Why are men superior to women?
Short answer, they’re not, but when I became pregnant with my first child, I started to have doubts as to whether there was some truth to it.
Samantha Da Silveira
Disclaimer: This story is about my personal experience. I do not have any intention of making generalizations. Instead, I talk about how the surroundings I grew up in, influenced my perception of life and who I am as a person.
Like many expecting parents, my life partner and I each had a preference of gender for our baby. I was surprised to discover the shocking reason behind mine.
Life as a privileged child was my benchmark for happiness
Life as a child was uncomplicated because sexuality hadn’t yet impacted me. I felt the same as everyone else in my school, as there were no real physical distinctions among students of the same age groups.
Noone was much physically stronger than anyone else, and we all had one objective, to play and have fun. Everyone played together and had access to the same toys.
As I grew up, this dynamic changed. It was no longer well accepted by my father and many other members of society, that I “play” with boys, or hang out in the same places they did.
There was a clear distinction of what some could do, and others couldn’t based on their gender. Life felt unfair. I had acquired insecurities based on these gender differences and privileges, which eventually led me to believe, in the long run, boys had it better than girls.
Finding out I was pregnant and that my husband wanted a boy
Fast-forward to 4 years ago. I was happy to find out I was pregnant at the age of 32 with my first child. Since I can remember, I always wanted children; therefore, this was a very significant milestone in my life.
I didn’t have a preference for the gender of the baby. I only hoped it was healthy. However, I was curious to know if my husband had a preference, and I secretly hoped he didn’t. If he did, I didn’t want him to prefer a boy.
What I had feared came true when he told me he would prefer a boy and justified his choice on the basis they were “more fun and less of a hassle.” I immediately thought back to the period of my life when I transitioned from child to adult.
I perceived myself to have been a hassle to my father because of being a woman. It also reinforced the feeling of rejection I had felt as a child with the stories of my father wanting a boy.
My father had always wanted a son but got three daughters instead
When I was young, my mother repeatedly told me about the story of my father, having always wanted a son. She didn’t do it with bad intentions but inadvertently led me to believe girls were inferior to boys.
After having two girls and making the third and final attempt for a son, my parents had one more daughter. At that point, I felt as if my father had been given second class children and would never have a “decent” child.
Killing two birds with one stone
I started to believe that if I didn’t produce a son, I would be a failure. I now wanted to give my husband a son and in doing so, provide him with a “superior child,” while at the same time, making my father proud.
I felt embarrassed about these thoughts and didn’t dare reveal them to anyone. If anything, I fought harder than ever to defend that having a girl would be just as rewarding.
I had always thought of myself as a rational, logical, and fair person who put common sense ahead of everything else, but I couldn’t shake this feeling. I felt I had adopted a position of sexism and idiocracy.
This issue reflected on the way I perceived myself
I had no choice in the way I felt, it wasn’t my opinion, but it was what I thought the important people in my life believed and that was very disappointing. I, like all people, wanted to be validated by those I most loved.
I directly associated the fact my father and husband preferred boys, to them thinking of me as being inferior. It was a hard reality to accept, and I wanted to fight it off at all costs.
By rejecting the idea of having a daughter, I felt they were rejecting me, and my fear of having a daughter stemmed from me not wanting them to do the same to her.
The gender reveal
The day of the gender reveal ultrasound had come, and I was very excited, I didn’t even have much time to recall these absurd thoughts.
The doctor showed us, on the ultrasound image, the baby’s disproportionately oversized male genitals, and congratulated us on our baby boy.
It was a bittersweet moment. I was happy I had provided both my husband and father with a male descendant. On the other hand, I had an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame for my preference due to its unfair nature.
Telling my family the good news
I was excited about telling my family, but mainly my father. My family lives far away, so I had to tell them remotely and imagined their reactions.
Everyone was thrilled with the news, and my mother had told me my father hugged her when he found out.
I imagined the hug being due to the fact the baby was a boy and felt that my father could be proud of my “achievement.”
I had finally accomplished something my parents were never able to. I had made a superior child. I now had an even more profound sense of ridiculousness and a feeling of wrongfully humiliating women.
Made to feel inferior or embarrassed for being a woman
And there it was, a terrible epiphany, I thought women were inferior to men, but more importantly, I felt I was inferior to men. If I think about it now, there were plenty of instances in my life where I was made to feel inferior or embarrassed for being a woman, a nuisance for …
… being attractive and seducing unsuspecting male victims into being inappropriate around me; into making wives and girlfriends jealous with my very presence.
… talking to people of the opposite sex as it could be perceived as promiscuous behavior and reflect poorly on my father’s ability to raise a proper “lady” in societal standards.
… being on my menstrual cycle and making the men around me uncomfortable in my presence.
… instilling fear in my father by having the ability to gestate and become pregnant before marriage, consequently leading our family name and reputation into shame and disgrace.
There were also many times I felt the lack of female privilege. I’ve had to fear for my physical safety, because of the way I dressed. I’ve been expected to avoid places where there were men, and if I didn’t, I was held accountable for anything bad that happened to me.
I just wanted to be able to do what other people had the right to do. I wanted to have the same feeling of safety and respect my male counterparts did. It was clear that these experiences had all contributed to the fact that I believed having a son was a better option than a daughter.
It’s a foolish way to think because boys can also have many problems, those of which can also be specific to their gender.
My internal struggle and taking a more admirable stance
I now have two beautiful sons. I will continue trying my hardest never to make them feel like they can’t do or be something they want to because they were born a certain way.
I will not make them feel embarrassed or handicapped for being who they are, which is something none of us can control.
I will continuously strive to enlighten them on their rights as humans. To continually fight for equality, the right to basic respect, and ultimately, help them find their path to happiness.
I want to show them the importance of lifting others instead of putting them down, no matter who they are.
I feel sad this insecurity has gotten the best of me and has been deeply embedded in my subconscious. Nevertheless, I will do my best to teach my children not to comply with the ridiculous gender stereotypes I have been exposed to in my life.
Nor give in to the impossible standards and expectations society places on and requires of men and women.
I fight this internal battle by working hard, teaching my children to be fair, kind and above all, respectful to everyone, equally.
“Race, gender, religion, sexuality, we are all people, and that’s it.” — Connor Franta
I hope by sharing my story, I can reach out to those who have struggled or continue to struggle with these same issues of insecurity and lack of self-worth. I hope my experience can encourage people to keep fighting for their humanity. Remember that you are not alone in this ongoing battle called life.
Samantha Da Silveira
Experience designer based in Luxembourg. Curious about everyday problems and how to resolve them. https://www.samanthadasilveira.com/