Female Masculinity: Sexy or Unsexy??
I've always felt empowered by doing things that the boys could do. Maybe that's because I grew up with two older brothers and wanted to be just like them. Always following them around and trying to keep up. I was a tomboy in 5th and 6th grade and the boys were scared of me; I would get picked second (favoritism ruled) for football because they knew I would kick them in the shins if I wasn't on their team. And for a girl of four and a half feet and 65 pounds, that's quite an accomplishment.
I was always seen as the tiny, cute girl, but with bite, so you better watch out. And it wasn't until recently that it was brought to my attention that not everything I do is cute. Now, this blew my mind! Okay I'm not completely delusional to think that everything I do is adorable, like picking my nose...even though I have been told I do that quite gracefully....but I always thought that men liked when women were empowered, I thought they thought it was sexy. Well let me tell you, I was proven very wrong.
I was over at my best friend Liz's house and we were going to sit outside so she could smoke. As I walk out from using the restroom she is nowhere to be seen, so I sit down in front of the furnace and wait. And what do I hear?? Clunk. (Pause.) Clunk. (Pause.) Clunk. It takes me awhile to process what is going on. "Are you chopping wood??????" Now, Liz, not only is a computer nerd, but is also a girly girl, so you could understand my surprise at this revelation. And as I walk into her backyard, there she is is wielding an axe. I thought that was the COOLEST thing ever!! Although I had grown up with two older brothers, I had never learned to do anything outdoorsy like that, all I knew how to do was watch them play video games (I grew up in the era of two player gaming systems; I still blame them for my poor hand-eye coordination). And so my first reaction was "TEACH ME!!!" And she did. After a couple of times of pounding the axe into the ground we decided to get it on film so I could show my boyfriend (who is now my ex) because I was so proud of myself and I wanted him to be too. And like the natural performer I am, once the camera turned on, I shined. On the first take, I had the best chopping wood performance in town--I chopped that piece of wood right down the middle. I was filled with adrenaline and was so excited to tell everyone, especially my special someone. Liz tried to persuade me from doing so because she said that guys don't really like that kind of stuff, they think it's masculine. And I said Jeff loves me and thinks anything I do is sexy. I mean he told me I'm even cute picking my nose! (Yes, it was him.) I texted Jeff telling him that I learned how to chop wood and he told me to send a picture. I was encouraged so I sent the video, and was on the edge of my seat in anticipation for his response: "Sexy lumberjack?" Okay, that's cute. Not sure why it's a question though... I asked him what he thought about the video, and expected accolades, I don't remember what he said, but it was along the lines of "Cool." Now, that just wasn't good enough for me. I was fishing for compliments. This was a spiritual experience for me and he wasn't being supportive. I had gotten in touch with a part of myself that I had lost touch with. I needed the one person in my life that I was in love with to experience this with me, to be there with me. Instead I was left with an empty feeling. Regretfully, I told Liz that she was right. That my quintessence of empowerment was stripped away from me because of a stigma from gender roles. I know I don't need--or shouldn't--his approval to feel empowered, but it just opened my eyes. And later when I asked him about it he said that he didn't think it was attractive. Of course, ladies, you know where my head goes. "My boyfriend thinks I'm unattractive." And the downward spiral of insecurities ensued.
How did we end of dealing with this situation?? We swept it under the rug and moved on. We went to look at Christmas lights and held hands. His hand on top, mine on bottom.
So I write this in reflection. This obviously was a couple of months ago, but I stumbled upon the video and was thrown back into the feelings, especially now that Jeff and my relationship has come to an end. I remember Liz made an analogy while I was texting her in the middle of my internal emotional breakdown during Jeff's and my Christmas dinner, which was in awkward, deafening silence: "It probably wouldn't turn you on if Jeff picked up the hobby of sewing." True. But I guess the distinction is, the act of chopping wood is different from the significance it holds for me. Which leads me to my culmination. I guess that's what feminism is all about. The right. The physical act of voting is different than the significance of being able to vote. I started this hub simply wondering why men don't think Danielle Boone is sexy, and conclude with a stronger connection with my inner Gloria Steinem.