Why I dare talking about gender
Yes it’s still okay to be “not like other girls”. We’re not responsible for stereotypes created by narrow-minded MEN in power.
I’m noticing a shift, slow but steady, in the collective sentiment around ideas of gender. Back in the 90s, [I won’t be cliché and say “things were better” BUT] things were simpler. There weren’t unspoken taboos or a thinly-veiled uneasiness in the air at the simple concepts of “man” and “woman”. Everyone was free to mention their gender in a casual conversation without having to worry about whether or not they’d be hurting anyone’s feelings.
And no, this is not an article about trans people, or about women, or anything like that. I bring you examples, but my central point is relevant to human beings in general. Especially human beings’ annoying tendency to compete for the title of “most saint” and “most oppressed”.
Emotional enmeshment happens when you throw context out the window and simply decide that a complex, multifaceted, collective social problem that affects you is something a RANDOM INDIVIDUAL should take responsibility for.
If this sounded confusing, let me bring you a hypothetical scenario: I have dyslexia. That makes me essentially disabled, and depending on the context, oppressed. Now let’s imagine that one beautiful day I went out, grabbed a coffee, paid for it, and decided to lash out at the cashier for giving me a receipt that has words instead of pictures for easy understanding. I could simply say “how insensitive of you! How ableist! How inconsiderate to me and others like me!” — but would I? Well, no, I wouldn’t ever. It would be childish of me to try and emotionally enmesh a complete stranger into my inner world. Even though my disability doesn’t ONLY manifest in the classroom and workplace, and yes, everyday details you take for granted could potentially be adapted for me to make my life easier, if I simply felt entitled to that everywhere I went, I’d be missing one very important life lesson: emotional regulation. Ya know, life isn’t ideal, life has setbacks, life has less-than-comfortable situations for all of us. No matter who you are, you WILL deal with disappointment and discomfort somewhere sometime. We need to be able to regulate ourselves, our emotions, in order to adapt to these situations until we get out of them.
The problem is, a lot of “woke” people these days think adaptability equals conformity. No, it doesn’t necessarily do that. You can BOTH fight for your rights AND adapt to awkward situations whenever fighting would be unwise. One thing doesn’t come at the expense of the other. If you think they do, then you’re acting like a 5-year-old and missing the point of context. There’s a time and a place for everything.
I’m not saying “ugh don’t mention your struggles to me, keep them secret”. Obviously, you can make random people aware of what you, individually, go through. There should be no taboo around that. I have no intention (or time, or patience) to police individual people on what they overshare or not. What I’m saying here is: why not try to focus on what you’re going to achieve? When I say there’s a proper place to bring up social problems and rights (that is, talking to legislators and leaders), I’m saying that’s the most efficient and effective way to get what you ultimately want. In contrast, what do you achieve lashing out at a stranger who has NO POWER to change ANY of the societal structures that cause them to behave or exist in a way that is less than inclusive towards you? What can one random individual do about it, really? I mean, I understand anger, I understand frustration… But why waste all of that precious energy in a very unproductive manner like that? Where is that going to take you? Probably in circles.
Meron, what happened? Did someone say your existence hurts their feelings?
Why, yes, feminine people often say that to me, both directly and not. It’s water off a duck’s back at this point. But I’m writing in order to try and open their eyes to the fact I am *not* their enemy. I see their struggle for what it is and I understand the knee-jerk reaction against me because it mirrors a NORMAL reaction to an ACTUAL oppressor. And, well, feminine people are oppressed and traumatised as hell these days. I understand their excessive defensiveness towards me, I just won’t enable it.
I can see how, if you’re deep down very girly, but you grew up being told that girly things are “lame” and “stupid”, whenever you see a woman who doesn’t want to be or act girly, you’ll automatically think she’s hostile to you. You’ll automatically assume the worse, because you’re traumatised. I get that. I don’t blame any of these feminine people for a) avoiding me like the plague or b) adopting their preferred sabotage strategy to let me know I shouldn’t come any closer. All because I implied I’m having a gender experience that differs from theirs, in the friendliest possible tone of voice. That’s ok, I understand.
