I don’t want to be “just one of the guys”

As a woman, being told you are like a man is meant to be either a great compliment or a grave insult depending on whether it is aimed at your personality or your body. Being called like a guy when it refers to your personality is akin to being called a “good immigrant”, it implies you are exceptional – not like all the other women – and is therefore a status to be coveted. In general this implies you do not have the common character traits assigned to women, i.e. being bitchy, not saying what you mean, and an interest in fashion and clothes that is stupid and frivolous.

When I was a child (before my parents sent me to an all girls school)  I sought this kind of approval, claiming that most of my friends were boys, that girls were too bitchy for me and I just didn’t understand them. This was a strategy to put myself into the special snowflake category of girl that was not like all the other girls.

It’s easy to fall into this trap. Everyday as a girl growing up you are told that being a girl is totes the worst thing ever, (as I have discussed here and here), so after a while for some people the response is to try and become as un-girly as possible.

Now that I am older, I value my female friendships. I value being a woman and what that means to me. Being a woman is different for everyone who identifies as one and I have no desire to get into a gender essentialist pile of horse-shit about what being a woman “really means”.  Bitchyness, complexity and interest in appearance is not determined by whether you have one X or two.

What I do know is that I no longer take being called “like a guy” or anything similar when said about my personality as compliment. The parts I like about myself are just as much a part of my womanhood as the parts I like less. There is nothing inherently masculine about them.

The way female friendships are often portrayed in the media, especially teenagers,  as being competitive rather than supportive and rife with bullying and emotional abuse is not something I have ever experienced with my female friends. This is not to say that it does not happen, but this oh so prevalent narrative is not necessarily the dominant experience of female friendship, even for teenagers. It is a trope. Simple uncomplicated friendships are not something that is the exclusive provence of males, and many males have experienced the kind of friendships that are normally thought of as only belonging to females.  At the end of the day it is probably just luck of the draw.

I no longer feel the need to sell out my sex/gender for the illusory power/privilege that can come with being seen as “just one of the guys”. Accepting this status means accepting all the inferences about women that come with it. That is something I am certainly not comfortable with.

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2 thoughts on “I don’t want to be “just one of the guys”

  1. While I agree with a lot of your points G (not all female relationships being bitchy for example), I disagree with the idea that identifying as not as ‘female’ as other members of that sex equals selling women out. Some people don’t “put themselves in” the special snowflake category – they are just in it, like it or not.

    For instance, when I was a kid, I played rugby for my school until they made me leave the team because I started growing breasts and the coach said it was too distracting for the boys. I liked playing rugby instead of making up dance routines to Spice Girls songs. This distanced me from the other girls because I wasn’t invited to their houses to make up said routines. And it distanced me from the boys, as they called me names like ”butch” for making them cry on the rugby pitch (I was pretty good).

    It would be easy to dismiss this as silly childish bullying, except the same thing happened to me in New Zealand, aged 22. The International Students were firmly split into 2 camps, the boys who played pool, took the piss out of each other and drank beer, and the girls who drank wine, talked about their hair and went to bed early. I realised after a few weeks that the girls were going on nights out without me, and when I questioned them (nicely) about why, they said they “”just didn’t think I’d enjoy myself”. I thought they were probably right and not being especially mean by noticing it. So I asked the guys if I could go out with them. They hesitantly agreed, we went out, I beat some of them at pool, then they took it in turns trying to hit on me and suggest the only reason I was there was because I wanted to pull some/all of them. The situation upset me so much, I pretty much stopped going to University and failed some classes because of it. I was made to feel incredibly lonely and entirely different to everyone else.

    But fuck them. All this proves is that some people who are born female are not like the stereotypical versions of what women are. We don’t like dancing to pop music. Or trying to look cute. Or trying to say things boys will think are cute. We like rugby and beer and calling people bell-ends. This does not stop us from being women. Maybe we need to expand the definition of what ”woman” means. Or get rid of the whole bullshit idea of gender altogether. My personality traits and likes and dislikes are in no fucking way defined by my genitals, and fuck anyone who assumes they are. I am not as stereotypically female as other members of my sex. But I am also not selling anyone out by actively seeking activities that are normally populated by males.

    • Thanks very much for your comment Jo. I totally agree with you that women are not a monolith and we all like different things. I don’t think bullying should ever be dismissed as childish because it really fucking sucks lol. I appreciate you sharing your experience, what I think of as “selling women out” is women who play on the idea that they are “not like all the other girls” in order to get some kind of social privilege. I would love it if more women were more like “I’m here I do these things and I am a woman, fucking deal with it.” Lol. I am so sad that your experience was so shit. Right on that what you like is not defined by your genitals, neither am I. I strive towards the day where people can be exactly who they feel like being without stupid, damaging social consequences that hurt us all. Hopefully you come back to NZ and we can drink beer and belligerently call people bell ends :p

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