I have always been aware that I am a woman. But never so much as I was these past few weeks. Starting out with the second Presidential debate last Tuesday night, carrying through the Moishe House Breast Cancer Awareness Shabbat and participation in the American Cancer Society’s annual 5 mile Breast Cancer Awareness walk, to my interactions with the New York Police Department, I have never been so hyperaware of the fact that I am a woman.
Women have been a much larger, and much more blatant conversation in this Presidential race. Part of me thinks this is rightfully so (as we women are AWESOME and deserve to be talked about), but most of me is just saddened and disheartened that in 2012, we are STILL having conversations about fair pay, and whether or not a new mom can be a good CEO, and about legitimate rape. Are you kidding me?!
I grew up in a world believing that anything was possible. That like Sally Ride, my dreams could take me to space and back. And now, I’m being subjected to politicians who believe that my body has some sort of mechanism to shut down pregnancy in the event of rape. It’s offensive, and honestly, appalling. As a young woman voting in her second Presidential election, grappling with issues of career development, education, dating, and financial worries, I don’t have time to also worry that my government, and my public officials, are going to refuse me my basic rights. Believe what you want about abortion, and when life begins, but how are we even supposed to have a legitimate dialogue when just saying the correct anatomical term for a female genitalia gets you kicked off of a senate floor?
I am 23 years old, and for the first time in my life, I feel the different treatment that the genders get. I lost my wallet this past weekend, and I can’t help but think that the extra attention I am getting from the police department may have something to do with my being a woman. And while, yes, I do appreciate the fact that sometimes being a girl gets the door opened for me, or sometimes gets me a free drink at the bar, I’d rather get notice for being a smart, intelligent, motivated PERSON.
Women do have so many opportunities today, many more than we have had before, and I want to keep that trend going, instead of moving backwards. I want to see women CEOs, and women leaders. I want to continue to stand up, as I did this past weekend in Central Park, with hundreds, upon thousands of women and men, marching not just to eradicate one of the top killers of women, but in solidarity and support of our fellow human.
Rachel Hodes is a second-year graduate student in the NYU Wagner-Skirball Dual Degree Program for Jewish Professional Leadership and a Graduate Student intern at UJA-Federation of New York. She lives in the Murray Hill Moishe House.