She awakes. She stands up, stretches, and walks to the bathroom. She washes her face.
She begins her day.
She clothes herself in her armour. She spends a lot of time selecting the appropriate fabrics to cover her body. This is based on a myriad of factors – temperature, occasion, neighbourhood, time of day, people she will see, etc. She must balance all of these factors: a tightrope act. She covers herself enough to not be labeled a ‘slut’ or ‘whore’, but bares some skim in order to remain ‘desirable’. If it is hot outside, she may be permitted to show more skin, but not so much that it will tempt any man with whom she may come in contact.
But her outfit must be better than simply not offending anyone; it must also make her attractive. Thus, she follows the written rules, shared in the pages of Cosmopolitan and Elle. She matches her outfit to her body shape, be it ‘pear’ or ‘apple’ or another fruit product, by selecting ‘appropriate’ cues and patterns. This is to best hide her shape and size if it deviates from societal expectations.
Once she has carefully put on her armour, she selects her shoes. When she walks out the door, she wears pointy shoes with sharp heels, elevating her height as an attempt to be on ‘equal ground’ with men.
Her toolkit, in the form of a purse, briefcase or satchel, is made of beautiful leather. She spends one month’s salary on this item so she will look ‘professional’ and be taken seriously.
Within her toolkit, she packs her worth-boosters: instruments that help her rise the ranks in society and garner more clout. She chooses a bright lip colour to make it easier for people to listen to her speak. Her skin cream makes her look more youthful, allowing people to appreciate her as an object for their affection and not feel uncomfortable about her aging.
She also packs her nourishment for the afternoon; another challenge. This must be substantial enough to maintain her energy, but servings modest enough to allow her to continue to strive for the physique depicted in pop culture. Often, this falls on the latter end of the spectrum.
When she goes out at night she is sure to pack her protectors, the tools that keep her safe. This varies from woman to woman. She may hold keys between her knuckles, channeling the comic character Wolverine, for the ability to slash her predator in close range. She may attach a conveniently tiny ‘rape whistle’ to her lanyard so to alert nearby community members of her peril should it arise. Alternatively, she may choose to bring along toxic spray to blind her assailant in order to attempt escape.
On her cell phone, she has a number of safety resources at her fingertips. She may dial 911 on her keypad, ready to hit ‘call’ at any moment. She may download apps that make the sound of a siren, or allow her friends to follow her virtually on her walk home to ensure nothing out of the ordinary happens.
Lest us not forget the tools she has learned to help tailor her presentation so as not to threaten men. These include phrasing statements as questions in order to appear less assertive, or saying sorry for things that do not warrant an apology. These tools include taking a longer, but safer route home, or avoiding eye contact with men when walking down the street at night. These include uncomfortably chuckling at jokes that aren’t very funny or quietly enduring the patronizing explanation of concepts she understands very well.
Finally, at the end of the day, she tucks herself into bed. But not after see has locked her doors and set her alarm for 6am to start the process all over.
Living in the patriarchy, an exhausting battle.