[Anthro In Parallel pullover + old JCrew toothpick cords I almost threw out before some custom destruction reinvention made them new again + Genie by Eugenia Kim hat + JCrew scarf + Vanessa Mooney necklace]
I got the coolest comment on my last mother of a post. Comments are very life-affirming if you’re me. However, as encouraging as it was, it was a frighteningly thoughtful critique that gave me a bigger bout of writer’s block than I’ve ever had:
You should write more stuff like this. It’s lovely reading you when there is purpose behind your words. You’re often too wispy. You hold back…
I don’t know… wispy to me is removed and noncommittal [read: rushed, self-conscious, and uninspired], which is something I play around with being so that I can avoid turning my blog into something I’d never have the energy to read myself.
Posts like that one sap my energy, and they only come when they’re good and ready.
On holding back: I write a sentence while hearing the myriad negative comments/criticisms/rebuttals before they’re even issued. I can’t help it; I’m a poli sci major, and we don’t just make statements without expecting each aspect of them to be pulled apart by someone who disagrees with as much conviction as we agree. [I secretly like this aspect to politics, though—the making people furious with me. Must be a subconscious release valve to my constant people pleasing, but that is for another post.]
Warning: This post started out as something way different. It was fierce. It was basically a novella on why I don’t dig women, and thusly, had better things to do than watch a show based on their buffoonery. [This was after the pilot. I love, now. Love.] But, as stated above, I kept correcting myself and, after 4 hours of typing, noting, with an editor’s eye my convenient exclusionary tactics and venomous, sweeping attacks that served only to discredit myself, I deleted. So I started from scratch, beginning with the first line:
I’ll just come out with it: I’m kinda prejudiced against women.
After: I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from PTGESD (post traumatic girl exposure stress disorder).
But because I’m allowed to be, I’m a big fat sexist. A pitiless, unsympathetic eye roller toward the female species. For the most part, this portion of the world’s population that I owe my life to, many of my current freedoms, and in certain instances, the strength to go on… drive me up the frigging wall.
[Smile! I’m talking some serious smack, but still want you to like me.]
Lena’s not really the problem, unless you want to lump my festering jealousy at her success as a brilliant writer into my aversion.
Sure, there are things I like about being a girl. There are certain powers, and numerous built-in hall passes to idiocy. But for the most part [and that is leaving out a lot], girls freak me the hell out. Even the older ones.
I realized I may be setting myself up for allegations of penis envy here, but I maintain blanket notions about men and women and, barring rape, molestation, murder, and Joe Biden, I tend to just generally find men to be more efficient and logical. Like, who would I call in a crisis?
If my mom doesn’t pick up? Probably a dude.
The girl swarm.
PTGESD should imply I do, in fact, know many wonderful women, but that I’ve suffered enough fools to feel like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
I have to brace myself for “girl time.” Gird my loins. Pound a beer.
Girls in large quantities (3 or more) are, to me, completely disarming. [And I went to an all girls college.] It’s like a blob absorbs them, unites them, then mutates them, obliterating all the things I can happily relate with them about one on one, turning them into this mass of really scary screeching, snarking, or stabbing pop culture wiz kids. I haven’t witnessed any actual stabbing yet, but I’m convinced it happens.
Girls, in part, planted a seed that this might not always be the case. But it is fiction.
I can’t pinpoint exactly where this originated, but I think it lies in my awareness of the subtle repudiation of outsiders exhibited in a girl swarm. Make no mistake: this stuff still happens, even at 31. Maybe being anxious makes me extra in-tune to this, but I’d just as soon go to a concert by myself than wonder why I’m not in any of the group photos afterward.
I hate group photos. I’d rather eat a bowl of cigarette butts.
The Mowgli complex.
The girl swarm also has the unflattering effect of making its components a percentage point stupider. And when you’re trying really hard to look smart, this is unideal.
I wonder about subtle differences in girls with older brothers vs. girls with only sisters, or younger brothers. I grew up desperately trying not to say anything stupid around my big brother, who was like, totally mellow and around whom I could basically achieve invisibility. [This came in very handy during my anthropological investigations of how boys behave, upon which I gazed with much reverence.] If I could just get through the day without making a fool of myself around him, I could collapse on my bed exhausted and accomplished.
I rarely succeeded. I succeeded least when I had other girls around me. [And I take full responsibility for the deplorable choice I made to bend over and fart in our cat’s face to make my friend laugh, after which he told me I was horrible and belonged in a bathroom for the rest of my life. Full responsibility!]
You can imagine my bewilderment during the occasions we spent with my two, younger girl cousins. They and their mom were such a hilarious, tight-knit little unit of strawberry blond fun-ness—think sing-alongs in the car to The B52’s, inside jokes, silly movie quotations, and just complete girlhood—and my brother adored them. [Girl swarm contradiction #1!] He lived to entertain them, always so good-natured. I, on the other hand, was almost always completely incapacitated, sullenly writing in my journal or just generally preoccupied.
Sadly, I missed out on the fun, choosing to feel exacerbated rather than take part. I didn’t know how to behave.
To question one’s own authenticity at such a young age is tiring. To read the resulting diary entries is even worse.
E.T. & Elliott.
