TED talk #1: Being a woman

There have been a lot of conversations about gender, feminism, sexual misconduct, and toxic masculinity. While I am glad that perpetrators are finally being called out, I think those terms don’t begin to describe what it’s really like to live as a woman. I don’t like the term ‘sexual misconduct’ because to me, it sounds like ‘zero-tolerance policy’ or not following an ‘expectation’ at school. As teacher and students know, nothing really happens for breaking a rule at school except a slap on the wrist.

I would like to talk about:

  • What it’s like living in a female body
  • What it’s like to feel invalidated by both men and women
  • What it’s like making yourself vs. other people making you

The amount of criticism directed at women for having a non-perfect body is just astounding. It’s like people get offended when a woman doesn’t look good. How dare she not manage herself?? She looks terrible in that. Has she gained weight? Those are just the verbal ones. They hurt but with enough time and practice, you can learn to ignore.

But, I think the more sneaky and powerful criticism are actually compliments for women who do pass the test, who do meet the beauty standards. Nothing makes you feel as bad as not feeling good enough. When you hear things like She looks like a Barbie. Her eyes are so big and bright. She has such nice skin.  What you really hear is that You are not good enough. There are beautiful women, and there is you. Growing up, this has always been the thing nagging at me. My family criticized me plenty for not taking care of myself, not brushing my hair, etc, but what hurt me the most is when they complimented other girls and women. Even if they weren’t saying it to me or it doesn’t have anything to do with me at all, I was hearing these comments and feeling like, wow, I am so sub-par. I am so ugly and plain!!! Clearly, these women are a different class than myself.

All of this is to say that, I grew up thinking that I am not right. My body, my face and my looks aren’t right. There are much better looks out there.

I have a lot of encouraging women in my life, thankfully, but some of the people who’ve hurt me the most in my life are women. They’ve explicitly told me that I need to look better and manage myself, otherwise I’m not going to attract any guys. I think the biggest thing is for women to support each other. Men have such an easy time picking women apart because some women already do it to each other. That makes me feel really sad.

With men, I often feel that I don’t please them and that they are frustrated with me. They talk to me like I am stupid and I completely missed their point. I’m not stupid– I am smart, and they are frustrated because they are not getting or hearing what they want from me. I’m not going to apologize for that–I never have and I never will. I guess guys will just have to continue thinking I am stupid or I don’t get their point. *flips hair*

Which brings me to the last point: I am done letting other people make me, and I am starting to make myself. People can continue thinking I don’t look good enough, or that I don’t get what they are saying. But I KNOW myself, and I know that I am smart, and beautiful. I’m not smart because I have a PhD and a good job; I am not beautiful because what show up in the mirror or a picture.

I am smart and beautiful because I am me, and I am making myself.

Thank you for coming to my first TED talk <3. I love you all!

Some references;

#NunsToo are speaking out

“These nuns believe they’re the guilty ones for having seduced that holy man into committing sin,” she says, “because that’s what they’ve always been taught.”

Adding to the trauma, she says, raped nuns who get pregnant become outcasts from their orders.

Laurie Halse Anderson shouts

My secret hope is that if people enjoy it that they’ll find an older relative of theirs and share it with them. … Although we are beginning to create the ability to speak up, I think it’s a younger generation phenomena and I know how many millions of … older people who have their own stories to tell — their old wounds that are still seeping.

Sex scandals shake K-pop

“This time, because Korea has been directly grappling with issues like MeToo, spy cams, and women’s rights in general, there’s no way they will let these crimes go so easily. The things these men have allegedly done hit right at the heart of the biggest societal divisions in Korea right now.”

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