Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I'm not gonna stay in your stupid box! - A rant, by Sra

So here's the thing. Last night I literally had three different boys almost-simultaneously tell me that my own personal life experience didn't count as evidence in the argument. Something that I personally had happen to me was irrelevant, but three seconds earlier some guy's story about a thing his baby sister did once, was.

(This was the same guy who told me the hover shoes in the movie were stupid, because they looked too much like ice skating, and therefore were girly. Yes, he said that Channing Tatum looked too girly in the movie where he was genetically part wolf, and shirtless at least 40% of the show. But even if he did, SO *editing phrase for language* WHAT? Girls are bad now?)

ANYWAY, I'm not even exaggerating, which I have a tendency to do. Here's how it went down:

*little boy playing with truck* 
The Dad: "Aw, that is so cute." 
Me: "Yeah." 
Dad: "It's just so interesting how little boys just so naturally go for cars, and little girls go for the barbies."

Which isn't exactly an evil thing to say. I think I might have said it once, years ago. And I've heard it a million times. It's just that usually I'm not surrounded by a crowd of guys who are talking nerd-tastically about computers and rockets, which I know very little about. I felt very pressured to prove myself as an able and intelligent human, (Something that happens kind of always as a girl around guys), so I spoke up when I may not have normally. I said:

Me:  "Sometimes."
The Dad: *in the most brushing-me-off manner this particular guy has ever used on me* "No, it really is. He just picked up that truck one day, and got really into it, and it's just hilarious how he went right for it."

Me: "He went right for it because the only toys he has are-"

Dad: *interrupts to tell a relevant and uninterrupted story about how his sister first discovered Barbies* 
Me: "Okay, that's kind of funny and cute, but here's my childhood story from personal experience, which proves that the stereotypes are, in fact, stereotypes, not rules." 

I told my story. At which point not one, and not two, but ALL THREE guys in the room simultaneously started to argue with me. Arguing with me about MY OWN LIFE STORY.

What? Like seriously, what even? I've experienced mansplaining before, and it's annoying, but I feel like I've never really gotten the worst of it, compared to many girls. This, though. This was beyond such absurdities.


And that's what I'm the most upset about. Yeah, I'm frustrated that people are perpetuating socially artificial gender stereotypes. Yeah, I hate that they use completely flawed logic to refute my statements. And yes, I'm frustrated that I'm practically invisible in most parts of my life anyway. People have literally asked me a question to my face, sat there waiting for an answer, and STILL ignored what I said to them in response. I hate it.

But more than any of that, I don't need this nonsense of having a guy explain away what small bits people do hear from me. I don't need three doofy-looking guys who are years younger than me acting like anything I say can be made to fit their scenario.

Every single time I've ever talked to a male about a female social issue, the male has gone on to argue that it's a completely different issue, and not about women at all. Literally ever single time, without exaggeration.

OBVIOUSLY I don't really know what I mean. OBVIOUSLY I mean this other thing. OBVIOUSLY they're right, because they're men, and they would know.

NO. No that isn't what I meant, and no explanation you're gonna try to give me is going to change the fact that this is a thing I experienced.

There were three dudes, and three women in that room. Do you know what percentage of the conversation came from any of the women? 20% if I'm being generous.

So that's my rant on being heard. But while I'm here, we might as well talk about the gender stereotypes too, since that's what sparked the issue in the first place.

First, your kid isn't playing with that truck because he's a boy. He's playing with that truck because that's the toy you bought him. What's he gonna do, toddle down to wal-mart to pick out something else?

Some boys do go for cars naturally. And so do some girls.

Some girls do go for barbies naturally. And so do some boys.

"Boy toys" and "Girl toys" are an entirely artificial idea. What really defines what they go for are the choices they are given.

If you're out of orange popsicles, you say to your kid "Alright, so do you want purple or yellow?" They will pick purple or yellow. Does this mean that they just naturally like purple better than orange?

By the above logic, yes. Yes it does.

Think about it.

\/  This is exactly the thing. I am Sofia, and I just want to fly my winged horse, dang it. \/

Even the story the guy told about his little sister proves this. She'd never seen a barbie before, so she went for the cars because she didn't know barbies were a choice. It is the EXACT SAME THING.

I was lucky. My family has always been very good about letting me find out what things I liked. To be completely honest, I had no idea that there even was a societal stigma about "girls are bad at math" or "girls don't like science" until I was a sophomore or junior in BYU.

