By Nicole Phung, Malaysia.
I remember a boy said this loud and clear enough for people around him to hear.
Allow me to clarify – his audience was a group of male debaters who did not even flinch at his blatant display of misogyny.
I remember being the only all-girls team in a debate competition.
I remember worrying whether judges subconsciously perceived us, three green yet ambitious girls, as inherently weak debaters compared to boys.
Nobody has ever told me that I was less of a debater than a guy, but why did I sometimes think that I may be perceived as such? Why have I always been a minority in debate?
To put it quite simply, it is the association of debate with masculinity.
Anonymous submission from Malaysia.
Yesterday, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Embattled by allegations of sexual assault, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was particularly controversial.
His accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, presented a compelling and sincere statement at his hearing, moving thousands of people across the world. Yet she was criticized for not speaking up earlier – and demeaned for attempting to “obstruct” Kavanaugh’s pathway to the highest court in the nation.
I think these accusations stem from a lack of empathy. Because after all, there are many reasons why victims of sexual assault choose not to speak up immediately – believe it or not, none of them have anything to do with obstructing the promotions of powerful men. Dr. Ford, obviously, had hers – this is mine.
By Sara Shafek, Malaysia.
I was never seen as normal. Perhaps for every one time someone sees me in the ordinary, five people have already told me how they begged to differ. My eccentric behaviour and different preferences in life usually made me stood out from most other girls. In a world where everyone tried vehemently to fit in, I stuck out as a sore thumb drawing attention left, right and centre. Some people were in awe, some tried to take me down for it, some also just didn’t really bother.
I am currently doing my A-levels with great hopes of pursuing an engineering degree in Germany. What I often hear from a number of unwelcomed critics is “But you’re a girl, engineering isn’t for you. Furthermore, are you sure of going to Germany alone?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. It might be mind-boggling and ground-breaking but I am very much going to do engineering anyway and you bet I am going to Germany alone. For the first concern people usually pose, that engineering isn’t a woman’s job, this is due to a lack of opportunities and exposure for girls who with enough polishing could turn out to be very capable engineers.
Anonymous submission from Pakistan.
It’s been a while since any of these events occurred, but they continue to bother me, I guess you could even say haunt me, till today.
I’ll start with the fact that I was born and raised in an environment in which I was never discriminated against for being a girl, I was always able to do everything everyone else could, no one stopped me from anything, so I never felt held back because I was a girl. I mean, the crushing on boys was a phase I could’ve forgone, but as I said, it wasn’t ever an issue.
Of course, I had noticed people around me being affected by the fact that they were, indeed, women, but I was swift to remind them, being a woman doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t define who you are.
But I’m getting off topic now. I moved to this Pakistan in Spring 2014, not happily, but what does it matter now?
By Sreyoshi Sehereen Sattar, Bangladesh.
Starving, I look to the nearest reflective surface. I had previously obliterated everything which would compel me to look at myself. I had somehow missed this mug. My eyes look sunken in. Bags under my eyes from not sleeping the last few days. My hair a huge, frizzy, mess. A bunch of it comes off as I run my fingers to detangle them. This was supposed to happen. I’ve been expecting this for a while now. The doctors had warned me that this was something my unusual diet entailed. Yet, this had taken me by a surprise. I still cannot believe it. I keep running my hand through my hair. More and more falls off. At this point, paranoia consumes me. I fall to the floor, surrounded by the hair that I pulled off.
I never expected myself to be so superficial. I was always the cool girl. The one with the pretty laugh and a myriad of admirers I didn’t care about. Your brain is your biggest asset. Your skin, your size, your height, these aren’t supposed to be things you have control over. Well, except your size. I am fat and I would like to change that and I can, I think. But I am above that, I am an empowered woman of the 21st century. But I let lose tears. Actual tears. Water and salt. The entire schtick. I grasp on to what little hair I have left as I let out a long, distraught wail.
By Aleha Jehanzeb, Pakistan.
As a little girl, I loved. I loved with an open heart that sat waiting on my impatient, yet enduring sleeve. I fell in love with the stories I would become one with; fairytales became more my life than the one I was living. I fell in love with my Prince Charming to-be, who would sweep me away from the dark on his radiant stallion, and create a world for just the both of us. I fell in love with the notion of a happily ever after before I fell in love with a person, and I craved one like it was my survival. But as I came across people who not only wanted my love but a part of me along with it, I realized the quest for my happily ever after would require me giving away myself till there was no more that I could give.
So I secured my heart and what it desired, diminishing it till it became as minuscule as I felt. Insignificant. Replaceable. Until you came along. Your strength ignited something foreign in me, and for the first time, I felt like I could afford to cave. You promised me dependency but your nonchalance made promises of independence and freedom, and I promise, I never believed you to be my Prince Charming, but my temporary haven from the storm life brought.
This page features a collection of personal anecdotes and reflections by authors based on their individual stories.