Equal and Worthy

This is a photo me when I was thirteen years old. My Mum took the photo on my grandmothers wharf.  I have chosen this photo because it a very vulnerable time for me in my life, I have gone into more detail in another blog ‘My Version of 13 Reasons Why’.

As a mother I don’t know how many times I’ve heard comments like ‘your lucky your husband helps around the house’ or ‘where are the kids, is your husband babysitting’? Isn’t looking after your own kids called parenting regardless of whether you are a man or a woman? If the kids are both ours, we both work and both live in the house, then isn’t it fair that he would do some of the house work? The other thing that bugs me and I know also bugs many other Mums is how a Dad can take the kids out and get comments about how he is such a good Dad. Which he probably is, but the Mum never gets any compliments. She usually gets comments as to what she should or shouldn’t be doing. The exact same thing happens when Dads post on social media compared to when Mum’s post. One of the first questions I was asked by many people after I had my four babies was ‘when are you returning to work’. These days there is a much bigger expectation that women who have kids work, whilst those who don’t tend be judged more for staying home. In the past women were judged who didn’t stay home but now it seems the scale has tipped in the opposite direction. I know many women who feel guilt for staying at home because they don’t feel like they are contributing enough and they have also experienced judgement from others. It is fantastic that women are able to work but there is no need for all this guilt and judgement. I also wonder why there aren’t more jobs available the are within school hours. Because fitting into a standard 9am-5pm job means that we have to cover costs such as daycare, before and after school care. These costs take a large amount of our pay. The other cost of working 9am-5pm means the kids no longer have parents walking them into school when being dropped off and picked, then being there for them in the afternoon to give them afternoon tea and do homework with them. It is a mans working world and women with children are trying to fit into that instead society making more family friendly jobs available. The gender pay gap is also another issue for many, I personally am not affected by it but I think it is worthy mentioning here considering it is an issue.

From the beginning of time it  seems sexism is rife. In this age where men and women are supposed to be equal, there are many ways women are just not equal and this starts from a young age.  Boys and girls see their mothers doing the majority of the house work and cooking whilst their Dads watch football and drink beer. I know that is a very generalised comment, there are some men who are very good cooks and women who also like to watch the footy. I’m just trying to paint a picture and I’ve have actually witnessed this a lot. The 2016 census results revealed women still do the majority of house work regardless of whether they work or not and a whopping one in four adult Australian men doen’t do abosolutely any housework at all.

A lot of kids are given gender appropriate toys and are scolded if they play with a so called in appropriate toy. I think fair enough if kids are drawn to certain toys, there is a lot of argument that they may in fact have been conditioned to be drawn to certain toys. I’m not going to argue whether they are conditioned or not but I have known little boys who aren’t allowed a toy kitchen, to play with ‘girls’ toys or to do dancing class because they are girls things. They hear phrases like ‘such and such is for a girl’ and ‘don’t be a girl’. On TV, the internet and magazines little girls and boys are bombarded of images of what is considered beautiful and most models are pretty skinny, tall and with all their make up they look glamorous There is nothing wrong with being skinny or wearing make up but they do not reflect all women. A large percentage of women do not look this way and  are not this body type. A lot of time  the women they see are sexualised.

