Just a girl

I am the third child in my family.  I have two older brothers.  Even though I do like to dress up and wear lipstick when I go out, I have always felt like a tom-boy at heart.  I don't mind getting dirt under my short misshapened (and bitten) fingernails.  I don't like feeling incapable of doing something.  I'm stubborn like that.

I didn't grow up with a sense of empowerment.  My Mum, as a role model was nurturing and loving.  But she never stood up to my Dad.  She always judged herself by her weight.  She never told me that 'I could do anything'.  But perhaps more importantly, she never told me I wasn't capable.  She just wanted me to try...and to be happy. That is still her wish for me today.  Happiness.

I've spent a large part of my life being shy and awkward.  Critical of myself and wishing I was different.  Girl power missed me completely.  The perk of getting older is not caring so much.  I have learnt to be nicer to myself.  Life can be hard enough without me being my own worst enemy.

I identify myself as a feminist.  I'm saddened that some girls are afraid of this title.  I'm equally saddened by women who use this label to set themselves apart from men.  At it's heart (and mine) I think feminism is about equality and inclusivity.  I do find it difficult to comprehend the treatment of women globally.  I'm horrified at India's violence and rape culture (watch this video).  Baby daughters are not celebrated, and in extreme cases abandoned.   Girls are disfigured with acid for merely not accepting the advances of a boy.  And gang rape is an all too common theme on our news feeds.

I watched a documentary last night called 'I am a girl'.  It shows the issues faced by many teenage girls around the world.  Three girls in particular were so compelling.  Kimsey, from Cambodia who was forced to sell her virginity at 12 for $400 so she could help feed her family.  She is a reluctant sex worker with a young daughter who lives with her abusive family.  Her ex-boyfriend tells her of her worthlessness and had sold one of the babies they had together.  She is only 16 years old.  Her life seems without hope and I have no ideal how someone breaks out of this cycle.

Aziza, 17, from Afghanistan tells how her father was happy to have daughters, unlike many other families.  He was killed, along with many other men in the war.  He wasn't a soldier, but was taken from their village and executed.  Aziza goes to school, even though the Taliban threaten to stone girls for trying to get an education.  She dreams of going to university and being the first female President.

Katie from Sydney, seems to have everything all the other girls would dream of.  A safe and loving home with enough money to be comfortable.  However, her depression and anxiety (which she hid from her family) escalated to suicidal thoughts and actions.  I just wanted to give these girls a hug.

By watching these documentaries and reading about girls like Malala Yousafzai, I realise how lucky I am.  Being part of the 'sisterhood' is important.  I know many amazing and inspiring women.  I work in a largely female dominated industry (Libraries) and only have to prove my worth as a person...rather than fight for my gender.  I believe women should wear whatever they want and be safe on the streets.  They should speak their minds and always aim higher than they think they're capable of.  We should be diverse.  Be ourselves.  We should help and support each other.  We should be amazing.  Because we are lucky enough to have the option.

So to the dear, lovely, wonderful and amazing ladies in my life...Happy International Women's Day.  You rock.  To celebrate (and after much deliberating about the most appropriate song) here's some Amanda Palmer for you.  Sing along.  OMG.  Fuck it!


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