Being a woman can be a minefield. Skirt too short? You’re a slut. Too long? You’re dressed too old for your age. If you wear makeup, you’ll get looks for wearing too much or too little. Don’t shave? You’re disgusting. Shave in the winter? How vain.
However, those are the aesthetics. I haven’t mentioned all of the fun health stuff. We have periods, and then we have the menopause. In between we have contraception, smear tests, pregnancy, infertility, mammograms and a host of other gyneacological concerns. Women are more likely than men to suffer mental illness and be victims of domestic violence or sexual crimes.
I have been called every derogatory name I can think of. Tart, prostitute, frigid, whore, bitch… When I was 18, my friend’s boyfriend labelled me a tart for wearing a denim skirt with wedge sandals on a hot day. When I was 22, I was sexually harassed at work. This name calling and bullying didn’t come from strangers, but from those who I thought I could trust, from those who I thought cared about me.
I only have one ovary, and for a part of my life I thought that made me less of a woman. I have that one ovary thanks to cancer destroying the other, and that remaining ovary has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. As a teenager and young adult, my periods were so heavy and painful that I took measures to never again have one. I’ve had fertility treatment that was so painful I nearly passed out.
Believe me, I’m done with apologising. For showing a hint of cleavage, or wearing bright lipstick. For having a health issue that might not be PG-friendly. For analysing my behaviour when someone’s trash attitude cuts in on my day.
I’m done with apologising for being a woman. Are you?