Today is really triggering a lot of not-good feelings.
I hate how having a body…
this female-assigned body
tends to affect my life
I hate being reminded about how my body dictates
I hate how my body is dictated by people who aren’t me
people who employ me
could stop me from getting the care I need
the care that currently keeps a lot of the self-loathing
the self-mutilation fantasies at bay
the thing that’s made me feel me and human and be okay
I need birth control to be able to be me
and not try to plunge steak knives into my gut every few weeks
and decisions like this
make me want to pull out my uterus
and stick it on a stake
and never have to deal with it again
to not be subject to my body
the needs of my biology
I want to be able to get rid of that which people say
makes me a woman
because I’m not one
and with birth control and anti-depressants
I can be a person
I can live
but without them? I’m not healthy.
right now I just need to run away. right now I feel boxed and gendered because things that effect my body effect me, and me and my body? we’re not the same. I feel dysphoric today, and it’s really hard.
*There is no coherent flow to this, that’s why it’s numbered. Just needed to let these escape my head, so hopefully I can kill this migraine now.
I was remembering some things, about being homeschooled – with a few years of distance the ridiculousness of some of it has been made obvious, but I also realized a couple things:
1) I’m pretty good at ignoring things for long amounts of time, which sometimes makes me consciously unaware of micro-aggressions and things that bother a lot of people, because I got that all the time growing up and just tuned it out until it became impossible. This isn’t healthy, I don’t recommend it, it’s not cool, because it unconsciously affects me still, even when I don’t realize it, and it’s only when I become consciously aware of it, that things start to make sense.
This comes with a caveat though – the amount of time I can ignore a thing depends a lot on who’s saying it and how (and how many other things they’ve said over a period of time). Or I suppose, how quickly the boxes that all of these things go in get filled up, because after they get filled up, I notice – until my brain makes other boxes (but the things I notice don’t go in the new boxes after I’ve noticed them. This is, I suppose, how I’ve picked up on a lot of passive aggression, or aggression). This is a strange coping mechanism I didn’t realize I had until recently.
But this is what helped me get through childhood – especially puberty. I was able to drown out my mom’s comments about my appearance/self/existence for a very long time, it wouldn’t bother me (except that it did, but I didn’t feel it at the time). I was somehow able to write it off as stupid and shove it in a box to deal with later. It worked well in my early teens, and began to take it’s toll in my late teens, and kind of really started wreaking havoc after my parents rejected me in 2010. Suddenly all of the negative things they said about me, for years were cemented in a way I didn’t realize they had been before.
2) The role my parents treated me and my education has a lot to do with how I perceive myself, and is somehow connected to my gender identity (or seems to be. This is all subject to change because I’m still trying to figure things out). Because I was born anatomically female, I was raised as a woman and limited.
They got out of trying to educate me in higher maths and sciences because I was a woman and wouldn’t need them anyway (after all, I’m just going to be keeping house and having kids like my mom when I grow up). I spent more time taking care of my siblings and running the house because I was a woman and needed the practice. I was refused the option of college because I was a woman and women don’t need higher education to be homemakers.
The fighter in me, the warrior and protector in me, the chemist, the geometrist(? what name do people who do geometry give themselves?), the astronomer, the molecular biologist in me were never allowed room to be or grow or develop because I was a woman (and also, science is evil).
Being a woman means I am not able to exist as a whole person. I cannot be a woman and a fighter, a scientist, a creator, an entrepreneur, a techy, anything not associated with the pinnacle of femininity and child having.
Which, is, unfortunate? (I guess?) considering I’m everything BUT the pinnacle of femininity and child having and actively avoid it.
I know logically, identifying as a woman does not mean I can’t be any of those things. My favorite scientist was a woman (Marie Curie < coincidentally, the only one I managed to learn about), women started the tech industry, having a uterus does not actually mean that I cannot be X.
