My husband used to have an annual tradition called “Nerdstock” at our home – all peace, love and video games, man. I was usually welcome, even though it was clearly a guy’s event. I would laugh at the cheesy B movies, eat the massive amounts of bad-for-you-but-oh-so-delicious food, and cheer them on as they virtually pursued each other with crowbars in first-person shooters.
The guys didn’t censor themselves around me, and they didn’t worry about being gentlemen. When they stayed at other houses, they bought the hostess a spa gift certificate. Me? They brought me the latest version of Guitar Hero. And I loved it.
“You’re not like typical girls,” I’ve been told, and I’ve always taken that as a compliment. I often categorize myself as “barely female” and said I am glad I had sons because I am a “better mom to boys” and would have disappointed a daughter, because I don’t feel as though I have anything “girly” in me. Lately, though, I’ve been wondering what all of that means. Why I think of myself as a guy’s girl. Is it because I almost never wear make up, and don’t have a shoe collection? Is it because I don’t know how to use dry shampoo, dread the thought of a pedicure, and I prefer my Supernatural sweatshirt to a Burberry coat? Is it because I have never watched an episode of The Bachelor and would prefer to dish about Daredevil? Or is it deeper than all of that?
I’m not sure why, in an effort to not pigeonhole myself, I have done exactly that. I am so much more than wondering which side of the stereotypical gender line I belong to.
I’ve often said my communication traits and style are more stereotypically male. I’m honest—often blunt—and if something’s wrong, you better believe I won’t answer the questioning of it with, “Nothing…” to make you draw it out of me. If I wanted to talk to a boy I called right away—I’ve never made a guy chase me (if I wanted to be caught.) I don’t hold people emotionally hostage and I don’t enjoy moody guessing games. I don’t believe that you need to have love to have sex, I’m not jealous when my husband notices the beauty of another woman (hell—I’m usually the one pointing it out), and one of my best friends is my husband’s first love.
But as I look at this list I have to wonder—why do I fall back on thinking of perhaps the less savory aspects of being a woman to consider myself different than one? Why do I fight the stereotype when, really, I should fight that one even exists?
There’s more than one way to be a woman, and, God knows, I’m incredibly happy to be one. I find myself behaving maternally to my friends, and the friends of my sons. I love to soak in a long bubble bath and my favorite movie could be classified as a chick flick. There are parts of me that are deeply nurturing and frustratingly emotional. I like it when someone notices I have put time into my appearance. I cry and I overanalyze, I worry too much, and I mentally multi-task to the point of exhaustion. If I’m honest, I truly do care what other people think about me, and I celebrate each little moment of my family’s success with perhaps too much pride. Aren’t these stereotypically female traits too? And aren’t some of them wonderful? Some of the best parts of me?
I’m not sure how I decided the badge of being a “guy’s girl” was worth wearing. I’m not sure why, in an effort to not pigeonhole myself, I have done exactly that. I am so much more than wondering which side of the stereotypical gender line I belong to.
One of the many great things about the younger generation is that so many of them refuse to succumb to societal norms. They realize the gender line isn’t a line—it’s a spectrum, and the most important part of expressing yourself is being who you are, not running from who you think you’re not. They embrace their gender diversity with pride, and I watch, humbled and impressed by them, as they redefine gender by not defining it at all. They accept and encourage everyone’s form of self-expression and identity comfort. It’s a truly beautiful thing.
Yes, gender stereotypes exist for a reason, and there are many out there who perpetuate them, innocently and not. But I’m not going to worry about them anymore. I’m just going to embrace being my kind of woman.