So, I’m fourteen years old and wake in the middle of the night to the most intense stomach pain I have ever experienced. Holding my abdomen, thoroughly convinced that my appendix is about to burst, I walk into my parent’s bedroom and shake my mom awake, “My stomach hurts really, really bad.”
She blinks a few times looking at me in the dark, not impressed or convinced, “You’ll be fine, just go back to sleep.”
“I think I need to go to the hospital.”
“Susan, you are fine!”
I am not fine. I am dying, and she won’t believe me. I’m so angry with her and that after chugging down some Pepto Bismol I curl up in bed, my stomach aching, convinced this is how I was gonna go. I relished with teenage angst the thought that she would come to wake me up in the morning, but I would not stir, for I would never wake again, because I would be DEAD. Oh, how she regret not heeding my warnings about my impending departure. She’d berate herself for her dismissive tone and wish she could go back in time and get me the medical attention I needed.
Yep, she would be so fucking sorry.
In the morning, I realize I had just gotten my first period.
Embarrassed, I sheepishly tell her the news. Handing me a pad the size of a hamburger, she proclaimed, “You’re a woman now.”
It’s a funny idea: that I’d crossed some kind of thresh hold simply by being afflicted with fertility. The grand concept she was presenting me with was that I was a girl when I went to sleep, but a woman when I woke (alive). Making my way through my early twenties I cannot say that there was a solid moment where I actually felt that I came into, “womanhood.” Most of my adult life has been more about thinking about how these traditional ideas of gender and sexuality intersect with identity. But let’s say if I was to play along with this, my coming of age has been fraught with moments I suppose I could say were when I could claim I was now, “Woman”; Maybe it was when I moved out of my parents house for good? When I first paid my taxes? When I lost my virginity? The first time I called myself one?
I’m really not sure. It’s almost like… I used to think…I had the answers to everything…But now I know… Life doesn’t always go my way…yeah.
I know I’m not a lady.
I know I’m not a “good girl.”
Perhaps I’m, like Britney so eloquently articulates, both. Or neither. Words are fluid. Gender is constructed. Identity if an ongoing process. I think I’m cool with that. I can be many things at once…
BUT WAIT, my FAVOURITE publication, Elite Daily Douchebag Binaries has provided me with another brilliantly written, culturally impactful, cutting edge article: “10 Signs You’re Dating a Woman, Not A Girl” that would disagree with that. Especially if I’m going to attempt to mack on dudes.
Oh, it’s bad to girl?
The title of this article might be misleading to some, as it may suggest that it catalogues ways to avoid committing statutory rape: (Sign #1: Her DOB.) However, this wise man points out the label of “girl” and “woman” have nothing to do with age (whew!) but rather warns that there are humans with fully matured female bodies roaming the world, never actually having achieved this fabled womanhood, that sacred and coveted point where they are no longer just a “girl” (blech). I’m so happy that a man (not a boy, he states) has the gumption and knowledge to alert me and others to the perilous traps of finding yourself dating one—because that’s a bad thing to be right? The more I think about it, there are a lot of examples proving that to talk, act, or throw like a girl is obviously rilly, rilly bad.
So perhaps I can glean some tips from this list?
- Girls like to dress in revealing clothes because they think they look sexy – women know they look sexy no matter what they wear.
Girls think. Women know.
Okay, so as I understand it, my body is open to public scrutiny to men because, like, how else would I know how to dress and act?
I’ve been told over and over again not to dress like a slut, but I should be sexy though right?
I never considered that when I put on a tight skirt or low cut top I should not think I look sexy. I should never think I am attractive in any way. I thought that thinking something looked good on me was an empowering step. I didn’t even realize how wrong I was. I’m thinking about it the wrong way; because I’m THINKING. Stupid girl thoughts—get outta here!
I should just know. I must, like Neo in The Matrix, embrace a higher way of perceiving myself and the world.
- Girls expect their men to know how they feel and what they’re thinking – women use their words.
Girls be bitchy.
I mean, it’s not like females are under societal pressures to be agreeable and appeasing. Nope. I mean all he’s saying is to not be a girl you just, like, can never be a person who may have difficult time articulating your thoughts and feelings.
Girls only do this, not like, just people in relationships in general.
And I mean, it’s not like there is a chance that speaking up about my wants and needs might make me appear vulnerable and needy in a way that’s condemned as clingy and emotional—hysterical even. That never happens. Obviously, I should be more a woman about this, and accept this writer’s alert to the fact that men are emotionally stunted and are not going to be able to open themselves up to starting a dialogue with me, and we women should all, “accept their counterparts’ shortcomings”, while having none my girly own.
Okay, so men don’t like that. Stop it. Never be angry. Never have conflicting feelings. Just, fucking, take a lesson from Socrates and know thyself, so thoroughly and completely in every single waking moment so he doesn’t have to put up with my bitchy shit.
