of being good, moral women?
Women don’t need anyone’s pity, least of all their own.
3. Saying “no” to yourself and “yes” to others
Why is it easier to devoid yourself of worth than it is to attach worth to other people? Do we view ourselves as less than others? Is it really selfish to prioritise yourself over others in moments that are definitive to your identity? People-pleasing, as a life coach told SheThePeople, is more a trait in women than men, since we are conditioned to bend over backwards for everyone else but us.
Begin saying ‘no’ to things that don’t serve you and ‘yes’ to all that adds value.
4. Feeling uncomfortable about yourself, your body, your identity
Our bodies, backgrounds, identities and selves are pieces of the puzzle that is completing us to be who we are. We’re picking up those whacky, unique, spectacular, extraordinary, good, bad pieces as we go along. There is no shame, only beauty in being different. Centuries have passed with women being made to feel insufficient and incomplete in their own skin.
It’s time we embrace the idea that we’re strong, capable, enough as we are.
5. Judging other women
Is a woman is a woman’s worst enemy? It doesn’t have to be true if we try hard to lift each other up. The foundation of feminism rests upon the respect for the choices of another, no matter how polar they may be from our own preferences. Stop judging women who choose to take a headcover or be homemakers or fast for their husbands. Also stop judging women who remain single lifelong or don’t birth children or show more skin than you do.
Empowerment isn’t a solo project and as women, we could do with the solidarity from our sisterhoods.
6. Not demanding your worth in a workplace
In male-dominated workplaces, many women find it difficult to stand up in demand of the value they deserve to be recognised and rewarded for. Often women in offices are working twice as hard in comparison to their male colleagues to be taken seriously. And even so, there are qualms over asking for a pay raise or leaves well-earned.
Am I worth all that? Do I deserve it? Yes, you do! You deserve all that and so much more. And then some more.
7. Trying to please everyone… you can’t
Everyone makes compromises but women significantly more so, by way of the various social roles they (are expected to) play. A sacrificial mother gives in to every demand her son makes so as to keep him pleased. A wife swallows any belligerent thoughts she has to avoid offending her husband. A woman in office tolerates a blatantly sexist colleague just so she doesn’t become the outcast.
How toxic are these urges to always be likeable? Be unlikeable if that’s what it will take for you to find yourself.
8. Fearing being called an ‘imperfect woman’
Who is an imperfect woman really? She who isn’t afraid of being herself? Of making decisions society may gawk at and call ‘bold’? Or someone who challenges patriarchy? Who is an ideal woman, come to think of it? What are these labels if not vacuous justifications for a gender unequal world’s own short-sightedness? Should women play into these conservative expectations?
Let’s rebel against them. Perfect, if we’re called imperfect. We’ll know we’re going in the right direction.