This word has always been so foreign to me, like a concept I always felt detached from my entire life. It’s always been this odd, foolish term that would make my eyes roll to the back of my head.
I thought it referred to women’s weakness, a will to be heard on matters I couldn’t understand existed, matters I couldn’t see the point of. An ignorance born from being raised in a world where being a woman means obeying men and their perspective.
To me, growing up was the most terrifying thing that could happen. It wasn’t so much because of taxes and responsibilities and other adult-y things I complain about today. It was mainly because growing up meant becoming a woman.
Just hearing that word made me sick to my stomach and triggered an anxiety that used to drive me insane.
As I challenged myself to fit in and become as interested as my friends regarding boys and puberty, I found myself lost, drifting in an unknown ocean where everyone knew how to swim and where to swim to while I floated, ignoring their voices muffled by the water deafening me as I dove deeper and deeper, trying to pretend there wasn’t an entire island waiting for me.
I did everything I could to ignore what was ahead. I got stuck in innocence and the safety of my cherished childhood, dressing up dolls and playing video games alone in my room when all my friends were discovering their bodies and others’.
I was afraid.
Why would I ever want to leave the comfort of innocence? Why did I have to become a “woman”? Why did I have to change?
When I turned fourteen, everything suddenly got faster. Everybody got into relationships or multiplied hook ups, talked about sex and started wearing short skirts and make up and heels and all those things I couldn’t even look at.
I did try.
When I lost enough weight to be considered loveable, I tried. I put on make up and practised walking in heels and started flirting with boys. I forced myself to grow up by smoking and being louder and lose more weight to be comfortable enough to wear next to nothing and be desirable in some way. But I still couldn’t do it.
Every move felt forced. These foreign hands on my hips as I grinded back on the crotch of a faceless boy felt like a knife resting on my throat, daring me to leave, daring me to cry like the baby I still was. I felt nauseous, but kept going. I kept doing what every other girl did at my age. I mirrored their behaviours, laughed for anything, danced against a stranger’s body trying to become one, letting the world lead me to oblivion until I forgot who I was.
I did try.
I taught myself to want more than a kiss, to want more than sweet words and the occasional date. But I couldn’t picture it. I couldn’t even imagine trusting someone enough, got dizzy thinking about how far I would have to go.
That’s what my teenage sexuality was: confusing and painful.
But I knew I had to do it, that I wouldn’t grow up by staying a child. I focused enough on other preoccupations to not even notice my opportunities flying by though. I made myself sick enough to not be eligible for becoming a woman. I tried every way to kill myself before I’d even have to face the reality of the word. I made myself frail and breakable, looking gradually like a corpse and pushing away everything I was supposed to welcome. I stayed in my room and waited for it to pass, but it only got worse.
So I tried again.
But, because the main problem wasn’t my mind, I failed again. The thing is, I’d never been taught what being a woman actually meant. All I knew was that having sex made you a slut, a piece of garbage unworthy of respect; that being comfortable with your body was only allowed if you were underweight; that being a woman meant taking care of a man and making him happy and proud…
I was taught that I could be whatever I wanted, just as long as I wanted what men expected.
That’s probably why, the moment I realized men were weak creatures, more vulnerable than any other being, being a woman didn’t seem as scary anymore.
See, years after all my friends had “lost their virginity” – fucked up concept that only means your value depends on a man’s dick – I was finally ready. I didn’t have any feelings and I was in the worst shape of my entire life physically, but I wanted to do it, I was attracted to this total stranger I’d met in the most random way by the most determined fate.
I’d always had this crazy idea of what my first time would be like. I’d never thought of a romantic setting and soft music with a guy I loved, but I did think I would choose someone I knew, someone I trusted, when my body would be perfect, starting a passionate relationship from a caring and loving bond. That did not happen.
It was messy and disappointing, but satisfying at the same time. It was noisy and awkward and I had to fake it to make it end, but it was alright. The guy was a prick but not too much of one and he was even more insecure than I was, for good reasons – never thought that size would matter that much – but it was pain free and fun and I did enjoy it to some extent.
However, it did not magically make me a woman. I didn’t feel drastically different, I hadn’t suddenly fallen in love with this guy, and I would move on with my life like nothing ever happened, just like he did.
Reality is, it means nothing. And that’s something I never understood until I lied under his shaking body, wondering what the hell people were talking about all this time. I could not believe that this was what made me a woman, that this man I could have on his knees if I wanted just by sucking his cock, was supposed to be the one to make me a woman.
Funnily enough though, it sort of did. Not because I had finally had sex, but because I realized how powerful I was, as a woman.
All of a sudden, the image I had of men shifted. And I asked myself: is that who I’m supposed to obey to? Is this what I’ve been afraid of all this time?
I really wish I could’ve told my younger self that it wasn’t what that meant to grow up, that men are pathetic and gullible and couldn’t determine who I was/am/will be.
And that’s what I want to remind not only myself but also other girls out there raised under men supremacy, taught that they can only become themselves just as long as they apply men’s standards of what a woman should be.
Do you know what a woman should be? Whatever the fuck she wants.