Ever since I was young, I remember that I loved sharing my opinion. Both my parents have always been passionate about the arts and politics, and our dinner table conversations have always been riveting. From analyzing a movie to discussing elections, my parents always allowed me to partake in these discussions. Thus, when my parents would have friends over for dinner, I would not shy away from giving my opinion. At the age of five, I had asked a large group of my parents friends “Do Bush’s parents know what he’s doing?” given that they were talking about the war and the missiles that Bush was launching in Iraq. This soon became a story my mom told everyone. And, given that the question gathered a lot of positive attention, I thought I was on the right track! That my opinion mattered. It wasn’t until later that I realized that my opinion may matter, but I need to be careful with what I say and where I say it.
At the age of 15, I was at a wedding with my family and I was telling my mom that it is so strange that the groom’s side got so many gifts and that the groom only gives gifts to the bride. I found that the double standard was too evident and that we needed to make a change. It was later that evening, that someone told me “You are really not scared of anything, you are extremely confident” in regards to my comment about the gifts. The way the comment was delivered to me made my skin itch. I felt guilty that I noticed something and pointed it out. I knew I was opinionated, but I never realized that some people thought I was too opinionated. The lady, who had told me this, had no regrets. And afterwards, I was extremely quiet. I started noticing how the girls my age would act. Interacting with boys was minimal, and if you did interact with them, you had to be shy. The idea then started bothering me.
Why were girls always shy around men. Why can I not go up and state my opinion the same way a guy could? Why was I different?
Girls who showed the same wit and talent as men, were forced to smile, laugh and made small talk, whereas men were allowed to boast about all their accomplishments. I was not ready to just smile and laugh at a guy each time he made the same joke. Girls are socialized to act shy. This allows men to say we’re overly ambitious when we have bigger goals than them.
At 18, I had enough. It was during a date when I told a guy that I wanted to be a corporate lawyer and was hoping that I would have enough time to also volunteer and help the less fortunate when said to me, “Why don’t you just do something easier, you really think you can handle that?”
I was stunned; how can someone ask what you want to do and then insult you in the span of five minutes. I asked him what he meant by easier and his cocky reply was, “You’re pretty, you would look great as someone doing small charity work or just helping out a guy accomplish his dreams.”
I was shocked. I should sacrifice my dreams in order to let a man accomplish what he wants. That sounds great! Should I also bake an apple pie and wait for you at home while you work all day? Mind you, I ended up by paying for the date and was so disappointed that someone told me that I was overly ambitious that I started looking up job opportunities to take my mind off things.
I am not ready to be shy. I do not wish to blush at every pick up line that is thrown at me. I would love to talk about your goals and ambitions. I want to discuss how patriarchy has affected society and the changes we need to make in society. I want girls to reach for the moon. I want girls to not shy away from stating their opinion. Women need to be reminded that our opinion matter just as much. We have no reason to shy away.
If you want to be a housewife or you want to be an engineer, that is up to you!
Do not let anyone take away your voice or put your goals down.