Women’s History Month 2021: One Letdown After Another

Hi everyone, I have been feeling the need to vent about gender inequality of late. The pandemic has exposed rampant discrimination towards women and there have been SO many failures especially during Women’s History Month.

One thing I wanted to mention is I changed my site from UCan2 to Third Culture Kid Can in case you got confused. It’s still me!

Note: I am going to share my own personal experiences of discrimination, particularly as an expat.

Content Warning: Gender and racial-based violence.

Harry and Meghan Interview with Oprah:

After living in England for 13 years, I could write an entire post about the Royal Family. I can say where I was when (insert here) happened. Let me give a summary here. The interview confirmed what I already knew about the Royal Family. Combine Wallace Simpson with Princess Diana. Add a dose of racism. Voila! The racism part was only new in the sense that it’s a new tune than it’s been. After all, no person of colour has ever married into the Royal Family before.

In case you missed the interview, here’s a link: http://box720p.com/play.php?movie=tt141172ttttt88

I was able to see what my friends in England were posting on Facebook about the impending nuptials. There were articles that weren’t making it into international news. My friends were commenting on how disgustingly racist and xenophobic those articles were. The bottom line of our views was, “It’s the 21st century! Stop this crap!” I hope someday, racist and xenophobic media lose their credibility. This interview exposed what media sources we shouldn’t trust. Look for the temper tantrums and ignore the source for good!

My American friends know that I am seriously disillusioned with the Royal Family. One of my friends told me, “I watched Harry and Meghan’s wedding.” I said, “Okay.” That was the end of that conversation. I don’t mind hearing about the Royal Family per se. People know that I only talk about them if I want to talk about them. It’s a mixed bag for me. I do keep up with what’s going on in the UK because it is my passport country. On the other hand, you can only hear so much about the Royal Family. Although, these days I feel it’s important to have these conversations, especially after the interview.

Sexual Harassment Statistics in the UK:

UN Women UK released a statistic that 97% of women in the UK have been sexually harassed. I’m one of them and I certainly believe it when they say how rampant it is. Please note, the following is my own personal experience, but I honestly believe I am not the only one who has experienced these types of harassment. I am talking about this because this is NOT okay!

I was a pre-teen when I moved to London. Within my first year, I had to be careful of what I said or did. I could just be minding my own business, and somehow that showed a guy I was into him and he would totally hit on me! This happened so frequently and it confused me terribly. I was going through culture shock at the same time. I found myself wondering, “Is this normal in England? Or is it normal everywhere?” I didn’t tell my parents what was going on because the shame was overwhelming!

Fortunately, my Mum figured out what was going on. One time at school, this boy in my class called me a “Stupid American Bitch”. I didn’t even know what that word meant at the time. My Mum called the school to yell at them and eventually pulled me out! Later on, she noticed guys would make eyes at me and she would give them dirty looks.

I went to a girls’ school for a while because I didn’t want to deal with boys. It wasn’t any better because they were bullies in their own way. Plus, they just accepted sexual harassment from boys and men as normal and I didn’t. I developed the attitude, “I don’t care if this is culturally acceptable! This is not okay!”

It Never Got Better:

As I got older and began to look more like a woman, the harassment came thick and fast. Guys kept making eyes at me or whistling at me whenever I was out. I was walking down my street and I got hit on SIX TIMES by SIX DIFFERENT MEN! I turned around and went home ready to punch any guy that hit on me again!

One time, I was at the pharmacy picking up medicine for my Mum and the guy serving me hit on me! I refused to go to that pharmacy again. Another time, this homeless guy grabbed me after he asked me for money. Fortunately, I broke free and ran away! There were a lot more incidents where that came from.

The only support I could rely on was my Mum. My friends told me I should be flattered that I get hit on so much. I developed my own survival skills. If anyone tried to stop me in the street, I would either outright ignore them, or yell, “NO!” before they had a chance to say anything. I know now that sometimes, it was rude because the person meant no harm. On the other hand, I was traumatized. I developed my “DON’T MESS WITH ME” look and used it all the time when I was out.

Then I Started Working As A Chef:

Sexual harassment got absolutely brutal once I entered the workplace! Plus, being in a kitchen where there are hot and sharp things, you fear for your safety if you speak up. One time, I used physical force on a guy who was sexually harassing me at work, and who got disciplinary action? Me. By now, I was on medication for panic attacks. The trauma from harassment had compounded after several years. I eventually stopped working as a chef because I learned sexual harassment and assault is an occupational hazard for female chefs.

Here’s one of the biggest ironies I learned. The most significant change I had made as a teenager was to dress in bulky clothes and look ugly. Okay, I know now it’s an outdated view that women’s clothes provoke men. I thought the people who were slut-shaming me were right. I’m not saying they were right, but I will say this. Dressing down definitely reduced the number of street harassment incidents I experienced. I was willing to do it as long as it happened less.

Trouble is, I HATE wearing bulky clothes all the time! It makes my body hurt and sometimes, I just wanted to wear a dress or take my sweater off or something. I mean, come on! Just let women wear what they want! Their clothing is NOT their consent! When I moved to California, I started to relax more with my clothing.

After I was sexually harassed at work, I knew the clothes assumption was wrong. I wore chef whites like everyone else and I was still harassed! Now, I just wear what I want. I have my own style and I’m proud of it!

When I Repatriated:

I learned the hard way how American guys were toxic. Culture definitely influences toxic behaviour patterns in people. I was used to how guys were toxic in England. Guys in America seemed to have a more violent side to their toxic behaviour. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that guns are legal in the US.