What I don’t understand is delusion and deceit, excessive escapism, rose-tinted glasses to avoid learning something new. These are things I cannot and will never put up with.
Yes, call me “not-like-other-girls”. I admit it. But it’s genuine, it’s not borne out of an effort to BE the way I am. I simply am. And if people don’t wanna believe that, cool, I owe them no explanation anyway. What irks me is the fact I’m no longer allowed to even mention that, because apparently I’m “helping stigmatise girly women”. Excuse me?! Why on earth would that be a thing? Why on earth would my existence have any influence over how the entire population of girly women are perceived, if I’m not even part of this 1% elite who controls the media? Just cause I have privilege over some other women (because I guess I fit the mould of what’s deemed to be, well, not lame and not stupid for the modern empowered woman in society’s eyes — and why does that even mean anything anyway?), now I’m not allowed to exist in peace? You see, I’m not denying my privilege. I’m just saying I didn’t ask for it to exist in the first place, I’d make the world a more comfortable place for girly women to exist in if I could, in a heartbeat, but obviously I can’t. I just don’t have that power on my own, and neither do you. If we united (without, ya know, enmeshment — without pretending that I and them are one and the same, but instead, admitting we’re different and nonetheless we can work together), THEN MAYBE we could get something done about it, but you see, that’s not very feasible if the women who COULD POTENTIALLY work together with me, would rather not, because they keep buying into divisive identity politics. All in the name of staying loyal to their assumptions (aye that’s the proper name, not “intuition”. Real intuition would never be egotistic like that).
Historically, people have been taught for quite a few centuries already (or even millennia!) that genders are like extremes… When in fact, gender is supposed to be a spectrum. When I see today’s “trendy” discourse that “women who aren’t girly are secretly mysoginistic” I hear echoes of the 1950s collective mindset that “women who aren’t girly are emasculating themselves and should be ashamed” or whatever the original wording. Sure, today’s movement in favour of more femininity is different and comes from a much more empowered place, but is it truly inclusive? I don’t feel like it is. It’s all abuot conformity, just like last century.
I don’t see why we shouldn’t just… Embrace the gender binary as a theoretic ideal, whilst accounting for real-life manifestations of gender that won’t and can’t be ideal? Why is that not a thing? Why simply throw the binary out the window like a baby with the bathwater, as if it was causing all this mess when in fact it’s just a random consequence of the mess WE created a long time ago?
Why not start thinking of “male” and “female” as energies all human beings have in unique amounts within them? You can’t stigmatise something everyone has. If we start considering that men also have female qualities in them (even in different amounts…) then surely it will end up normalised. If we start admitting that women also have access to male qualities, some more than others, and that’s natural and okay… Surely one day we will no longer need to constantly stay on the defensive about our unique flavours of womanhood?
If you stop and think about it objectively, there’s nothing wrong with femininity even if it’s hypothetically more “passive” than masculinity (for lack of a better word). The only reason we stigmatise it, is because we automatically assume that it’s only present in women, and therefore men deserve control because they take more initiative, etc etc etc — These are misguided assumptions though. They’re coming from a place of “boxing” people according to the extreme end of the gender spectrum they’re in. That’s wrong. Both men and women have that solar/masculine/impulsive energy, NATURALLY, within them. Both men and women have that lunar/feminine/receptive energy, NATURALLY, within them. And the world is full of feminine men and masculine women, both cis and trans, who just happen to have their “opposite” energies in evidence. It’s full of people who escape the basic binary, too. That doesn’t mean gender is “silly” or a thing of the past. It just means that extremes can’t be achieved. Just cause absolute black or absolute white can’t be achieved, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to get rid of the concepts of “black” and “white” altogether, because they’re points of reference, without which you can’t make sense of this bunch of grey before your eyes.
And the act of HAVING points of reference — to, ya know, refer to — doesn’t mean you should idealise them or force everyone to idealise them. It doesn’t mean you should hate, recoil in fear and deny their existence either. They’re just there. They just exist, like a palette of colours in the hands of a painter. They can’t create a picture without overlapping. Each picture will be unique, with predominances of one colour over the other, and that is okay. Let’s normalise nuance.