about being a woman
Updated: Oct 24, 2018
i've been really bad about blogging. i have almost 15 drafts going, i just can't get myself to finish any of them. more to come on that soon, i hope.
but today i am feeling really compelled to write this one. why? because on my walk home from the gym tonight a man moved out of my way as i passed him on the street. this is truly the only culture where i have experienced that act. it may not seem like a big deal, but it's unusual enough for me to notice. every other place i have traveled i am constantly either dodging or just getting bumped into by men.
this weekend at church an american tourist asked me how i felt living here as a young woman. i couldn't think of a single instance where i've felt unsafe.
during in-country orientation we talked about safety in terms of being a woman. this conversation honestly shook me up a lot. it's alarming to get a list of precautions to take and risks just based on your gender identity. it's was all information i was already aware of, but hearing it in this new setting definitely got to me.
it bothered me until one day i began to consider what kind of things i would tell a women unfamiliar to the united states. what social implications certain attitudes, attire and actions have. the list was ten times longer.
and as i've lived here i've noticed more and more how safe i feel. part of our training also pointed out that even if a person did overstep thier boundaries the people in our communities would be looking out for us. no questions asked. this is also an unusual feeling for me. i feel comfortable drawing lines, calling out actions and asking questions because i know i will be taken seriously.
the simple act of men respecting my physical space is new to me. on the bus or public transportation men will choose to stand before sitting next to a women who is alone. (one of my cohort mates wrote more on this:
and yes i have had experienced some advances, but once i voice my intentions they are respected immediately. (also a difference from my experiences at home. who knew?)
i've never been a person who has given too much effort to my looks. "prettiness" just isn't something i've prioritized. here, my lack of make up and short hair definitely falls far from traditional beauty standards. at first this was something i was hyperaware of, as i was trying to acclimate to my new setting. but as it turn out people here have been quicker to call me "clever" before commenting on my appearance. and that honestly feels so much better.
i'm not saying that i won't have challenges this year because of my gender identity. i will. and my heart ways so heavily with thoughts of my fellow lady humans back home. it takes a lot.
it helps that i have so many strong women around me on this journey. everyday, i am inspired by the women around me.
to my country coordinator, jeni and the other four badass ladies in my cohort: thanks for growing with and supporting me.
to the other brave yagm women exploring their own identity in new spaces: you all are amazing and i am in awe of your journeys.
to the strong and intelligent palestinian women i work with and meet here: you all show me strength in more ways than i have ever known. thank you for welcoming me in.
and to my ladies back home: i love you, i believe you and i will support you always.