I’m a girl. So?

It’s time to flesh out my feelings on gender issues.
For me.

Let me show you what sparked it:

“Attacking femaleness, deriding ‘girly stuff’ and rolling your eyes at ‘women’s issues,’ declaring yourself a ‘tomboy’ who gets along better with men because women are silly or pretty or whatever – these are expressions of internalised sexism. If that’s the way you feel about your own sex, you’ll be doomed to feel inferior no matter what you achieve in life.”

Emily Maguire,
Introduction to “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture 2010 Edition.

I kept hover-scrolling around this comment on my Tumblr feed today. Usually I’m down-and-brown with go-girl quotes, but it was easy to see why I couldn’t shake this out of my head: I’ve said the “tomboy” schpiel more times than I can remember. But I think I’ve figured out why I couldn’t grab lunch with this quote.

It bothers me because I’ve accomplished plenty without a second thought as to what men think about it.
It bothers me because I never connected my validation of success to what anyone thinks about it.
It bothers me because I didn’t feel inferior until Emily told me that, secretly, I do feel inferior.
Well, NOW I do.
Good lookin’ out, g-friend.

This quote is telling me:

Berna, you’re sitting at your desk as editor-in-chief of a women’s-travel-digital-media-pizza publication on Mars. You’ve also just closed the deal on a 5-year contract for your teen chick empowerment summer camp in the Himalayas. Feels good, right?
No, it doesn’t, even if you think it does. You’re actually still inferior to dudes (remember them?), rendering your success void.
Sorry, bro.
Oh, PS, you feel inferior because you’re secretly sexist, you pig. Sexist people are not successful people. You did this to yourself. Jump off a cliff, doomed-face, and take your “successes” with you.

Alright. Loose interpretation. But that type of message doesn’t sound weird to anyone else?

That, I can dig.

What are my views on gender issues?

I’m a girl. I can make babies. I’m proud of it. But that’s about as far as that defines me. I see the women who dedicate their life to women’s issues, and I deeply respect that. It’s how I got here. I see the women who make it worse for those women, and that sucks. But it’s hardly “the media” or “the man” that ever make me feel bad about being a girl. It’s other girls.
It’s women that remind me I’m two steps behind, when I was striding along just fine.
It’s women that tell me you’ll never feel good, when all this time, I’ve felt great — not as a woman, but as a simple freakin’ fellow human.

I understand that rockin’ feminists are out to tell me truths. And maybe I have to read through this book and see what kind of solution Emily presents; I haven’t read a lot of stuff like this. But I have read a lot about and experienced girl-shaming; how we constantly, and subtly, bring each other down. I get the feeling that some self-proclaimed feminists have a little bit of that in their blood, and that freaks me the hell out. When Emily tells me to not feel good about my successes because I’m a girl who hangs with boys — and meanwhile, I’ve felt great because I’m an accomplished human being — that flag went up.

Mysogynists are pretty transparent to me, as are media that are using what they think are my weaknesses as a girl to sell me something. Because of the work of great feminists to uncover that, it just doesn’t work on me anymore. But it still stands that the only time I’ve ever really felt bad about being a girl was when a girl told me I should, and I’m not down with that. I guess in that way, I’ve opted out of the argument, and I’ve done wonderfully without having to give that a second thought.

I wonder, does waving the “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR” flag ever alienate us as people more? Will it ever be possible for the world to not let our gender define us? And how can we get there when my insides are telling me, “Do what you want, your gender doesn’t define you,” and my outside is telling me (& some feminists are shouting at me), “You CAN’T because you’re a GIRL, DON’T FORGET IT.”

With this quote, I wonder, what’s worse:
The girly-girl who submits to inferiority,
or the angry girl that constantly reminds you how inferior you are?

.

I can hear you now.

I’m ungrateful, I’m hypocritical, I’m ignorant, I’m passive, I’m pooping on the struggle by ignoring it.

But I choose to “hang with guys” to avoid the girls that insist on talking about their bodies, their wallets, their black-hole drama. I choose to “hang with guys” to avoid feeling like I need to engage in those damaging conversations to feel welcome. More importantly, I choose to hang with humans who don’t participate in that duality at all. We hang cause we don’t think about anything having to do with what we pee out of. And those humans are often, but not always, guys.
Ya wonder why.

https://i0.wp.com/30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kz95alr9Rc1qzblwro1_500.jpg

.

I live in the mindset that I’m a human trying to do things in the world. Period.

And the people I surround myself with, girls or boys, believe that, too. I believe if more people saw each other as just humans, little else would matter. I think, thanks to all the freedoms women have fought to give us, we’ve risen to a place where we can try that out — I think that because I’m trying that out and doing great.  I don’t ask for concessions because I’m struggling as a girl. I don’t get defensive because I think you’re trying to shortchange me as a girl.
I’m a human and demand those around me to treat me that way.

That means, no one has a right to impose inferiority upon anyone.
You keep that mess away from me.

And it has worked wonderfully for me so far.

—————————

Anyway,
I’m bracing myself/want to hear what you think.

  • Am I still a female chauvinist pig?
  • Is this all still a manifestation of my own type of woman-hating?
  • Do you, on any level, feel me?
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5 thoughts on “I’m a girl. So?

  1. Melissa says:

    I agree, sincerely.

    I am first a human, then a female. Though I love girly stuff, and I would sometimes force my fiance to drive the car closer to the pavement when it’s hard pouring rain so I don’t ruin my 1-hour-to-fix-curly-hair (go ahead, call me high-maintenance or whatever), I wasn’t always like this. And I, unfortunately, hardly run with a feminine crowd. There’s a fine line from appreciating your feminine traits and indulging in the “feminine” traits men call “feminine” traits, you feel me? I’ve been called a tomboy in my younger years, I’ve called myself a tomboy multiple times, and I don’t see a problem with that.

    But there is AN ISSUE when a woman will tell me that there is only ONE way to be a woman. Excuse me? What dear Emily is describing us is what our patriarchal society determines “femininity” to be. But who should define femaleness? Femaleness is defined by what we are, what women are, and it’s multi-leveled. Whether it’s being a tomboy or being a Barbie, both are feminine– but the important thing to remember is that we are, firstly, human. What troubles me most about this quotes is that it inherently houses a sentiment toward a singular meaning behind “femaleness”– and that “femaleness” is determined by most men, not women– and that in itself, is internally sexist.

    Great post Berna! Sorry for my spiel.

    – Melissa

    • bernadetteanat says:

      Melissa, DO NOT EVER apologize for your “spiels,” because YOUR “spiels” are our “Jesus H. Christ I could never write that well.”

      See, you bring up a good point. I have my “girly” thangs, but I don’t like thinking of them like that. I love doing my nails, I love shopping (sometimes) (like at Ross), I’ll work to protect a good hair-do, I’ll have girlfriends over for ice cream & the Notebook. I do it cause I like it & we like it, and like you said, labeling that stuff as “femaleness”, whether we’re talking about how hating on it makes you sexist or liking it makes you …sexist, is sexist in itself. Labels just suck.

      Love this. Love YOU.

      • Melissa says:

        I loves you. Tons. You’re awesome, and you’re one of those womenspiration where I say: “Damn, girl. I want your life.” ❤

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