My right arm still really hurts, alas, so I will condense my "Pet" post into three sentence: I'm now officially not allowed to have a pet in the Historical House, so my baby substitute options are definitely limited. Does anyone know of a plant that is like a pet? Is there a plant that purrs, or is that only on Star Trek?
The post that I've wanted to write for days is about young men who will tell you that you are not a "real" woman for some reason, and how you should correct and ignore them.
First of all, although some young men may think they are being very objective when they formulate theories about women and femininity, they aren't. So if a man tells you you aren't very feminine, you can take this as saying more about his subjective impressions of reality than about you, even if you are a tanker trucker.
Boys' and men's irrational and subjective thoughts about women can be very damaging to the female psyche, as we naturally want to get along with men, and many of us are prone to self-doubt. The most terrible and extreme example I know of is a little girl whose inevitable but horrible elementary school nickname was, through no fault of her own, "Whore." This poor girl was one of the girls singled out for the elementary sexual experiences of the boys in my class, and was the most despised.
As I scroll through my memory for the usual reasons an innocent girl gets tarred with the "class slut" label--the first to get breasts, willingness to curse, the crime of listening to the wrong music or wearing the wrong clothes, the rumour of an older boyfriend--all I can see is the fact that this girl's nickname was "Whore." That's it. That is why, according to the spirit that ruled my classroom, she could be treated like crap.
And, incidentally, I was too wrapped up in my own problems to think very much about this girl at the time, and it was only after someone else in my class--a girl who had been treated with affection and respect by the boys--told me about seeing her years later, that it occurred to me how much she must have suffered. (In short, the first woman saw the second, turned white as a sheet, and crossed the road.)
My own painful brush with irrational male categories of femininity occurred when I was a teenager, the sort of Dumb Smart Girl who does boys' homework for them because they seem so desperate and only she can save them. I hung out with fellow baby neo-conservatives in a movement where the very word "feminist" was hated, and because I argued the feminist cause, I was considered perhaps a bit of a loose cannon. As luck would have it, my most vociferous critic was the boy I helped with his homework most. He wanted to be seen as an intellectual, and he certainly wasn't one, so I suppose it is no wonder that he hated my guts. Very irrationally, I was quite fond of him and wanted him to like me. (Sigh.)
He was the kind of boy who puts on chivalry like his older brother's jacket and one day bragged at a party that he always treated girls very well.
"But what about Seraphic?" demanded my friend. "You don't treat her very well."
"Oh," scoffed Mr Chivalry. "Seraphic's not a girl girl."
My therapist became very familiar with this story. Possibly my readers are already familiar with this story. Unfortunately, this is one of the defining stories of my life. And why, I ask, did I allow the stupid remark of a teenage dirtbag who begged and pleaded for me to fix his stupid essays to bother me quite that much?
And I suppose I must have thought boys were allowed to define who the "real" girls were, and as generations of women believed, that the greatest feminine accomplishment is to "make boys like you," and so, if you failed in this, you weren't that feminine.
How terrible. And how untrue. But that is enough for today because of my poor arm.