On Being A Girl

Lately there have been a lot of issues coming up involving women.  Some women marched a few months back, if anyone remembers, but there were women on the other side of that march who were flabbergasted that any woman in this country would have the audacity to march in a country where they had nothing to worry about, ever.  They failed to see how a woman making less than a man for the same job was troublesome, they failed to see how woman being assaulted was anything but the woman’s fault for “not being more careful,” or “wearing the wrong thing.”  They even defended when a woman was fired for being pregnant.  I seriously read a comment from a woman who said “a woman could not possibly do two jobs well at once.  She should just focus on the job of growing a healthy baby.”

This is the country we live in today.  It’s August 26th, 2017, and there are woman who still think that there is something inherently submissive about a woman.  “Women ARE different,” they say, “we are more frail, more emotional, more weak.”  They usually throw in a Bible quote somewhere too, proving that even God thinks women are there to make babies and sandwiches.

So, it’s not surprising the have my own mother in law say words like “you know E, she’s just overly emotional because she’s a girl.” or “she falls down a lot like me, plus she’s a girl, so she’s got two things working against her.”  She says these things with honesty. She believes them.  She says them often because my father in law finds my daughter’s emotions to be… annoying?  Icky?  Uncomfortable?  I’m not sure.  Usually it seems to make him a bit ragey.  Probably because he is incredibly repressed emotionally, and easy to anger.  So my mother in law thinks she’d defending E, and calming the father-in-law beast, by spouting off excuses for E’s emotions, justifying it by her also having a vagina, therefore making her an expert on all things woman.

I find it infuriating.  My daughter is four.  If she falls, if she is uncomfortable, if she’s sad, if she’s tired, if she’s confused or frustrated, she cries. Why isn’t that okay?  Why is it something that has to have an excuse?  My son cries ALL THE TIME, but that’s never because he’s a boy, no one even mentions it.  (Although my father in law will say “oh, cut that out, you’re a boy,” which also makes me want to throat punch).

I’m at a point in life where I don’t really know how to handle this situation anymore.  We live in their neighborhood and see them often.  They are not bad people, but their words are being heard, not just by me, but by my kids.  The last thing I want is for either my daughter or my son to feel like they shouldn’t be able to cry, for any reason they feel necessary.  That was the kind of house I grew up in.  I was ridiculed by every member of my family any time I cried.  It got to the point where I’d lock myself in the bathroom when I needed to cry, just so I couldn’t hear their taunts.  They called me “Katie Kaboom”  A cartoon character known for her sudden emotional outbursts.

I’m still an emotional person, but only to my immediate family.  My husband and kids see me cry, but I will hold every ounce of feeling back when I’m around my parents or sister. To them, they think I’m an uncaring robot.  Interesting, right?  If a woman cries, it’s because we possess a vagina.  If we don’t cry, there is something wrong with us.  Is there a way to win this gender war we are having?  Is there a way to be a strong woman who cries and wants equal rights in the world, or do we have to give up something about ourselves?  Can a man still be a man if they cry too?

Why are so many people trying to get rid of emotions in both genders?  Isn’t that the last thing this planet needs right now?  We need more compassion and love and empathy. That is what I am going to teach my kids.  That is what I am going to tell my in-laws, even though I know it won’t work. I will have to work extra hard to try and repair the damage they inflict.  That might sound harsh, but I know first hand what it feels like to hear that my emotions are wrong, and it does damage that will stay with you forever if you don’t have a voice that is even louder shouting “you can cry and I will hold you until you feel better.”

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