Being a young woman in a XXIst century developed country has its perks. I was lucky enough to be born into a family of strong, independent women who, despite the times they lived, still truly ruled their world. I was also lucky to be born in a time when my country was embracing some change in cultural patterns. But, mostly lucky for my mum and dad, who broke cultural rules regarding standard gender roles in Portugal.
I have played football, climbed trees, built furniture, changed light-bulbs and tires. I can read maps and have good spatial orientation. I was good at trigonometry. I wear pants, fedoras, waistcoats. I think I look good with a tie.
As a child, I had female friends and male friends as playmates. We played war games, house games, doll games, bicycle games.
I had a huge Barbie doll collection. I loved my Barbies, making dresses for them, making their houses…
I wear pretty dresses, pretty shoes, beautiful handbags. I look after my skin, my body, my mind. I have a favourite lipstick – Rouge Coco Shine (it has a name: Biarritz). And yes, I like talking about it with others who have a favourite Rouge Coco (it’s a Chanel lipstick).
I have a collection of pretty things on my pinterest. That is all my pinterest is for.
I care about my hair, my legs. I care about my nails – but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you saw them right now!
I watch beauty gurus on youtube regularly. My favourites are “my girl” Sande (TheSocialiteLife), Wendy, and have been enjoying Michelle Phan. Was about time I learnt about her (you might not know, but she’s the original, the first of many).
I don’t like shopping. When I shop in the shop, I try to do it when there aren’t many people (early morning). But I try to avoid it because I am one of those impulsive shoppers who comes back home with something they don’t need or will ever use. So I buy online and take my time to decide. Usually, I leave it for a week or two if it’s a higher end product, just to make sure I really want it.
I buy cheap stuff and really expensive stuff. I have expensive tastes and like to focus on quality and investment. That’s my usual excuse for an expensive buy.
I have owned a huge shoe and handbag collection. I have gotten rid of most of it when I moved to Vienna. When you can only travel with 20kgs, you learn a thing or two about living with only what is truly needed!
I hate a mess. I like everything organized neatly. I don’t understand how people can live with things spread on the floor. My mind works better with organization and I enjoy finding a place for things. Then staring at my work and thinking “yup, it was worth it! The books look much better organized by…”.
I don’t like cleaning, vacuum, washing the dishes, washing clothes, dusting…I can do it pretty well when I have to, though. I wouldn’t be afraid of being a house cleaner.
I’m a not-so-good cook. I can do it. It’s just my food tastes are not very sophisticated. I usually like anything so others may find my cooking a bit meh.
I love hosting a party. It’s so much work, but I love receiving people.
I like do discuss politics, economics, religion, football. I like watching football. I don’t watch national games anymore. Supporting one team was too stressful for me. I now only watch world championships. I like watching it with my 80 year old aunt who knows as much of football as I do and gets as excited by a good game as I do. She’s the best!
I like watching “The Vampire Diaries” and “Pretty Little Liars”. I wish I hadn’t lost track of “Desperate Housewives” and I am not ashamed about enjoying “reality” tv shows. I like watching “The Wire”, “Dexter”, “24”, “The X-Files”. I like war movies.
I enjoy watching historical documentaries, particularly on war battles. I know my History.
I cry when I watch any sort of movie that has an animal on it: an ad, a movie trailer, it doesn’t matter. I can’t take watching animals in difficult circumstances. I get really angry. I would join Greenpeace on one of their anti-whaling boats!
I have been free to choose what to do with my life: my career, my studies, the man I married with, when to get married. I feel I will be free to choose when to have children and how I will want birth to go. I also believe I am free to choose how many children I want to have. I will be free to choose to abort if such a circumstance would arise.
I am not afraid of being feminine. I am not afraid of being masculine. I am not afraid of being emotional, caring, loving, strong, pragmatic, practical…
I am a complex human being whose potential was nurtured and allowed to flourish.
I am a woman.
I won’t use my femininity to convince you to do something for me. I won’t use my female forms to get where I want to go. I won’t hide them either. You won’t convince me to wear a short skirt to save my life. I will wear a short skirt if I feel like it, when I feel like it.
I will treat any man as I will treat any woman: with respect. And I expect the same from any man or woman.
I don’t believe all women are as fortunate as I am and have been. Right now, somewhere, a girl is being forced into marriage, into having sex, into having a child. She will die at child-birth, she will be sexually and physically abused. She will live in fear and ignorance. She will not be independent.
My 80 year old aunt was not allowed to go to school because she was a girl. My grandmother was not allowed to learn to read or write for the same reason. She only felt free to stop wearing her head scarf after everyone she knew from her life was gone. She was 87.
For them, and for all the women, young and old, I will always stand up and fight. Because there’s a long way to go before women around the world are truly respected, before all the stereotypes are truly broken down, before the word “feminism” is really part of History. Because this is an issue that affects all of us, privileged women and men too. And I will do it, because I can!