As boys begin to get older their peers make sexist comments, sexist jokes and inappropriate grabbing is thought to be ok by many teenage boys and some young men, they just brush sexual harassment off as just a joke. Girls are much more likely to be slut shamed than guys. In this age where both men an women are supposed to have equal sexual freedom to participate in casual sex if they wish, the woman is still judged more harshly. It is much easier for a women to fall for a guy they have a casual encounter with, This is because we release a bonding chemical during sex. However with men, emotion and sex are in different regions of the brain. There for he won’t see or feel the same way for a woman he hooks up with, compared to a some one he feels something for and wants more from. A guy is also  less likely to not want any more from a hook up because he’s already got all he can from her and doesn’t want to be with some one who sleeps around. However it is much more acceptable for a man to engage regularly in casual sex until he finds a partner. This whole hook up culture is supposed to be women’s chance to explore their sexuality and feel empowered but many women’s experiences are far from empowering. The hook up culture is more beneficial for men. About 80% of males reach orgasm whilst only 40% of women do. This being partly due to the guy not making as effort with some one he doesn’t care for and not understanding how to satisy a woman sexually. Women experience a much higher rate of negative emotion afterwards. Emotions such as regret, shame and feelings of worthlessness. A big part of this post hook up hang over is due to societies double standards and because of men’s, especially younger men’s lack of understanding of the sexual and emotional differences between men and women. There is equal opportunity for both sexes to participate however it is more beneficial to one of the sexes because we are different. Yes some men have more feminine brains and some women more masculine, this has nothing to do with sexual orientation. What  I’m talking about some of the basic differences in how we are wired and it is something that people don’t seem to talk about or educate our kids about. It is always the girls who have to protect themselves. They are told they are ‘just being boys’.

When I say this, I’m not talking about absolutely everyone, but the girl being too emotional and the guy not getting it is a common thing. Especially when younger. Too often it is said to girls ‘your too emotional’ and ‘get over it’. If a guy is appearing to be an arse then people often say ‘well he’s just young’ or ‘he’s just being a guy’. Yes maybe young and unaware, but is that an excuse for disrespecting women and treating them poorly? I wonder if some of this ignorance would be avoided if they actually taught the emotional and sexual differences between men and women in high school. Communication would be a good thing to teach as well. A lot of people fumble through relationships not being able to understand each other properly because they don’t have the communication skills. Many times where it seems a guy is being an arse or the woman over emotional is just a lack in understanding of each other. As we grow past our teen years and early twenties, many of us know this and begin to understand the opposite sex a bit better.  I know every one has to go through their own lessons and heart breaks but I think a lot of hurt and misunderstanding can be avoided if high school kids are taught some of these life skills. Instead of just the physical side of sex education and the importance of protection maybe a whole subject on relationships would be beneficial. I wonder if teaching some of these things would also help reduce some of the sexism in our society.We have made great scientific advances, become more connected with our world and people through social media and the internet, yet we are not so good at relationships, interacting on a personally level and really understanding each other. Often the women are the ones who are trying to fit into a man’s world. We dim our emotions, pretend we are sexually the same and stay silent on things that matter. When we don’t feel comfortable with something or as though we are not being treated right, too often we brush it off and tell ourselves things like ‘I’m over reacting’ etc. Young women especially have a tendency to do this and put on a front, yet the guys don’t know how much women are holding in behind the mask. They don’t realise the struggle and often don’t realise the impact of their behaviour. I locked myself up for years afraid to say how I really felt, but in doing this I denied myself and i was taken advantage of too many times. One thing I realised is that usually people don’t intentionally hurt others, they are often unaware of how they are affecting another person and do not realise until they are told. If no one tells any one anything, how are they ever supposed to know? Yes there are men out there who are intentionally being predators. I think it is so important to teach our girls to have a voice, to be assertive, confident in who they are and express themselves with ease. We can talk about sexism and change until the cows come home, but we need to be the change we want to see by modelling that behaviour to our children and confidently using our voices. Using our voices only goes so far, the deeply ingrained attitudes of society can only be changed by also educating our children.

It is quite easy to brush off what I’m saying as ‘making a big deal over things’ but I’ve experienced sexism my whole life. 1 in 6 women has been raped, 1 in 5 young women/teenage girls has been pressured into sexual activities, In a lifetime 1 in 5 women have been stalked or experiences sexual harassment, 1 in 4 has experience emotional abuse or sexual assault and 1 in three has experienced physical violence. I have experienced all of them. Pretty much since I was 12 years old there have been many times I have experience inappropriate sexual comments, grabbing and jokes. I am one of of every one of those statistic I just mentioned. I have been stalked, sexually assaulted, raped and experienced both emotional and physical abuse from different men. I am just one person and many of the women I know have also experienced these things. If you are reading this, then you would also know a woman, at least one, probably more that fit into these statistic.

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