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Recently Iíve been described as masculine by two of the people who know me best. I find this infinitely strange and confusing. What is it that makes me manly? I canít really be physical, genetics has left me ridiculously noticeably female. Friend 1 says itís my way of communicating, that Iím upfront and honest about everything with everyone. Honesty? Why should that be a male quality? Because women are conniving and gossipy? What bullshit. Friend 2 says that itís because I wear a wallet chain (Junior high nostalgia), am in love with Tolkien books, and that I burp a lot. I canít see that as being masculine either. I count it as being a dork with an overactive gastric system (I know thereís no such thing as a gastric system, I think, but letís just pretend.) I personally think itís because I choose to stay tipsy and fully covered while my friends are drunk and exposing themselves to receive (i before e except after c!) male attention. So letís see- we have honesty, nerdiness, self-respect, and rationality. Well gosh golly gee! Who made it that these were strictly Y-Chromosome traits? Hmm? Where did my feminist friends go?
See, I used to not be strong. I was physically stronger than I am now (6 years of Aikido will do that for ya) but I was ridiculously weak emotionally. I let myself be manipulated, lied to, used, lied about, just basically walked on. My friend and I even jokingly formed what we called the Doormat Gang, since she was afflicted as I was, but by a different person. Half-jokingly maybe. But it means that I was conscious of my situation and did nothing. It took The Rudest Awakening Ever by the Evil One to make me finally ask for what I deserve in life, and to be who I deserve to be. To be strong. Honest. And damned proud of it too. I worked hard to regain those qualities in myself that I had thrown away for a bit of charm. So now, to be called an unnatural really, an not a womanly woman, is fucking ridiculous to me. Absurd. Insulting. How could I not think women are supposed to be strong? My mom raised me alone until I was 10. My biological dadís sister is a computer engineer with her own business. My grandmothers grew up and raised my parents during hardships I could never imagine today. It really wasnít until high school that I was confronted with the notion that being independent and self-sufficient were not considered feminine.
Iím not an anti-girl girl. It isnít as simple as that for me. Because I love women, I really do. They have a mystery, an understanding, and a strength that men can only read zines and books about and wish they had or understood, and that I am glad to be a part of. No, I am no anti-girl girl. I am an ardent anti-stupidity/weakness/vanity/shallowness/conformity/submission/ subservient/carelessness girl. And quite frankly, I have to say that Iím offended at girls being stereotyped into those qualities. Those qualities and the word ďgirlĒ should not be synonymous, in no way whatsoever.
I know the Reality of things though. I live in Southern California. Ha ha, not actual reality, but a smart, strong, independent, geeky girl in So Cal is an anomaly really. Itís Valley of the Dolls Ďround here, at least at City College. I know not every girl is how Iíd like them to be for themselves. But deep down, itís in there somewhere, right?
Itís just that it makes me sad, this disassociation with the word ďgirl,Ē as if it were something dirty, or something to be ashamed of. I resent that it has been molded into was it is, something that wonderful intelligent females can come to scorn it. It isnít the word. Itís the individuals. Why would you seek to stereotype your own sex? Has programming really won? Am I just a freak? Oh wait, thatís right. Iím manly! Attach a penis to me, and then weíll talk about whoís masculine and whoís not. (I wrote this at 5 am after staying up with Annie while she was doing a telethon. I couldnít sleep, I had to write. It had taken me awhile to finally articulate what I felt about being a ďmasculine female,Ē but a lack of sleep seemed to do the trick!)
When I was little, my mother decided I needed a girlie room. In a matter of days my room was turned into Pink Hell. It was the pinks in a Crayola crayon box run amok. Needless to say, I cannot stand pink. This is one exception in a childhood otherwise free of gender-specific ideas.
My older brother and I grew up without the pressures so many of our friends had. My parents didn't believe that men and women had specific things they needed to learn. My brother and I both learned how to cook. We both learned how to sew. We both learned how to change a tire, check the oil, use jumper cables. We both learned how to embroider and do other needlework. We both played sports. We both had to watch musicals with our mom, and sports with our dad. (If you ever want to know the finer points to defense strategies, or the lyrics to any song from Oklahoma, I'm your girl.)
My dad calls me his studly daughter. This may have something to do with the fact that I adore powertools, I love hockey and rugby, and I can move solid oak furniture by myself. Then again, it may well be because I have a 2 gauge tongue stud. With my dad, you never know.
My dad is a feminist. In some ways he is more of a feminist than my mom was. Recenty my dad and I were having a conversation about feminism, and what it is. He said: "Being a feminist is about the opportunity to be whatever you chose to be. Full stop. Most men, if they are honest, will admit that they would support the feminist cause, if some women didn't tend to be so militant about it. I understand why some women are militant, because there has been a tradition of repression, and there is the tendency to lash out at a perceived slight. There shouldn't be a glass ceiling; there shouldn't be a difference in pay. The feminist cause will prevail, until such things are rectified. It isn't going to happen in our generation, and it is unlikely that it will happen in the next generation. Things are, however, improving. When you consider, that at the turn at the last century, almost no women could vote anywhere in the world, things have come a long way. Now we have female senators and congresswomen. Countries have female presidents and prime ministers. I think a feminist, a true feminist, cannot be solely concerned with women's rights. For feminism to work, it has to encompass a broad spectrum. It must see bigotry and repression for what they are. As long as any one sector, race, creed, colour, gender, is being repressed... feminism has not achieved its goal. "
So maybe I'm not girlie, and maybe I'm not a grrrl. I'm just me, a girl. By being me, I think I'm truly a feminist. I can chose to be who and what I wish. That, is a hell of a thing.