I didn’t realize I was a woman until college.
What I mean is, I knew, of course. But it didn’t hit me that there was a major difference between being a man or a woman until someone pointed it out in college. I’d heard mothers say that they wished their daughters had more female role models to look up to. I always wondered as a kid what that meant. I didn’t feel like I had been deprived of anything. I looked up to people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, they were my heroes. It didn’t matter that none of these people were women. I didn’t see a difference. They were people and I was just another person. We were the same with one difference, they were successful and I aspired to be.
I went to college as business major with a class of all men. They intimidated me, not for being male, but for the ability to legally walk into a bar (they were a lot older than me). A year into the course and I was less intimidated. We all learnt the same things, we were all the same.
One day we were all sitting around doing important business-y college-y stuff (Facebook) when one of my classmates pulled up a photo of a pregnant belly. The picture was photoshopped so that a baby’s foot was pressed up against the inside of the woman’s belly. I didn’t think much of it. I used to take graphics and the effect fascinated me. Another classmate turned to me laughing, “That’s going to be you someday!”.
That wasn’t me. That was a pregnant woman. It was a digitally enhanced photograph. My mind couldn’t understand. How could he look at that photo and only see my future? Had I ever mentioned any intentions of having children? What if I didn’t want babies? What if I wanted to run a Fortune 500 company instead? That was NOT my future! But there was no point in trying to defend myself. I realized that day that all they saw me as was a walking vagina waiting for a man to come along and make me look like the woman in the picture.
I was just a woman. A baby making machine.
He only said it as a joke (I hope). But it hurts. It’s insulting to think that no matter what I do, no matter how much I accomplish, and whether I choose to have children or not, it’s all I’ll ever be seen as:
A baby making machine.