I began thinking about this post on National Women's Equality day, the day that women got the vote. Which is a terrible term. They didn't get anything, they were finally and reluctantly allowed to have the same democratic right as penis's, and we celebrate this as if Women's equality has been achieved.
But it wasn't.
Then the 70's came around and women started fighting for the ability to choose their own life. To use their education towards a career. To not be tied down by children and husbands. Of course there was resistance. Who would cook their food? Bathe the kids? There was no talk of how to accommodate women's desires for the workplace. no compromise, no sharing the load. Instead women took it all on.
Now women have fulfilling careers and families and educations. They vote, they hold positions of power, and they are equal decision makers in (most) families. People don't tolerate open misogyny - Many men have argued that the pay gap is untrue because they make the same as their counterparts, regardless of gender. They wouldn't allow it.
So we are equal... right?
This is where it gets complicated. There is a perception of equality that if left unquestioned, appears to be so. But let's look closer. Let's ignore wage gap arguments, and statistics about rape convictions. Let's pretend that poverty isn't a thing and that race doesn't contribute. We all know it does. Let's ignore that maternity leave sets women back a year in climbing the corporate ladder, and that perceptions of mothers and their commitment to their work doesn't affect how they are treated. Let's also pretend that there isn't a bias called Patriarchy that makes an assertive man look effective and an assertive woman look like a bitch. Let's also pretend that our societal bias isn't so strong that the phrase is 'run like a girl' or 'don't be a pussy' and that most other insults toward men are gender or sexuality based. Let's pretend that your GF really wants to spend 2 hours getting ready for work, and that it's not others expectations on her beauty that keep her doing it.
Let's pretend that all of these things don't exist, just for this argument because I'm not about to address them here.
So we are equal... right?
If we were equal, women wouldn't carry Mace. They wouldn't be taught how to hold their keys between their fingers. They wouldn't check their backseats, their basements, their locks. They wouldn't be afraid to walk at night in the dark. They wouldn't fear rape for drinking too much, or being drugged when they drink just one. They wouldn't gather in gaggles of women when going to the bathroom, going to the mall or going for a jog. They wouldn't be afraid of what their partner might say or do. They wouldn't be afraid.
I know men who can tell me where the best spots in a city are - because they aren't afraid to walk through that alley to find it. They know where the best bars are - because they aren't dependent on their friends to visit new places. These things are things that women do not have - or if they do, it is our excuse for blaming them when they get raped, murdered or injured.
What people don't realize, is what women go through to survive. We internalize the fact that we will be attacked, and fear random strangers on the street. We replay the latest news story in our heads as we are walking through a parking garage. We do this all without batting an eye, because it is our everyday.
Yes I can already hear people preparing their arguments (funny that it's usually only men who speak up against me) about how there are always bad people and this isn't a gender issue, but rather a violence issue. But until men and women can commiserate over their need to take self defense classes to minimize their risk of being attacked, then we will be truly equal.