In light of the recent well-documented American Presidency news, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the profound change Trump is bringing to the world. Specifically, the reaction he's evoked in those concerned with women's rights.
It seems to me that equality is a sensible notion - in today's modern world it is a common belief that all should be equal in their rights and the ways in which they are treated. But I think sometimes the word can overlook some of the fundamental differences that groups contain from one another. Women, compared to men, are wholly separate and should be treated as such. We are not equal, we are different.
Women's bodies and minds have been regulated for centuries and, unfortunately, we still do not live in a world in which this does not occur. And it seems with Trump and his policies we've taken a dreaded step back. But, in true female style, we're giving him hell about it. As a group, women experience their fair share of hardship. 1 in 5 women in the US has been raped in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 71 men (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). 94% of all murder-suicide victims are female. Women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder compared to men (Mental Health Foundation). Young girls are far more likely to self-harm than young boys (Counselling Directory) and 92% of women have reported experiencing some form of sexual violence in public places in their lifetime (Womankind). These damning statistics are only a few that demonstrate the fact that women are not equal to men - our needs are utterly distinct. Therefore, policies and campaigns surrounding the regulation of women and their bodies predominantly developed by men cannot, and will never be, accurate depictions of our lives.
I still see so many posts on social media about women being 'psychos' or 'crazy' - something the internet seems to suggest men 'just have to put up with'. How does this message come across to our young women who are stumbling their way through early relationships thinking this is the norm? Well, sorry, but it's not. Relationships are equal, respectful things when they're right and if they're not equal and respectful, then they're wrong. Men - you're tough to live with as well, with your lack of complexity and stunted emotional growth. (See? Generalisations hurt, don't they?) Women are complicated, vulnerable and formidable all at once. So if you're a man who's lucky enough to be with an independent woman, who's in touch with her emotions and tells you how she feels, you better appreciate that force of nature. Because if you don't, there will be a more grateful man around the corner who will happily take her off your hands. Trust me on that one.
Women have fought and died over centuries for equal rights and, quite frankly, for middle class white men to give a shit. So no, we are not equal, we are wholly different from those men who have had to fight very little to get to where they are today. Don't mistake me for a 'man basher' though, I am fully aware of - and very close to - men who have battled to get themselves and those they care about to higher places. But, as a female in this still unequal world, I need to be thankful for those who have died to give me the opportunities I am able to take. Because of those women I can vote, develop my own career, have my own identity outside my relationships with males and have a voice - albeit a quiet one - in the world. Being born in 1994, I have done very little in my life to be able to enjoy these rights, but ever since learning about those women who never gave up, I have never forgotten what it took to get us here. And I hope, as a force, women will still fight like hell.
Because we still earn less than our 'equal' male counterparts. Sanitary products are still taxed as non-essential items. Men are still calling the shots about what happens with our bodies - making the decisions that should be sacred not just to women, but to woman. Each and every individual woman should choose what happens to her body and hers alone. People still think they have the right to utter ANY form of opinion if a woman breastfeeds in public, as if the female form is something to be disgusted or embarrassed by. Women are still objectified, catcalled and known more for what we wear - or little of it - than our minds and achievements. Personally, I have been put down, laughed at and mistreated by men who were meant to care about me. I am not my clothes, my boobs or my dress size. I am my thoughts, my opinions, my feelings and my intellect. Have a conversation with me about how I feel about the matters of the world, my experiences, my wants and ambitions before you comment on the way I look. And god help you if you introduce yourself with a poorly constructed sentence about 'what you'd do to me' if I was with you. I am no object. My mother is no object. My friends are no objects. We are not here for your enjoyment, we are here to improve the world and because we matter. We - and by 'we' I mean all of us, not just women - need to teach our children true equality, by embracing difference and uniqueness as wonders of the brilliant world we live in.
Women cannot be compared to, oppressed or moulded to men's wishes - just look at the history books. So no, we are not equal. Not even close.