It was around the age of seven that I decided my dream was to become the Prime Minister of New Zealand. By the time I was ten I wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t that I’d lost the yearning to do good in the world. I had come to think that the world might not want me. In all I had come to know so far; the men were always in charge. And none of them shared the same skin colour as me.  “I’m not sure how I feel about having a female Prime Minister.”  “Female sports commentators just don’t sound right.”  “I just don't think women are effective in running a business.”  These are the careless statements that infiltrate the susceptible ears of young people, by men, even women, who may not be aware of their full effect. Perhaps not even their origin. Yet they have a lasting effect.  Call me “too serious” but if my being in the kitchen urges you to make a joke about being where I belong, I won’t be laughing.  Call me difficult but when a pop star's latest hit addresses the female population as b****** and h***, I’m not flattered. The fact that taking positions against such normalcies comes with these connotations is problematic in itself. But I would rather these than the degrading, exploitative views of women that are perpetuated in every corner of human interaction. In the jokes we make, in the songs we listen to, in every instance, we compromise respect and integrity for the sake of “not making things awkward.” It is through normalising these ‘lighthearted’ statements that we endorse a more serious and harmful perception of the role of women within society. As second-class. Inferior. Incapable.   I am not incapable of running a country.            What do you do every day to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted?  Blank faces from my male friends. A flurried exchange of tactics and habits, with exclamations of “me too” from the females in the room.  Don’t speak to strangers.  Don’t walk home alone at night.  Don’t wear revealing clothing.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  Don’t take public transport at night.  Don’t make eye contact.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Make sure that people know where you are.  Take the long route that is better lit.  Cover your drinks at the bar.  Walk with purpose.  Pretend you’re on the phone.  My male friends were shocked. They had no idea the extent to which women constantly micromanage their safety in public, and the way this changes our experience of public events and spaces. These rules have been handed down through generations - some explicitly and some you just learn along the way. A daily checklist safeguarding us above and beyond what should be necessary to enjoy the basic human right of walking safely alone.  If I do all of these things, or if I don’t...   I am still not asking for it.            I cannot remember the moment I was told to play with dolls, to cross my legs, to pick the right dress, to put makeup on my face, to shave my legs, to learn to walk in heels, to know how to cook and clean. These were just things that as a female, society expected of me. It was established that as a female I had greater emotional tendencies in comparison to men and all of these expectations were the cause of a fatal weakness in me. I had to be kind and gentle, to be successful and look feminine. Yet at the same time, I was told to not be too successful as it leads to being called a b****. Not to put too much makeup on or wear a dress too short because I don’t want to come across as a fake s***.  I do remember the day I first feared one of my ex-boyfriends. He got angry at me for trying to leave and find my friend, so he grabbed me, raised his hand and pushed me to the ground. I always knew men were physically stronger than me. However, it was at that moment I began an unhealthy journey of trying to please, not just men, but everyone I knew because I was told to not only act a certain way but because I feared people would reject me if I didn't. I had blamed myself for all of this until eventually, I decided that similar to what I could not remember being taught, it was easier for me to conform to society because that is what is expected.    I reject that society. I reject a society that calls me a b**** for expressing my opinion.  I reject the conventions of a society that calls me crazy or blames my mood on my period. I reject the conventions of a society that has taught females to be one way and males to be another.  I now also want to reject my own hitherto tacit approval of that society.   I am not weak.             We chose to reflect on three stereotypes that we have experienced personally, but there are countless others. And stereotypes can be damaging. They influence the way we perceive others, and the way we perceive ourselves. Imagine a world where we wouldn't need to be holding these signs...   I am not incapable of running a country.    I am not asking for it.    I am not weak.     

It was around the age of seven that I decided my dream was to become the Prime Minister of New Zealand. By the time I was ten I wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t that I’d lost the yearning to do good in the world. I had come to think that the world might not want me. In all I had come to know so far; the men were always in charge. And none of them shared the same skin colour as me.

“I’m not sure how I feel about having a female Prime Minister.”

“Female sports commentators just don’t sound right.”

“I just don't think women are effective in running a business.”

These are the careless statements that infiltrate the susceptible ears of young people, by men, even women, who may not be aware of their full effect. Perhaps not even their origin. Yet they have a lasting effect.

Call me “too serious” but if my being in the kitchen urges you to make a joke about being where I belong, I won’t be laughing.  Call me difficult but when a pop star's latest hit addresses the female population as b****** and h***, I’m not flattered. The fact that taking positions against such normalcies comes with these connotations is problematic in itself. But I would rather these than the degrading, exploitative views of women that are perpetuated in every corner of human interaction. In the jokes we make, in the songs we listen to, in every instance, we compromise respect and integrity for the sake of “not making things awkward.” It is through normalising these ‘lighthearted’ statements that we endorse a more serious and harmful perception of the role of women within society. As second-class. Inferior. Incapable.

I am not incapable of running a country.


What do you do every day to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted?

Blank faces from my male friends. A flurried exchange of tactics and habits, with exclamations of “me too” from the females in the room.

Don’t speak to strangers.

Don’t walk home alone at night.

Don’t wear revealing clothing.

Don’t draw attention to yourself.

Don’t take public transport at night.

Don’t make eye contact.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Make sure that people know where you are.

Take the long route that is better lit.

Cover your drinks at the bar.

Walk with purpose.

Pretend you’re on the phone.

My male friends were shocked. They had no idea the extent to which women constantly micromanage their safety in public, and the way this changes our experience of public events and spaces. These rules have been handed down through generations - some explicitly and some you just learn along the way. A daily checklist safeguarding us above and beyond what should be necessary to enjoy the basic human right of walking safely alone.

If I do all of these things, or if I don’t...

I am still not asking for it.


I cannot remember the moment I was told to play with dolls, to cross my legs, to pick the right dress, to put makeup on my face, to shave my legs, to learn to walk in heels, to know how to cook and clean. These were just things that as a female, society expected of me. It was established that as a female I had greater emotional tendencies in comparison to men and all of these expectations were the cause of a fatal weakness in me. I had to be kind and gentle, to be successful and look feminine. Yet at the same time, I was told to not be too successful as it leads to being called a b****. Not to put too much makeup on or wear a dress too short because I don’t want to come across as a fake s***.

I do remember the day I first feared one of my ex-boyfriends. He got angry at me for trying to leave and find my friend, so he grabbed me, raised his hand and pushed me to the ground. I always knew men were physically stronger than me. However, it was at that moment I began an unhealthy journey of trying to please, not just men, but everyone I knew because I was told to not only act a certain way but because I feared people would reject me if I didn't. I had blamed myself for all of this until eventually, I decided that similar to what I could not remember being taught, it was easier for me to conform to society because that is what is expected.  

I reject that society. I reject a society that calls me a b**** for expressing my opinion.  I reject the conventions of a society that calls me crazy or blames my mood on my period. I reject the conventions of a society that has taught females to be one way and males to be another.  I now also want to reject my own hitherto tacit approval of that society.

I am not weak. 


We chose to reflect on three stereotypes that we have experienced personally, but there are countless others. And stereotypes can be damaging. They influence the way we perceive others, and the way we perceive ourselves. Imagine a world where we wouldn't need to be holding these signs...

I am not incapable of running a country.

I am not asking for it.

I am not weak.