Boobs of Burden

Tina Fey’s Bossypants at one point explores the identifying moment when women realize they are “women.” The women she spoke to realized they were women when some guy noticed or cat called them. Later, I reflected that my the inability to place this revelation could be the result of one or two things: the awakening might have simply never happened (perceived kid-feelings persist, because of actual extended adolescence, or simple obliviousness) or the lack of a necessary juxtaposing “man,” whose absence, by the book’s and personal anecdotes, precludes the Real Adult Woman Defined by Man-state from ever being fully realized. What follows is a short history of how I became conscious of the fact that I’m a woman-kind of grown up.

Part I: Elementary school.

I am amused and appalled by the evidence I found of the internalization and construction of Woman in my young psyche: a series of short books written ages 6-8 as school projects from grades 1-3.

Book 1, age 6: “My Trip to Six Flags,” is about how going on rides at Six Flags is awesome and how when I went with my family we got home at an impressive 1am and I went to bed late like a tween or a badass.

Book 2, age 7: The overarching theme of this touching juvenilia is how I consider my older brother my friend.

Book 3, age 8: Displaying a certain maturation and growing cognizance of pop-culture, I was no longer blatantly a character in my books. This work is about a “girl” with modest means who is visited and taken away by a prince-like character.

The mundane and discernible progression makes it seem redundant to state that a year later I was obsessed with Nick Carter.

Part II: Middle school.

I place my becoming a conscious (human) being around 11. I had developed a comprehensive understanding of the importance of being pretty before I understood the socio-political relevance of dismissing God and that one day I was going to die. Before 8th grade it seemed obvious that I should focus my attention on being smart and funny because I placed little faith in the future development of looks, a thing believed to be greater value.

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My femasculine utopia

Young women seem to be rejecting the feminist label. I’ve observed this. Others have observed this. While women of other generations struggle with the feminist label as well, the young are expected to be progressive. So, I do think it’s noteworthy that younger cohorts distinguish themselves by being overwhelmingly pro-gay marriage, but are just as split as older cohorts when it comes to abortion.

Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Berstein set out to redefine feminism for the Millenial generation, to uncover where the dialogue has landed us, and to continue having it. They chronicled their findings in Girldrive, after a road-tripping across the U.S. and interviewing many, many women. Smart, insightful, important, and easily recommendable as a whole, there’s one passage in the book that made me smile with particular delight:

“On our way from California to the Southwest, we brainstorm a list of men we want to interview–mostly guys who are our dear friends but whom we would never date because they’re asshole to girls. Or men who seem to defy gender labels and act as feminine or masculine as they want. Or hipster dudes, who, despite their gender-bending aesthetic, are more macho than you would think. Or…the thoughts race on. ‘There should be a femasculine movement, Emma quips in the car, only half-joking.” Continue reading