To anyone who has followed my posts (especially my nail polish rant last winter ) it should be pretty apparent that I am not a huge fan of society in general and popular culture in particular.
It is one of the reasons I love living in rural Maine. Why we have chickens instead of cable (we call this “red neck tv.”)
For me, one of the most difficult things about growing up a female in Western culture is the constant dicodimous nature of claiming your femininity without giving up your womanhood.
I have dispised the term “girl power” since its spicy inception in my pre-teen years. I can’t think of a more potent example of the contrary attitude toward girls in our nation and the world.
I am not a girl.
I have not been a girl since I was 12, when my body matured and I was biologically thrust into womanhood.
The topic of my own femininity has always been openly discussed, questioned, judged or blatantly denied.
I was, am (and will continue to be) what most people call a “tom boy.” In elementary school I ran with the boys, playing their games and beating them. By 3rd grade I was a top pick in any recess game. By 6th grade I could beat everyone in the school at arm wrestling (except one boy, who was already 6 foot.)
These abilities carried repercussions. I was often accused of being a “dyke” or that I “wanted to be a boy” along with many other unflattering presumptions.
I have spent my life working in kitchens where my skills were constantly questioned and tested by my coworkers. I have been sexually assaulted or harassed more times than I can count but my reactions were far from ladylike and made it clear that I would take no shit of any kind. In a room full of knifes and fire it is not a hard thing to do (nor was any of it HR appropriate or politically correct.)
Other women who work in kitchens will know exactly what I mean.
One time a co-worker put my share of the tips on his lap and with a grin invited me to “get them.” I grabbed the nearest knife and told him to “hold still,” while I used it as a spatula. I got my tips and we became good friends. He never did it again and actively warned others about the dangers of trying it for themselves.
The hazing usually lasted until we had a busy service. Then they tended to shut up and stay out of my way because I am damn good at what I do.
I think the problem for females begins early. Boys and girls learn how to be flirtatious, something too few women realize is not the best trait if you want to have health happy relationships with men- not based on physicality.
When you make a habit of constantly reminding men that they could have sex with you, do not be surprised if they are preoccupied by the idea.
Our society doesn’t make it easy not be obsessed with sex and the objectification of women is a constant factor in our lives. From toddler shirts that proclaim “princess” and “good girls love bad boys” to racks of magazines that will tell you what “how to keep him happy in the bedroom” or “how to get a man and keep him.”
Our culture sexuallizes everything and exults beautiful people to a god-like status then shoots them down again when it turns out they have human bodies that age.
Or horror of horrors- develop cellulite.
We turn girls into pieces of meat and imply that your worth can be directly measured by the attention shown to you by members of the opposite sex.
Then, we wonder why so many women have low self esteem and are willing to starve themselves to fit into jeans that the T.V. says make their butt look good, in hopes that men will notice them.
Girls mature faster than boys, this is true.
But girls’ bodies often mature way before their brains are developed enough to truly be aware of the way their appearance effects the attention of boys and men.
The way you present your body will limit the way people think of you. This is not victim blame only a call to treat yourself with the respect you wish to receive from the world.
You are worth it.
There are many articles of clothing in the female wardrobe that have no purpose other than to garner attention. Mini skirts serve no other purpose, limit motion and physical ability. As do high heals, tight jeans, constricting tops and dresses.
All of these things invoke a response in men and should be taken into consideration when planning an outfit.
Wear whatever you want by all means. But do not be surprised when your high heals, short skirts and heavy make up attract men who do not respect your thoughts and opinions.
It was not the respect for your cognitive functions that drew them to you in the first place.
I will not mitigate the fullness of my humanity and call myself lady as if we still live in a time of courtiers and chastity belts. When ladies could be bought and sold like property.
I am a woman.
I will not shrink from the amazing power that I have. I will not diminish any part of that human experience to make insecure people feel more comfortable.
Anyone who knows me will attest to my good natured kindness. I am caring, giving, sturdy and can be counted on. I am a true and loyal friend and have always had the ability to put people at ease (when I want to, I can also make people really uncomfortable.)
All my life, people have asserted that I must “wear the pants” in my relationships or that I must not be very “domestic.” If pressed (and after agreeing with the sentiment just to give me shit) my husband would say (I just asked him- so this is a direct quote) “f*ck off, you obviously don’t know us.”
I don’t have to be one thing because I am another. Strength and softness are not mutually exclusive qualities.
I would have no interest in being with anyone I could dominate. Relationships are meant to exist between equals, if they are to be happy and long lived.
I was raised by a women who embodied all these things. It is her example of what it means to be a strong women, loving wife, amazing mother and a good person.
I have had many other examples of strong women in my life. It is though watching the way they held themselves that I decided very early on, the type of woman I wanted to become.
A person independent of labels.
I am still on my way. Not yet there. It is a ceaseless process of awareness and improvement. All I know for sure, is that I am defining myself to myself. I have no use for any other artificial measure or scale.
I am an unrepentant woman.
Be well but more importantly- be you.