- Girls expect you to pay the tab – women are financially independent.
Girls are greedy spoiled brats who only respect men for money.
Only girls have the capability and tendency to want free shit. Just girls. Nobody else.
I can’t write about this again. I just…I can’t.
- Girls go out and get wasted – women can hold their liquor and know their limits.
Girls are alcoholics.
Don’t be an alcoholic.
But only because I don’t want him to think he’s dating a girl.
Only because of that.
- Girls can’t wait to update their Facebook status to “In a relationship” – women forget they have a Facebook.
Girls internet bad.
Perhaps I shall smack my head on something in order to develop some sort of amnesia about what social networking sites I am signed up for? That might help. If I have a concussion maybe I’ll refrain from celebrating any of my life events on the interwebs, until of course, my womanly instincts kick in and I wait the appropriate amount of time (3 man weeks?) before mentioning anything.
Because girls are like, “yeah!” and women are like, “meh.” Right?
- Girls watch junk TV – women read.
Girls are dumb.
Never keep up with pop-culture in any way. Cool.
I don’t know who Kim Kardashian is and I have never seen her butt.
- Girls talk about trivial matters – women know how to hold a stimulating conversation.
Girls are dumb. Super dumb. So dumb. Like stop being a dumb girl.
Yeah, I mean I guess it’s very true that there are no girls that demonstrate any kind of intelligence.
- Girls eat salads – women eat whatever the hell they want.
Girls eat salads.
Girls eat salads?
First of all, he states that girls, “just to go home afterwards and chow down on a pint of ice cream.”
How does he know what I’m eating after the date is over? Did we not say goodbye?
I wonder if this includes all salad. Like is potato salad girly? Would caprese be off the table? What if I add steak? What does it say about my specific gendered label if I got ambroisa salad?
I am so glad he’s telling me what to eat. I cannot for the life of me find any other example on the internet where someone is trying to tell me that the food I eat says something so intrinsically fundamental about me as a person. I was having a hard time figuring out how my eating habits are directly linked to an arbitrary label for my gender, but now I have this.
Thank you. I’ll just shut up and eat my chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce, AND ranch. Like a woman.
- Girls stick to what they know – women are always searching to widen their horizons.
Only girls tend to not widen their horizons, and “they’re hoping to find a man to pick them up and show them the way.”
Like, to tell them what’s wrong with the way they are acting?
Like, an article that lists off, say 10 signs of what it means to act in a way that is unappealing to them?
Like, perhaps an articulation of how dissatisfied they are with behaviours they’ve witnessed from having the “unfortunate luck” of dating these reprehensible creatures we shall now categorize under the umbrella of, “Girls”.
I should stop listening to things like that?
- Girls need guardians – women don’t need anybody but themselves.
Girls need friends, mentors, and a community.
Just like stop being such a girl and be a lone wolf and shit, right? I’ll just wipe out all my contacts in my phone now.
I think I got it. I’ll live by this list making sure to purge myself of any tendencies that may mark me as the dreaded girl. I will now be an ideal candidate for the romances of a toenail painting self-actualized man choosing me out of the hoards of tyrannical girls who so blemish the dating lives of men.
Would I then be your girlfriend?… Wait.
And now, I call bullshit.
Would it really have been so hard, to simply write an article listing off signs that you might possibly be in a relationship with someone who is not meeting your needs? Instead of involving the pitting of terms “girls” vs. “women” essentially infantilizing the way females act, maybe he could just say, “Hey ladies, I don’t like it when some of you do this.” He obviously has an idea of what he wants from an ideal partner: eats salad sometimes, not just because she thinks she has to, does not go home and eat anything else (and supposedly he will KNOW), is interesting and intelligent and has some guilty pleasures, emotionally mature so he doesn’t have to be, women who know what they want… but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it was or is about being a girl that would make me incapable of these things.
This kind of Goldilocks misogyny (he wants these ladies to be JUST right) is a dizzying example of how perceptions of gender, specifically for females, can be damaging. By reinforcing a pathologizing and condescending perceptions of women and how they act as directly correlated to a moniker associated with their gender creates a world in which binaries define us, and ultimately hurt us. The same can be said about “acting like a man” thus creating a conception of masculinity that disallows males to articulate their emotions, for example.
And what the fuck is so wrong about being a girl? Why do we have to take this word and flip it around and make it synonymous with stupidity, assholery, and general shittiness? There are millions of girls in the world who are strong, independent, curious, dynamic individuals, and to use this term to malign those you don’t like undermines their attributes and achievements.
I don’t want to feel that when I did identify more with the term “girl” meant it was a bad thing. I don’t want young women in my life to feel that they should be ashamed of saying they are a girl, and when they are ready to be called a “woman” it is not as though they are shuffling off some ugly cocoon.
I think whether or not you call yourself a girl, boy, man, woman, or something in between or outside of this, you should be able to without some dirt bag using it as a way to shame you.