On Being a Girl

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Have you seen “Avengers: Endgame” yet?

I have.

And my hubs has, and my eldest.

3 of us in our house are “old enough” for these delightfully entertaining superhero flicks, and all 3 of us LOVE them.

Which just means we have to juggle the 6 year old when movies come out.

This time around hubs and kiddo went to the 11am showing last Saturday, and then I went at 4pm with some of the guys from the gym. Everyone saw it on the same day, no one ‘had’ to go alone, we all enjoyed it, and we got to come home and do the absolutely essential ohmigosh-can-you-believe-when-this-happened-that-was-amazing-did-you-cry-my-favourite-part-was part of movie-going.

Thanks for being my movie-buddies, boys!

I can’t remember if it was AFTER we had all seen the movie in our house or before, but I was doing the social-media scroll, and an old acquaintance of mine had posted:

“Endgame… oh my gosh!!! No spoilers, promise, but it’s moments like these that I LOVE having boys… little built in friends that care as deeply as I do and freak out with me in the movie theatre for basically all 3+ hours….”

And while I am thrilled for her that she enjoyed the movie and got to do so with her kiddos I was, and frankly still am irked at the comment suggesting that said enjoyment can only happen with boys.

Like, whaaaaaat? Woman, YOU are a girl.

Why do we still treat women differently? Why do WOMEN do it? Why do we still assume that girls like “girl” things? Why are they CALLED girl things? What the freak is the big deal with pink?! UGH.

Hey! A girl in an Avengers tee!

Totally unrelated my gym team was asked by our coach if anyone who wants to can finish the phrase “I am relentless because.” I’m sure it’s for some promotional/marketing strategy he has up his sleeve that’s hopefully going to make us all and the gym look absolutely awesome. But I’m still reeling from this suggestion that because I have two daughters I can’t enjoy sharing the whole Avengers experience with them the same as if I had produced male children. So my Relentless blurb became:

I am relentless because I was taught that I am less, that I cannot be strong, and that I am an object; I will NOT allow myself to believe these lies anymore and will never stand for my daughters to learn them.

Don’t get me wrong. I KNOW that men are, in general, biologically physically stronger than women. No question. It used to drive me bonkers how hard I workout and how NOT hard the hubs does and how much stronger than me he is. I used to know that if he ever wanted to hurt me (he never ever ever ever everrrrrr would) he could.

That was FRUSTRATING knowledge; I hated it. But it was fact: women are weak, and completely at the mercy of the men in our lives.  

My Girls

I was brought up in a world where men are leaders and women their helpers. We are not lesser, but our rolls are outside of the spotlight, in a supportive and encouraging capacity. We can lead the men in our families, sure, but the men are the measure of success.

I learned about modesty in appearance in such a way that it isn’t about presenting yourself in the best light, it’s about body shaming and perpetuating a rape culture and subsequent victim shaming that suggests if my shoulders are bare I’m asking to be leered at. Where a bare decollete or short skirt is “asking for it.”  

I grew up in a world where ambitious women are frowned upon and those of us with hobbies outside homemaking are anomalies. One where when I first entertained the idea of taking a kickboxing class so many years ago now, I had to first have a conversation outlining the potential pros and cons of taking up a seemingly violent sport, and defend my desires for physical betterment against the vision of an ideal “Jackie-O-type” woman who stands by her man which was touted as the be all/end all goal for femininity.

I’m a girl, so I’m supposed to wear makeup every day. Especially since I get acne and have dark circles under my eyes. Goodness forbid anyone know what I ACTUALLY look like. And to leave the house in sweatpants? Travesty. Get up and get DRESSED for the day! If June Cleaver can do it, so can you! Where are those pearls??

I went out in public like this. Horrors.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my favourite show when I was a teenager. My dad HATED that I watched it. Do you know why? Because the main character was an ass-kicking female fighting male bad guys. Forget the supernatural involvement in the story literally giving the female the super-strength she needed to deal with said bad guys, the show depicted a woman beating up men, ergo, bad entertainment.

Sigh.

You know what, though? You know what I know now?

It’s all a load of CRAP.

