Infantilizing Women

You’ll never hear me call my underwear panties.

Someone on Facebook recently reminded me of something that has irritated me my whole life. Why are women’s underwear called panties? Do we wear socksies or shoesies? No. You will never hear me call my underwear panties. Ever.

There also used to be an annoying habit of making maternity clothing look like the expectant mother was a child herself, rather than like a professional, capable woman whose body just happens to be being contorted beyond reason. I remember a coworker 30 years ago coming in to work wearing a baby blue maternity shirt with a peter pan collar and candy cane piping. Ugh! Why? That seems to be a thing of the past, though, thank goodness.

And what woman hasn’t heard, “Don’t worry your pretty little head,” at least once in her life? What are we, five? Um… my head isn’t little. In fact, I often can’t find hats that are big enough for me.

And I don’t need to be mansplained. I am perfectly capable of arriving at facts without your help. I don’t need to be coddled or protected or advised or counseled. I get to go out at night, out into the big bad world all alone, simply because I’m the one who makes that decision. I’m probably much more astute about sussing out a dangerous situation than you are, because I’ve lived it.

I’m no more mentally or emotionally fragile than you are. When I get angry, I’m angry, not hysterical. My opinions are as valid as anyone else’s. I should be taken as seriously as you are. The fact that I need to explain this to you is the crux of the problem.

People who infantilize women are projecting their own immaturity upon others. But don’t worry your pretty little head about it. We’ll be just fine whether or not you wake the eff up.

Imagine. An adult who just happens to also be pregnant.

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A Few Thoughts on International Women’s Day

First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.

But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?

Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
  • Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
  • Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
  • Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
  • Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
  • Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
  • Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
  • Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.

The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.

I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.

Happy Women’s Day, indeed.

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