Except that, in the way I, and so. many. others. have been raised and conditioned, that is what it means. And it’s the strong ones who come out of that and fly in the face of what patriarchal society says a woman is, and still identify as one.
But I can’t. It doesn’t fit me. I don’t feel like I belong, because I just feel so trapped by it.
I don’t want to be defined and have my role in life “set” for me (by societal pressure) because of the body parts I have or don’t have, and I admire the people who are able to move past that and not let that affect them. But for me, calling myself a woman just means I’m holding myself back from my own existence, and I’ve spent enough of my existence being held back.
3) There are so many nuances and things I need to learn that I’m just not in a healthy enough mental place to deal with. I don’t have the mental or emotional energy to pour myself into women’s studies and queer theory or learn about all the ways people are biphobic. I wish I could, because then I could combat it, and I would learn more about myself in the process, but I just can’t. And sometimes that makes me feel like a bad person.
Because, it hurts when people question my faithfulness because I’m bi, and I know there are little things about my sexuality and gender identity that are being put into those boxes subconsciously.
But I just can’t. I can’t get through a talk on privilege without starting a self-loathing cycle and realizing how horrible of a person I am, and also feeling as though people are trying to silence me (when I’ve been silenced for so long). It’s not for lack of wanting to learn, it’s just, I’m not in a place where I can do that and keep my sanity and keep depression at bay.
It bothers me. It’s probably horrible of me.
But I know where I am and I know it’s just not a healthy thing for me to do right now, and as bad as I am at taking care of myself, this is one of those things I just have to wait on.I’ve been dealing with feeling out of body or trapped inside more often because stress and life and exhaustion.
I’m on the cusp of change – of realizing things about myself, awakening another piece of me that was long ago forgotten. I can feel it. I feel the restlessness and the tension, there is something brewing in my subconscious waiting to step out. Right now, I need to guard my calm like my life depends on it (sometimes it feels like it does).
4) When I lived in the south, my complexion was a lot darker than it is now that I live up north, where the sun is less strong and we don’t see it half the winter. When we moved to Georgia, I somehow became aware of this fact (that I had a middle-eastern/olive complexion). I don’t know why, I don’t know what caused it, I just remember becoming aware that I was ever so slightly darker complected. Not even in comparison to anyone, because in Florida and Georgia we had a lot of different ethnicities and Maine actually weirds me out because it’s so homogenous.
I don’t really know why I’m bringing this up. I just remembered that I noticed and I reacted and it was odd.
No, I remember now, this was the lip hair thing. Because I have dark, thick hair – especially on my face – very thick eyebrows, and my mom was like, yeah, it’s because you’re part lebanese, that’s why you have dark lip hair, and then the pain with the cream…that’s why I didn’t like it, that’s why I noticed, because in that conversation, she also brought up olive skin tones. And that connection is what triggered the odd only-parent-induced sense of shame and self-consciousness about my genetics (which, wtf).
Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be perfect. They’re supposed to be Pollyanna, Elsie Dinsmore, and Jane Bennet. They’re supposed to be completely innocent, unnoticed, modest, graceful, but still look beautiful and unblemished (while not thinking too hard about it).
Good Homeschooled Girls are impossible. All of us are wearing masks, we’re all acting feminine, we’re all hiding ourselves, because none of us are that perfect.
Instead, we are berated – we are told we are never enough, that we’ll never be good enough, that we don’t measure up. We’re told we need to fix our hair and only wear makeup to cover our acne, we’re told we need to look just so – but not focus on it. Our appearance and personalities are shamed, muted. We are turned into china dolls – empty, silent, porcelain – while we die slowly inside. Our unique identities are stripped – told to be sinful – our independence denied, and to fight for it is to abandon all that we were raised to be.
Our dreams – if they exist outside the chosen path – are cast aside, scoffed at, or allowed under very specific circumstances and made to end upon marriage and/or pregnancy.