Additionally, it was surprising to me to learn that women in the US are far more supportive of each other than in the UK. It was hard for me to develop close female friendships in the UK. Plus, I feel women in the US are aware of how toxic men can be, and they know they have to stick up for each other. I was in two abusive relationships after I repatriated. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire for me. Fortunately, I learned to develop close female friendships and that helped me heal. I don’t like Madeline Albright per se, but her quote that I used for my post is so right!

I decided to apply to go to Mills College in Oakland because I needed a safe place to continue healing. It worked! It was the best decision I could have made and it has set me up with a lot of skills for life. That was why I was so upset when my senior year got cut short because of the pandemic. See my previous post, COVID-19: One Year On. What’s My Story?

And Then This Past Week Happened:

Last Tuesday, there the shootings in Atlanta happened where six Asian sex workers were killed. When the domestic terrorist blamed his violent actions on his sex addiction, uh no. Just no! Other people deal with addiction and they aren’t out and about shooting people. Also, yellow fever much? I thought this was about the worst it could get with Women’s History Month. I was wrong.

The next day, I got an announcement that my beloved Alma Mater is going to close. I was inconsolable. I know that universities have been suffering because of the pandemic, but Mills was suffering financially even before the pandemic. The amount of information I have about why Mills is closing is a whole other post. Basically, Mills was in financial trouble a few years ago. Therefore, the vultures descended and finished the school off. I have been getting information the last few days that makes me angry and sad and hurt that the president and Board of Trustees have killed Mills. It’s like in Guardians of the Galaxy when Rocket yells, “You killed Groot!”

I am working to fight against this along with other alums. To me, Mills is forever! Plus, after all the crap that has happened during Women’s History Month, Mills’ work is FAR from done! Mills closing is just another reason why I never want to live in the US again. Someone said to me that it’s super expensive to live in the Bay Area now and he doesn’t see how any school can survive there long-term anymore. I definitely agree. Income inequality is through the roof there and it’s hard to see it getting better any time soon!

Okay, rant over. What are your thoughts on Women’s History Month this year and progress on women’s rights?

Author: winteroseca

I'm a Third Culture Kid who has lived in four different countries before and recently moved to Canada. Follow my blog about my life in Canada, plus expat life hacks and more!

16 thoughts on “Women’s History Month 2021: One Letdown After Another”

  1. I have to say that I’ve never really experienced much of the behaviour you write about. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life or am downright insensitive. I know that life is different growing up in these times, so I’m thankful I was born all those years ago. Except when I look in the mirror πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  2. I am never sure what guys think (or if they do) when they do stupid or rude things to attract attention. Why do they feel they have the right to offer an opinion on appearance, attitude or beauty to anyone they meet or see in passing? Perhaps it is even worse now in the social media age. Nobody deserves to be the center of unwanted attention, no matter the circumstances. As to the Atlanta shooting, I found it hard to watch the police almost excusing the poor murdered for his actions due to his childhood treatment and his “sex” addiction. As to Harry and Meghan, I think they made the right choice leaving the Royal Family in order to gain privacy, but this interview had more to do with revenge and notoriety than anything else and was coincidentally timed for release just before Harry’s collaboration with Oprah on the mental health issue. The whole world is so screwed up right now with everyone clamouring for more likes, more follows, more looks, etc. Sometimes this type of attention just drags out the weirdos until those shouting Hey, look at me” change their mind and start shouting “Stop looking at me”. Stay well and stay strong. Allan

    1. I agree with you about guys that do that crap. It’s like mansplaining at a whole new level. Social media can definitely be a factor, although I moved to London several years before social media came out and harassment was bad even then. I don’t accept that Atlanta shooter’s excuse. I know people who have struggled with addiction and they aren’t committing terrorism. They lead good, productive lives. I am glad Harry and Meghan are standing up to the crap and they left the Royal Family. I actually deleted my personal social media accounts because I have had enough of attention seekers there. Plus, it wasn’t helping me mentally considering I am already detoxing from a toxic country. I am also joining the Alumnae at Mills to fight this closure. Thanks for commenting 😊

  3. So sorry to hear that you’ve experienced a lot of sexual harassment. It’s unsettling to hear how this has become common for a lot of women. But it’s good that women like you have opened up and are talking about this issue and sharing your experiences.

    1. Yeah, it really is terrible how the world is towards women. I make a point of opening up because I am not afraid anymore. Thanks for your lovely comment 😊

      1. Agreed. It’s crazy how women continue to feel ashamed and guilty even when they’re the victims sometimes. It’s great to see women coming together to share their stories and experiences. To quote the wise words of the Spice Girls, “girl power”.

      2. Definitely. Abusers are not just the people committing those wrongs against you. It’s society too. Girl power indeed!

  4. I’m so sorry about your experiences and it breaks my heart to know how common these kind of experiences are. This month has had a lot of heartbreaks and sometimes I just wonder if it will ever get any better.

    1. Thanks. I know it’s disgusting. That’s what really angers me about Mills closing. I think people are now in a position where they have to fight harder for their rights because it won’t be given to us!

  5. I’m sorry that you experienced so much sexual harassment. I’m not sure if it’s because of my age and I grew up in a different time, but I haven’t experienced what you have. I’m glad you seem to have healed to some extent, and I hope you find Calgary a safe place. Congrats on the new name. Maggie

    1. I am glad for you 😊. It can feel like a crap shoot in life as to whether or not it happens to you. I am making a point of healing here. My Mum and I keep reminding each other we are here for our health, that includes mental health too. Thanks for commenting! I definitely love my new name better 😊

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