As a young girl, I was always called a tomboy. I didn’t mind it so much because it was better than being called a girly-girl. Even at a young age, it was better to be considered “boyish” rather than anything that could be described as “girlish,” like wearing dresses, playing with dolls, or liking the color pink.
But I liked wearing dresses (even though I denied it), I loved playing with dolls (even though it wasn’t an activity I shared with others), and, well I hated the color pink, but I did love the color purple (which was considered a girl color, or it still is…I don’t know…I should ask a little kid if it is. I hope it’s not.)
So I grew up being one of the boys, and because of that I learned to hate things that were associated with girls. I hated dancing, I hated expressing my feelings, and I hated Feminism. Although I didn’t really know what Feminism was in elementary school and high school, when I came to a university I was still under the impression that Feminism was a verb for women who like to complain. That’s what I got from growing up as one of the guys.
Whenever I was harassed by guys, I never really saw it as harassment. It wasn’t until a day in a high school English class that I realized that all the cat-calls I’d been getting for years and all the times boys called me names for not wanting to have sex with them was sexual harassment. Huh. You learn something new every day.
What’s more is every single girl in that class had a story about her own experience with sexual harassment. Not a single boy in my class had a story to share. Whether it’s because they didn’t want to share (classic boy conditioning—don’t share your feelings, pussy!), or because they didn’t have anything to share, I don’t know. One boy did speak; he said “I never knew. This happens often?” To which we all nodded. Yeah, this happens often.
And because I grew up as one of the boys, I never listened to my parents when they told me to always walk home at night with someone. I was a strong person, I was independent—I didn’t need the buddy system to get from point A to point B. So I would lie in the morning when they asked me who walked me home.
I’ve been lucky enough to have never had a terrible night encounter, but I’d be lying if there weren’t times when I was petrified. I’d be lying if there weren’t times when I didn’t cross the street because there were a group of guys coming towards me. I’d be lying if there weren’t times when I would pick up large rocks to carry in my pocket when I walked through a park. Walking anywhere alone at night can be scary, but when you’re a woman, it’s even more so.
What did I get for growing up as one of the boys? I learned ignorance and accepted stereotypes. I learned to think of my gender as weak so I tried to represent girls by trying to be better than all the boys at sports, or at school, even by trying to be funnier than them.
There are so many moments in my life and in our histories that scream at me, “this world was not made for women”, and then I remember that the voice screaming such blasphemy belongs to a man.