Girl Talk

Being Feminine Doesn't Make Me Weak

There’s this thing that people do when they look at a girl lady who happens to be wearing, I don’t know, a fun little skirt and a bow in her hair and just enough makeup to look cute but not so much that it looks like 1992 threw up on her face. That’s not actually the thing that people do (it’s what I do, except when I’m home alone sometimes I hit the makeup too hard and 1992 gets way too real). The thing that people do is see the bow and just kind of dismiss a lady’s legitimacy because I guess they think that being feminine equals being weak or pleasantly innocuous.

I love that putting a bow in my hair is some kind of subconscious signal to people that I’m non-threatening, like how insects communicate through antennae dances (they do that, right?). Actually, what I really love is seeing the confusion on someone’s face when I sass them ruthlessly, until they figure out what my deal is. I don’t even get it, at this point. Isn’t this what the last couple waves of feminism were supposed to get us – aside from equal pay but who’s counting (lolz inequality!). That I don’t have to deal with being dismissed as a Betty Draper just because I’m feminine? Also that I don’t have to deal with being judged on my aesthetics, but like I said, who’s counting?

I like bows. I have one made of shiny stones in a ring that I got from my friend Almie and I wear it all the time. I like it because it’s shiny and pretty and will leave a cute looking bruise on your face where I punch you with it for underestimating me. Not that I advocate violence; I’m just saying.

I feel like I’m part of this cult of women, and everyone outside it only sees the surface and is content to judge us based on what they see. We bake cupcakes in cute aprons while listening to obscenely perky Swedish twee-pop (Acid House Kings = life). We knit and stitch and craft and DIY like we’re Etsy’s grandmother. We also discuss social theory, deconstruct films until we fall over from the weight of our own pretentiousness, debate Inga Muscio books and run circles around guys with music nerd-dom. (What is it with men and facts, by the way? Just once I’d love to talk cultural relevance with a guy about the Beatles instead of out-factoid-ing them until I’m bored and they’re insecure. Anyway. Back on track.)

I kind of don’t care when people box me into the uber-feminine container, because it amuses me. Also, I’m too distracted by all the brilliant ideals around me right now. Women on TV are kind of blowing my mind. There’s Leslie Knope, a female government official in a starring role, Liz Lemon head writing a hit show, and Jess on ‘New Girl’ holding her own in an apartment with three men (and Zooey Deschanel wrote her own theme song, the girl just owns everything she does). There’s ‘2 Broke Girls’ with the amazing Kat Dennings voluption fest and just the idea of two female characters on a hit show being fabulous while living unglamorous lives, being sassy and struggling. Then there’s ‘Once Upon a Time’, which I almost can’t handle, because it’s taken all of these traditionally passive fairy tale heroines waiting for a man to get his necrophilia on, and turned them into independent weapon experts out to get what’s theirs. Snow White handling a crossbow on network television? I’m all verklempt! There’s plenty more and ‘Girls’ hasn’t even premiered yet.

When I was a kid, I was a raging tomboy. Once in kindergarten I led all the others girls in an afternoon-long war against the boys because they said they wouldn’t let a girl (hi, me) play with them. Until about middle school, I wore sweatpants and sweatshirts, and didn’t even bother to check if they matched. Before my boobs popped up, I was mistaken for a boy for years. And I felt just as great as I do now in my “girly” skin, because I’m still doing my thing, it’s just changed over the years. In high school and college I had various jobs where I had to prove I could pull my weight – lift things, stand outside in freezing weather for hours, etc. Something about carrying 50 lbs in a dress instead of jeans always just felt good, maybe because it’s always unexpected.

I rock the bows and the dresses, the fabulous nail polish and the heels and, on special days the fake lashes (borderline dragalicious ones, no shame) because they make me feel feminine, and I just don’t feel like that has any bearing on how much of a 21st century woman I am. At the end of the day, it’s just what I wear. It’s fun and makes me feel lighter and freer because it’s what I’m comfortable in. Being girly doesn’t mean I see the world as one big, fluffy kitten – it’s my way of trying to keep at bay the fact that it can often be a vicious Rottweiler. My femininity makes me no less intelligent, curious, sassy, political, perceptive, passionate, or just plain full of strength. Judging me for it, though, seems to contradict the work of our mothers and just seems plain petty. I don’t think it’s on my shoulders to change who I inherently am to fit any sort of cultural stereotype; I’m still going to accomplish the things I set out to, it just might surprise a few more people who are still stuck on that whole judging a book by its cover train.

Featured image is the artwork of Adam Oehlers

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