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  • Writer's pictureElana Withnall

Women Who Werk

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Feminist: noun. ‘’The doctrine of advocating social, political and all other rights of women equal to those of men.’’

I started playing on a ‘mixed football team’ at the age of 5. I was the only girl on the whole team. For 5 Years straight. I was an athletic girl. Fast. Fearless. Not to toot my own horn, an asset to the team. But the boys didn’t pass the ball to me often, simply because I was a girl. This is where it stated. Meaningless inequality because of my gender.

This progressed to mixed cross country races later in school, where I was deemed a ‘cheater’ because I simply crossed the finish line before all of the boys.

Later in high school, when you’d expect everyone to be a little wiser. A little more mature. I fortunately took my gift of athleticism and worked hard. Was a national level athlete at this point. And with achievement comes some limelight (to my dismay). The lime light I received to celebrate my achievements was far too emasculating to some close- minded individuals. The boys ALWAYS to run before the girls. Track and field. Cross county. Even swimming. As their participation was reduced to a walk. And I was fortunately the first of the girls races, to catch the boys who started before us. A group of ‘footy boys’ from my grade decided to make a human wall, during this race. So when I approached them I simply Could not get past, unless I wanted to run in the gutter full of water around them.

When approaching I politely asked them to move. But no cigar. I had to physically push past these larger boys, injuring myself in the process & affecting my mental state half way through my 4km race - in order for my race not to be completely obstructed and my race performance to be dismantled. This didn’t end there, sadly. But I’m not one to sit back and let someone, let alone a whole group make me feel inferior when I haven’t done anything wrong.

I continued to be bullied by boys. Because I was simply taller than them. Because of my athleticism. Because I was loud, enthusiastic, didn’t follow the crowd. (and was little bit crazy!) Because of my diligence to school work. Because I had dreams. Because I did not take them stealing my lunch box, as a sign of ‘flirting.’ I did not accept the teacher’s view that ‘they only Annoy you and call you names because they like you!’ No, that was not, nor will ever be acceptable. That is an excuse for their behaviour. Which was deemed to be ‘okay’ and had no punishment for making me feel inferior or harassed. It’s not ‘’boys will be boys, Lani.’ This behaviour simply not okay. And allows those boys to think they can treat women like that, later in life.

I have been 6’1’’ since I was about 16. But I take the gift of height as a privilege. And feel sad for those boys. that chose to be intimidate by something I simply can’t help. Genetics. Or something that doesn’t in any way concern them like the way I live my life, or my Athletic achievements. (Until the day that boys start competing against girls).

This misogynistic philosophy It may stem back to stories like mine. The things little boys, are lead to believe while they’re growing up, deciding what kind of person they’re going to okay.

Let’s make sure it ends here. Childhood. Real men teach their children not to discriminate based on gender or even race for that matter. Based on appearance, ability or behaviour.

My philosophy is a person should only be judged, simply how they move through the world and how they treat others.

These experiences, although not completely terrible. Weren’t nice. But they made me the person and the athlete I am today. It taught me not to be complacent with someone’s preconceived perception of you, your ability or what kind of person you are for that matter; on first glance. And it additionally assisted with encouraging a strong intrinsic mental drive from a young age. Which eventually assisted with being able to win a gold (X 2) medal for my country.

I describe myself as a Feminist for this reason. I am a Feminist because I believe in female equal opportunity. I believe in simple equality - equal opportunity, rights, wages, treatment, attitudes and parody among genders. Equality in the mentality that women are equal to men. In their value, their place in the world, the workplace, politics, rights in history and in future history.

In that women are capable, forceful, fierce human beings. And I will not let anyone underestimate me because of my gender.

This open style of Feminist mindset is important to explore, in a world where in some cultures, it’s traditional to ask your husband for permission to simply purchase yourself a gym membership. Where men are culturally expected to dictate their wive’s every decision. Where women aren’t allowed to drive an automobile, let alone be independent in their own decision making.

I encourage you to teach your Son’s when they begin football training, or are on a mixed-gender class. Your husbands in a work environment where their superior may be a female. Your male mates, who feel intimidated by a powerful woman. Encourage equal thinking. Eliminate this superiority complex based on someone’s thought process, hundreds of years ago.

Please. Make up your own damn mind!

Until next time's thoughts...

Keep Dreaming & Believing,

Xx Lani

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