I’ve spent four years of college learning about feminism and the sociological implications of being woman in the world.
I’ve spent twenty one years being a woman in the world.
I’m just now getting the theory behind it all, even though I’ve been studying, discussing and living the “how” part of the equation forever.
This is an unorganized rant. I like it. I’m sticking to it.
I was not raised in a house where gender was an issue. I do not come from a traditional family structure. My mother never cooked dinner and vacuumed in pearls. In fact, I spent much of my childhood without gender. Yes, I had dresses and I was in love with Mom’s makeup and I learned to run in high heels (I have mistyped “hells” three times), but I was never expected to act like a lady. I am grateful for having a brother. I know how to roughhouse and make mud pits and have fond memories of playing hockey in the street.
Being a girl wasn’t something I was overly concerned about until I hit about the seventh grade. Even then, I was labeled as “uncool,” probably because I wasn’t showing any overt interest in makeup or boys and making out wasn’t very high on my priority list. I didn’t feel the need to be attractive to men. And trust me, I wasn’t.
I have always displayed typically male characteristics. Even now, I love sports games, mostly football and basketball, and I love to drink beer and eat steak. I always consider myself three-eighths male (how I settled on that number, I’m not quite sure). I am feminine, immensely so and possess the deeply emotional capacity expected of women. I love mascara and everything that goes along with it, but am in no way “high maintenance.” I’m not afraid of sexuality, and have suffered social repercussions based on that. I am not dainty, nor do I claim to be. I’m not usually the submissive one in a relationship, and until recently, have never been courted in any sort of traditional manner.
I won’t lie, I hate girls. I do not hate them because they are women, but I hate the ways that they act as women. I hate the cattiness (sp?), I hate the obsession with appearance, I hate the whole persona they don in order to please men. When I find a woman who is realistic and approachable, not wearing a fake feminine guise, I am comfortable and from there, can work to create a bond. The male is easier to get along with, less passive-aggressive and more open to odd conversations without the feeling of being threatened. Perhaps once women realize that we’re not all threats to each other, we’ll be able to get along and foster a sense of respect and unity that I am beginning to suspect doesn’t exist, even in our post-modern world situation.
Sometime around the beginning of high school, I realized that attracting men was something that was easiest done if I lowered my perceived intelligence level. I have spent the last eight years with low standards and expectations, not only for my partners but for myself. I am recovering, slowly but hopefully. I am embracing my intelligence and my femininity, but equally, my independence, something that men are equally impressed with and afraid of.
Over break, I started seeing someone intelligent and successful, two things that I have been afraid to embrace based on my perception of myself. My reactions were overwhelming and nearly instantaneous. Not toward him (well, okay, maybe), but toward myself. I started seeing myself differently, more ably. I looked in the mirror and saw someone beautiful, maybe not entirely grown up, but getting there. I mean, he was wonderful, but I felt like I was able to hold my ground. I’m young, I’m still a child, I know this, and there are so many things in the world I still need to experience. But I was able to hold an intelligent conversation, hopefully carrying my own weight. While I’m still gaining my footing as far as feeling “worth it,” this was a massive step in the right direction. I want to be around people who make me feel motivated to succeed, to try, to want to reach for something. The poor guy has no idea that he will be a huge factor in my life, even though the acquaintance was brief. It was thrilling, exhilarating, the rush that I felt. I felt like a person. I have never been “wined and dined” but this was exceptional. Perhaps not, but let’s review my dating history briefly. Are you shuddering, wincing, thinking, “ooh, that was rough”? I am. And I knew it. When I brought home one boyfriend toward the end of high school, I told Mom, “Don’t worry, this is only temporary.”
I will say that the one thing that attracted me was the level of non-pretentious-ness about the whole situation. I HATE pretentious people. Success does not have to include a nasty attitude. Intelligence does not preclude pretension, but that way of thinking about others (and inherently, yourself) shouldn’t be the norm. I am just as intelligent as most of the people in the world but don’t feel the need to display it as though my position in society is somehow elevated.
I’ve always known that I wanted to seek better, but I guess somewhere, didn’t think I deserved it. I do. I am Katie Barry, hear me roar. (I’m keeping that sentence but I thought about deleting it. It’s horrifyingly embarrassing yet also so timeless in its statement.)
Of course, no woman should have such expectations for being bought. I do not expect to become an under-earning, under-performing housewife. I want to work. I do not want to stay at home with the children (once I successfully find a man worth my ovaries), because I would be bored to tears. I love children, I want to work with them, but I want a career. I want to find fulfillment outside the household. That and I can’t clean or cook anything but bacon and pie. Bacon and pie are a great start, but hardly worth a man keeping me caged at home for 9 hours a day.
Social convention does not allow women to act as men yet to remain feminine. I am that dichotomy in the flesh. I am lovely, sweet, submissive (at the proper times), snuggly, soft, all of the things a woman should be. But I am also loud, stubborn, offensive (at the proper times, hopefully), dominant, aggressive, unafraid.
I have a walk. It’s a strut, really, and I’m not really sure how it came about. It’s male in its basic form yet feminine and fierce once you throw high heels into the mix. See, for me it’s less about gender bending and more about gender blending. Pick and choose, just like religion. That selection has worked so well for me spiritually and it seems to be working in my dating life as well. Men are attracted to someone who’s not afraid to speak her mind. Not that life is all about attracting men, but, you know, I do have that as a goal.
I’m linking to an article I read in Newsweek. It’s about feminism being blamed for the state of dating. I am not settling. I do not ever want to settle nor do I want to be old and single. I want a life-partner, emphasis on partner. I want a husband or a boyfriend or a life partner who is my opposite and equal. But not yet. In the later years, please.
I come from a non-traditional family with realistic expectations. I never understood myself to be a woman. I was just a part of the family. I was not expected to maintain any certain role, but rather, was accepted for who I was, be that feminine or masculine. My level of education has never been a subject up for discussion. Of course there was going to be college. I never for a second thought that I wouldn’t go. There were no expectations of anything more or less. There was just do.
I come from a family of strong women. Women who can and do provide for themselves and those around them. There’s a strong sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to maintain yourself as an individual rather than based off of someone next to you. Any marriage is a partnership, focused on a mutual respect for one another rather than on dependence. The women in my family are educated, intelligent and wildly successful in their endeavors. I am joining their ranks in a few months (once I become a college graduate, I feel as though I’m more of a person. This is an error, I understand, but it’s strongly based on my desire to achieve and at the moment, I’m just trying to survive each day without becoming overwhelmed by my workload and lack of sleep) and am pleased to have the support system that I do have. Without it, I would not be where I am today.
Also this blog sounds very self-focused. It is. It’s my blog. But this feminism idea is not based on feminism for other people but rather feminism for myself. Today, I am declaring myself a rational feminist (a term coined by one of the Irish, actually, but I liked it and I’m taking it and making it mine). I have reasonable expectations for equality. I am not looking to outdo men, but rather to coexist peacefully with them.
Perhaps a rational feminist is then a humanist. More than being a woman, I am a human being.
Blah blah blah.
I am, however, already sick of feminist theory. We’re what, a week into school?
By the way, this was all procrastination of Spanish homework. The Jesuits had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they decided to educate the whole person. I’m self-reflecting. This should count for credit hours. Education in action, no?
the promised link::