I am female.
I am a woman.
I am strong.
I always knew I’d need to protect my body.
I’ve always known that my body would be objectified.
It isn’t fair, but it is known.
I am blonde.
I would be called dumb.
I would never believe those words. I knew better than to that.
It is something I was prepared for.
I was brought up to believe that my mind is my greatest weapon.
I was raised in a place where girls and boys had equal opportunity to education.
I was told that I could study anything I wanted.
I felt like school was the most even playing field I had.
Even at recess, I was stronger than most of the boys. But, it wasn’t about that. We were children, we were people, we were built differently and each of us was unique, but I was woman, I was fierce, and I was capable. There were no men standing in my way.
And still, I often felt freest at school. Equal. The playing field was level.
“Never hit a girl.” But, there were no such rules concerning intellect. If you could do the work, master the learning, then the world was your oyster, no matter your gender.
A man’s brain is not stronger than a woman’s brain. I could do anything in the classroom that a boy could do. I was always the top of my class.
And so, when I got hit in the head, I never thought my brain would be marginalized by the iniquities of gender inequality.
Male and female brains are different, in fact. Not intellectually, but structurally.
Female concussions are understudied, undertreated, and more serious.
I felt the sting of being concussed and getting funny looks because volleyball players, girly sports, don’t have concussions. It’s not like football.
But we are female.
It’s like we’re not tough enough until we get hurt, and then we have to be tougher than any man would ever be asked to be.
We can bear children. Of course, we can tolerate pain.
So, when we get hit in the head, we are concussed, more concussed than a man would be, and yet, we are given less time to heal, a lethal dose of snide remarks and judgmental looks, and poorer treatment because we are not male.
We are told our greatest treasure is our brain.
And still, we are exploited.
Mind the gap.