I’ve gone most of my life declaring myself “not a feminist”. In light of recent events, though, I’ve started to sit back and really consider what that means and I’m having a pretty substantial change of heart. I’m not trying to get all political on everyone, but I think this is worth saying. Also this isn’t organized at all so just get ready for brain babble if you’re about to read this.
I’ve lived my entire life hoping to one day – in the distant future – be a mom to a hockey team of little boys and a wife to a husband, and I mean that in the most traditional way possible. I want to – one day – pack lunches and cook dinner and taxi to and from various practices and host holidays in my home and in order to have time to do all these things, I hope on some level to be provided for by my husband.
So my first question that I’ve been asking myself recently is “why boys?”
Female adolescence was hard and I’m not sure if I could adequately guide another human through that. I often find myself saying “I can’t, in good faith, bring another female into this world” which now, makes me really sad. I don’t want to have to be disappointed that I was born a female nor do I want to face the day where I’m even a little upset my kid is a daughter and not a son. Girls should be afforded every opportunity that boys have. Why should they be ascribed to be the more difficult sex? Speak to my mom, and of her two kids, I was a breeze to parent while my brother was a handful. There’s absolutely no saying I can’t cart my daughters to hockey practice. And, one day I plan to. Because when I’m blessed with children, no matter their genders, they will be strong and fun and kind and independent because I will make them so.
Also, as I mentioned, these are all things I want way down the line, at some point in life. I hope to live my own life first with a job that I like and travel and do as I please. One day, hopefully, I’ll have someone to share my time with. I’ve never questioned these things and I don’t expect anyone else to because it is 2014 and I work hard and deserve to get whatever I earn. I will not even discuss this point further.
The other thing I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about is my status among my male friends. I’ve always been proud of my “bro-ness”. The fact that I hang with dudes and love sports and beer and laugh at off color jokes is quite a selling point of my personality. I’m a lot of fun. For a while I was the only female in an all male set of first cousins. I’ve discussed this before. I’m really great. But, why are these qualities attributed to “bros”?
This hit me like a ton of bricks when a friend of mine asked me how I felt about shaking hands in a professional scenario. The question struck me as odd. “uh, fine?” I responded. He then told me he always felt awkward shaking hands with women because of their small, weak hands, I suppose. I felt myself getting angry as I said it. My ears were red. I felt it happening. “I have a great handshake. My dad taught me when I was pretty young. Every interviewer I’ve ever met with has commented on it” and without missing a beat he responded “yeah, but you’re practically a dude”.
I knew he intended it as a joke, but it didn’t fly. I’m unsure if I’ve ever been more offended. I am, or was, always proud to be “one of the guys” but I am a girl. I am not “practically a dude” or even a little bit of a dude. Being a self-sufficient, professional person with a unique set of interests does not make me more masculine – it just makes me more awesome.
Until that conversation, it’s never occurred to me that my personality makes me more or less like a girl. In my head, I’ve always just been a girl who likes what she likes. I’ve always been able to do for myself. I install my own air conditioner every summer and carry heavy things. I don’t get mad when my boyfriend-at-the-time goes to strip clubs because who cares? And, I love beer and sports and trucks and running around in the mud. I also love clothes and makeup and arts-and-crafts. I sometimes leave the house not put together or wearing basketball shorts because, again, who cares? I want to learn to fly airplanes and to me, the only reason that’s an unreasonable goal is because it’s really fucking expensive, not because of what’s between my legs. The term “bro” had never assigned a gender to me before. I always just thought of it as kind of a lifestyle. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Guys who act like me are bros so therefore, I too, am a bro. That’s always been my logic. I will not be calling myself a bro anymore.
The fact that it’s expected of me to put forth more effort than I already do towards being feminine in order for people to view me as a woman is sickening. How much of my own self can I give up before I’m just not me anymore? I am never going to not curse at the TV when the Rangers are playing like shit. And, if you don’t appreciate my ability to house pizza like a champ, you’re obviously not meant to be in my life.
Next. I don’t make it a habit of walking around feeling unsafe. For a generally nervous person, I’m pretty secure in my ability to not be attacked. I don’t want to park far away from the building because I’m lazy, not because I’m scared. I wouldn’t call myself oblivious, I’m always aware of what’s going on around me, but I rarely second guess walking to my car alone at night or going somewhere by myself or with a group of females. By no means am I a small girl. I’ve always just been prepared to defend myself. No big deal. And then #YesAllWomen happened. I read a lot of tweets about how women hold their keys in a way that they could be used to protect themselves when walking to their cars. Yes, I do that. I read tweets about women who check their back seat to make sure the car is empty before getting in. Check. Countless tweets about women carrying mase. I’ve been meaning to get some. These are all just things I’ve been taught to do since day one. So then I sat back and thought about it: has my brother?
Why am I expected to walk around in fear? Because that’s just the way it is? But why is that the way it is? Why aren’t we creating a world where women are only equally as vulnerable as men? We’re teaching women to take all these extra steps to be safe: carry your keys like this, don’t run outdoors with your music too loud so you can hear someone coming behind you, double check your car before you get in, only park in well lit areas. But why aren’t we teaching men not to target women? It can be said that these are good tips for both sexes for general self defense. But why, then, aren’t we teaching our boys? I like to call these questions that will never have answers.
So now the world is telling me not only do I have to be concerned about random acts of violence on the streets of my hometown and workplace, but also, I should be worried that every dude I ever reject may turn on me because they feel entitled to my body? Nope. Not having it. By the way, to the guy in Penn Station who got way too close to me and my friends last night and mumbled “holy moly” whilst he ogled us in our shorts and cowboy boots: you can kindly go fuck off, sir. What happened in California was clearly a tragic collision of mental illness and horrible male entitlement and obviously not every man we say no to will react this way, but it needs to be acknowledged that there are those out there who will. I am not a reward for living your life by any set of standards, nor is any other person, male or female. My company and my anything else is mine to give. People are not the cheese at the end of the maze. Your reward for being a “good person” is not companionship or otherwise and everyone – men and women – need to understand that. Finding a person to share my life with is for sure my ultimate goal, but it’s not something I can earn. It’s just something that happens and it will happen when it happens and until then, I’m just over here, hanging out.
So, I’m kinda over not being a feminist and I’m really done with the negative connotations that come with being a feminist. I’m tired of not liking my body or worrying if I fit into some weirdo, arbitrary mold of what a girl is supposed to be. I am a girl because I was born that way. That’s all there is to it. One day a man will appreciate me for who I am, or not. Who knows? That’s the beauty of it. I guess I am blatantly a feminist, I suppose, because I think I deserve whatever I earn, just as my male peers do. I have the right to get whatever I want from life – whether it’s a family or a career or both – as long as I work for it.