And if we abandon this dream, or if we seem to have a particularly hard time measuring up to this standard? We are broken, and there is something wrong with us. To base our worth in who we are instead of when our uterus is used flies in the face of this ideal.
Elsie Dinsmore, Beautiful Girlhood, and Jane Austen are the books that are handed to us as examples of femininity and how we should conduct ourselves. Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be quiet, demure, masters in the art of domesticity – never raising their voices or asserting themselves, never doing heavy lifting (unless it’s babies or laundry baskets), always walking with poise, always graceful, always innocent and perfect, never loud.
The first two emphasize the devaluing of self as godly and feminine. I can’t speak to Jane Austen because I’ve never been able to make it past the first chapter.
Innocent, all with Hayley Mills and a yellow house in Maine and everything, harmless. Right?
If we leave it at the movie, sure(?).I didn’t know at the time, but the out-dated standards they sing about – is something that is invisibly expected of all Good Homeschooled Girls.
The line: hide the real you while it was probably meant to be funny and absurd was essentially my way of life.
I’ve always been stubborn, strong-willed, and independent – when it worked in my parents favor, this was a good thing, otherwise it was something to be squelched.
I was never really a tom-boy, sports bored me and seemed pointless – which, I suppose naturally meant I was a good candidate for the social experiment of super-girly-femininity. I was given books – Elsie Dinsmore, Beautiful Girlhood, Pride and Prejudice or Emma or Northanger Abbey (I don’t remember which ended up in our collection), and etiquette 101 for tweens (I can’t remember the name). I had to learn to be hospitable and submissive, though my parents never (or rarely) used the word feminine. Submissive and feminine are often synonymous here.
I read them, dutifully, internalizing the expectations (well except Austen. I just couldn’t, but that comes in later). My parents never really talked with me about this, they had a tendency to just give me the books and expect I learn from them. Elsie is less fiction and more a not-so-subtle way of giving young girls impossible and unhealthy expectations and telling them they’re worthless if they can’t master it as Elsie did.
It didn’t take long for me to realize Elsie is an impossible set of standards that I was never going to meet. Though the real line was when she married her father’s best friend. I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore, arranged marriages to a man who’s old enough to be your father who was creepy as hell to you when you were 8, AND you’re too perfect and ideal to even exist or be relatable. Just, no.
The appeal of the civil war/regency era vanished – because I saw through what they were trying to do and I think it was my own secret form of rebellion, sort of. Good Homeschooled Girls are given these books as guidelines – Beautiful Girlhood literally is a guideline for femininity and social conduct.
As much as I tried to mask my nature, to hide the real me, I was never able to do it well enough to be the pinnacle of femininity that I felt I was supposed to be.
Austen bored me, because I couldn’t get into the obsession with ribbons and dresses and who’s-courting-who. Elsie and Beautiful girlhood just made me more painfully aware of the inadequacies I was already painfully aware of.
I felt broken. I felt broken because I didn’t live up to this idealized standard of godly womanhood (or girlhood). I felt broken because I am not delicate, and no amount of silencing myself was going to re-write the core of my DNA. I come from a line of stubborn women, you can’t demure you’re way out of it. Or maybe you can, but I couldn’t. I felt like that meant I was less desirable (the end-goal of being female being married and having kids).
Being born female meant that I had my entire life and code of conduct set in front of me, no personality required. I was required to follow the program. I felt wrong because the very fiber of my being was in direct opposition to it.
It still is.
I remember when I was 11 or 12 trying painfully to write fiction about an edwardian-era girl (instead of my book about the secret society of women who fought in the Revolution via spying because the Quartering Act) who sat in a garden in her frilly dresses and waited for suitors. I think I got maybe 4 paragraphs and then became frustrated because it was impossible for me to even write about that without getting bored.
The idea of being locked up, spending my life in waiting for someone to whisk me away, and then to spend the rest of my life locked up birthing and raising children horrified me. No matter how hard I tried to make it not, or how hard I tried to make it seem…as ultimate as people were telling me, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself it wasn’t certain death.
