There was on wee sentence of one comment that caught my attention, largely because it struck a chord with me. That sentence was this:
I really dislike being dubbed 'female' because it does bring forth those negative stereotypes that you are somewhat battling against.
I used to hate being a girl. A lot. So, so much. I despised it with every fibre of my being.
It wasn't that I identified more with the boys or that I felt I was a boy. That's not it at all. I was a girl. I knew I was a girl. There was absolutely no confusion as to my gender.
I just really hated being a girl.
Why? Well, girls were presented in a very negative light to me when I was growing up. Girls were weak, they were dumb, they couldn't play sports, they couldn't do maths, or science. They weren't capable of forming any valid opinions. Any opinions they did manage to form were to be immediately disregarded as inferior. Hell, they were not even valid confessors to our own experiences.
Don't believe what a girl says. Why not? Because she's a girl, dummy!
In fact, I quickly learnt that a girl's only worth lay in her appearance and her ability to attract attention from the opposite sex. Those girls who happened to break the mould and actually be clever were automatically presented as repulsive at worst. At best, they were invisible, an ostracised little duckling clutching her books to her flat chest and pining after the jock. I mention flat chests because girls with a little more up front were immediately regarded as being brainless.
I have personal experience with this. I was constantly treated as an idiot by strangers because I happened to have rather large breasts for my age. For the record, I hated those too.
The fact that I was a girl meant that I couldn't enthusiastically share my love of science fiction and fantasy, because girls didn't read that stuff, and most of my female classmates - if they read at all - bought into that narrative. The fact that I was a girl meant that I had no one the chat with about how awesome video games were, because girls weren't supposed to like that stuff, and most everyone I know bought into that narrative. Girls weren't supposed to like swords, or play fighting, or action movies.
In fact, because I was a girl, when my mother told a director (who had come to our little amateur theatre group to help us stage a production of Oliver) that I was a writer, he turned to look at me and said, "Oh? Romance?" I was so insulted. I'm fairly certain my expression screamed insulted disdain (mostly because my mother quietly admonished me for it) and I flatly replied, "Fantasy."
Because I was a girl, the automatic assumption was that I wrote romance, when in fact, speculative fiction was where it was at for me (and still is). Again, I was a girl, and therefore not really meant to be into speculative fiction.
I adored all of these things, but I felt wasn't allowed to publicly do so. Because I was a girl.
And I hated it.
It led to a very aggressive rejection of everything feminine. I threw everything associated with the feminine out of my life. No dresses. No make up. No boys. NO PINK! The feminine came to mean all the things I was told it was - weak, silly, untrustworthy, vapid. And because I wasn't these things, I decided that female though I was, I was not feminine.
It has taken a long, long time and a good deal of self-reflection and deep, personal work to bring myself around. It has also taken a fair few really wonderful role models.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I am realising that the feminine isn't the evil we've been led to believe.
A few years ago, I started wearing skirts and dresses. I experimented a bit with make up... but only a bit. I'm still not all that fond of the stuff, and I know only the basics. I let a large part of myself I kept hidden from the world out, a small piece at a time. I had closed it away because I thought it was everything I hated; everything I didn't want to be.
Slowly, ever so slowly, I began to realise that there is absolutely no shame in being feminine, or embracing the feminine side of yourself. Because feminine is not weak. It is strong. It has power. It is not foolish, or vapid, or idiotic. Being feminine does not mean being lesser, no matter how hard current society is trying to scream otherwise.
And don't be fooled. Society is still screaming this bullshit:
There is no shame in skirts and dresses, or in in make up, or jewellery. Feminine is not weak.
So be careful about making assumptions about that girl wearing that dress. The dress isn't the whole story. She might just be able to kick your arse; because femininity isn't weak, or vapid. It's high time we stop treating it as such.
Now I'm off to kick arse in another language.