Last night F. and I had a conversation about what it takes to feel like a woman as opposed to a girl, or a man as opposed to a boy. Several things came up. For him, it was about getting out into the world, making something of himself, achieving, gaining power (many kinds). For me it was more about becoming an adult, and to a much lesser degree a woman. To me adulthood has to do with developing my own independence, being able to take care of myself materially and establish myself socially in a place away from my family. Once again, becoming a woman smacks of becoming a specific, gendered thing (whereas becoming a man seems more straightforward); it implies a negotiation of the expectations of what women look like and act like, of sexuality, of power, and personality. To a large extent, I find myself avoiding that: I want to just be an adult without it being complicated by gender. I want to be assertive, to talk where men are talking and be taken seriously, to be as forward as I want to be. At the same time I want to reserve the right to be someone softer, caring, and accommodating when I choose to.
I know that my conceiving of the different aspects I described above as masculine and feminine aspects is not politically correct, not feminist, and maybe even reinforces the sexist attitudes that I despise, but the truth is that this is deeply ingrained in how I grew up and how I feel about it. I don’t think that pretending otherwise is very conducive to me ever moving forward with the topic. My way of navigating womanhood is to willingly have aspects of both sides, to allow myself to be internally contradictory, and in that way expand the limits of my being a woman.
All this was to say that I’m glad that this kind of thinking is no longer in vogue. I like to have my guys and eat them, too.