Boys and Girls, Guys and Gals, Men and Women

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Well. Isn’t that a broad topic? Gender and gender issues have been on my mind a lot lately. Always a big thing for me, actually, but I get outraged and angry so very quickly that I rarely get a chance to think rationally.

Anger is an energy, according to most of the former members of the Sex Pistols, otherwise known as PIL. Yes, it is, and if I could harness my own I could power a small city. (Great song by the way)

My family will confirm that I have always been prone to rage. “Temper tantrums” they said when I was little. “She’ll grow out of it.”

The thing is: I have never grown out of having temper tantrums. I have never seen the reason why I can’t be loudly outraged, to the point of kicking or throwing things, when shit is just that dammed stupid and I’ve had enough, enough, enough!

I can explain, or excuse, a good bit of my ability (or inclination, or sheer desire) towards letting loose and having physical expressions of rage by seeing my father lose his shit, and taking him as a role model. But my mom never did that, and my sister never did either: so why did I?

The only reason anyone has ever given me to not lose my shit, too, as an adult, is that women just don’t do that. So, is it a gender thing? is my first question. I have always been taught, by example, that women aren’t allowed to show anger. Or, god forbid, outright rage. Why the hell not? I certainly feel it, why do I have to hold it in? Isn’t that the same as holding in the tears when they want to come? Emotion is emotion, right?

Maybe not so much. Why is it that I refuse to shed tears unless I’ve really lost it, and only when I feel safe with the one I’m crying in front of. Or I do it secretly, which just makes me feel so alone and pathetic. I fucking hate it, and that’s a fact. Why did I choose the stereotypical male way of dealing with stuff that makes anyone want to cry?

Why is it that I have seemingly, unknowingly, chosen the male way of dealing with extreme frustration? Why do I react this way when my sister doesn’t? It can’t be nurture, it has to be nature. I had two older female role models, but what felt right to me was to be like dad.

So. Does that mean I’m a boy in my secret heart? Well. If it does, I’m a gay boy. Or a bisexual boy with a preference to other boys. My dad and my sister both read my blog, and while they don’t need details, I rather expect that they already know I’ve been adventurous with my sexuality. And I also know they both don’t judge me for whatever they think I’ve done. I love them both very much for that. (It’s not ever been as weird as you might think, guys! Or it didn’t seem weird to me…)

As usual, I’ve rambled.

I recently got quietly angry over a comment that I literally walked into at work. Some shit about how one fella’s wife has no ‘spacial awareness.’ I come through with a pallet full of boxes – that I personally didn’t put on that pallet, and the squeeze is tight and two of my boxes fall off. “Perfect example, women have no spacial awareness!”

Me: “you mean whoever loaded this pallet did a shit job of it, right?”

“Nope, women are shit at spacial awareness! Hahahahhahahahhaha!”

Didn’t say a dammed word at the time, because I was furious. I grumped about that for hours, really annoyed. I couldn’t decide if they were having fun with me as a member of the crew, or if I’d actually been slighted, hard. Truly, it was meant in fun. However. It put me in a shitty mindset, and that helped me make the decision: that was fuckin’ sexist and I had a right to be annoyed.

I never want to be the annoying asshole, but I also think I can, and should, speak up when it sucks to be the butt of a joke just because I’m female. I am sooo tired of that old joke. How do I respond, however, in a way that I can not only show that I’m not getting really angry (I’m not) but that it isn’t fuckin funny, either – so next time maybe don’t, okay?

All the over-sharing background just leads up to the last question. Is is me? Is who I am and what I feel based on my genitalia? I didn’t have a choice about what I was born with, but I’ve been dealing with people badly, awkwardly, my whole life. I never seem to quite understand anything other people say or do, confidently. I’m rather more comfortable at the moment with my interactions with the guys, and have a lot more fun with the boys than I ever did with the girls. It’s nice to take an insult as a joke, and a compliment with ‘shut up you’re distracting me!’

I’ve gone nowhere with this, and I’ve been writing for hours now. What do I tie this up with? I guess this: most of my followers appear to be CIS women – so how do you feel? Did anything I’ve said hit a chord in your heart-strings?

*sorry, dad, if I’ve upset you in any way. I know you aren’t the same person I knew as a kid. It’s still my history, upbringing, and the things I took on board when that was what kids do.

16 responses »

  1. Think it’s a nature rather than nurture thing. I’m the one more likely to lose it in my family whereas my bro and sis don’t. I try very hard not to though as it leaves me drained – such a wasteful emotion! It was my Mum who lost her rag, never Dad ;-)

  2. My whole life, I’ve always been keenly aware of others feelings and in the heat of the moment, never said the things I wanted to say because I didn’t either want to hurt their feelings or start a fight I would regret forever. In retrospect, maybe I have been doing myself a disservice by bottling up my anger and hurt, in order to keep the peace.

    I’ve always admired a woman who can stand nose to nose with someone else and is not afraid to fight for herself. This is something I am starting to do for myself, slowly by I’m trying.

    You go, Spiders.

    • It is a fine line to walk, truly. I’m aware, too – but when someone deliberately says a hurtful thing to me, all bets are off. I will argue and debate for ages, and love it – but when it turns into personal insults instead of a fun (for me) exchange, I get pissed off. And seriously, people who know me well should understand when I’m doing my best and say ‘stop, stop now, because I’m about to blow and then it will get really ugly.’ That’s about the best I’ve been able to do: see it coming and ask for it to end or to step away. I have no idea why so many people insisted on me not leaving for a chance to cool down. It’s almost a challenge for me… Oh, so you want the volcano? Then HERE IT IS!!!! It’s not really a good thing.

