Wow, confusing title, right? My bad. This post is about me being ‘not like other girls’ and why I gave that up and embraced female friendships and empowerment. Taking the time to reflect this International Women’s Day, I wanted to acknowledge where I’ve come from and where I’m going.
I’ve always been a Feminist, long before I had the language for it. Long before I knew that wanting to define myself and what I was capable of based on my ability rather than my gender, was feminism. I knew it annoyed me that my brother wasn’t immediately involved in tasks at my Grandmother’s house. I couldn’t understand why people didn’t believe that my mother rode motorbikes, but deferred to my Dad in those conversations.
A simple (privileged) awakening, for sure. But one that stuck with me.
Later, as I reached high school I found myself playing the ‘cool girl’. The one who claims not to be like ‘other girls’. I was different and not interested in things like makeup, clothes, and who my next boyfriend would be. Outwardly, I played it cool and distanced myself from traditionally feminine traits and pursuits.
I’m not that girl, I’d say. I’d rather the company of men, there’s less girl drama. And over the years I’d maintain this position, even as I was blessed with amazing, supportive girlfriends who empowered and challenged me. Part of me still considered myself above ‘girly’ things.
But, you see, what I’ve discovered is that this kind of conversation undermines and devalues women. And we, as women, are the worst offenders, we love this stuff. We (we assure ourselves) are different. It plays into everything “they” want us to do; fight with other women. And I’m sure, without even realising or being as extreme as I was, you’ve been in a conversation for you being ‘different to other girls’.
Maybe your boyfriend, husband or partner has said that to you? And you felt unique and important and valued. I get that. It’s nice to be those things to the one who love. But consider, that often the underlying message is that other women are dramatic, “crazy”, demanding, needy or something that isn’t attractive. It starts to feel a little less like a compliment and a little more like devaluing an entire gender.
And maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but language matters team. Distancing myself from other women only hurt me in the end. It made me slow to trust women and I missed out on a lot of the unique joys of female friendships. It pitted me against other women and competitive to a fault, I saw women as the hurdle to be overcome and beaten. I was wrong.
So wrong and when I gave up that way of thinking things changed.
I started to embrace women as allies, as friends. I found when I expected wonderful things from women I got them. When I set out to create a bond and a relationship built on the foundations of trust, that is what I got back in return. Women started to raise me up, support me, enable me to live the life I was so set on living.
And now, as I fast approach my 34th birthday I find myself surrounded by women. Strong women, empowered women, flawed and learning women. Women who are just like me fundamentally but with their own experience and gifts to share. I learned what it means to participate, to be active and I’m still learning.
I have been widening my description one of an intersectional feminist. An imperfect one, but one who is willing to address her privilege and be a great ally. Because equality can’t just be about me, my experience, and women like me. That’s not equality at all. For me to continue to grow and as far as using my position here to effect change, that is where it’s at. So hang in there with me, I’m learning and doing my best, your feedback is always welcome.
And that, my friends, is my International Women’s Day reflection and mission statement, in a lot of ways. What did you commit to today? Explore for yourself or come across that was new? I’d love to hear it.