I share my thoughts and opinions, often based in fact, and they are invalidated. As soon as he shares the same thoughts and opinions, everyone is ready to adopt them. They are even considered revolutionary, but I expressed the same takes last week. I am never right, but if he repeats exactly what I say in a louder voice, he is praised. My research is diminished to meaningless letters and numbers, and my feelings do not matter, so I spend more time wondering which aspects of myself do matter.
I am always interrupted. Apparently, I need to be opinionated, but not opinionated enough to have bodily autonomy. I cannot be too fat or too skinny. My hair is too thick or too curly. My legs and my hips have to be “just right,” but I do not know what “right” is. They will honk when I run or whistle when I walk because I am viewed as an opportunity rather than a human being.
I cannot be smart, but I cannot be dumb. My music taste is not cool enough, or is too cool to be acknowledged. I cannot be too emotional, but I am a bitch if I do not cry at my wedding or refuse to share a laugh and smile with every man who has taken advantage of me. Cookie cutter femininity is desired, but I am teased and told to shut my mouth when I do not know anything about the football game on the television screen.
I ask what I can be and I am told that I can be nothing. I can make myself as small as possible. I feel as though I do not deserve to exist as I am, all that I am, in this world.
And they will tell you that they are feminists. They will tell you that they admire strong women. What they really mean to say is that they admire strong women as long as they are weaker than their counterparts, and they are only feminists for straight white women who choose to stay at home. They grow angry when we start demanding compensation. They run away from sex workers and trans women and bisexual women and women of color, but will exoticize these groups when they grab beers with the boys.
The patriarchy bleeds into misogyny. It is so subtle, but it is there when you exit the meeting room with an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. It is there when you feel the slightest touch in the wrong place. It is there when they give him the check or the tool box or the car keys.
But we can do everything that they can do and more. Enjoy the show (as long as you pay us).