I found our last two bibles in the closet the other day, one of which is KJV (of course). I spent this evening trying to do art with/deface it, and I got up to leviticus before getting bored/having it in my face started getting to me. It’s weird how triggering objects can be – bibles, dental floss, strollers, big vans…
I’ve felt weirdly out of it this week, kinda listless and unfocused, but antsy. So I’ve been puttering. Puttering is a weird word, it’s really fun to say, but it was also a word my parents used a lot, but it’s also a word I don’t know how to replace. Puttering: doing random busy work/cleaning that doesn’t require too much thought or result in much stress energy. I putter around on the sites I manage – make tweaks and updates, I’ve been de-cluttering random stuff IRL (actually only have two reachable surfaces left)…puttering. The phrase is like a low grade trigger.
And maybe it’s that, and a run-in with general triggery things this weekend that’s been making the phrase my dad repeated ad-nauseam stuck in my head all day.
Being a girl is just better
I don’t know what made him think that – maybe a little bit of jealousy because my mom got to stay home and sit in a recliner in a state almost-constant pregnancy, or maybe because in their sexist complimentarian marriage, he had to carry all the weight?
What wasn’t said at the end of the phrase was strongly implied:
Being a girl is just better:
- because you don’t have to worry about responsibility
- you don’t have to make hard decisions
- you don’t have to fight or stand up for yourself or your family
- you always have a man to protect you
- you don’t have to get a job or do anything but homemaking (fun?)
- you don’t have to think about anything
- you don’t need to be smart or have thoughts of your own
- you get to be served by men (by staying home and doing what they want you to do in exchange for dates and some of their income?)
Being a girl is just better because who needs autonomy anyway?
Being a girl meant:
I didn’t get to decide anything (and that was better because decisions are hard)
I always had someone to take the fall (which was better than me having responsibility for myself)
I didn’t need to learn “male” skills – like basic building, or how to pump gas or change a tire (I could just have a guy do it for me)
If I could cook, hold my tongue, and produce children, I would be a success (because women don’t need their own thoughts)
My dad/husband/brother could/would get me out of any situation and defend me (because I couldn’t defend myself)
In exchange for my autonomy I get a pre-defined life of luxury (if luxury = breeder, chef, teacher, house keeper, and sex toy)
Even though no one has told me that phrase in years, sometimes, with conversations with people, it’s still a really strong undertone.
Because even though other people never phrased it quite like my dad did, this insidious patriarchal brain worm, this line they tell people-born-with-uteri: Life is better for you, great for you even, just stay in line, and you’ll never want for anything.
I think being reminded that I’m not what any of the parent-figures in my life had planned for me to be, is just another version of the same line.
Being a girl is just better: just stay in line, and everything will be perfect*.
But even when I was a little kid, and I was told that my lot in life was just better… I knew it was a lie.
Maybe some people can happily trade their autonomy and agency for being “taken care of”, but that deal never seemed sweet to me, it seemed wrong and unfair, though I didn’t have any words for it or any way to express it.
Being a human adult may be more work, require more effort, and mean I have to own my decisions, but I lived without autonomy for my whole childhood, and I’d much rather own my decisions than be denied my agency.
I don’t care if that means I’m not who I was planned to be.
Fuck the patriarchy.