Being a woman is not a choice

Since I hit about fifteen years old, I have experienced sexual harassment on a regular basis – and worse, on occasion. I have been reminded to be quiet and still and more lady-like since before I started kindergarten. I have been pressured into wearing makeup and shaving because our society teaches women to be unsatisfied with our natural bodies.

All over the world and throughout history, the same things and much worse have happened to billions of women. Rape, beatings, menstrual huts, female genital mutilation, breast ironing, all of it – it is not done to women because we ‘identify’ as women, but because we have female bodies.

Being a woman is not a choice. I didn’t choose to be this; to endure the things that have happened to me. It is simply my material reality.

As women, we experience oppression on the basis of sex, not gender. That is why I care that sex continues to exist as a legal and social category, and that women continue to have single-sex spaces.

I haven’t done as much as I want to. I’ve gotten involved in online feminist communities using anonymous social media accounts. Mostly, I’ve been educating myself, but I have also posted about my opinions. I’ve also talked about some of these things with people in real life, but I have been very careful with whom I talk to. In the future I hope to get more involved and speak out more.

I have received a number of threats and misogynistic insults to my anonymous feminist accounts – but that’s why I’ve stayed anonymous. I know that if I speak about what I believe under my real name, I will face immediate social and professional consequences. I’m not at a place in my career where I feel secure enough in to take that risk, so I plan to remain anonymous for the time being.

Cass, a young woman who firmly believes in critical thinking, USA