I feel like I should put a warning label for explicit content like they do on a Lil Wayne CD or something. How does that go? Warning: the following may be inappropriate for children under 17….wait, I think that line is used for films or television shows…you get the point though. Fair warning. Apologies in advance. Word choice may yield some offense but in my defense I wrote my actual honest thoughts, which is why you are all here. & by “you” I mean the small audience of wonderful souls that graciously give a little bit of their time to read my musings. And also anyway, it’s probably not that big of an issue. I’m just not a fan of the word…or apparently not aloud.
“He’s kind of a…pussy.” as I heard myself say these words, I stopped myself to reflect. I stopped and thought and reflected on what had just occurred. Granted, this statement and ensuing thoughts took place completely in my head so no one could actually be offended at the time ((though I do wonder what the many people at Starbucks were thinking to themselves as I stared blankly thoughtfully into empty space)).
Still, it brought up in me an internal (and often external) conflict I’ve brushed off many times.
Soy mujer. I am a woman.
yet, socialization, culture, context, family have taught me to emphasize something else…
I am not a man. No soy hombre.
…I’ll give you a sec for thoughts to percolate and settle and hopefully percolate some more.
I think my statement/thought/sexist musing demonstrates a lot of that struggle. A little bit of context may help. This thought came during one of my failed lesson-learned attempts at dating. I was tired of the douche-type I found myself attracting so when opportunity and interest came from someone who appeared a bit softer, I found myself initially attracted to this person. Overall kindness showed through so I figured I’d be safe from the womanizing-macho actions-sexist thoughts I had seen from others thus far. And, technically, I was right to a certain extent. He was kind. Seemed genuinely interested. Nothing too-douchey or otentially-sexist seemed to leak through during our interactions. Aaand he had made it past my 1-week and 1-month typical run, given my adhd-like tendencies and my seemingly innate ability to lose attention and interest and amplify minute annoyances after a certain (very short) period of time. ((although I could see how as the kind homeboy and I approached the 1-month mark, tendency was rearing its ugly head)).
Anyway, I found myself thinking the above after maybe a month and a half of interaction/dating/whatever we were doing following his (repeated) request of taking things slow.
The stereotypes of gender roles had been made clear to me all of my life. both by my Mexican Father and my Mexican Mother. Perhaps especially from my Mexican Mother. And, despite my deliberate attempts to challenge them and run in the opposite direction through choice and voice and action, I realized that part of me had actually internalized the gendered actions I fought against for so long. Homeboy helped me realize this. I have to confess I thought the above more than once. Mostly during times when I thought he was being “too soft” or “not manly enough” or taking things “too slow,” all things I learned shouldn’t or should be part of what it means to be a man. Again, notice my emphasis was on the meaning behind el hombre and not la mujer. the woman. me.
Sure, I can rationalize all this as a conflict between my cultural upbringing and my recent feminist discoveries. But really, that just feels like an excuse. If I want others to alter their perception of me, shifting their idea of me from a mujer made to fit a certain (submissive) role to an empowered free-spirited latina with choice and voice and a kind heart, I first have to make that change myself.
maybe i’m over thinking all of this and should chalk it all up to the idea that “love is blind” and obviously interaction with homeboy wasn’t going to develop into that given the amplification of annoyances that was already taking place and said statement. but really-honestly-probably, i’m not over thinking. or probably 10% that and 90% conclusion of ingrained-sexism. either way, somethings gotta give. and, truth be told, i think it is. i find myself challenging my own thinking a bit more, trying to eradicate hypocrisy within myself if i hold even minimal expectation for others to do the same. and-plus-also, i think i might have met someone whose minute annoyances haven’t shown…or at least i can’t see them… yeah, let’s pause the thinking on that one for now and use the chalk to play hopscotch instead (:
So how do you balance culture and gender and expectation in general? Is there a way? Maybe it’s all a learning experience. we edit what we’re taught, altering learned ideologies to better fit with our sense of self, our identity, our happy. Like the phrase “I am woman; hear me roar.” – I’ve never really been fond of that statement. Mostly because I’ve never been fond of roaring. I think this is more fitting:
I am woman; hear me.