I am not defined by my gender! I never have been! YES I believe that men and women are different, absolutely! I even believe we have different things we’re “supposed” to do together in our families, with our kids, in life. While a lot of it is societal there’s no question that there are similarities between groups of men and groups of women – we just are more naturally prone to excellence in certain things over people in the opposite sex, whichever way you look at it. Absolutely.

Still no makeup.

But I don’t have to wear makeup, or post a thousand pictures of my outfit of the day and troll around the internet fishing for likes for validation of my fashion sense. I don’t need to fear heavy weight lifting and “bulking up” (insert GIANT EYE ROLL right here, ladies. COME ON!) because it will make me unattractive. I don’t need to CARE about being attractive or not! I don’t need to APOLOGIZE FOR MY FACE if, goodness forbid, I let it be seen without layers of contour, fake lashes, or winged liner. Nor should I ever apologize for my tiger-stripe stretch marks which RAVAGED my skin while my body was busy building human beings.

I don’t have to feel weak, either. Or incompetent. Or SCARED.

I’ve learned this over the years in kickboxing, probably more so in the last few months, honestly. But I’ve finally realized the attraction for me to this sport is the incredible POWER I feel when I strike. I’m supposed to be dainty and weak, and need a man to protect me? Screw that; I got this.

YES, I know I can’t beat the guys in sparring. Like, at all hahaha! But I’m getting better, and I can land a few shots. Some of them good ones, even! And you know what? When I’m up against a guy who has LESS experience than me? Sure, he may still be stronger, but I’m better. And I can win. And I DON’T have the supernatural powers of the Slayer helping me.

Take that, patriarchy! I am STRONG! I am CAPABLE! I am MORE than you taught me to believe!

I freaking LOVE action movies. I love science fiction, fantasy, all of that escapist stuff. I love being totally immersed in a different world with different problems and different people. I love watching the bad guys get theirs. Love watching the good guys beat back the demons and come out victorious. I love turning off my brain for my own stuff and just letting it delight in someone else’s story.

I LOVE sharing that with my daughters. And I love that they love it, too. That they’re growing up being 100% who they are, and nobody else. That they are not afraid to like “girl” things or “boy” things – they just like the things that they like. That they are strong. That they have a mom who literally kicks ass! Hahaha  

Last night we went out for dinner and had to wait for a table – there was a TV with UFC fights on it in view from where we were waiting – I watched fights, and hubs scrolled reddit on his phone hahaha! In our house mom is the sporty one and dad is not. Mom plays and rough-houses with the kids, and dad plays video and board games with them. Mom takes them to the gym, dad teaches them how to code.

Everyone watches Batman. Even the little glitter-encrusted princess loves Batman.

I’ve been called all sorts of things over the years. My favourite is when people call me selfish because my entire existence is not eaten up with being a stay-at-home mom. I mean, I was 21 when we got married and didn’t have our first baby until I was 2-weeks-shy of 25. I KNOW you were talking behind my back about how selfish I was not to have kids sooner than that because gossip spreads like peanut butter. I will never forget you said that. But aside from never trusting you with who I really am in my life I DON’T CARE what you think.

It is more important for my girls to see me be 100% authentically me than it is, or ever will be for me to adhere to your or anyone else’s ideas of perfect femininity. They need to see me put me first, and they need to know that that’s okay. Because I will NOT let them grow up believing the things that I learned were true, that so many women around me still do believe.

That they need to have sons in order to enjoy watching their favourite movies.   

We are strong. We are powerful. We are so, so capable. We don’t have to settle for anything we don’t want. We are NOT defined by our sex. Your femininity can be whatever you want it to be. And yes, that can include the June Cleaver life, absolutely, as long as it is 100% YOU.

But girls, stop feeding into the lies that they tell us. It’s not weird to be excited to see Endgame. It’s not something you can only share with your sons. You are beautiful whether you were too rushed to put mascara on this morning or not, or you’re like me and you just don’t freaking CARE most days to be bothered. You are STRONG. Your body was meant to do incredible things. You are not a victim, you are a warrior, and you are the only one who can define yourself.

Now let’s go get some.

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