Girl stuff: being confident and fighting gender violence Wonder Woman-style

1) Ever wondered why you and your girlfriends pause, mid-point, to second-guess yourselves, constantly berate yourselves for not being further along in careers/relationships/every facet of life, and when you are successful, suffer from imposter syndrome (i.e.”not sure how I got here or that I deserve to be here?”) The Confidence Gap sheds some light.

On the plus side, I do think women’s social and institutional position fosters a nuanced way of being, which often leads to a greater examination and questioning of privilege. In other words, women are less likely to be tone-deaf buffoons.

2) Here’s another Atlantic article that examines the pressures and constructs of being a single lady, a decade or so beyond the average (in the US, most women marry by 27). It’s really long, so if you’re more interested in alternative, non-couple living arrangements, skip to the end. One take-away: what we think of as “traditional” marriage (woman tends house, man goes to the office) is actually super-recent, only coming about in America in the prosperity that followed World War II. Before that, women worked alongside men in the fields or did the book-keeping for the family business. And in Europe, it wasn’t until the 1700’s that there was a true division between “women’s labor” and “men’s labor.” For centuries, people used whatever skills they had and formed partnerships based on how well those skills meshed rather than how well personalities meshed.

But for the record, I disagree with the assessment of “hook-up” culture presented here. I think ’60’s lib gave many women the opportunity to own their sexuality, and we benefit today. If a woman feels pressure to hook-up, that’s not a comment on the female libido or any sort of woman’s lib fall-out. That’s the residue of gender-oppressive social and economic institutions that have been in place since this country was founded.

Also, this piece is a bit too rosy in the women-surpassing-men department. American women may collect more degrees and be in more management positions than men at the moment, but it will take decades – even centuries – to create new social and economic institutions that benefit women and men equally. It’s the same principle with minority oppression. Even when “minorities” become the majority here (which is likely only a handful of years away), it will take much longer for the power systems in place to be disrupted. After all, slavery ended in 1865, and we still suffer the consequences.

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And even if America manages to recognize women as humans rather than objects, there are larger, geo-political institutions (i.e. the perspective of other cultures) to grapple with.

Burden of Proof Logo 23) My friend Megan founded Burden of Proof Movement, which seeks to aggregate women’s experience of gender-based violence (GBV) from around the world, to call attention to the problem and more than that, to the normalization or unwillingness to even see it as a problem.

GBV may be physical or emotional. It may be your doctor lecturing you on your sexual or reproductive choices. It may be your boss making a single creepy comment or comments that your engineering professor makes regularly, belittling females in the field. It often takes the form of street harassment by strangers.

From the BOPM site: “Even though these experiences are ‘just words’, they lead to much larger repercussions, such as unequal pay, curtailed opportunities, and also physical violence. Once you’ve been objectified or made to feel unsafe as a result of harassment, it can be very difficult to know whether that instance will become physically violent.” (As in this situation…)

Also: “Dehumanizing experiences can create a state of mind in which each new experience of GBV triggers the memory of others, so that all experiences of GBV, no matter how insignificant they might seem to an outsider, have the potential to feel unsafe or simply just exhausting to those who regularly experience it.”

The site’s a little wordy, but the gist of it is that BOPM is asking women to keep tabs on the GBV they experience for 30-days in a row, and then submit it to be posted (under whichever name/psuedonym you choose). Some days, you may not experience any GBV, which is great! Other days, there may be multiple incidents. Send your observations to bopmovement@gmail.com.

5) Thanks for sticking around through all the heavy stuff. As a reward, here are some adorable underoos that you can purchase for $6 at your neighborhood Target. (Also, the Wonder Woman panties above!)
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6) And this, just for fun.

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