  3. I think nature gives us a lot of our raw material, and nurture helps shape how it grows. Kind of like personality bonsai, right? You can shape a bonsai tree into all kinds of different, wonderful things– but it’s never going to be anything but a tree, that’s just who it is.

    Also, last week I was doing a presentation on being genderqueer for a 200-level comm class, and I said “if you’re a person who is usually read as a woman in this room and you’ve ever been treated differently than your male counterparts when doing the exact same thing, raise your hand”

    Every. Single. Female. Person. Raised their hand.

    Next I said, “if you’re a person who is usually read as a man in this room and you’ve ever been treated differently than your female counterparts, even while doing the exact same thing, raise your hand.” And only about 50% of the guys raised their hand.

    I was trying to illustrate that gender is a lens through which we interact with the world and through which the world interacts with us, but I think I ended up illustrating why we need feminism.

    So yes, get pissed off. Shout. Be outraged. Throw a temper tantrum. And use that energy to do something about it.

    • I’ve always tried to educate by example – which didn’t work so well in an office setting when I got mad, I think the lads are a little scared of me when I get pissed off – they aren’t used to seeing anger in a woman, unless they caused it! At the same time, I know it ruins the whole office environment when one person is slamming their stapler around. I can kick boxes, or even STAB boxes with my pocketknife, and it’s all good.

      I bet fewer men would have raised their hands if you asked them first. Test that out next time and see if I’m right :)

      • Hah! I bet you’re right!

        And yeah, I know that (because I get read as female mostly) in an office setting, it’s considered “abrasive” if I get irritated, but if a cismale gets irritated or short in the exact same way I do, he’s being “assertive”…

  4. I think what you’re talking about is ‘telling it like it is’, and there are definitely double standards. I think people are easily predisposed to thinking of women as irrational bitches, and when we do get mad it just reinforces that notion. Men on the other hand are supposed to be rational creatures, created in the image of God, and so when they lose their shit people justify it. ‘They must’ve really been pushed over the edge’.

    I call bullshit on all that, and good for you for standing up for yourself!! Of course we have to be sensitive to work/ personal/ social/ etc. dynamics so we can’t always tell it like it is. But that’s the fun of it all I guess.

    • I am very dammed rational! Until my argument partner gets irrational, and I just can’t cope with stupidity. Especially when spoken as sense. My brain stutters and gasps like an engine filled with water and THEN I go irrational myself. That’s me over the edge!

      Or just stupid shit like people using my little area as a trash dump. I will kick a big ass box across the warehouse when they do :)

  5. I used to loose my temper easily, but I’ve grown out of it…

    Most people don’t want to hurt you. They do intentionally because they don’t know that you will take it badly. I am a straight guy working in an environment of a majority of women and gay men. I’m shorter than average. I have longer hair than most women. I’m single. I love cats and fish. So I get jokes regarding all of these differences. I’m not only fine with these jokes, but I do them myself. “It says you are missing 12 cans of Bud Light, would you have any crate we could have missed?” “Yep, right there.” “Oh! I’ve been looking with my man eyes again!” or to a tall manager “Let me pick my ladder, you’ve stacked your stock just an inch too high for me” A lot of common humor is just based on our differences. If a joke goes too far, I let them know. There’s no real way of knowing what you can take or not. “I didn’t like that one” and I go on. “Will you come to this party Friday night? Spouses are allowed. Or in your case, your cats.” My favorite lol

    Finally, I’m not the only one who spends hours on a single post :)

    • I think your statement that they don’t mean to hurt me, or anyone, is the most important comment in my reaction to the sexist comment. Which IS why I didn’t say anything: they don’t know it is my one big issue that I can’t take teasing about. And being men? No friggin way I’m going to let them know it needled me. I think my limit for sexism is very very low, due to growing up in the south of America. I actually, true story, had a boyfriend tell me that ‘You aren’t allowed to argue with me because ERA (the equal rights amendment in the 80′s) didn’t pass.’ I was 16, he was 25 – and I was already a better person. And my whole history of being bullied hard as a kid, it just makes me very very bad at being teased. Which becomes interesting when I enjoy so much more working with men now, and they never let up. I just can’t stand the old worn out crap that makes me less than them in some manner because I wasn’t born with the ability to drop a set of testicles.

  6. There was so much in that, that I’ve been digesting slowly before replying. Firstly, whatta tune by PIL! Next up, I’m not sure that anger is in any way hereditary or related to upbringing, however society as a whole teaches us that it’s not a good thing to lose it publicly, so we tend to curb our excesses, same way as we learn it’s not okay to pick our nose or fart in public or whatever! But this applies to public anger irrespective of gender. I don’t think it’s more acceptable for a man than a woman. In relation to the gender stereotyping in the workplace, I haven’t encountered that often as I’m very much one of the lads, however, when I have, I usually play up to it and take it to such an extreme that it becomes farcical, demonstrating the absurdity of the comment in the first place. Humour is an effective way of defusing most fractious situations I find!

    • I know, sorry – I really went rambling this time and STILL didn’t say all I wanted to, or give the examples I had in my head.

      Yep, we aren’t supposed to get really mad. But I see men do it and while we’ll have a laugh at him later, it’s not something that becomes a major topic of conversation (not like when someone does something really stupid, or a good prank needs shared). Last week, I happened to be right there when a woman from the office lost her shit, and she was wrong about it – and came stomping downstairs, interrupted a conversation, and shrieked at one of the guys.

      Damn, I wasn’t done – but I have to go to bed :)

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