Women’s March & Strike

I feel uneducated on this topic. The Women’s March and this strike have gained so much support, and I’m a young woman who many would think support this kind of thing, so the fact that I don’t support it leaves me wondering if I’m missing key information that should leave me outraged.

What is it that this strike aims to achieve? If it is awareness for equality for women and men, then how does a strike help? I still can’t find any actual data that says that women are paid less for the same work as men. I’ve seen information that says that when you line up all men and their pay, and all women and their pay, men make more on average. But I don’t see anything stopping women from being riggers, heavy duty mechanics, physical labourers, etc. I made less money in university than my boyfriend at the time did. That’s because I chose to work at the mall, while he worked construction.It’s not unfair, it’s a choice I made. I would like to know specific industries that pay women less than men, based on the same qualifications/resumes. Not just, “The CEOs of major companies,” because that just tells me that you don’t know either, but you read it in a news report and are mad about it. If anyone has a link to this information, please link me to it in the comments.

If the argument is that women can’t focus on their career AND have a family because they are the ones who have to child-mind, cook, and clean, and then have no time for a career and that is an unfair pressure to put on women, that seems like an issue to be discussed within your marriage/partnership. If you are allowing your partner to do no cooking, cleaning, or child-minding and then complaining about how unfair it is to be a woman in this situation, I don’t totally see the problem. I complain that I don’t have abs and a bubble butt and say how ridiculous society’s standards are for women, but then turn around and consistently eat donuts and cheese and bread and fangirl over Victoria’s Secret Angels. If I actually wanted change, I’d make different choices. If your husband doesn’t cook and you’re mad about it, talk to him about it in a mature, respectful way. If your grandma tells you that you should be doing all the work ’cause that’s what she did, smile, hug her, and tell her times have changed since she had her first kid at 16. I don’t understand this particular point of outrage, and don’t mean to sound sarcastic or uncaring, but I don’t get it.

If the argument is that there is a societal pressure put on women to do it all with a smile on their face, that it’s not equality because women do so much thankless work, then I’d like to talk about the societal pressures put on men. I know men in their late twenties/early thirties who are depressed and have talked about suicide because they feel pressure to provide financially for their wives and families. Society has told them to buy a house, have a good car, and be the primary breadwinner, and when they can’t do it they feel like they’ve failed in life. But they don’t talk about it because society also tells men to be strong, to stop whining, that their mental health issues are less important than women’s. When I worked at Starbucks there were significantly more men coming through for coffee at 5am, blue and white collar, than women. They are tired too, they are expected to do it all too, and they are not given the option of complaining about it. And God forbid you are a middle-class white male right now with all your damn privilege. Best to just keep your thoughts to yourself, ’cause you can’t be depressed, angry, or have an opinion on political topics without being told it’s because your privileged.

I just don’t understand. What are women so enraged about? Trump says some stupid shit. He treats women poorly. Men have said atrocious things to me in the past too. But I don’t feel less than, I don’t feel my partner takes me for granted, and I don’t see evidence of inequality in the workplace in any tangible, widespread capacity. But rather than giving me hard facts about these topics, I’m going to be told I don’t understand because of my privilege. This has happened in the past. I don’t understand these particular political movements. What specifically, backed by data, are people upset about? Remove the emotions, remove the ‘I watched a clip on Facebook that said…” What is backed my research, what is actually happening in North America that is making women feel men are getting more than we are? The only thing I can think of that fits this bill is college rape and sentencing. And I think that’s a cause worth fighting for, but not by going on strike. We change that by raising good men.

If you have information for me that you can deliver in a respectful, informative manner, please post it in the comments.

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Silencing the Fat-Fifteen-Year-Old Me Living Inside of Me

*Originally posted June 11, 2013*

I have always struggled with my weight. I can remember being 8 years old and in Grade 3 and wanting to go on a diet because I felt absolutely horrible about the way that I looked. I continued to struggle with my weight and self-confidence through the rest of elementary school and high school. Most girls (and boys, too, for that matter) struggle with self-confidence through their high school years, I think. It is hard to feel unpretty, unwanted, and too big to fit in or have a boyfriend. It sucks laying in the sun with your friends in the summer time and not wearing a bikini because you have a round stomach.

“Niki, you weren’t fat in high school. It wasn’t that bad.”
Maybe I wasn’t fat. But I sure felt like I was. I was the only one in my close friend group to wear a size 12/Large, a group of boys came up with a hilarious nickname for me: Shamu, and in Grade 8 when Dhorrina jeans (with the 1-inch zipper that was so cool for 13 year olds) were what everyone was wearing, I didn’t wear them and I remember a few boys in my Socials class talking about how it would be so funny to see me in a pair of those jeans. My size was once compared a submarine. Add to all of this that I didn’t have a real boyfriend until Grade 12 and I felt like I really was Shamu. Maybe none of you thought I was fat in high school, but I sure as hell felt like I was.

As I grew up and entered university I started to eat healthier meals and work out more often. That, paired with just losing some “baby fat”, led me to lose a few pounds and feel a bit better about myself. I turned 19, went to clubs and bars, and found that maybe I’m not so fat and bad looking. Drunk guys at bars and clubs thought I was good looking enough to hit on so the fat-fifteen-year-old version of me still living still inside of me found some validation through that.

Last year I fell in love with a wonderful man who liked me for who I was and called me “sexy” and “beautiful” when I was at the higher end of what I have weighed. After a few months I decided that, though he thought I was beautiful, I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I had taken to wearing tights and yoga pants because my jeans didn’t fit anymore and I was sick of it. So I joined Weight Watchers.

Over the last year and a half on Weight Watchers I have made tons of changes to my diet and my life. I work out more often (I wish I could say I work out every day, and sometimes there are a few weeks where it’s every day, but I’m human. It’s not every day lol), I eat a lot cleaner than I used to, and I eat smaller portions. I’ve lost 30 lbs. and four pant sizes. I am the smallest I have ever been.
I am no longer the fat girl in my group of friends. I’m not the one that doesn’t have a boyfriend. I’m not the girl at dance who can’t wear the dance costumes the other girls wear. I am just one of the girls, who also gets hit on when we go out. I have an amazing boyfriend who has supported me through this whole journey/transition. And I have been known to wear a crop top or two.

So what happens to the fat-fifteen-year-old still living inside me?
She has been clinging on for dear life, telling me I’m not good enough, I’m not thin enough, and that if I get fat again nobody will love me.

How do I make her go away?
It has taken time, but I know I’m not fat anymore. I can look in the mirror now and see an average sized woman. I can look in the mirror and see how awesome my hair looks instead of how round my tummy looks.

I was talking about this once and a friend asked me, “What does she need? What does she want that you can give her that will make her leave?” So here is my farewell:

Dear Fat-Fifteen-Year-Old Me,

You have so many amazing qualities. You are smart, you are funny, you have a great support system, you are gorgeous, and everything will work out just the way you want it to. I know that you don’t care about your awesome qualities – you want to be pretty and have a boy fall for you. I promise, it will happen. You’ll even have boys who only want you for your body (imagine that!).

You go through everything that you go through because it will make you stronger and it will make you appreciate everyday moments in ways that others don’t. You will have amazing moments with an amazing man who truly thinks you’re beautiful. Yes, you.

I love you, but I think it’s time for you to go now.

Goodbye,

Twenty-Three-Year-Old-You