About being a woman.

I have spent this lovely Sunday morning reading this AskMe thread about female experiences while drinking tea. Some of the highlights for me have been:

  • Role models in media: The Bechdel Test illuminates this better than I can.
  • Invisibility: “Bring a male friend with you when you go car shopping.” I do not need to elaborate on this.
  • Pockets: I love pockets and if I could stand shopping I would go out of my way to only purchase clothing with pockets. Pockets in women’s clothing tend to be either tiny or nonexistent. I am forced, instead, to buy purses with lots of pockets which then fill up with crap I really don’t need to carry around all the time.
  • Clothing in general: Heels are part of a “professional woman” look. When I worked in a corporate office, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to wear heels most days. I even bought a pair I could stand (figuratively, and literally stand in). Nowadays I have heels for interviews and for formal occasions and I do not enjoy wearing them, regardless of how they are supposed to make my legs look so much longer and therefore nicer.
  • Male gaze: I could say so much about this, but in short, it is very weird to be checked out. I don’t think of it as flattering, regardless of the overwhelming societal programming that I should. “See, you are attractive enough to be looked at that way!” Uh, so?
  • Personal safety: I am lucky to be with someone who knows and respects that my fear of being assaulted is not without precedent. I have not always been so lucky. In the past, my concern about being in certain neighborhoods or being out alone after dark has been met with incredulity and outright scorn. Yet I have been harassed while alone more times than I can count. During a few of these times, it was luck alone that stopped something much worse from happening. And I have to change the way I conduct my life — where I will go alone after dark — because of this. (Before you say it, I know men are harassed, too, but I also know that some men have no idea how frequently or how badly women are harassed.)
  • Assumptions about interests: I am lucky to live in a somewhat forward-thinking city, so my geekiness — whatever that means — does not stand out as much here, but in other places it was just unfathomable that I would like computers or gaming. The flip side to this is that in my current location I am not hardcore enough about any of these things to be “the hardcore girl gamer” or any of the other tropes. So I am in this weird in-between place with my less feminine yet less hardcore interests. But hey, I’ve always got knitting and cooking, right?
  • Food and dieting: As someone on a restricted diet for health reasons, I have grown to resent the dieting topic, whereas before I just ignored it. I like hearing about alternative ways to being healthy, but the whole idea that I should care about dieting to lose weight cosmetically is very frustrating to me. I always want to eat healthier and exercise more; that is a current focus of my life, and one I put a lot of energy and thought behind. But I cannot abide the whole cutesy “I can’t eat that; it’ll go straight to my hips” cliché, or worse, the expectation that I should buy into that cliché.

I should probably talk about the things I find awesome about being female, but they are the same things I find awesome about being human so you likely know about them already. Also: boobs.

5 thoughts on “About being a woman.

  1. Great piece Cyg. I don't buy into all the women's liberation as I like my car doors opened for me when possible, the being asked out or asked to dance as I am old school and would never ask myself. I like my freedoms and what are supposed to be equalities, but I am not extreme. I did actually purchase my last car all by myself but don't think for a second I didn't consider taking a male with me. Is it right that males are associated with being less naive and that females are considered easier prey to a salesman? No, not at all….but its a fact. As far as the scorn you encountered when speaking of not being alone in certain neighborhood after dark…that is ridiculous. I'll come right out and say along side you, there is no way in the seven fires of hell that you would catch me in the middle of Baltimore city walking down a street alone at night. The neighborhoods are filled with drugs and crime, due to poverty and theft, rape, assault is high. Alone is a key factor, and so is being a female (as said before, stereotype is that females are easier prey).

    1. You know, I think you can like certain things and still believe in women's liberation. It becomes problematic when you believe that men *have to* open doors for women, or that women *can't* open their own doors. I certainly appreciate it when FunkyPlaid opens doors for me — he almost always does this — because I know he knows I can open my own doors. He just likes to help out in this way. He is also a great door-opener for other people, male and female, I should note.

      You are right that we should be cognizant of things like car-shopping biases and such. I just dislike it intensely.

      I think part of the scorn thing is geographical; people who have grown up in the Bay Area don't necessarily think of San Francisco as a tough town, or rather they think that they can just avoid certain neighborhoods and they'll never be bothered. This may be partly true, but as a female I can tell you that I have been harassed in all sorts of "good" neighborhoods and left pretty much alone in all sorts of "bad" ones — and vice-versa.

  2. continued…
    And omg the heels in the workplace…I feel the pressure to put those on daily but the urge to be comfortable wins out each time. No male will ever have the foot surgery I had in 2005 to correct what those shoes do your feet after years of wearing them.
    Diet, my sentiments exactly. I diet to be healthier, because I have restrictions and to fulfill my dream of one day being off these meds. I would hope in my heart that I would be attractive to the opposite sex simply for who I am and not because I chose for years not to have those cupcakes 🙂
    And yeah: boobs

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