Next time you see a woman…

To all people, to everyone:

Next time you look at a woman – even if you are a woman yourself – listen to your thoughts when you judge what she wears. The way she walks, the way she talks to her friend next to her. The way she speaks on the phone. The way she carries her handbag. Or, no handbag – the way she puts her hands in her pockets. She might walk slouchily in slippers, dragging her feet along the floor; she might strut in high heels. She might have dark eyeliner on; she might have no makeup at all.

She might have long, sharp fingernails as she struggles to type on her phone; she might have dirty fingernails typing on a phone with a cracked screen. She might be running after her dog; she might have her dog on a leash. She’s wearing tight leggings; a skirt; a pair of baggy jeans; a tight-fitting dress; a skirt that drags across the floor; pyjamas.

Collect your thoughts, again. Listen to them. Take them in. You’re imagining her with a friend; with a partner. Perhaps she has a hair appointment. Perhaps she is in a rock band. They might sing music you hate. Perhaps she is a construction worker. She’s “one of the guys”. Perhaps she is a software engineer, and her mechanical keyboard is forest green and baby blue. Perhaps she uses a beat-up Chromebook. Perhaps she is made to wear high heels for work and she fucking hates it because her toes bleed by the end of the day and her muscles ache.

The bandage on her thumb, from an accident in the kitchen when she was cooking her favourite meal. Spaghetti bolognese. The bruise on her elbow, from bumping it while unpacking furniture on her own. She’s in crutches, from a skateboarding accident. She has a scar on the side of her cheek near her ear, from picking at acne when she was a teenager.

She is anxious, for an interview she has the next day. She is worried, that her sister won’t like the gift that she got her for her birthday. She is fearful, that her dad will not be OK when she visits him in hospital. She is happy, because she dumped her abusive boyfriend. She is nervously excited, because she has a date with a woman tonight. She is thrilled, because she just opened her Etsy store for crocheting dolls.

She is on her way to brunch with her friends to celebrate her first powerlifting competition. She didn’t win, but she did way better than she thought she would.

She’s going to see a friend she hasn’t seen in a very long time, because the pandemic meant that her friend couldn’t visit. They’re going for high tea.

She is on her way to the club, feeling confident in her outfit and ready to hit the dance floor. She is going to a friend’s 25th birthday party on a cruise ship.

She is a woman.

She is a woman and she is judged everywhere, all the time, by everyone, regardless of what she’s wearing or how she presents herself, and there will be more than a handful of people who judge her for her self-expression, tattoos, sexuality, taste in sexual partners, number of sexual partners, religious preferences, for being childless, for having children, for eating, for not eating, for… for many life choices.

So let this be a reminder that it’s not just on International Women’s Day, but every day, that we celebrate women, everywhere. Next time you see a woman, no matter how she presents herself, no matter how she challenges or confirms your biases – every woman is a person with hopes and dreams, with achievements big and small. Whether she stood up after a back injury, or gave birth to twins, or stood up to a bully at work, or finished her PhD thesis, or weaned off antidepressants, or overcame her fear of bungee jumping, or looked at herself in the mirror and for the first time in nine-hundred-and-seventy-six days didn’t feel shit about her body – these achievements are worth celebrating, and we should give women the space to do so. Because they are human, just like everyone else.

Georgie, an Asian woman with short dark hair, standing on sandy terrain, wearing hiking boots, a bright blue jacket and black pants. She has one leg off the ground outstretched and her arms outstretched. She has her sunglasses on and is smiling, and the wind is blowing her hair around her face.
Me in Tasmania earlier this year

Other posts I’ve written for International Women’s Day:

  • 2021: “Why are they all white men?”
  • 2020: I mentor people, because I want to give them the opportunities I didn’t have.
  • 2019: There is nothing surprising about a woman in tech
  • 2018: I can wear whatever the hell I want, and no matter what you say, I’m still an engineer
  • 2017: Passion is immeasurable
  • 2016: Women don’t think they’re better than anyone. They just want to be respected

This year for International Women’s Day, the theme was #BreakTheBias. This is honestly something I feel like I have advocated for ever since I was young, so my choice for this post was to challenge everyone, women included, to avoid bias when it comes to giving other women space and celebrating them.

Leave a Comment

Comments on this post

This was a beautiful post, Georgie. Agree with every word. Happy International Women’s Day ❤️

Reply to this »