This past International Women’s Day, my social media feeds were flooded with inspirational messages of support and admiration for so many women. We were described as strong, kind, nurturing, caring, determined, kick-ass and much more. Photos and quotes were shared of beautiful women with loving families or powerful women who sit on boards of directors.
But what I want the world to know about being a woman is that we’re not perfect. Not one of us, not even close.
Hear me out. While of course I’m humbled to participate in the surge of support for us and the continuous fight for equality, I also want us to remember our flaws. Because our lives, rights, safety and happiness are not worth fighting for because of our goodness, but because of our humanity.
Some women are strong, but some are weak. Some women are fighters, but some lose that fight. Some women are leaders, some follow. And that’s okay! We shouldn’t have to fight for basic decency based on our positive contributions alone.
The narrative of oppressed groups being worthy of more, based only on their outstanding accomplishments, must change because there are some of us in those groups who will slip through the margins, regardless of how hard we may try. There are homeless women, addicted women, refugee women, trans women, sex workers and more who are all worthy of our protection and who are statistically more likely to need it. And I don’t want us to forget those women when we’re touting all of the positive attributes of womanhood. Yes, some of us can bring life into this world, but some of us just need help getting through life. I’m the first one to admit I also need this reminder.
I think about this when it comes to other oppressed groups like immigrants, for example, and the Dreamers and other model minorities. I’ve tried to achieve ‘model minority’ status my whole life, despite the many negative stereotypes about Latinx people in the media, by striving for a constant state of unachievable ‘perfection’. In my mind, one mistake from me and the next Latinx or brown woman in the industry may be judged for it. Maybe that is a bit self-important, but based on how we continue to judge groups based on the actions of individuals, it’s not unlikely.
However, the more I think about it, the more our mistakes are simply part of existing.
I also want us to remember this when looking up to the women in our lives or in the media who seem to have it all together. The ones who speak with the knowledge of years of a university education and the ones at the forefront of the movement or the leaders in your community. They make mistakes too and, while everyone should be held accountable for those mistakes if they hurt others, we can call each other in with love and respect when those mistakes come from a good place. I myself have been guilty of holding certain women on a pedestal and wanting to ‘cancel them’ as soon as they make a mistake or call them out on social media. I’m quickly learning that may not always be the best course of action. Let’s not forget that we’re all constantly learning and growing.
Some of us will go on to do extraordinary things, but some of us won’t. The same way cis, heterosexual white males are allowed to fail and be forgiven, we should be allowed that same privilege, though of course we’re all deserving of consequences. I will be cheering on all of us in our constant fight to do better and be better. But regardless of the outcome, and in spite of our missteps, we are all worth being protected and empowered every day, not just on International Women’s Day.
Photos by Samantha Clarke