I couldn’t escape the feeling of the futility and meaninglessness of my life if all I was allowed to do was wait, and then have kids, and hope that one day they’d grow up to do the great things that I wanted to spend my life doing.
That meant something was wrong with me. I was too independent and god wouldn’t like that.
I remember being told, on several occasions, when I chose to fight for my autonomy, “independence is bad [for a woman], how do you think GOD feels about that [me being autonomous]?”
I was wrong and broken because I was not, am not, could not be demure, quiet, and feminine. I would never live up to the standards that good homeschooled girls are supposed to live up to – no matter how many masks I put on, or how hard I tried to hide myself.
I may never have been a tom-boy, but I was never the epitome of girlishness either.
Masks could only cover so much. I found ways to let myself be stubborn in subtle and approved ways. I was compliant to a point.
The things is, I know now that those books are poison to my rose-soul, but I still feel the need to embody all that is wispy delicate and feminine. I still feel broken because I don’t fit the mold when other people project it onto me. Because it is impossible for me. It would require giving up my autonomy and a complete change of taste.
I can’t watch Pride and Prejudice without raging, I generally hate dramas (there are exceptions to this), I’d rather read a good fantasy or scifi novel or comic than a book about amish courtship (don’t get me fucking started), I love a good action movie – Give me robots fighting monsters any day.
None of my most basic preferences are even considered in the world of godly womanhood and good homeschooled girls. It is assumed that I LOOOOOOOVE anything by Austen, that cooking, courtship, and children appeal to all of my tastes and interests, that robots and monsters and other-worlds are boring and unnecessary, and action movies are for boys. When I express otherwise, it’s all but laughed at or ignored.
I watched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries without raging (loved it, even). I know Austen was groundbreaking for her time (a woman author? *gasp*), but I can’t read her – not just because I find it dry, but because of homeschool culture.
Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be looking waiting for their Mr. Darcy (an asshole, really?). Good Homeschooled Girls are supposed to be Jane Bennet (Lizzie is far too independent) which doesn’t make sense because Jane marries Mr. Bingley? I know too many people who are trying to hack the 21st century into a Jane Austen novel and it frightens and sickens me. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were balls and you married the person you danced with? I feel like that can’t be the point of Pride and Prejudice, but you wouldn’t know it in this particular subculture.
^ Don’t start thinking about it too hard, it’ll hurt your brain.
It is the obsession with denying women humanity – autonomy – and worth that pervades this whole idea. Good Homeschooled Girls have no needs. Good Homeschooled Girls are whatever they are told to be. Good Homeschooled Girls must gracefully and perfectly meet and fulfill contradictory requirements (look perfect, but don’t obsess about it! learn things, but don’t use your brain!), while never having a bad day or a human moment. Good Homeschooled Girls aren’t allowed to be.
Not so long ago, I was one of those really unsocialized homeschoolers who couldn’t hold up a conversation about Harry Potter but could tell you about ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge), domestic (oil) drilling, and how little control our federal government really has over the control of oil prices. I’d only ever played racing video games occasionally – my favorite games were the educational ones my parents bought or that my grandpa got from school – namely, Mavis Beacon Typing, Story Weaver, and Amazon Trail. Those were just the games I was allowed to play, actually. My brother played Need For Speed, and Lego Racers (which I joined in on a few times) and was allowed video games and consoles.
I lived in a very controlling, mentally/spiritually/emotionally abusive home, where I raised and nurtured 6 of my siblings until I moved out days before my 7th sibling was born at 18. I was never encouraged in any artistic endeavor or to do anything but get married and become a breeder for religious reasons. That’s what I got for being born with a uterus – my reproductive organs defined my worth.
I never read The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter because magic was witchcraft, which we would inevitably start practicing if we were exposed to it (because of our lack of brains?). At one point we abandoned our Disney collection, until my mom had too many kids it was impractical to keep them from Cinderella even if it did have a fairy godmother in it, and she did use a spell (bippity, boppity, boo).
