Sunday, February 7, 2016

If I were a boy . . .

From as early as elementary school, I often wished I had been born a boy. I was somehow cognizant that boys had a power that girls didn't, though I couldn't have put that feeling into words. I only knew that boys had greater freedom, got to do more and better activities, got to have really cool toys that I didn't, and were interesting and different from girls.

But I've always been a girl, and now I love being a woman . . . except for all the times I don't. It's literally soul-crushing (pause to imagine this feeling) every time I'm accused of being too emotional/irrational after making clearly articulated arguments based on reason. I second-guess myself and reread everything I wrote, searching for the shrill screeching he alluded to when he called me an idiot, but I come up empty-handed. And there is nothing I can do about it. I can't make my voice heard. I'm as clear as can be, and I can't be any clearer.

I base much of my self-esteem on my knowledge and ability to be articulate, but I'm told that I am wrong, that I'm ignorant and stupid, overemotional, oversensitive, and irrational and that the logic and skepticism I value and apply are wrong. That my brain is worthless and a failure, has betrayed me, is a traitor. That nothing I have to say can be heard over my gender. That I am voiceless.

I'm a liar because I'm ugly, and, simultaneously, I deserve harassment because I'm young and conventionally attractive in public, and, still, I'm worthless because I'm not pretty enough or fuckable, and, too, I should be grateful for leers, jeers, propositions, and assault. I'm not exaggerating; these things were all said to me in a single thread on the topic of—ironically enough—how to recruit and retain more women in an organization after a handful of women had shared their experiences of gender-based harassment in that organization.

My world is very small, and I am ever aware that I am only as safe and as free as men allow me to be.

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