25 Women Share What They’ve Been Told Is “Normal” That Really Isn’t At All

women expectations, social norms for women

There are a lot of unfortunate things about being a woman in this society that we actually let a lot of stuff slide. if we stopped to talk about every single messed up thing, it would be hard to get on with the day.

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Unfortunately, that means a lot of things that should be eliminated end up becoming a part of normal life.

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At least now there’s more open discussion about why that’s wrong and bad. Reddit user u/saintsacrafice asked users, “What is something that women experience and is seen as ‘normal,’ but is actually very wrong, and shouldn’t be as accepted as it is?” and the stories came pouring out.

If you’re a woman, many things on this list will be familiar to you. What I hope is that for the next generation, most of them won’t.

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Downplaying how horrible periods can be. I’ve seen so many men act like women are being babies on their period and it’s just enraging. —OverallDisaster


The amount of sexual abuse and harassment that is rampant in our society. Most women I know started being harassed by men when they were elementary school students, and that is seen as normal. —the-neonmoon

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Guys have ALWAYS taken my kindness as flirting. I’m easy to talk to and genuinely like connecting with people (it’s rare for me). Anytime I become friends with a guy they take it too far or cross a line. —ohshizzit

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Feeling “expected” to have sex and having their pleasure being secondary.

I experienced this a lot when I was younger and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Like, I thought if I was kissing a guy “well, now I’m expected to have sex with him because he’s turned on. I guess I have to.” And also thinking that during sex, the end goal was really mostly about him.

It wasn’t until I was older than I realized how flawed it was for me to think that way and for men to have reinforced that thinking via their actions. —GreenMountain85


The way the medical community seems to approach childbirth. I’ve watched documentaries etc (no kids myself) and what really struck me is how patronizing everyone was to these women who are going through perhaps the worst pain of their life, and how things like LITERALLY CUTTING THEIR GENITALS are seen as no big deal.

In what situation would you ever be able to cut a penis and shrug it off as nothing?! Madness. —AirStoned

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inappropriate behavior from men, especially from a young age. If a boy hits a little girl he “just likes her.”

That little boy grows up thinking there’s no repercussion for violence, and keeps hitting women. The cycle just goes on. —professional_joe

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I know way too many women who think it’s normal to have to do most of the housework and childcare, plus the mental and emotional load of household management, even if they also have an outside job.

Also to manage their husbands as if they are children who can’t be expected to remember to make appointments or buy their own clothes or things for the children or holidays or take care of menial tasks without reminders and help. —FranzLuciferdinand


Dressing little girls in a way that makes it difficult for them to move around. Your four-year-old should not miss out on valuable play because she doesn’t want to mess up her clothes or hair.

Her appearance should be the last freaking thing on her mind. it makes me so angry to see little girls having to sit on the sidelines while their brothers and male cousins play rambunctiously because their parents put them in a dress and expensive shoes.

I hate the bullsh—t propaganda that little girls “naturally” prefer playing quietly indoors and/or alone. Sure, it may be true for some little girls (just like it’s also true for some little boys), but you cannot tell me that socialization doesn’t play a massive role in what kind of play children “naturally” prefer. —parezcounapina

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People speaking over them, and/or the inherent ‘brush off’ that “if a woman says it it needs to be verified somehow.” —elephantasmos


Getting hit on at 13 by grown ass men. —Monstiemama

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Being expected to let men have sex with them but also shaming any woman who also shows a modicum of Libido. It’s almost like society wants women to have sex but hate it at the same time and it’s gross —Chessebel

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Being expected to be nice when a man is overstepping your boundaries. As soon as we express any discomfort we’re made to feel we should be nice to them.

Eg: it was only banter, lighten up, that sort of thing. —infamyinfamy

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Men pushing boundaries without consent during sex. “Accidentally” putting it in the wrong hole. Strangling. Hitting. Abusive misogynistic language.

Pretty much every woman I know has had a man do these things out of nowhere towards them and they are supposed to accept it because it’s “kinky” or something.

And now it’s literally 15 years old girls who are dealing with this trauma because of porn normalizing it as something boys are supposed to do to women, its completely disgusting. —OrangeyPanda

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That condescending and infuriatingly arrogant tone that some men take on when explaining something (be it a hobby, some interesting fact, or the fundamentals of this and that) when their listener is a woman.

I understand that this may simply be done to impress rather than be irritating, but just knowing that they wouldn’t dare talk this way to male friend or colleague is…well, irritating —Marjory_SB


That people think they have the right to comment on how a woman looks or what she is wearing.

There have been way too many times where someone feels they need to point out my “physical flaws” just because, ex. acne, dark circles under my eyes, body/ facial hair, too pale, etc. —mermaid_with_pants

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Being married and having children with men who are absent parents/household members and it not being a point of contention, just accepted, expected, and accommodated. —Omniiglass

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Spaghetti strap tanktops on a hot summer day being “provocative”…. And the high school dress code —crazy4zoo

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The idea that men & women cannot maintain healthy, purely platonic relationships w/ each other (cos sex will eventually come up & get in the way) + the idea that a woman must drop all her male friends or cannot maintain contact w/ them once she enters an exclusive, romantic relationship. —thakoconubian

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Women being called “girls.” Whether it is conscious or not, it implies a lack of maturity and, therefore, deserved respect.

Among countless other places I have heard this, I attempted to watch a season of The Bachelor (bad decision for many reasons) and I could not stand how often the women were called “girls.”

I couldn’t bring myself to check out The Bachelorette, but I suspect the men are never called “boys.” —merrypoppin


Birth control. Side effects and horrible horrible possible risks —caitiemaybugu

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I’m in the UK, I love running but I pretty much can’t train past a few months as when my fiancé is home at 4:30pm it’s dark, I can’t run on our old railway path when it’s dark!

It’s annoying but normal to me now, but for a man? Yep run on your own at 5pm no worries —UnderstandingCheap57


I find it a bit insulting when you see a picture of a woman who is really pretty and you find out that she’s a top scientist or engineer or a doctor, something very prestigious, and a person says “Wow, She’s pretty, I wasn’t expecting that!”

What, like are smart people usually butt ugly? pretty girls can’t be smart? Wtf! I feel like that’s really common and needs to end. —itsrachyrach

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The fact that women die of reproductive cancers more often than men because our pain and symptoms aren’t taken seriously.

So many healthy women lose their lives because their pain and suffering is considered normal, are told that what they’re experiencing isn’t bad because women are meant to experience pain and dysfunction.

News flash doctors! We know the difference between normal bleeding/ pain and something being seriously wrong.

Same goes for pregnancy, heart issues and any other hormonal disorders. —TheThoughtfulLemon

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Tolerating partners who drain your energy, put you down, and don’t put in effort to your relationship and/or household because you believe what you should be doing is trying to fix them or figure out how to make them behave.

Relationships ARE work and conflict is bound to happen, but I see so many women doing all of the work all the time and blaming themselves when their men don’t get better. —ohdearsweetlord


Not being taken seriously. —The_Special_Teacher