A Woman’s Sexuality Should be Hers Alone

BY STEPHANIE BERTOLO

On International Women’s Day last Tuesday, we highlighted the accomplishments of countless women throughout history and called attention to the desperate need for continued progress towards gender equality. There are so many issues that women face on a daily basis solely because of their gender. One that I have personally faced time and time again is the constant control of society over a women’s sexuality and the ways in which it affects all other aspects of a woman’s life.

The persistent sexualization of my femininity was especially apparent during my time working as a gas station cashier since I was sixteen years old.

“Smile,” exclusively men would say to me and my female coworkers. This was often followed by a comment like, “You look prettier when you do.” To them, my emotions had no value in the face of my aesthetic appeal. Some people have suggested that perhaps these customers were just trying to be cheerful. But the fact of the matter is that if a woman is not smiling for whatever reason, it unsettles some men so much that they have to tell them to alter their behaviour. Why? Continue reading