I thus immersed myself in historical fiction and studying history so intensely that I still have a lot of random stuff memorized. It was the only allowed form of geekiness that I had, and so, I used it. I had 4 pocket constitutions; for a couple years I always had one on hand, just in case. I knew where to find ANYTHING by the article, and often section number.
Because I was so intensely set on learning I saw through the bullshit that a lot of the history “teachers” in the Christian community were peddling. Their revisionist history – while I was never allowed to say otherwise without being lectured – was clearly ill informed, completely untrue, and lacking in any historical context. I knew this because I studied everything around and leading up to events just for the context.
Now when people try to tell me that we were meant to be a theocracy by our founders, I call bullshit and brainwashed.
That’s kind of besides the point, though. The point is that I was sheltered. I was not allowed to play actual video games for more than an hour here-or-there if my siblings needed a player 2. I wasn’t allowed to read fantasy books because of religion. I hadn’t seen Star Wars until I was nearly 17, and even then I was bored because it was Episode 1. I’m convinced we only saw it because my mom was confused about the “classic” nature of it, and the kid from Jingle All The Way was starring.
I didn’t see LOTR until I was 17 at my boyfriend’s house, because he was really into it: Tolkien quote in email signature and everything. We started with the extended edition – I had to watch it 3 different times before I got the story and then I fell in love with the genre and with LOTR – Two Towers especially.
When I moved out, and moved in with my boyfriend’s family which is an even longer story, we started playing the PC version of Halo on occasion. That was my first “real” introduction to gaming, even though I hated getting shot all the time while figuring out how to move. I was also introduced to Firefly and Fringe – we’d watch these quietly to avoid waking up his parents, who are also not into science fiction or fantasy.
When we got married, we bought our first console, cable, and I’ve come a long way since then. I’d always identified as a geek, much to my mom’s horror, because I always knew I was – so you can imagine my happiness upon finding not only a ton of content, but a ton of people who were into the same things. We discovered that Focus on the Family outright lied about Harry Potter; Doctor Who is amazing; Browncoats are forever; and GAMING IS FUN. There are games that have stories, you guys! STORIES, not just racing and/or shooting. I had found that piece of me that was missing and wanting to manifest, that piece of me that helps everything else make sense.
Ask any ex-quiverfull or fundamentalist daughter and they’ll tell you it’s reallllllly hard to escape the you-are-your-uterus-mindset and find out who you actually are, what you actually like. This has been a long process for me – an ongoing process even, because I’m still unlearning old thought processes. On bad days, I just sit and wonder if doing what I want is even worth it – if being me (whoever that is) is even worth it.
Now, I’m making the third season of my web-series. I started it last year in a moment of clarity, sudden bravery, and lack of fucks to give after an existential crisis.
This project, KieryGeek Season Three, is all about storytelling: the things that I love about gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, and geekdom – I’ll be talking about world-building in games and collecting play-through footage. I’ll also be creating stories with the help of my co-conspirator Matt (MALE FRIEND I’M NOT MARRIED TO WHAT? TAKE THAT UPBRINGING!) in a hangout format. I’d really like to see this funded not just because it’s cool and another kind of community, but because it would mean so much to me personally and my constantly self-critical psyche to do something amazing and worthwhile and completely me for a change.
1) Wow. the degree with which people will fight for their “right” to hit children, in the name of “it’s better” “it’s discipline” “what else are you going to do?”. That hitting is the first place we jump to, to deal with people who are helpless, people who exist because their parents decided they WANTED THEM, and then decided to beat them, because they think they have a right to. I just don’t even. And people think violence comes from video games. Try generations and generations of parents beating their children, training them via violence, seriously, is it any wonder? Violence has been around long before video games, long before Pong, and will continue to be around, especially if we keep affirming the right of the parent to beat the person they’re supposed to love, and to devalue their autonomy and humanity.
