I am woman | Emma Malcolmson
I am woman, hear me roar. Or, let me retire with £100,000 less in my pension than my male co-workers. This isn’t a statistic for today. It’s not a statistic for women who are retiring in 2021. This is a future statistic. It’s about women in their twenties in 2021. When we retire, at whatever absurd age that may be in the future, we’ll be retiring with £100,000 less than our male counterparts. We are so bound to a patriarchal society that we’re predicting gender-gap figures for decades to come. We would have to work an extra 40 years to close this gap. Yeah, that’s fine, because surely there will be some sort of technology to keep us pumping out children and underpaid labour until we are 120 years old.
This figure, apparently, is because women are more likely to work part-time. They’re more likely to take time out of work to care for family members. Not all men, you say. I say it is all men. I say fuck all men and, I’ll say that with chest. I have many men in my life who I love, dearly, but from the second every single man is born, they are already in a better position in society than we are as women. A baby boy born tomorrow will retire with more money than a woman in her twenties. And 40 years before her too, it seems.
Unless you are a man speaking up about gender inequalities: fuck you. If you’re not challenging your friends making ‘funny’ sexist ‘jokes’: fuck you. If you’re not showing solidarity to anyone other than cis, white men: fuck you. Fuck all men who don’t challenge inequalities for their sisters, mothers, girlfriends, or anyone who isn’t the same as them. You can be born into an inordinately privileged life as a man and still want to change the world. I must face the reality that before my career has even begun, a man will always get the job over me. I could be more qualified, write better, but that doesn’t matter because I am a woman. And even if I did, by some miraculous blip in the patriarchal cycle manage to get the job, my male co-workers would still, on average, be earning £4.04 an hour more than me – FOR THE EXACT SAME WORK. Why are women who chose to be mothers paying the price for taking time out of their career when men who chose to be fathers won’t have to make the same sacrifices?
And it’s not just our careers or our caring duties that are affected today and for decades to come – one in three women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetimes. Women all over the world are being denied an education solely because of their gender. Young women and children are still being sold into marriages. It’s not culture, it’s an abomination. Fuck continuing to live in a world where women cannot afford period products. Fuck living in a world where not enough are in leadership positions. Fuck living in a world where women are still falling behind in education and healthcare. Fuck living in a world where 16 domestic killings of women and children happening in the UK in the first three weeks of a pandemic lockdown. Fuck living in a world where people exclude women from women’s rights because they are trans. Fuck living in a world where trans-women are threatened for being in women’s spaces or even rejected from receiving women’s aid. James Brown was right. This is a man’s world. Everything in this world is arranged to the advantage of the man. The time for living in a man’s world is over.
And you’re right to question where my right as a cis-gender, white, educated woman is to speak about inequality. My right is that I am a woman. My right is that I am angry. I am so unbelievably angry that we are still in this position today. I know my voice can and will be heard. When Helen Reddy wrote ‘I Am Woman’, way back in 1971, she set the standard for the way women heard themselves. No longer were women characters heard in songs through the expectations of the male-gaze. They would no longer see themselves as objects in a man’s world. Women are the protagonists of their own stories: they are not someone’s wife, daughter, object of affections or fetishization. They are women.
I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.