“Please, just, pay attention in my class because you’ll learn, and learning makes you smart. And boys like smart girls, believe me, they’ll be impressed when you know the difference between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Okay someone change the slide on the laptop before I keep rambling and this gets more awkward.”
These were some of the first words my freshman Honors World History teacher said to my class and they have stuck with me ever since that hot, September day. I hung on to that statement as if God himself had bellowed it from the heavens. Intelligence was, and still is, my “thing.” Some people are good at sports, others excel at the arts, and then there are the select few who enjoy and rock the socks off of school. My history teacher’s opening monologue gave hope to the ‘nerdy’ girls who had, at that point, semi-accepted their fate as eternally undesirable.
In my opinion, the most awful part of living in this 21st century society is the fact that intelligent people are ostracized; outcasts in a modern world that would cease to exist without them. Think about it: no iPhone, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, NO ELECTRICITY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. So much we take for granted in life is due to an incredible group of brilliant minds.
But eventually (junior year), I realized my history teacher was wrong. Boys don’t like smart girls, they fear them.
Even further than that, though, smart girls and women are grossly disrespected and discriminated in society.
I’m not going to sugar coat it: Men are scared of women who do better than them. That’s just the truth, but it’s also human nature. No one ever wants to be outshone by others. The line has to be drawn, though, when women are being disregarded and degraded simply because they can do more. We should never feel like we have to “dumb ourselves down” just to keep a job or a relationship.
Society has created various stereotypes for women such as the housewife, the secretary, the teacher, the nurse, and so on and so forth. While those are all viable and worthy professions, no one should be limited to the fantasy that is created for them. People don’t like a woman in charge because she’s seen as ‘bitchy’ or ‘demanding.’ At the same time, a man can say and do the exact same things and he is ‘determined’ or a ‘go-getter.’
As a seventeen-year-old girl who will enter the workforce very soon, I am challenging my fellow women to beat this double-standard. Beat it over the head with a 2×4. And once it’s beaten, burn it so it can never return to society. Do not silence yourself. As Niccolo Machiavelli once said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”
Dare to be the smartest one in the room. And if someone wants to kick you out of the room, let them. It just goes to show that they were so insecure in their own abilities that they couldn’t handle someone who is going further than they will. Go find your own room. Knock down the walls. Build yourself a whole building. One day, that person will see that you never needed them anyway.