If I were a boy Even just for a day I’d roll outta bed in the morning And throw on what I wanted and go drink beer with the guys
And chase after girls I’d kick it with who I wanted
And I’d never get confronted for it cause they’d stick up for me
(Beyoncé, If I were a boy)
As a middle-aged woman in Malta, my mind often goes back to when I was a little girl.
I was brought up in Los Angeles, California until I was 16, so I developed quite a liberal and inquisitive mind. I often questioned many ‘taken for granted’ assumptions. I observed the social world and my surroundings and realised that men have it much easier than women in this world.
At a young age I often said to myself: “Hmmm I wish I was a boy.” From the lens of a little girl I rationalised that life wouldn’t be as hard as it is for girls. I could just be me and not have to act or look or live up to feminine stereotypical expectations which tend to hinder rather than enable a woman to realise her potential. I’d get up and go and just get on in life without the extra difficulties many women have to face.
Many girls and later, when they become women, are often judged by boys and men and funnily enough by women too. You often hear women say: “I’d rather have a man be my boss than a woman.”
This is perhaps one of the most ironic statements one can hear and bears resemblance to the rationale guiding women not to vote for and elect women in Parliament to represent them.
In light of this I think that as women – despite the many hurdles and inequalities we face in society – we must come to understand that we have a lot to give to our society.
We must be the voice for the voiceless in society
We already contribute so much in the private realms and spaces we occupy as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and grandmothers. Yet, I believe we should (as women) give an equal chance to other women, as we already do to men, to represent us.
We must be the voice for the voiceless in society. We must stand together and be counted and work towards creating a more equitable society which continues to foster and promote the potential and visibility of both genders.
We need women in the public sphere and we need women to believe that women are capable of fulfilling roles in the political world, which till now have been disproportionately dominated and occupied by men.
Now as a grown woman and throughout my life experiences, I’ve come to realise that being a man has its drawbacks too. Men are burdened with having to live up to stereotypical gender roles and become the providers, protectors and main breadwinners in a post-modern and globalised world that is very different from the one their fathers and grandfathers became men in.
I’ve come to realise the strength and potential of ‘the female’ despite difficulties ‘she’ still encounters in ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres. I firmly believe that women can also be motors of change and role models for future generations to follow.
In essence, women really can do anything if given equal chances for participation and the opportunities that some men make take for granted.
I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
(Helen Reddy, I am woman)
Miriam Cassar is a sociologist.
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