There's a day for everything, but very few of these directly impact me or have special meaning to me. Women's Day is one of special meaning to me. And don't worry, I'm not going to grab a mic, shout from the top of my lungs and demand you listen to me. Rather, I would appreciate any time you could spare to read about my experiences as to why this day is important to me and why these concepts and practices of respecting women in general should be applied to every day of the year. And I do not speak for anyone but myself and I speak from the perspective of an Asian American heterosexual female.
My life has been a very strange mix of good and bad experiences as a young woman. I am not very young nor am I very old. I have not gone through everything life has to offer but I also know I have experienced things that others may not have. I'm going to construct this post with the Oreo effect in mind.
I was told multiple times that I am naturally empathetic and that is both a blessing and a curse. I place myself in another's shoes too often and their emotions become my own. On the same token, it's easier for me to read people in certain social settings. No matter how empathetic I am, however, I will never be able to understand why people put others down or treat them horribly. When someone is happy, I am happy. And when someone is sad, I am sad. And when someone is mistreated, I feel upset and angry. All of these feelings affect me at different levels, but it is very draining altogether. My personality allows me to both connect with people but also opens me up to be exploited by them.
Over the years, I have experienced various situations regarding my gender and race. And the majority of these scenarios were initiated by men. These are some of the negative things that I have gone through:
*A guy was barking at me and said he was speaking my language.
*Your body looks weird. I don't like the way you dress. When I'm seen with you, I want you to look a certain way. I'm buying you clothes from Abercrombie.
*I don't like that you have video game posters. It looks like I'm dating a 14 year old boy.
*Guy was drunk and put his arm around me, effectively keeping me from walking forward. I pushed him away and he was surprised. No acknowledgement of what he did. Same guy looked over at my female friend and said "nice tits."
*Stop looking like a battered wife. I'm just pissed at that this [computer software] is not working. I'm not yelling AT you for Christ's sake. Get the fuck out of my office. I leave. Five minutes later... can you be readily available when I need your help? God.
*Guy punches his steering wheel in anger. I ask him to stop. He tells me he can hit whatever the fuck he wants.
*I hope you become a lousy fucking writer and that all your friends fucking die.
*There is an argument and I don't raise my voice. I just comply because this is taking place in a car, and I am driving. I say okay, whatever you want. "Stop being such a c*** or I will knock your fucking head off."
Pretty brutal, huh? These experiences span from middle school to recent years and I cannot fully express how much these and other memories have fully affected me, still affect me, but also shaped my perspective and outlook on life in general. I have let go of most of it, and some of it has stayed with me, but only in the way of being reminders to not put up with that garbage ever again. Gaslighting is a a hell of a treatment to undergo for years on end, but that doesn't mean it should cloud your future. Step away from that BS. It's amazing how liberated you feel when you do. Now. Did men hurt me? Yes. Do I believe all men are like this? Hell no. This is why.
*Hey, I'm sorry to bug you. But what's your name? Jackie? Well, I just wanted Jackie to know that she has a beautiful smile. Have a good day!
*Actual note I received from a customer when I was working at a mall: To the girl with a beautiful smile... you brightened my day. You definitely made my horrible Saturday much better. Thank you!"
*Playing Gears of War: Dude, I can't get to her! Help her up! Okay! Wait... we're playing with a girl? Haha, yeah, I'm a lady. Thank you for helping me. No... thank YOU for gracing us with your presence.
*Thanks for babysitting me on Valentine's Day. I got you a mini rose bush because you're my Valentine this year!
*I just want you to know that you helped me so much just by being you.
*I always found you be a nice and intelligent person. That will never change.
*I want to let you know you're brilliant and you're destined to do wondrous things even if it may not be clear what those are just yet
*I would describe you as many things, but fragile is not one of them.
*Just wanted to say you're awesome, keep your head up.
*You never need to thank me for being a friend. I'm happy to have you in my life.
*You are priceless. Now it's time to be fearless.
These statements and experiences came from men of all ages, some I know personally and others I never knew at all. And these are the men/types of men I choose to embrace and keep in my life if I can.
Ladies, I know there is so much that you are going through, good and bad and I want to support, encourage and remind you especially during the bad times that you are not alone. It's easy to say be strong, be unwavering, be unaffected, but that in itself is yet another obstacle. So my sentiment to you is to surround yourself with the positive. Free yourself from the negative and never be afraid to be yourself. You are so beautiful and lovely as you are. You are already strong for waking up and facing the day. There's a lot of bad in the world, but there is also a lot of good. I've lived it. You are a part of this world just as anyone else, and no matter how much others may try to put out your light, you bring it, and you bring it hard. So be your bad ass awesome self because no one can take that from you. Don't forget that. Happy YOU day.