A Huffington Post video gone viral recently showcased the criticism and judgment that female-identifying people specifically receive, demonstrating that there are still things women worry about that men don't have to. The video featured 48 things women hear over the course of a lifetime that men simply... don't. Although equal rights have been thrusted into the spotlight now more than ever before, and now we're calling into question things that we once accepted as the norm, there is still an enormous gap. Paternal leave for new fathers, breastfeeding facilities in public and the workplace, and equal access to sexual health services for men and women are just a few examples are progress we've made; there is still much missing.
Exploring the topic further, we find that it's not just offensive things people say to women; it's also constant concerns haunting every woman's mind... things, one would guess, men rarely (if ever) stress about. There's a perfectly viable reason women stress about the things they do: It's because at some point in our pasts — and in many cases, on an ongoing basis in the present — we were negatively reinforced about doing these particular things the "wrong" way. What's more, these "mistakes" (if you can call them that) are still used to justify negative attention and outcomes that we experience as a result of the choices we make. Still need more clarification? Here are eight common things many women worry about, that usually don't have to.
1. Our Sartorial Choices
Off-the-shoulder shirts. Low-rise necklines. Even high heels. To many women, these are simply choices in fashion. However, we've sexualized the female body to the point that revealing even the smallest patch of bare skin is deemed inappropriate. In fact, young female students are fighting school dress codes, with the point being that the problem isn't their attire, but rather the way others are viewing them.
An outfit is not an invitation for a catcall, harassment, assault, or anything else. We wear what we like because we like what we wear... so why are we constantly being penalized for it?
2. Not Messing Up Your Birth Control
If you've ever been on birth control, then you know that getting into the routine of taking it is actually kind of stressful. It's not like a condom; you can see a condom working, doing it's job. A pill? Not quite. So you swallow this little crumb and pray you don't get knocked up. It's absolutely terrifying wondering if your birth control isn't working.
Furthermore, if you forget to take it at the right time — or worse, forget to take it all together — there are steps you have to take to remedy it. Take today's pill as soon as you remember. Take two pills tomorrow. Do what they say or you will get pregnant — which is fine if you want to be, but getting more and more difficult to handle if you don't due to the rising restrictions on abortion access and other healthcare services.
3. The Delicately Crafted Appearance of Your Pubic Hair
Yes, I understand that men also deal with shaving or waxing their, ahem, carnal treasure. But I would like to point out the discrepancies here, and emphasize that for women, there is quite literally an entire industry devoted to our pubic hair.
You can trim it, wax it, or shave it. You can just do the bikini line — but then you might be "too hairy," and some people don't like that. You can do the whole enchilada — but then you might look prepubescent, and some people don't like that. What about razor bumps, rashes, cuts, and ingrown hairs? What if you shave everything and a partner callously makes you feel self-conscious about how it looks? What if it smells? What if, what if, what if?
The bottom line is that the constant pressure to keep it all "groomed" based on what other people think is attractive is BS. Whatever anyone does with their pubic hair should — like so many other things in life — be their choice, and no one else's... and yet women are constantly under scrutiny about it. Not cool.
4. You're Either High-Maintenance or a Slob
We can't win either way. With a face full of make-up, neatly styled hair, and polished nails, we're "too high-maintenance," "complicated," "vain." We're more concerned with how we look than anything else. But in sweats and with a naked face, we're "sloppy," "unmotivated," we "don't care about ourselves." It doesn't matter if it's at the gym, in the office, or at the club; you're typically placed by others on one end of the spectrum or the other, and dealing with it is exhausting.
5. How To Handle Compliments
It's second nature for women: Someone tells you you're beautiful, smart, funny. What do you say? Never "thank you," because you're ugly, stupid, and boring. Instead, you offer an awkward "Oh stop," "No I'm not," or "Don't be silly."
But whatever you do, don't thank them. Then you're just being arrogant. Or... something.
6. Your Biological Clock — Or More Accurately, Everyone Else's Interest In It
Young women without children aren't oblivious to the fact that other women their age are having kids, while they're not. Yet, it never fails: At work, family get-togethers, whatever, someone feels the need to point out your sad, childless existence and question when you're going to squeeze one out. Forget about the fact that overall, women are waiting longer to have children. Forget about the fact that it's totally acceptable if you don't want children, period. As far as everyone else goes, when you're "finally settling down" with "a nice person" and "embracing your maternal instincts" should absolutely be public information. (Spoiler: It isn't, and it never will be.)
7. Needing to Know How to Defend Yourself
I believe everyone, men included, should have a basic understanding of self-defense, because any one of us could find ourselves in a dangerous situation.But why do so many women have pepper spray on their key chains? Why, in a span of seven years, was there a 77 percent increase in women carrying guns? Why did a friend feel the need to teach me to "Wolverine" my keys in between my fingers so that I could stab a would-be attacker in the eyeballs?
Instead of a woman needing to be a black belt in Krav Maga in case some dude attacks her, how about we just stop attacking women in the first place?
8. Apologizing Incessantly for... Nothing
I find this particularly popular in the workplace, where if you sneeze without permission, you apologize. If you speak up, you apologize. And my all-time favorite: If you disagree with someone, you apologize.
Of course, half of this is on us. We need to stop apologizing. We also need to stop making women feel like they have something apologize for.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (8)