Step 1; Make it out of the Womb. (pre-birth)
Admittedly, this step is entirely out of your control.
Antiquated, discriminatory traditions may be an obstacle to making it to life. Cultural norms that value boys over girls in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, Pakistan and India (to name but a few), will choose to end your chance at life before it’s even begun.
Gender selective abortion; may the odds be ever in your favour.
Step 2; Don’t Starve. (ages 6-14)
You survived? Congratulations!
Now again, this is beyond your control.
Access to food, water and basic health is frequently denied to women and girls because of their gender.
In Africa, 90% of the work involved in gathering water and wood for the household and for food preparation is done by women.
In rural Benin, girls ages 6-14 spend an average of one hour a day collecting water compared to the 25 minutes their brothers spend.
Tradition dictates that women eat last, after all the male members and children of the family have been fed.
Some places have a saying; “if you don’t eat fast, you won’t eat at all!” Chances are you just won’t eat. (Oh, and if you do, don’t eat too much. No one likes a fat girl).
Or maybe you will, but you’ll vomit it back up after, as a result of being made believe that “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!”
Step 3; Go to School. (ages 7-12)
You’ve time to go to school? I’m so glad. You must live close by, otherwise you’d be too busy doing household jobs that aren’t deemed important enough for boys to abstain from school for.
In Tanzania, a survey found school attendance to be 12 per cent higher for girls in homes located 15 minutes or less from a water source than in homes one hour or more away. Attendance rates for boys appeared to be far less affected by distance from water sources.
Education is the key to prosperity.
Admittedly, there is the risk of Government officials putting a bullet or three in your head for this one. But look, in their defence, her voice was too shrill to have to listen to. Especially about a topic as controversial and divisive as girls learning to read and write.
One study showed that women’s education contributed 43 percent of the reduction in child malnutrition over time.
It’s literally the solution to your survival but unless you beat the odds, unless your parents are progressive and your government aren’t trying to kill you, you will forever be knocking on a locked door.
“I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls” – Malala Yousafzai
Step 4; Avoid Debilitating Cultural Traditions. (ages 12+)
Okay. Take a deep breath. You’ve done a lot to make it this far.
Someone, maybe even your mother, may be tempted to invade your personal space and bodily integrity with a dirty knife or scalpel, in order to injure your external female organs. You’re not ill though. In fact, there’s no need for this to happen, but sure look, bad things happen right?
It literally does nothing beneficial for you. Oh, and it engenders severe bleeding, urination problems, infections, cysts, childbirth problems and increases the chance of newborn deaths.
Female genital mutilation happens everywhere from the Middle East and Asia to Africa, and affects approximately 200 million girls and women today.
You are literally under threat of being irrevocably maimed for being born with female parts instead of male ones.
Step 5; Menstruation (ages 13+)
At best, you’ll be taxed for it. (Everyday essentials such as edible cake decorations, crocodile meat and parking spaces for ships aren’t taxed though, these are necessities people! Who really needs sanitary products monthly?!)
At worst, you’ll have no access to any sanitary products and are forced to a) go without, b) makeshift sanitary products, or c) let it affect your life in other ways, i.e. being unable go to school.
If men don’t do it, it has to be disgusting, right? It’s what enables us to give life, but that’s a luxury.
Remember girls, if it doesn’t happen to men, it’s an exception to the rule of Life.
Step 6; Over-sexualisation (ages 13+)
Legislation in countries such as Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic turn a blind eye to child marriage (that’s children married before they turned 18 years old), to prevent economic hardship felt by families in having another child to feed, and in a reluctance to change the tradition of a society.
In the eyes of leering watchers, your body can be divided into prurient tools; “ blow job lips” for one. The media will report on you, barely an adolescent, having “shapely pins” (original article has been edited) while choosing to ignore any and every thing else. Raucous yells from afar, by older men, will linger. They will eye you dangerously; like a jungle animal on their unsuspecting prey.
Step 7; Over-sexualisation (ages 20+)
Wait, editor, there’s been a mistake. Why is this one here again? Oh yes, how could I have forgotten? My bad. This doesn’t end. For years. And years. And years. Cat calling. Harassment. Blaming. Leering.
Try not to let it make you die on the inside.
Try not to shrivel up and pull down your skirt a little more and zip up your jacket a little higher.
Try to remember that this isn’t because of anything you did or didn’t do.
You’re still worth something, everything, even if these people are trying to reduce you to nothing more than a body, made for pleasuring them just by being present.
Step 8; Don’t get Raped (ages 20+)
In every corner of the world there is a chance that this has already happened to you. And there is a high chance of it happening to you in the future.
The devastating truth of being a woman; the promise of perdition in that you will be blamed.
It won’t be your fault. Ever. Again, you will be subjected to a vagina, breasts, legs, a summation of your character will be based on how you fit into society’s idea of beauty.
I’m sorry but there is nothing you can do to prevent this. I don’t have any words of wisdom, comfort or guidance. Studies say it could be your boyfriend, an uncle, a stranger. Evidently, we are safe from no one.
Step 9; Don’t get Pregnant
Try your very best not to get pregnant unless you want a child. Your soul will be crushed when you realise that the old, white men have deemed something that could kill you from the inside as more valuable than your life. Even as a result of situations where you have been violated, where your control and bodily integrity has been stripped from you, you will still be forced to house another life, even if you’re struggling just to live your own.
Step 10; Actually just don’t have sex…
Or do, but not too much. Don’t be a slut or a whore or a hoe. But don’t be frigid. Or easy. Or a prude. But be experienced enough to know what you’re doing, but also be a virgin. Got it?
Step 11; Get a Job; Find an Equal Opportunities Employer
Look, chances are you’re not going to get this job because you’re a fertile age and you should probably be going to get married or pregnant soon (in that order), but hey, at least they’ll pretend to consider you.
Step 12; Get Married
Have children. In that order. Sure, you’re a kept woman now, you don’t need any more advice.
Look, this may seem pessimistic but at least we’re getting adequately paid to warrant having these extra expenses! Oh.. wait, only Caucasian men make enough money. Eh. Well at least it doesn’t cost us financially to be women, we can cut our losses and move on. Oh… right. The luxury tax on essential sanitary items.
Running out of positives here.. Eh…
Well… at least we have the vote?