If you’re a girl, harbors in the PTGESD storm are cherished bits. From ages 8-13ish, my best bud was a litte boy, 3 years younger than me. With him I could speak my mind, felt safe marveling at adulthood without feeling the need to imitate it, explored woods, and invented myths and mysteries of our own, rather than tackle popular truths. [Although, I did have to correct him that girls did not pee out of their butts.] I was far from a tomboy; I just preferred him. He had a no-holds-barred approach to interacting with the world; the first real-life hippie I’d ever met.
I had great friends who were girls. And still do. Awesome ones. But I had enough shitty ones for legit PTGESD.
I still involuntarily hear this one thing a friend said to me every time I look in the mirror. Believe it or not, none of my male friends told me I had no chin, am virtually assless, that my arms are my worst physical feature, and that: “Eat eat eat. All you do is eat!”
This friendship was so much more nurturing than any female [Mom not included]. Mostly, I was a better version of me around him. I had absolutely nothing to complain about, until, that is, he became just old enough for me to want to protect against others of my kind.
Boys provide a necessary filter, have you ever noticed that? Basically, I’m far less likely to dissect someone else’s eyebrows in the absence of the incendiary woman.
Of course, men are capable of numerous grievances that we women can hate, fear, and admonish at our convenience. But there are evils of womenkind, too. And I’ve found these only really come out in me when I’m around other women.
Sadly, the things I’ve done that I’ve hated the most happened at the influence of and proximity to another female.
The desire to be of better character + PTGESD = reluctance to adopt many female counterparts, for sport.
In contrast, however, the times I’ve taken a male approach to something in regards to another woman are the times I’ve probably inflicted the most pain or insult. It’s a conundrum.
Relating to Lena: I do, but I don’t [want to].
So I watched the show. And I wrote this honking post. Then I felt bad about it. Then I watched more of the show, and I thought—isn’t creativity a brilliant f**king thing? Like, getting to be an idiot for the benefit of others? [Unpaid, in my case?] But being entertained, I still felt… inaccurate. Foreign. Fallible.
My politics don’t make standing amidst these creatures any easier. Women seem to always be in pursuit of a new effigy; sometimes, it chafes my general outlook on life. But far from that, I find the less power I attribute to something, the less it gets in my way. Maybe that’s why I’ve in essence turned into my favorite literary reference of all bloody time: the two snakes eating each other’s tails in In The Lake of the Woods.
In the generational span of womankind, I do, however, relate more to this tattooed, babbling buffoon and the situations she navigates than I do with, say, girls my own age who are having babies and picking detergents. Not saying a baby or laundry makes all your girlie problems and dramas go away, I just—it’s what she’s grappling with. I identify with it. It’s real. And I guess I gotta hand it to every woman who chooses to fight for professional success when she can’t afford to do both, because it’s what I’m doing myself.
The authenticity of maleness.
That being said, I find some women to be totally enthralling. They do exist. But when it comes to a true crisis, dial me up a dude.
Taking all emotion out of a situation [so, like, next to never], my upfront, knee-jerk approaches to problems form in my head sounding creepily like my dad. They even clear their throat and snap a newspaper after materializing. Perhaps this is more when helping someone else with their problems, but I don’t know—I’ve always just admired the male modus operandi. Reasoning. Un-entitled logic. I wish my spirit animal was a silver fox, not a fox—a corporate one who wears tailored suits and gets paid the big bucks to raise the bottom line and make secretaries cry.
My dad has just always been this total pillar of what’s right. Maybe not always in the moment, but looking back… it’s like, Jesus, how did he know? And we’re not even going to touch the cosmic brilliance of Camilla. [That’s my mom.]
But men are curious curators of life. They don’t seem to subject themselves to questionable situations that resuscitate adolescent paranoia: they don’t dress up to go out and meet a group of dudes they’re not even positive they like to talk about tv shows and shoes. I’ve envied almost every male friendship I’ve ever witnessed; there’s an inherent solidity to the male bond I yearn to weasel my way into.
And I’d always rather wallow in/get down with/rock out to songs with a clear male agenda than any female artist: give me the Troggs for longing, J. Tillman for introspection, Humble Pie for joy in life, Allman Brothers for feeling spited, Stevie Wonder for buoyancy and soul, the Black Crowes for inner grit, Neil Young for open spaces, and The Faces for misbehavin’. Dude tunes are always so… unadulterated.
To me, the male soul flanks the female’s in scope.
Both in its ability to register brokenness, and its ability to hide that brokenness.
It’s infinitely more appealing to me, that soul, in its highs and its lows. And like a vow, I’ll always take it more seriously.
And maybe that’s my point, or the point I’m missing.
I don’t think any woman could argue that being a woman is easy. And maybe it’s easy to be afraid of being a woman. I certainly can be.
I think I stun-gunned myself out of embracing femininity back when I thought I could trust any woman—all women—lulled into a guns-down submission by a feminist battle cry that we, as a sex, had somewhere to go, something to be. I mistook it for camaraderie, when really, I wasn’t up to the task—I just wanted someone to listen to records and drink beers with. Because I never could play the game.
I’m still mapping out this misunderstanding of my own sex, and I’m nowhere near X marks the spot, but I will say—as much as I admonish my own and herald the dudes… thank God I’m a chick.
‘Cause I never woulda landed Rob with a weiner.