Here’s why I can’t get anything right. 

It happened one winter evening when I was watching the State of Origin.

It’s the highlight of my year, that’s for sure. I’ve always been a Blues supporter and the start of the NRL season brings the promise of that legendary match up. One I anticipate with baited breath.

So this one night, my family and another family were watching it together. I would have been in late primary school or early high school. I remember, quite vividly, that both fathers were yelling at the screen. They both quite brash blokes. Loud and intimidating.

“Come on ref!”

“Give us a penalty! Who’s paying you off?”

That sort of thing.

Nothing unusual of course.

I decided, when a penalty was called for the other team, to chime in and share my disbelief. Because that was the way, right?

I remember the other father telling me to shoosh because I was speaking over the TV commentary.

I was quiet for the rest of the night. I was completely embarrassed and ashamed. I had interrupted this game. Their pleasure. The pleasure and peace that the men deserved. And I had given my opinion about sport.

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It’s only now that I can see how gendered this is. This person had done this to me because I was vulnerable and because I was a little girl. What could I know about sport?  Why would my opinion be valuable?

I felt, in that moment, that I couldn’t say or do anything right. So I stayed silent. Like so many women do.

Every single day.

Because judgement follows us everywhere. And it’s not just men that it’s coming from. It’s from other women too.

I feel like I can’t get anything right. Because when I bring up the fact that women are still paid less than men, I’m laughed at. It’s a myth, they tell me. The pay gap is a myth.

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Meeting Leigh Sales in the Mamamia office. Strong, smart, capable women.

I feel like I can’t get anything right. Because every time I bring up the fact that women are more likely than men to be sexually or violently assaulted I’m told that, well, you know, men experience violence too.

I feel like I can’t get anything right. Because when I wear shorts or a crop top to the gym, I’m given dirty, greasy looks. What an attention seeker. A whore. Strutting herself around like that. Then when I wear three quarter length pants I must be insecure. I don’t make enough of an effort.

I can’t get anything right. Because whenever I get upset or cry I must be on my period. It’s my hormones. PMS.

I can’t get anything right. Because when I wear make-up I’m hiding my true self. I’m lying. Men like women who wear less make-up, they say. But if I don’t wear makeup I look tired. Did you sleep okay last night?

I can’t get anything right. Because if I lift weights at the gym I’m trying to attract the male gaze. I’m seeking attention. But if I run on the treadmill I’m not doing much.

I can’t get anything right. Because if I don’t like being whistled and yelled at by strangers I should just learn that it’s a compliment. Get over it. Don’t be so uptight for God’s sake. If I stand up for myself, I’m complaining about nothing. I need to stop being a bitch. I need to lighten up and stop being THAT girl. Because no one likes THAT girl. I’ve never heard a man being called a bitch.

I can’t get anything right. Because if I don’t send nude photos I’m a bad girlfriend or a prude. But it I do and the photos get on to the Internet, it was my fault. I shouldn’t have sent them in a first place. It’s slutty, you know.

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Am I a bad girlfriend if I don’t send nudes? Then is it my fault if they get leaked and my trust is betrayed?

I can’t get anything right. Because if I want to go for a high-powered job I’ll have to be working to a standard set by men. Because that’s the way it’s always been. I’ll have to work and punch harder than my male colleague to prove hiring a chick was worth it.

I can’t get anything right. Because I have to choose between my career and a family. If I choose my career I must be a child-hater. If I choose a family I must be weak. Unambitious.

God forbid I become a mother because then I won’t be able to get anything right ever again. If I breastfeed, I can’t do it in public because people don’t like bare beasts unless they’re in porn or on Game of Thrones. If I give my baby a bottle I’m taking away that precious connection between mother and child.

If I stay home with my baby I’m not getting enough time with my partner. I’m a bad wife. But if I go out with the girls or for some alone time, I’m abandoning my family. I’m a bad mum.

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One day I will have to choose between a family and a career.

If my baby won’t settle in the cot I’m a bad mum because I can’t get my baby to sleep. But if I allow baby to sleep with me I’m putting them at risk. I’m a bad mum.

If I take time off work to raise my children I’m compromising my career. I’m not really doing anything. Just looking after a human 24/7. If I go back to work then I’m hurting my kids. They need their mum around to play with them and cook and stuff. But no one ever says that to Dad.

I wonder if I’ll ever get anything right. I am, after all, a woman.

 

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2 thoughts on “Here’s why I can’t get anything right. 

  1. This was a pretty disappointing rant, it’s all the same crap over and over again, we fucking agree with your sarcastic comments, but what’s the point? Why don’t you focus on one area and aim to improve that for womankind huh? Jesus just, why do you care? The point is not to care about what others (some men) think

    Like

  2. Oh wow, this is so true. I am a sporting loving wife and successful bank executive and I can relate to every single part of this article. I have found the only approach is to understand that this is how society feels and to challenge the status quo at every opportunity and, not just for yourself, but for younger women. I believe we can only change people’s perceptions one person at a time because, as a general public discourse, the matter gets buried in generalisations and rhetoric. I have hope as I see cultural shifts slowly take hold at senior levels of management but it is slow and heavily relies on men in power to push the agenda of change.

    Finally, what we all need to remember, whether we are a man or woman, we are all people and are responsible for our own happiness. This does not mean accepting discrimination or marginalisation, but recognising that we choose how it affects us. We must not allow narrow minded people to discourage us or make us feel less worthy. Self pride comes from within and no one can take that away from us.

    Excellent article and I am glad to have read it.

    Liked by 1 person

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