This generation is putting up a strong fight to demolish stereotypes and make equality a norm. Whether it’s through social media, protests, rallies, parades, marches, movies, music, or media, we are now realizing, stronger than ever, the importance of serving justice to the people who have been wronged.
There is no tolerance for violence, hate, judgment, or ill-treatment of people based on their race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. Now, we will unite and make this world a place where no one feels outcast or excluded.
For that to happen, we need to understand everyone’s fight and struggle. We need to understand what people who are not as privileged as we go through. We need to be aware of and take action.
Everyone’s struggle is different. And it’s a known fact that women deal with things that men don’t. Women are subjected to discrimination, oppression, and societal pressure much more than men. And that needs to change. But change can only happen when we talk about things that aren’t talked about enough. Here are 11 things girls go through in life:
1. Constant Fear in Public Spaces
As stated by the recent statistics published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least 1 in 3, women have undergone physical or sexual violence at least once in their life. These statistics are depressing. If you’re a woman of any age, you know that you don’t feel safe on a deserted street or even crowded places at night.
It’s not okay that we have to always have pepper spray, or a key wedged between our fingers, or a sharp object in our bags, whenever we are alone. It’s not okay that we always have to fear for not only our lives but also that of our female friends and family.
Sexual violence, assault, and harassment may not always take place in the most obvious way either; in many cases, women experience them in intimate relationships. We NEED and must talk about this more and make the world a safer, more peaceful place for women. Fear in public spaces should not be in the things girls go through every single day.
Check out this video to understand how differently women and men feel in public:
2. Puberty Accompanied With Shame
Puberty may be universal, but obviously, girls and boys go through different changes. Girls’ puberty begins with changes in their pubic areas, along with the onset of their menstrual cycle. Usually, between the ages of 10-13, girls start to develop breasts. At this time, both girls and boys also develop body odor (unpleasant, but completely natural) along with the secretion of puberty hormones, causing a shift in behavior that is very apparent.
Puberty is a strange phase of life, and many feel awkward, uncomfortable, and for the most part, confused. But unfortunately, shame is one of the things girls go through during puberty, that boys don’t.
But for girls, puberty is more than just body changes. It is also when they become targets of the sexualization of their bodies. While boys are worried about facial hair and voice cracks, girls are made to feel uncomfortable about their bodies, as if the new additions in their bodies are wrong and should be kept a secret from others. An adolescent girl’s experience with puberty is usually unpleasant because the changes in their body are visible and become a topic of discussion.
Girls must talk to their parents or other adults she trusts to understand her body. Teachers and school nurses should educate students on body changes and the importance of consent. It needs to be enforced among adolescents that growth spurts are completely natural.
While girls are going through an internal conflict of understanding their bodies, they are also subjected to shame. And it is not okay that a young girl who is still in her childhood is forced to be vigilant and alert in society, lest she becomes a target of the assault. That is why girls mature faster because they have to, to survive.
3. Discrimination and Sexism daily
Corporations, businesses, and brands love making money off Women Empowerment. On 8th March, the media loves brandishing the importance of respecting women. On these days, in particular, it is portrayed that women are influential leaders and as efficient as men, even if the organization themselves don’t hire women or make them feel safe.
That does not change the fact that one of the biggest economies in the world still hasn’t had a female president, leaders of countries make degrading sexist comments, dismissing them off as locker-room talk, women, there are still 18 countries that let their men to not “allow” their wives to work.
On the surface, we are made to believe that gender disparity is a notion of the past. It’s so easy to think that girls and women are safe now because, on the forefront, they seem to have the same access to freedom, education, and work opportunities as men, right? Unfortunately, that’s far from reality. Any woman can vouch for the fact that she is still subjected to sexism, whether it is on the road, schools, colleges, families, or the workplace.
Sexism doesn’t have to be extreme to be noticed by you. It can be subtle and take the form of a joke or a seemingly harmless remark. But these things contribute to systematic oppression that women have been bearing the brunt of, since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, sexism is one of the most common things girls go through.
It is important to remember how to not be sexist. Click here to start learning.
4. Body Image Issues and Problems With Self Confidence
From a young age, girls are fed the image of what an ideal woman should like. Media, magazines, TV, films, books, focus on what appeals to men, and this small box is what women are told to fit in. From adolescence to a much older age, many girls and women feel anxious and unhappy about their bodies, because it does not meet the unrealistic standards created by society.
Several studies point out that girls have lower self-confidence than boys, especially after the onset of puberty. There is shame around weight gain, especially among girls. This is also the cause of more eating disorders among young girls and women. We shouldn’t accept body image issues and under-confidence about their looks, as everyday things girls go through and instead should work on changing this.
The media needs not to hold women to unrealistic standards, and instead should make girls feel comfortable in their skin. Beauty does not fit inside a box. Your looks don’t define you. And boys also need to work harder to ensure that they don’t subject girls to toxic beauty standards.
5. PCOS and Endometriosis
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Endometriosis are hormonal disorders found in women. Both are known to cause acute pain and have drastic effects on the menstrual cycle and fertility.
PCOS is ubiquitous and affects 1 in 10 women. Because of the stigma that surrounds menstruation, there is less discussion about it; as a result of it, many women are not even aware of it. PCOS has a direct effect on the ovaries, resulting in the formation of cysts, leading to irregular and painful periods.
