28 April, 2014

The injustice of being a woman

I've always hated injustice, especially an injustice that I felt helpless to change.  And right at the moment, I am feeling the injustice that is dealt to women, and I am feeling it quite acutely.  Not just the injustice of sexism – although that is something I am always aware of, and feel acutely in itself.  (For example, just yesterday my FIL referred to a niece as “pushy.”  He bristled when I said that he would never describe a boy as pushy.  “Of course I would!” he countered, annoyed.  But the truth is he doesn't (and wouldn't) talk that way about his grandsons.  And she isn't.  Just another example of the “girls are pushy, boys are strong” injustice.)

I am feeling (perhaps for obvious reasons) the injustice of our biology, of evolution.  Women have it rough.  We do.  For decades of our lives most of us have to endure inconvenient monthly bleeding, cramps (sometimes mild, sometimes crippling), and soldier on pretending nothing is wrong, lest we be called weak.  We hide the fact we have our periods, we hide the pain, the disgust, the inconvenience.  Yet over half the world’s population endures this.  And yet we still hide it.  Pretend that nothing is happening to us, even if we’re fainting and anaemic and in serious pain.  We all know the jokes that note if men menstruated, there would be a compulsory 4-5 days off work once a month.  These are not jokes.  They’re truths.  And then the sexism comes into play - jokes (by men) about women’s hormones, our “time of the month,” all give them a convenient opportunity to dismiss our opinions simply because they put it down to PMS.  (There’s an interesting study that suggests PMS may not exist as widely as believed.  But that we may note negative emotions at particular stages of cycle, and put them down to PMS rather than for other legitimate reasons.  It also suggests that maybe men dismiss our opinions and concerns simply because they are a "result of PMS" rather than treat these concerns as real and valid.)

Then there’s endometriosis and infertility and pregnancy and childbirth and cancer screening for breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers.  The procedures, the pain, the indignity.  That’s without touching on emotions and how it affects our lives.  Not to mention menopause, and all the physical symptoms we have with that.  And the financial price we pay for these in addition to the physical and emotional price must add up over our lifetime.  And men … well, they get to coast through their lives with little to compare our physical trials.  And get paid more.

Women are accused of being the weaker sex, yet we cope with all this without complaint.  We deal with all this, and still go to work and look after households and families and run companies and countries.  We are not weak.  We are so strong.  And because of that, I've decided that right now I'm going to complain. Just for the sake of it (because we can't fix it).  Physically, women get a raw deal.  It’s unjust.  It’s a serious design flaw.  It’s crazy.  It's messy.  It sucks.  And I am completely and utterly sick of it.


  1. Ha! serious design flaw! I've been using that phrase for 25 years!
    So yes, I couldn't agree more.
    (And reading between the lines, I hope your upcoming surgery will ease the disomfort (permanently?) even though it is crazy to have to make another sacrifice/investment in your normal health)

  2. There's the physical aspects. And then there's also the social aspects. There's this push back for women in traditionally male-dominated fields. I've seen women trying to assess these fields being bullied, having their femininity questioned and even referred to as being "manish." Women who push for equality are referred to as "difficult" while those who attempt to bring in the feminine component are seen as being "weak." Double standards all the way around.

    Yes, there are differences between men and women that are very true, but we still have a long way to go with dealing with the injustices.

    Thanks for the post. I fully support this complaint.

    1. 100% agree! This post was just focusing on the physical. I wanted to keep it brief.

      I've ranted on A Separate Life about social injustice, about the changes and push-back that I have seen over the last 30 years, etc. But I didn't want to do that here. If you're interested, I wrote a series about feminism as it has affected me, as I've seen it. I do not pretend to have covered it comprehensively (how could I?), but it is something dear to my heart. The first of four posts is here - http://aseparatelife.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/the-feminist-series-enlightenment/

  3. Definitely not fair. :p Sending (((hugs))) & good thoughts.

  4. Yes, I totally agree.

    Another injustice:
    woman having a first child (without medical assistance) at 44? Mission impossible.
    Man having a first child at 44? No problems at all.

  5. Don't forget all the shots, surgeries, procedures we have to go through for fertility treatments. All my husband had to do was jerk off to porn. And then he complained about it.

  6. Loving this post!
    I have been getting more and more disgusted by the causal misogyny that seems to be part of our daily lives and even more appalled that no one is angry about it!
    There are a sympathetic few but I find it my personal job to teach my nephews and nieces how to be real compassionate men and respect and value women for all that they are.

  7. I've seen a video clip where a series of adjective is given to a certain boss figure. The same adjective, like "strong", "capable", etc. The video clip first shows a woman and then a man and the impact is just SO huge that I was overwhelmed by it all. It's amazing how different certain words are used for women and men.

    I started my period at 10 (at the time when I never even heard of it!). I was still such a child who loved running around and playing with my neighbours and I hated wearing those thick, no-winged pads (that didn't really absorb as well as these days). I hated the fact that boys didn't have it because at that time my period was really heavy (plus the pads weren't that great) that I kept on staining my pants/skirt. Ugh. To be honest, for a period of time I wished I had been a boy he he he he he...

    Anyway, sending you belated virtual HUGS!!!!