By Andrea Ojeda
You don’t know me, but we know each other…
Through shared experience we have traveled on the same road, not making eye contact or acknowledging each other in anyway. But it pains me to say I’ve gotten in your way. Women in history have faced many adversities, challenges and questions meant in jest, but require a serious answer. How can women answer a question honestly if a joke is made without a pun?
When we’re younger we never mean to hurt ourselves or each other, but it happens. Women live in a dog eat dog world and it’s a lesson we’re taught from the very beginning. The saying goes, “when you have a son you worry about your son, when you have a daughter you worry about everyone else’s son.” Even parents are taught to follow an unspoken set of rules that makes their daughters “strong”, but really pits us against each other and further pillars these rules that become more tangible day by day.
How can unspoken rules become reality? We know how. The nationally published magazines that cherish the “perfect” body type, the misogynists (both men and women) that touch and advance with no compunction towards their behavior, the constant mix of verbal and physical abuse between women are only some of the ways these rules become tangible. While the rules may be rephrased through the generations, their traditional standards set on life still create a divide between women every day. The level of depth these actions travel into the subconscious mind is astounding, yet extremely familiar.
How many judgements pass through a person’s mind, when a woman is, for example, publicly breastfeeding, wearing “provocative” clothing, wearing comfortable clothing, or any other situation that catches a person’s attention. How many times have you turned your head around to quiet whispers that create a negative connection between yourself and another, whom you don’t know. Do you remember the anxiety and anger you felt for being assumed about, and do you remember the first reaction? Most of the time, that first reaction is one of pettiness and retribution through verbal abuse or social cues that exhibit a connection just as negative as the first one. This constant barrage of unsolicited judgement and immediate retaliation further promotes the standards a narrow-minded culture, which is held together by these unspoken set of rules. Every time this happens, these standards become a living breathing being; as I’ve said explicitly, more tangible. Of course, I speak from experience, as do most, if not all, women.
The time to change these unspoken set of rules is now.
How do we start that change? We speak out against these rules and disrupt their actions. Once we disrupt their actions, we take action. While it doesn’t take only women to enact the necessary words and action, they should be the ones to initiate them. Yes, women empowerment has become a consistently relevant hot topic due to movements such as Time’s Up, #Metoo, celebrities speaking out about sexual harassment/inequality, and more. Before then, multiple organizations have taken leaps and bounds to build this platform being used by celebrities and women alike. Women I implore you, and myself, to keep the traction going. The month of March is marked as Women’s National History Month, so this is as good a time as any to take action. While I started this letter on International Women’s Day I decided I could finish and publish whenever I felt it was ready, because I stand for women every day.
Before I finish this small letter to my fellow women, let me end this with a small piece I wrote to you on International Women’s Day.
“Dear women, I applaud you for bringing life into this world. I fear you because without you, life doesn’t come full circle. I cherish you because I’ve learned my greatest lessons from women. My mother, grandmother, aunts, sisters, and more have taught me to create a challenge that none can look away from. I challenge you women. Love, fear, cherish, and challenge each other. Above all else, remind each other that we are all Queens in our own right.”
Andrea O. Ojeda