Of everything that I consider wrong about myself, there is one certain thing. I am stubborn. Supremely so.
Perhaps it’s part and parcel with the narcissistic traits I share with my father. All I know for certain is that from a very young age I have had a hard time comprehending that I have to do what other people do.
I don’t mean basics like not hurting other people, stealing, lying, etcetera. These things make fundamental sense to me. Things like religion and liking activities/subjects solely because of being female don’t.
I simply do not comprehend that I *have* to do these things. And if you tell me I don’t have to be religious and that I don’t have to like makeup because I’m a woman, you’re not paying attention to pretty much everything. I absolutely want to live in the world you’re describing, please transport me there.
About religion. I grew up in midwest America, corn country, right on the edge of the bible belt. Religiosity permeated the air. My father always paid lip service to religion, swearing up and down when the topic came up that he loved Jesus but never bringing it up or attending church. My mother was a different story. She and I attended a fundamentalist Baptist church and it was always confusing for me. I had to get up early on one of two days I supposedly had off, dress up in awful itchy clothes, travel a long way to the big church my mother frequented, be told these weird, contradictory stories about some guy who died a long time ago, and watch someone get dunked in water in a special room up in the wall where all could see. For no real reason.
How was it relevant to me? It added zero value to my life. Luckily after my mother’s divorce and the pious, righteous people of the church started to treat her like a pariah, she figured out going to church wasn’t adding to her life, and stopped going. It’s the one thing I respect her for.
I never “became” an ath3ist. It’s hard to become one when you never believed in the first place. My childhood puzzlement and confusion at the practice of religion simply continued into adulthood.
About gender roles. We live in a world that constantly tries to tell who and what we are in the form of “roles.” Men and women both enforce them on each other; women on women and men, men on women and men. No one thinks about it very much. They are mental short-cuts enshrined in “tradition.”
To me, most things a woman has to do and be are mostly “add-ons.” Stuff that isn’t really intrinsically part of being female but is now enforced as “part of being a woman” by most people, normally unthinkingly. There are “add-ons” for men as well.
For me, I have decided that anything beyond the basics is something I get to decide on. The basics for me are that I’m female and heterosexual. Everything else is just contrived and forced. Add-ons, that *should* be elective.
What are they, for women?
You must be submissive. You must live your life for the male gaze. The male gaze is the only thing that matters. Any interests outside of relationships are not serious and are laughable. You must be fixated on children and having them. Marriage is the ultimate achievement for you. Housework is your domain. You must obey authority, especially your husband and father.
And my inner streak of complete stubbornness and rebellion says “nope.” Just because I am female doesn’t mean I automatically have to do and be these things. Yet the pressure of it can be overwhelming. At times I forget the core of stubbornness within me and I winge and wail about how I am such a victim, fighting a world I can’t change, waah waah. Honestly, I always need to remember – be stubborn about the important stuff. Do not stay in the box you were placed in when you were born if you don’t want to. Climb out of that box, ignore the hands that try to push you back in. Do not allow yourself to be degraded. Be stubborn, and do not lose ground. Do not let others define you.