Endometriosis affects 10% of women. It causes severe discomfort during periods, pelvic pain, along with a heavy flow. It is also one of the reasons that cause problems with fertility. Most gynecologists recommend a pelvic exam and an ultrasound if such symptoms are spotted.
If you haven’t heard of either of these disorders, ask yourself why? Hormonal disorders are common things girls go through but don’t talk about.
In many rural areas and underdeveloped countries, women are known to live with chronic pain during their menstrual cycle because they are afraid to go to a doctor, owing to the stigma attached to menstruation. We must spread awareness of this so that we don’t have to live in a world where so many women don’t understand their bodies.
6. Workplace Harassment
In the US, 60% of women in the workforce said they have been on the receiving end of sexual harassment, innuendos, comments, and coercion, with only 10-25% complaining or filing a report. In Canada, 19% of women informed that they had experienced verbal abuse and harassment in their workplaces, with only 4% reporting it. In India, 70% of women in the workforce do not report sexual harassment, either because of an inadequate redressal system or fear of termination.
Workplace harassment against women is even more prevalent than these numbers. Many women have to leave their jobs because of the lack of a proper system that punishes harassers. In most places, more than half of the workforce is men, meaning women are in the minority. Companies, corporations, and businesses either don’t have proper sexual harassment training done, or if they do, they fail to enforce such regulations, making women unsafe in their workplaces.
7. Getting Told To Smile More Often
This is one of the most infuriating things girls go through. For some reason, everyone finds it acceptable to pass an opinion on girls’ bodies. Whether it’s the way they sit, stand, talk, walk, laugh, dress, run, or play, they are handed a list of instructions to do it all like a proper “lady.”
It is not a girl’s job to keep smiling so that she can be visually appealing to the world. It is not her job to cover herself up lest a boy gets distracted. It’s not her job to always be proper and have manners.
A girl is “ladylike” when she is herself. Period. Toxic standards of beauty and condescending comments are things girls go through on the daily.
8. Being Expected to Sacrifice Their Happiness and Careers for Others
From the moment they are born, girls are groomed to be more empathetic and giving, whether it is through families, media, or society. Families expect girls to sacrifice their happiness and time to keep others content. Husbands expect their wives to sacrifice her career for the family and children. Workplaces expect female staff to be more disciplined and soft-spoken.
Being expected to put others before themselves is one of the most common things girls go through. It is unfair that girls are made liable to hold a higher moral ground than boys. It is one of the million things that don’t allow a girl to have a life that is not dictated by others.
Girls are stereotyped to not have strength, but strength lies invoice, which is forcibly shut by families and society. Girls have more purpose to their life than just marriage and children. And they shouldn’t need to meet anyone’s expectations, especially if it derails them from their paths of life and work.
Mansplaining means when a man explains something to a woman in a manner that is (blatantly) patronizing, even when the woman already has knowledge about it. It’s one of the things girls go through everywhere, in their offices, families, parties, or any sort of gathering that has a man involved. Many men have a strange habit of looking down on women, especially in terms of intellect. If you don’t understand mansplaining, here is a chart for your reference expertly designed by Kim Goodwin.
10. Constantly Having To Prove Their Worth
Women have been, for centuries, deemed far behind men on intellect, strength, and emotions. While exemplary women have always existed, who have shackled chains of oppression and broken the barriers of patriarchy, society has trouble crediting women for their accomplishments, no matter how great.
Men, on the other hand, get off easily with no accountability. In simple words, men are forgiven as easily as women are dismissed. And that is why a woman has to work twice as hard as a man to get to the same level. They have to constantly prove their worth, whether it is as an employee, boss, worker, mother, or wife.
On the other hand, men are congratulated for doing the bare minimum. For instance, when people see a man changing their own child’s diaper, people celebrate him for being a father that contributes; but when a woman does it, it’s her job.
11. Judgment and Stereotypes
People are quick to judge, more so if you are a girl. Judgment is one of the most common things girls go through. Stereotypes based on gender make people jump to conclusions. But more often than not, they have nothing to do with who a person is.
If you have trouble believing that judgment and stereotypes are not things girls go through, here is a list:
Girls are bitchy friends who gossip about each other and are involved in too much drama.
Girls wear makeup and cute dresses for boys.
Girls rip their boyfriends off their money because they want to be showered with gifts.
Girls are not tech-savvy and are weak with money.
Girls are not funny.
Girls can’t do maths.
Girls don’t play video games.
Girls are hypersensitive and emotional.
Girls love attention.
Girls don’t like sports.
These are only a few, out of plenty. We need to stop judging men and women based on their gender, sex, or sexual orientation. We need to demolish gender roles and accept people for who they are.
These were 10 things girls go through in their lives. The world is fast becoming a place where gender roles are losing meaning, and people are becoming more open and outspoken about their identities. We should make our discussions more inclusive and understand that with gender, race, ethnicity, religion, caste, sexual orientation, come individual struggles that are unique to each of them. So be more understanding and empathetic, and help this world become a sustainable place for everyone!
Check out this spoken piece by Aija Mayrock: