The freedom to be who we want to be and say what we want to say is hard to find in spaces that will always try to put us in a box. I am talking from the context of being a young girl, a teenager, a young adult and now a young woman – and I don’t think it will change even in years to come. In all these stages I have experienced the two boxes that exist for girls: being a good girl or being a bad girl.

Both definitions of them are misogynistic as it makes sure women can never express themselves as they want or they would be boxed a certain way. I grew up in a township. This is where most of the time if there was a girl that seemed like she enjoyed having fun and going out she would be labelled as a ‘bad girl’ – the implication was that she was ‘looking for male attention’. While a girl who enjoyed staying home and didn’t leave the house much would be labelled ‘a good girl who is wife material’.

Do you see how all these go back to men? Women cannot experiment and experience as they want because they risk being painted a certain way for the rest of their lives. We can’t wear revealing clothes because then we are ‘asking for it’. We can’t speak out against the injustices we experience everyday as women because then we are ‘too outspoken’. We can’t enjoy and talk about sex because then we would be ‘too easy’. We can’t out rapists, paedophiles and sexual harassment because ‘we may be lying for attention’.

What can we do then? We are supposed to exist to feed the idea that we were created as ribs from men for men, but can never be anything more than that. This title that we constantly project onto young girls means they can’t be themselves. For a long time, I didn’t go out, and would always try to hide that I am dating anyone because I wanted to save myself from the image someone would create for me. Now at 25 there is a lot I didn’t try in my life because I was scared of what people would say about my reputation, because as a young girl that was very important to me.

I regret that I didn’t live my life the way I wanted. Live your life as you wish because no matter what goodness you try to do, people will always put you in a box. If that makes you bad, then I guess I am bad but I know that I am also good. We can be both and we can be neither; you choose your own way but never allow society to continue projecting onto your life like I did as a young girl.

Tell us: Do you think society boxes women?

If you enjoy this article, check out Tamica’s blog on how to deal with sexual abuse here