Babies, bathwater, and shit in the brownies

Whenever people write about something remotely controversial the people who disagree generally respond with “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” and occasionally the  viewpoint opposite will make a retort about how if you had a brownie with dog shit in it you wouldn’t eat it.

My response to the two of them are as follows: one, if the bathwater is dirty, the baby and the bathwater should probably be taken out; two: why are you baking with dog shit? When was that a thing? And why are you trying to poison me?

However, I’m not writing an article on the merits of metaphor, I only brought it up to make a point – I know that what follows is more than likely going to be controversial. While I know this going in and it doesn’t bother me, if I see one of these or another similar metaphor take place in the potential conversation I will roll my eyes; because you are more than likely missing the point and should be redirected to the above statement about dirty water and poison.

I grew up in what most people like to call The Christian Right – well known for being very religious and conservative. A common thread is this idea of gender roles. Surprisingly, however, it’s not just a radical right idea – the “other side” (or what I like to call, “the rest of the world”) has similar boxes.

Whether you live on the right or the left side of the aisle, or to the right of the right, or left of the left there is an idea – whether it be called “gender roles” or “stereotypes” that women and men should do, be, or act in certain ways. We’ve created boxes for ourselves based on who’s genitals hang low and who’s wobble.

As someone who’s felt ashamed of being female since puberty, and like she belongs in the opposite box – “gender roles” are incredibly hard to reconcile with my personality and I can’t count the amount of times (to this day, even) that I’ve felt “wrong”. Some might say that “wrong” may be the right answer – that women shouldn’t be anything but feminine followers of men and breeders of children – but everything within me disagrees.

I’ve learned that people are so big and so complex that they don’t fit well into boxes. It is possible to fit into a box, but that existence tends to end up denying bits of your personality that would otherwise thrive. I know this, because I spent years trying.

Gender roles and stereotypes create boxes. Boxes for people to live in, boxes to judge others by, and most dangerously, boxes to judge ourselves by. I could be the only one in the world who has a really loud internal critic, but I don’t need one more reason to look down on myself, tell myself I’m not good enough, or judge myself against the other women in boxes – and I don’t think anyone else does, either.

The thing about boxes is that while some men may display some of the qualities, and some women may display some of the qualities, they’re not accurate, true, or worth living in. There are just as many men who are not natural leaders, and just as many women who appreciate a good action movie. There are women who are better at directions, and men who are better at cooking. The only truth when it comes to determining men and women’s interest and what their role “should be” in the world (that I’ve discovered) is thus:

People have different strengths, weaknesses, and interests. People do not fit into boxes. When people are placed in boxes, people get hurt.

My name is Kierstyn Elnora King and I am not a woman, I am a human. I rebel against boxes. I’ve been asking myself a question lately – a question as a result of an internal struggle. It’s more than a question, though – because in the question is my answer.

If I am not defined by my gender, does gender really matter?

I would be the same exact person if I were male, as I am as a female. My personality, I myself, would not change or be different in any way except aesthetics. All about me that truly matters, is within. Who I am, what kind of individual human I am, is how I choose to define myself.

I think when it comes down it, all that matters with humans is what kind of people we are, and who we are, not what we look like.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from history it’s that the people who lived in their boxes and didn’t allow themselves to be who they were meant to be, never made it into the books.

There’s a saying that “well behaved women never make history” but I’m going to amend that to “well behaved people never make history”, and like Captain Reynolds from Firefly, I aim to misbehaveThe people who we learn about in history are the ones who rebelled, who were true to who they were and did the things they were meant to do, and at some point, they stopped wasting time in their boxes and came to the conclusion that they were more than their acceptable “role”.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs

I’ve learned that the best thing (for me, but I’ll contend for others too) is to accept ourselves for who we are – flaws and all – and in doing so, become more accepting of others on their journey.

When I finally stopped trying to fit inside a box and just accepted that I am who I am right now, and that’s okay – I was able to come alive. My theory is that if we practiced even a little bit of that and stopped worrying about fitting into a cultural box and just became ourselves, we would be much happier people.

2 comments

  1. Great post! I come from a similar fundamentalist background and I resent the boxes too. As if a living in a box wasn’t bad enough, we are given such TINY boxes in fundamentalism that we can’t even move or breath. So glad to be free of that now!

    There’s a movie on a similar theme–finding happiness by breaking out of restrictive social roles–and I want to recommend it to you as well. It’s called “Pleasantville.”

    I love your Firefly quote….so perfect!

    1. It’s true – breaking boxes is possibly the best thing anyone can do for themselves, and simultaneously, the hardest.

      Oh yay, movie recommendations! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks 😀

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