Recently, I was eating in my favorite taco shop, an experience that led to a critical examination of how I, personally, conform to the social constraints that have been placed upon my gender. You know, your average taco shop inquiries.
For me, eating a burrito is a near religious experience. No part of the burrito is to be taken for granted and no amount must be wasted. It is a food item so ingrained into the lexicon of my childhood that when I eat it, it is as if I am digesting my very past. Clearly, I place far too much of a metaphorical emphasis onto my food.
Nevertheless, with this mindset, if I were to leave any part of my burrito uneaten, it would be nothing short of sacrilege. So I finish all of my California burrito—because it was the reverential thing to do— and my company comments on my rapid consumption, noting that they had “never seen a girl finish an entire one of those before.”
At first I was proud that in my own small way I may have just overthrew gender bias, but pride gave way to skepticism and this skepticism gave way to indigestion (maybe I did eat that burrito a little too quickly). Ultimately, I was left with a feeling of, in a word, disappointment.
In the year of 2013, is there still a small expectation that girls should demurely peck at their food like some sad, malnourished bird? I, like most ladies, find myself traversing a minefield of double standards and unfair assumptions.
If you wear jean cutoffs, you are running the risk of being considered a slut. If you are still a virgin at 24, then you are measured as a prude. If you put on heels, you are trying too hard but if you choose flats, you are lazy. If you have two drinks and are in a tight skirt, you must be “asking for it.”
Do I have to take all of these timeworn judgments into consideration when I get dressed in the morning? Is it okay to feign ignorance and just be happy with and in yourself until such unbridled confidence is contagious to those around you? It’s hard enough picking out the perfect pair of suede overalls to compliment my platform flip-flops without having to fear the gendered presumptions that can be derived from such an ensemble.
The public’s seemingly schizophrenic veneration of the female form is really starting to bum me out. The media praises Lena Dunham’s daring – albeit cringe-worthy – portrayal of young womanhood, but in the next breath, all of the Internet is yelling at her for not wearing a shirt while she plays ping-pong during an episode of her fictitious comedy.
So blurred is the line between reverence and criticism of femininity that even Robin Thicke can’t make heads or tails of it anymore.
It feels as if being a woman comes with an asterisk. As in, I should love my hips but I can hide them using an A-line skirt or a nice bootleg jean. When did being a female start necessitating footnotes?
So, what do I do? Seriously, I have no idea. I know for certain that I don’t want to be required to wear a skirt to substantiate my femininity, and I don’t want to feign interest in baseball in order to combat gender prejudice.
All I really want to do is eat my goddamn California burrito.