Other girls, and me

I grew up believing that being a girl was bad. I’m not going to hypothesise as to why right now – it’s such a big, complex, systemic issue that it’s not worth the neurons. To be blunt with myself, I was a misogynist; long, long before I knew what that was. I hated myself for being female. I shunned and devalued and disowned the feminine aspects of myself, and others too. No wonder I was a ball of hot, repressed rage.

Yes, I was totally ‘not like other girls’. And those other girls threatened and confused me. Did they not get the memo? Did they not know they were inferior to males and the only viable option was to adopt masculine behaviour, values and requirements?

I never had those conscious thoughts. But something like them must have been lurking in there for me to be the way I was. Somehow they infiltrated my psyche before even my first memories, and made their home.

Until fairly recent years, I didn’t really think too hard about sexism. I saw it, and I didn’t see it. It didn’t seem very serious. But I always had a problem with successful women who did not behave like men. I was nowhere near to being able to articulate that, or even notice the specificity. But they pissed me off and made me feel weird, so I made up other reasons why that might be.

Now I know better, but those women are still challenging. I wonder if they’re still challenging to a lot of us. For me, they spark many uncomfortable questions. Who could I have been if I’d just let myself be a woman? Who could I have been if I’d championed and celebrated women instead of diminishing them? Who could I be if I started genuinely seeing those women as collaborators instead of competitors?