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my Mom and gender

March 13, 2010

Mom taught me to not be ashamed by my gender, but she also taught me not to be trapped by it. She taught me that there is nothing wrong with being feminine, and that there is nothing wrong with being not feminine. As much as I might whine about her pressuring me to be girly during my teenage years, she really did get it right most of the time, which is all a child can ask for.

Growing up with three brothers it might have been easy for me to sigh and say I wasn’t strong enough or fast enough to compete. It would have been tempting to bow out of whatever game we were playing and shut myself in my room, or play the girl card to get out of hard chores. That was never an option, though, with my mother. “If you don’t have the brawn, you’d better have the brains”, she’d say, and then we’d figure out how to solve a problem without Dad’s muscles. She’s the one who encouraged me to study science in middle school, giving me information about Marie Curie and how girls kick butt at math and science. She always believed in me, whatever I was doing, and while she hoped I’d do English like she wanted, she has never been anything but supportive of my career as a chemist.

Yeah grad school has given me reasons to dislike being female. It’s hard knowing the disadvantages I’ll face, and it sucks sometimes that I speak the wrong language, but Mom gave me enough confidence in myself to know that none of it matters. If I really want, I can do anything. Dunno how being a girl has anything to do with it.

She also taught me not to be ashamed by being female. While I whine about her wanting to dress me up, it’s not because I think it’s a bad thing. I just find it boring. She taught me that those stinky boys can laugh all they want, because we have all the power when we put on a nice dress and do our hair just right. Without maybe realizing what she was doing, she introduced me to the concept of fuck me feminism, and all the confidence that comes with it.

I really am proud of being female. I know I don’t always seem it, but I am. I like how I look. I play that down because I’ve been yelled at often enough for being skinny, but I do like how I look. I know what clothes look good on me, and suit my personality, and that’s what I wear. I love getting dressed up real nice and wowing the gynophiles, really I do.  I like yearning to be a mother, and bonding with other women about that, and looking forward to my future children.  I like the closeness of being female in this culture and this time, that I have people I really can talk to about anything.  I still can’t believe that guys don’t really talk about emotions or sex with their friends.  I like most of all the power of a group of passionate women, the feeling of being part of something that strong.  And I like that my Mom taught me that.  She gave me a necklace for Christmas, that I hope I’ll never lose.  It has three concentric circles labeled “Mother” “Daughter” “Friend”.

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