If you’re parenting this way, you’re continuing the cycle. If your reaction EVER is to hit your child, you’ve already failed.
2) Time Magazine’s cover about the Childfree life apparently pissed off some people. And this brings me to my WTF JUST LET ME FUCKING LIVE OKAY? moment. I made the mistake of watching a Fox News interview about it yesterday, which was just depressing, because, even among the “advocate” of the child-free lifestyle, us adults who choose not to have kids are seen as either incapable, inhumane, or selfish – or a combination of them all. Which, quite frankly, I find offensive. The desire for people to actually enjoy life – and their definition of that includes not having kids is scoffed at, at best, and makes me shut down at worst.
So I’d like to take this moment to talk about it.
I’m Kierstyn. I’m 22. I’ve been married 4 years. I’m not having kids even though I’m in a committed relationship. Surprisingly enough, though I have refused to join this “highest calling” (those of you from über conservativism/christianity will get that), I lead an incredibly fulling life. I choose to enjoy life, but that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. I put my energies into creating things, into speaking out against abuse, and into trying to make the world a better place. I can do this without having children, honestly, I can do this better without having spawn to raise. Because I don’t have to be responsible for more than my pet, I canactually do the things that I care about, that I am passionate about, without hindrance.
So next time you want to jump on the all-child-free-adults-are-selfish-train, maybe talk to some of us first.
You know, unless you really believe that pursuing your passions, making art, and speaking out against abuse are completely selfish things to do, and mean you have no humanity.
Gee, thanks, parents. *
*I’ve only been able to read one page of the article because I don’t want to pay $5 to read one more page – most of what I’m reacting to is the interview and the bit about what to expect when no one’s expecting. I’m really tired of being judged for not reproducing. it’s my goddamn uterus, leave it the fuck alone.
3) ABUSE IS NEVER OKAY.
I don’t care how concerned you are about anyone – threatening them, intimidating them, berating them, and disrespecting their boundaries, is never okay. Ever ever ever.
If someone says “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this” don’t push them to talk about it. If someone says something you disagree with, don’t EVER come back with “you’re becoming one of those people who should be shot for the good of society”.
Abusive behavior is abusive, and regardless of your intent, it. is. never. okay. and you immediately become an unsafe person.
I’m going to be doing a series of posts about depression (my depression). I could do one long post but it’d be a small book…
I’ve struggled with depression since puberty. That’s about as far back as I remember anyway. At the time, I had no words for what I was feeling/going through, my parents dismissed it as “adolescence”. I thought it was normal – normal to hate myself as viscerally as I did and continued to (on new deeper levels as time went on), to completely shut down my emotions and stop feeling, to live in a constant state of melancholy and numbness.
I didn’t understand mood swings because I didn’t have any moods to swing from. I alternated between meh and grumpy-meh. NOTHING moved me, nothing made me cry. As time passed and I went through more changes, I began to loathe myself more, I began to believe that I was worthless, didn’t deserve to be human or treated as a person or with respect, I was nothing more than a tool in my parents toolbox – a tool that would never please it’s operator.
When I started my period, and I was “fully a woman”, I added shame to my already hated existence. I hated that [bleeding/fertility] about myself – more biology that I couldn’t fix. Biology that would haunt me forever, end my life as I knew it [because children, eventually] – the debilitation (after I moved out and was no longer running on adrenaline) added so much negative to my already non-existent body image, and self worth. I would lie in bed for a week, and just fantasize about plunging steak knives into my uterus and ripping it out.
When I was 17, I was borderline suicidal for 6 months. I thought death would be better than continuing my existence at home – my shameful, guilt ridden, broken, worthless existence. Because of friends (and knowing that killing myself would defeat the purpose of my impending escape) I managed to stay away from self harm, and ultimately, suicide. I had a gun (16th birthday present), I knew where it was, I would imagine using it, but I never took it out, I never tried anything, I just liked the thought.