A day in the life of Paula. Considering just last week I described all of my privileges that come along with being a spoiled white feminist, it should be pretty awesome right? I’m a straight white middle-class gal – what could go wrong?
Oh right, gal. Woman. Female. Those words that society has used to place me in me in a special category.
So what’s it like to be a privileged girl in North America these days? Of course, in many ways it’s great; I feel lucky to live in Canada. But we can do better, way better. Sure, society has progressed leaps and bounds from the day when our sisters fought for the right to vote. As it should have. But unfortunately privileged women like myself still have to put up with our fair share of upsetting incidents, mindsets, and obstacles.
There’s this thing called micro aggressions. As a result of this ever-present phenomenon life is no walk in the park for feminized people (aka any person who society has deemed lesser, which includes racial minorities, LGBTQ* community, persons with disabilities, etc.). We have become conditioned to keep our guard up all the time because it’s routine for us to be disrespected and degraded. These daily occurrences may not seem significant, especially to those who do not experience such injustices, but they are substantial and have a lasting impact.
Because the little things, when added up, are the big things. Especially when they become a way of life. Especially when they define a society.
So a day in the life of Paula?
7:30am: Getting Ready
On the television, I see female news anchors talked down to and belittled by their male coworkers and the men they interview.
I look in my closet and carefully select what to wear so I am neither called a ‘prude’ nor a ‘slut’.
7:55am: In Transit
I am objectified in my one block walk from my car to my office.
Phrases like “Come on, give us a little smile” or “Damn girl, those legs!” make me shudder.
8:00am: In The Office
Coworkers make comments to me for not wearing make up or styling my hair.
I am told boys ‘just can’t do’ certain jobs in my office.
12:00pm: Work Out
The men in my workout class making jokes about exercise modifications for the female attendants.
1:30pm: Lunch Time
Walking to a restaurant in broad daylight, I am on edge when a man walks behind me.
I meet up with an old friend and while discussing my self identification as a feminist, they inevitably ask “but you’re not like those other radicals, are you?”
When I run into a contemporary at the bank and tell them I am going to law school, they reply, “you will find the perfect husband there!”
I have to remind the cyber community I am not a ‘bra burner’, a ‘butch lesbian’, or a ‘radical’.
I watch television shows and movies on Netflix where women are inevitably half naked or talking to other women about men.
Random middle-aged men on Twitter respond to my articles with hatred and insults.
6:30pm: Dinner Party
Friends of my parents raise their eyebrows when, as a woman, I tell them I travel the world alone. They warn me of the many dangers lurking in all corners of the world. (All of which I am well-acquainted.)
Around a table full of friends and laughter, I am tired of explaining why ‘it’s just a joke’ is not a justification for offensive comments.
10:00pm: Downtown Bar
When I go out for the night my mother feels obligated to remind me, “make sure you look out for your girlfriends,” knowing all too well the horrors of rape culture today in bars and clubs.
At the bar I can’t leave my drink unattended.
If a man offers to buy me a drink and I accept without ‘putting out’ I am considered a tease. If I do not accept the drink I am either insulting the man or told I am ‘presumptuous’ to assume he would expect something in return from this gesture.
1:00am: Going Home
At the end of night, I carry my keys between my knuckles when I walk to my car alone, avoiding avenues without street lamps.
A day in the life of Paula.
Not so respected, not so safe, comprised of a few too many injustices. And let’s not forget about the many privileges I have; I’m just the tip of the iceberg.
I need feminism, not just because we deserve a world in which there is no pay gap, no pervasive rape culture, no hyper-sexualization of women of colour, no silencing of trans people, etc. but because I want to enjoy carefree days.
I want to go through a day as a woman, a feminized person, free to do whatever I please and go wherever the wind blows me. A day where I do not worry about my safety or defend my beliefs.
I cannot wait for the day that we speak of these daily discriminations as ghosts of an oppressive past.