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Recently, we celebrated the day called "International Women's Day" in Poland; this day is almost as, or maybe even more so, important than Mother's Day. I feel that Mother's Day has become over-commercialized and it makes Father's Day look a little sad. Anyways, that is a whole different topic. Today, I want to share with you the fears that women have when going to places alone.
I remember when I was taking the train one day, and there were a couple of drunk men and they happened to get into the same car as I was sitting in. I remember thinking, "Please don't sit next to me... please don't sit next to me," as they drew in closer and closer to the spot where I was sitting. I held my breath for a quick minute, hoping and praying they would sit elsewhere, and as soon as they passed me, I felt like I could breathe again. That's what it means to be a woman.
A few days later, I was taking the train once more and a guy got on the train. He was not drunk, but was possibly high, or something of the other. Anyways, he started talking to me and asking about my style, which I was kind until he started to ask about my underwear. I politely said this is my stop. I got off the train and I ran to a different car to sit in because it did not even stop. I did not feel safe being there. That's what it means to be a woman.
I would get off the bus—it gets dark around five or four sometimes in Canada—I would start walking, and I had to pass a number of dark alleys on my way home when the streets would not be very well lit. Every single sound coming from the back would make me flinch. I would put my hands in my pockets and grasp my keys, just in case if I had to defend myself. I would not listen to my iPod, so I could hear if an attacker was coming from behind me. I still recall the story my dad told me once, where he was walking by himself and a guy pulled a knife on him, so he ran home. I knew that my neighborhood was not the best, however, it is not the worst one. I would see a stranger with a dog and it would relax me, knowing that if I was in trouble, someone would hear me. That's what it means to be a woman.
I used to work as an usher in a concert hall and there were many shows, where a number of people would get drunk. I was once sexually harassed by a male who was twice my size and was two feet bigger than me. He was drunk and he did get thrown out because I had a security guard by me. The man was barely standing and he stroked my cheek, after which I immediately backed away from him and he started to try and grab me by the hips. I fended him off and I was shaken up, so I went to the bathroom to calm down. I got back and I saw the security guard drag him out. My supervisor was behind me and he asked me what happened. I told him that this guy was touching me, I did not feel comfortable, and I asked him if he could move me elsewhere. I knew that he was gone, but there were other men that were being obnoxious and loud and I did not feel comfortable. My supervisor looked at me and said, "It's not my fault, you are a female," and that was the end of that discussion. That's what it means to be a woman.
In my younger years, when I recently had turned 18, my friend and I went out dancing and we were having a good time. This one fellow did not leave my friend alone. She politely declined to dance with him and he kept following us. I told him she is not interested and he just kept trying to get her. My friend finally had enough and told him that I was her boyfriend. The man looked at me, wide-eyed, and walked away. That's what it means to be a woman.
Now, I liked dancing with boys and men here and there, especially if they look harmless. A guy asked my friend to dance and she said no, but I offered to dance with him. I had seen him around and he was only dancing with the girls and nothing more, so I figured he was harmless and he was—for the most part. Then in the middle of the song, he asked for my number and I said no because you never give your number to guys at clubs. We then danced a little more and then he licked my face. I backed away and ran for the bathroom to wash my face. That's what it means to be a woman.
There are days when a woman is on her period and she will either be mad all the time or cry all the time. These emotions are extremely hard to ignore. They come up and you have no choice, so you end up crying, and then you cry harder because you have no idea why you are crying. You honestly don't. Or sometimes you do; sometimes it is as simple as seeing a pair of socks together and crying because the other sock always has another half. When a woman is mad on her period, it is usually something so minimal, but to us, it is a big deal. Like when your man leaves the toilet seat up and you get really angry because for once you just want to see it down. Period cramps are different for every woman. Some of us barely feel a difference, while others need to stay home all day because of the cramps, and we put up with it because we have to. That's what it means to be a woman.
Women are the ones that need to carry an eight-pound baby and if they don't want to put their body through labor, childbirth, or pregnancy that is their—or I should say our—choice. Me, for example, I can't wait to have kids of my own, but that means morning sickness, wanting to eat certain foods, throwing up when eating certain foods, my moods will be all over the place, being tired all the time, tossing a turning all night just to get comfortable, and joint mobility. All of those things we do to our bodies is to create a human being and some of us choose to not go through that and that is okay and some men need to accept that. That's what it means to be a woman.
I bet you all women in their lifetime have heard that they cannot have a certain occupation because they are a woman. Engineers, welders, and IT workers have probably heard that a lot. In a male-dominated workplace, women are often harassed and hit-on, which makes it an unsafe environment for us. That's what it means to be a woman.
However, we have risen against all odds, we are allowed to vote, we can wear makeup, and we can look how we want to look. Our world is changing, it is okay to love the body you are in. We are creating more environments and work spaces where women are welcomed, where women are paid the same amount, where woman are accepted as we are. Being a woman is amazing and we should celebrate that more than Valentine's Day. We go through so much as a whole and every day we are getting closer to being as equal as men. That's what it means to be a woman.