My mom taught science, and I didn't have the realization that she didn't know everything in the world until the summer after 10th grade. I grew up knowing that women were every bit as smart as anyone else. I grew up just inherently knowing that fantasy and sci-fi were every bit a girl's thing as a boy's.

The things I was very into as a kid had nothing to do with barbies. I was into dinosaurs, rocks, microscopes, constellations, rockets, dragons, and I was hardcore into swords. I dressed up as Peter Pan and the blue power ranger for Halloween.

And my parents let me, because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO. You let your kid find out what they like. You let them explore it, and see where it takes them. Not once, during my entire life, did either of my parents tell me that swords were boy's toys, so I couldn't have them.

(I'm still SO into swords.)



Ooh. Nice. 
Ok, ok, I'll stop. I'm sorry. I just got really sidetracked on google. 


But even as good as I had it, one of my earliest very-clear memories deals with this exact subject.

It was my cousin's birthday party. We were at a park. I don't know whether he was turning three or four, but I would have been probably five or six.

My aunt had gotten some little barbie-esque plastic doll toys, and some plastic ninja stars. She was going down the line of kids, handing them out. I was psyching myself up to ask for a ninja star, because I really didn't want a dumb old doll figurine, and I was kind of scared. I don't do confrontations well, and I especially didn't when I was a teeny kid facing a grown up. But I wanted that ninja star so bad.

My aunt got to me. She barely even looked at me as she walked by, and didn't say a word. She just handed me a ninja star and moved on, like it was no big deal.



That was a big deal to me. A HUGE deal. So much so that I am 30 now, and it still gives me warm fuzzies.

It was important, because I spent my entire life since feeling like people keep shoving me into boxes. Teachers, friends, enemies, cartoons, church leaders, classmates, magazines... even the arbitrary standards of what counts as professional clothing.

I looked forward to girl's camp every year like most kids waited for Christmas, because it was the only week in the entire 52 that I went somewhere I felt I could be whoever I wanted to be.

Guess which one is me. 

I spent half of 7th grade and the entirety of 8th sitting completely by myself at lunch every single day. (In 9th and 10th I had exactly one friend, who played Magic The Gathering with me during lunch. But then he graduated. *sad face*)

I also had a duo of hardcore bullies during 7th and 8th.They were super annoying, but I'm pretty sure that the societal pressures of a middle schooler had already weighed on me as much as anything was going to. So, sorry-not-sorry, Justin and Steven. You mean nothing.

Everyone obsessed over make-up and boys and prom and dresses and hair and fashions and pop stars and shoes and I wasn't into any of those things. (Well, except Backstreet Boys. That, I understood.)

It's super hard to make and keep close friends, when no one cares about anything that you care about. And because of that, I kept trying to cram myself into the boxes that they sat in, so that I wouldn't be alone.

But I didn't fit. And even I, as the super slow mover that I am, eventually came to the conclusion that I didn't have to.

So don't any of you tell me that the way you handle gender issues with your toddlers won't make any difference.

Don't you tell me I'm less, because I don't fit your standards of what I should be.

Don't you dare tell me that boys playing with "girl toys" will create a freak.

Or that a girl can't like "guy things" and be feminine at the same time.
Or that her worth is somehow based on what YOU'VE decided you like.

And don't you ever dare tell me that my experience doesn't prove anything or mean anything. There are kids in every single school that feel the same way I do. People who are weird, and really don't fit in and need a place where they don't have to change their fundamental natures just to avoid ceaseless mockery.

Don't make them spend 30 years wondering why they're stupid and useless and wrong before they figure out that they aren't.

I have a sword now. Your boxes can't hold me anymore.

So sorry-not-sorry douchewads, that I am physically incapable of ever being a size zero. That, when stripped down to my bare dry bones, my pelvis is still larger than that.

Sorry-not-sorry loser guys, that I don't care about make-up, and actually strongly dislike pedicures.

Sorry-not-sorry that my version of a great tiara would have spikes and a hidden knife.

Sorry-not-sorry bigots, that I would rather play with swords than make future wedding plans, and that I'd rather be in a wood shop than a kitchen "where I belong".
I made this.
Sorry-not-sorry misogynists, that I like science, and that I've probably watched more nova documentaries that any five random strangers put together.

I like baseball and computer games, and rpgs and logic puzzles and dinosaurs and nerdy tv shows and fantasy novels

I officially decided to stop caring what any of you think. It doesn't mean your words stop hurting. They still do. What what it does mean is that I bounce back, and get on with living, whether you approve or not.

This is my new theme song. I'll peace out on this power-princess note.

No comments: