By Lauree Benton
Women annoy me. There, I said it.
To be fair, a lot of men annoy me too. But it’s women who tend to really get under my skin.
I’ve always been somewhat of a tomboy. Not that I don’t wear dresses, or do my hair. (I grew into those things in college.) I just don’t enjoy a lot of feminine past times, like “girls nights.” I don’t understand feminine beauty standards. Make up? Are you serious? And I despise when my emotions run the show. Logic all the way. I’m aggressive. I’m competitive. And I do not do pink.
All of my close girlfriends and women like me. Women who think other women are insane. Women who reject classic feminine traits and apologize profusely when our inner “woman” comes out.
When I was 5 months pregnant with my son, I stood in my closet sensing a mental break down coming on. I didn’t have anything to wear. Nothing fit. Nothing looked even slightly decent. I hated my body—and as sometimes happens, this feeling snowballed into intense self loathing. It made me extremely uncomfortable. I told my partner he needed to go take a walk for ten minutes.
“I’m about to have a girl moment,” I told him. “I can feel it coming, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m sorry you have to see me like this. I’m sorry I’m such a girl.” He didn’t really know what to do, but he handled the moment far better than I did.
I apologized for having emotions. For my hormones being out of balance. For losing the body he was attracted to. For a hundred other things. In essence, I apologized for being a woman.
Because being a women annoys me.
It makes me uncomfortable to be seen as a woman. Like somehow I have managed to hide it all this time. Like somehow being a woman means I’m weak. Like my gender is a detriment to my status as a person.
On the other hand, I consider myself a feminist. Cognitive dissonance, engage!
I want gender equity. I want income equity. I want equity in the home. I want equity in education. I want equity in political representation. I want women to be listened to, and taken seriously. I want our concerns not to be marginalized as “women’s issues.” We are more than half of the population for fuck’s sake. Our issues are just issues.
I can’t stand to see the way women are treated in the media. I hate being told that women “can’t” do something or that we “should” do something else.
I’ve been in more than one argument about why women should be drafted, be allowed on the front lines, and should have the ability to be in major league sports. Why the hell is there a WNBA? If women can play basketball, and they have proven that they can, why can’t they just be in the regular NBA? Why can’t they make the big money, get the big sponsors, and be on the big sports networks?
I was told once, at a meeting in college, to “quiet down” because “the men are talking.” I went off in a way that I didn’t even know was possible. In the next officer election for that particular club, I beat the guy who dared speak to me that way, and spent the next six months telling him to quiet down because “the adults are talking.” He eventually apologized.
My attitude toward individual women (including my own feminine tendencies) and my ideas about what women deserve do not jive. I realize this and have been working to overcome the inconsistencies for a while now.
I am always growing and changing as a person, as a woman, and as a feminist. Which requires asking hard questions, not just about society, but about myself.
Why do I react so negatively to women?
I have come to realize that it is because I had a very narrow view of feminism for a very long time. For me, feminism started out more as a defense mechanism and less as a philosophy or worldview.
You see, my mother is uneducated. This is not meant as an insult to her, it’s just the truth.
Her lack of education, poor choices that lead to drug addiction, and abject poverty in the area she grew up, caused her to become dependent on men to take care of her. When I came into the picture that did not change. She could not hold down a job, nor could she get a job that paid enough to take care of us. She depended heavily on her boyfriends (eventually husbands) to take care of us.
They never lived up to the pressure. They always disappointed. And my mother, my younger brother, and myself suffered because of it. I blamed her more than the men. I hated her for putting us in those situations. For not being better.
I decided very early on, before I even knew what it meant, that I would NEVER depend on a man for ANYTHING. Never. Ever.
I became obsessed with school. With graduating from high school and college. With getting a high paying job so I never had to worry. With being able to pay my own bills, fix my own car, cook my own meals. With not letting men get too close to me, or having a man ever become a factor in any decision I made. I would not allow a man to hold me back. Never. Ever.
I became very competitive. I was never okay with being second in command.
I didn’t just want to be equal with men. I wanted to be better than them. I wanted to beat them at their own game. Be above a man’s world.
I saw traditional feminine qualities as signs of weakness. I saw women who used those qualities to get what they want in the world as naive at best and traitors at worst. They hold women everywhere back. Including me. Somehow.
And as much as I hate to admit it, it took a man to correct many of those incorrect assumptions. It took falling in love with a partner who didn’t want to hold me back. A man who likes that I don’t need him. A man who challenges me to be a better, stronger, more competent version of myself.
Being able to trust him made many of my defense mechanism unnecessary. I became less of a hater and more of a feminist.
Feminism stopped being about advancing myself, and started being about advancing women and girls everywhere. It stopped being about my place in society, and became about changing society in tangible ways so that women have a fair shake. I became less selfish. And feminism became more about us.
Some of those negative thoughts still linger, but I fight them now. I realize that feminism isn’t about being a certain “type” of woman. Whether you’re a career obsessed man hater or a stay at home mom who bakes cookies, that’s okay. It’s about being whatever kind of woman you want to be– and owning it. It’s about having the choice to be the person you want to be, and having the opportunity to do whatever you want to do.
So now when I catch myself looking down at more traditionally feminine ladies, I make an effort to correct it. I’m not there yet. I’m still a sexist. But I have to keep trying.
Because if we women are sexist, how can we expect men not to be?