I don’t know why, but ever since I was a kid, I remember always playing sports and competing with the guys. During our free time in elementary school, the girls would talk with each other on the sidelines and the boys would play sports. I thought, “Sitting around and talking is so boring. Why do they do that?”
Now I’m 28 years old and I still have the same habits. I feel good when I beat a guy at pool, at basketball or seeing how long we can stay in really cold water the longest. Especially when they think I’m an easy win because, I’m “a chick” (another name for a girl in North American culture). After a win, I’d hear them whisper, “Dude, you got schooled by a girl” or “Wow, she took did it like a man.”
Or did I do it like a woman? Even better.
They burned their bras for us
In high school, I remember a friend saying, “I hate feminists.” We probably wouldn’t be in school if it weren’t for the many people who fought for our rights. That doesn’t mean that I agree with some extreme feminist views. But it’s easy to take our history for granted when we were born with many rights and freedoms.
Men need to be part of the solution
Just like ethnic equality, gay rights, women’s rights, men do need to be part of the solution on this journey towards equal rights. One of my very wise friends said, “Gay rights is not just a fight for gay people. I’m straight but it is a human right and it is everyone’s responsibility. Black rights is not a fight just for black people, it affects everyone.”
Challenging cultural traditions
It’s tricky when you’re a visitor in a new country and finding the balance between respecting cultural tradition and sharing your perspective from an upbringing where women have more rights and freedoms. I actually visited an NGO and it was an amazing program.
The guide brought me to the volleyball field and said that the students play every week to keep themselves active and they host a party after a tournament regularly. That all sounded great until he told me that girls were not allowed to play even thought students asked if girls could play. What surprised me even more is he said, “In Cambodian culture, people think that women should be doing ‘gentle’ work.” I tried to hold my tongue as much as I could and just said, “Hopefully that changes over time.”
Below are inspiring videos of women from two totally different cultures who are working to empower women to challenge cultural traditions and to believe in themselves to get what they deserve.
My dream for women all around the world
- To be able to make any choice in their life freely whether it be to get a Masters degree, be single at 40, own her own home without anyone’s permission or have a family
- To be able to be confident in themselves, know themselves and love themselves so they can demand what they deserve and demand respect
Girls, it’s time girls stop being in the sidelines and jump in and play.