Rejection is terrifying, which is why I procrastinated interviewing a stranger for this blog. Instead of approaching new people, I walked towards the Reitz and sat on a bench, looking for possible girls that I could interview. Out of the seven girls in close proximity to me, none were the right fit.
It was necessary to move somewhere different, somewhere with other girls who would just have that I’m-willing-to-interview look to them. I walked around the Hub. Nothing. I walked into the Hub. Nothing, except for a lot of people eating. No people eating, I told myself. I didn’t want to be answered with half-chewed Chick-fil-A.
I ventured to Weimer, but they would all be too eager. This led me to the area, just before the Reitz, where students
attack you invite you to join their clubs. Perfect, I thought. They know rejection, so they would welcome me as one of their own. Heck, I might even make some new friends. So I went a little bit past them, sat on a bench and checked Twitter for the 411 attended to some pressing emails.
Unfortunately, my housemate was in the Reitz, immediately saw me, sat down on my bench and made me feel terrible for procrastinating. It was hard for my bench to see me go, but it was for the greater good of Gals of Gainesville (and alliterations everywhere). I put my phone in my purse and headed for the two girls asking for donations for breast cancer research.
I wish that they had accepted me with open arms and that we became Facebook friends, but we’re not because they didn’t want to do the interview at all.
Boys have it so hard, I thought. How can they handle this? I’d only asked for a 15-minute interview, not a lengthy dinner date and a shared milkshake.
But do boys really have it that hard? Wasn’t I going to do my interviews on feminism, the dreaded “F” word that few want to be associated with? Why didn’t I have enough Girl Power to just ask out a few women on a Gals of Gainesville interview date?
Girls are continually struggling with confidence; it’s an internal power struggle between being bossy and being the boss, which is why Beyoncé and Emma Watson have created such a media hurricane. It’s also why Amanda Baker, a computer science junior and the first stranger I interviewed for this blog, thinks of these women when she thinks of feminism.
Women are physically different from their male counterparts — they have the ability to hold a human being inside of them for nine months (which seems like science-fiction and like awesomeness), Amanda explained.
Still, we have other attributes and “a lot more capabilities than we get credit for,” Amanda said.
Because of Amanda’s penchant for math and her STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) major, she’s experienced sexism in high school and in college. When in her high school math class, where “you know, women are not as good in math,” Amanda was able to solve a complicated problem and her success was quickly dismissed.
“My partner was a guy, one of my close friends, actually,” she said. “He was like, ‘No, no, no, that’s not it because I didn’t figure it out. It couldn’t have been you to figure it out.’ But, at the same time, I’ve looked into feminism more so, and I had a lack of confidence.”
Women have to give themselves power, Amanda explained. “There’s a lot we can do, as women, in addition to men treating us differently.”
Amanda’s story was heartbreaking, not because she isn’t smart and strong, but because another intelligent, capable young woman was told that she couldn’t do something just because she doesn’t have a Y chromosome.
Her story isn’t isolated, though. It’s repeated, over and over, like broken records that we are unwilling to fix.
Liliana Bello, a chemical engineering sophomore (and a friend of mine who eagerly volunteered to interviewed), was the only girl in her high school robotics club.
“My own teammates discriminated against me because they didn’t think I was capable of doing the same technical stuff that they were able to do, yet we took the same training,” she said. “There was no difference in our training, our backgrounds.”
This experience, thankfully, did not deter Lili from pursuing an engineering degree. Instead, she said that it “definitely changed me” and reinforced her feminist views. The message that women are inept creatures is everywhere.
Commercials, like Rick Scott’s Say Yes to the Candidate advertisement, portray women as mindless and materialistic. In the video, women are essentially SNL caricatures with over-exaggerated expressions and melodramatic tones, incapable of making political decisions without heavy analogies. I watched the ad with both women, and they were both confused. How does a real political ad look like a Tina Fey-Amy Poehler sketch?
While Amanda is mostly indifferent to the campaign ad, describing that she is known for “hating the f*** out of politics,” Lili was outraged. These ads are detrimental to young women, those whose confidence is dependent on acceptance (aka me), Lili said.
“I feel like they’re taking this as a joke, and voting’s a serious decision,” Lili said.
When 44.9 percent of college-age women vote, 11.1 percent more than men in the same age group, it seems illogical to offend them.
“They’re just assuming we’re bimbos who don’t care about anything but wedding dresses, apparently, and that that’s the only way we can understand political issues,” Lili said.
Being a girl and liking wedding shows and pretty dresses and glitter and lipstick isn’t bad. It doesn’t mean we can’t think for ourselves and understand politics and ace exams and delegate tasks. We can do all of that and wear lipstick.
It’s time that we stop being afraid that society will reject our thoughts and opinions. It’s time that we stand up for ourselves and other women. It’s time that we have our fun and discuss real issues, too.
Indeed, we can.
All photos were taken by me.