Being born a woman

Being born a woman is my awful tragedy. From the moment I was conceived I was doomed to sprout breasts and ovaries rather than penis and scrotum; to have my whole circle of action, thought and feeling rigidly circumscribed by my inescapable feminity. Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars–to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording–all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.

Sylvia Plath, ‘The Unabridged Journals’

We try and try to reclaim centuries of oppression and injustice by subverting social norms, loving our bodies, embracing our vulnerabilities and channelling traumas into powers for good – but there is still a glaring inequality; a paralysing and all-encompassing fear: of being misinterpreted or unheard, underestimated or ridiculed, of finding ourselves a vessel for men’s insecurities and anger: of being demonised, targeted – and yes – physically harmed or killed by a stranger on our way home. We are conditioned from birth to be hyper-vigilant and afraid. You couldn’t possibly begin to understand all of the normalised, ingrained safety behaviours we navigate life with on a daily basis, all because the sex in between our legs makes us targets for persecution, perversion, possession. Being a woman is fucking exhausting.