When residing in southwestern Ohio, there is not much diversity to be found. I’m only 50% Latina, and that, along with the fact I’m a Democrat, makes me seem like almost a rare species. The minute people hear my mom is Latina, they bombard me with questions about my “Mexican Heritage.” I’m Argentine. To my peers, it’s as if all Spanish speaking countries are lumped into one. I’m very light skinned, so many people assume I’m white, meaning racism isn’t something I experience often.
Sexism, however, is something that I can talk about more first-hand. It’s something I experience when I walk down the street, or even down the hallway. Sexism can be physical, verbal, or quiet. It can come from anyone, no matter how old. Kids as young as preschoolers have preconceived notions that sports are for boys and dolls are for girls. These thoughts are cleared only when education is granted, but learning how to undo systemized sexism and racism isn’t something you can learn in school.
I am lucky enough to have a very liberal and educated mother who has guided me in the right direction as I have grown up. She encouraged me to read the news and have discussions with her and my peers politely. She taught me that no matter how frustrating the debate may be, you can’t quit until all of your points and evidence have been laid out. Staying in touch with all current events from all different points of view, along with personal experiences and struggles, is what really shapes a person and his or her opinion,.
As I started middle school, my experiences made my opinion stronger. I knew sexism existed and that it was terrible, but you don’t expect to be a victim of it at 12 years old. I can’t imagine how people manage not only being oppressed by sexism, but also by racism, transphobia, islamophobia, ableism, etc. Just being a woman makes me a target to harassment, but I’m lucky that’s the only thing. It’s sad that it’s so common today to be attacked for parts of you that are unchangeable.
When I debated with boys, they wouldn’t take me seriously simply because I’m a “small girl.” In gym class, you would be judged if you even tried and weren’t an athletic male. I never felt comfortable walking down the hallway or even past boys in a hallway because of crude comments that would spill out of their mouths. Even the teachers enforced a ridiculously strict dress code that muted self expression and confidence; even girls were subtly sexist towards each other.
All women are attacked for the way they look, what they do, and what they feel. As females, we have to stick together to defeat stereotypes. We have to unite with ALL women—women of color, transgender women, overweight women, disabled women, etc. In order to accomplish true equality, we have to team up with people of all genders.