Thursday, July 4, 2013

How I became the man-hating feminazi I am

It's a hot, Iowa summer day in 1995. The sun is beating down at 102 degrees, the air is thick at 60 percent humidity, and the cows are out. So, you know, a typical Tuesday. My father and I are out in the pasture, trying to move these huge animals back past the fence. At first, we try to coax them with calls of "HERE BOSS! C'MERE BOSS!" (If you could speak cow, that would translate to "food.") Today however, they're not listening, and that means setting up tiny child-shaped road blocks and chasing them.

I stand at the top of a hill, overlooking the long stretch of gravel road that lays before me. The cows will come running this way as a herd, and it's my job to hoot 'n' holler as loud as I can to make them turn into the driveway and toward the pens. You can hear the thundering of their hooves on the dirt as they start to make their charge. I raise my arms and jump up and down.

"HYUP!! HYAA!!" These animals are much larger and stronger than me, and they outnumber me 30-to-1, but they're also not terribly smart. Make a big display and loud noise and they'll usually avoid you. Indeed, most of the cattle turn right where they're supposed to, and head down the driveway. Some mothers and their calves, however, break off in the opposite direction. One leaps the fence, or attempts to. Let's just say that certain nursery rhymes may have exaggerated bovine leaping capabilities.

"Are you even paying attention? What the fuck are you doing?"

Another Iowa day. This time, the weather goes from cold and windy, to sunny, to flash flood watch, and back to sunny. It's the kind of day where you drive to the store with the heat on full-blast, grab groceries, and head back with the A/C cranked and your face leaning up close to the vents to maximize cooling factor. My father is out in the machine shed, fixing up some old tractor wagon components, and tells me to grab him a 3/8 size wrench. Fractions are next year's math lesson at school.

I return with a wrench, surely some sort of workman apparatus, though I'm not sure of the size. It is, unfortunately, not 3/8.

"Do you ever fucking listen? Are you fucking stupid?"

It's a cold Iowa night. December. The snow is three inches, rising, and it only started a half hour ago. Mom and Dad will be late getting home from their party. My brothers, 10 and 9 years my senior, want to play a game. It's called "strip the youngest brother naked, throw him outside, turn off the lights, and scare him as he searches for his clothes." It's not one of my favorites, though it might be better than "boxing, but it's totally fair because the older brothers are on their knees."

I cry as they pull the clothes from my body. I scream and whine loudly, like an animal caught in a trap; because that's what I am. I'm shoved outside, and I stand naked, watching from the outside as one brother holds the door shut and the other scatters my clothes throughout the house. The brother holding the door releases his grip and runs into the darkness, folding into it, disappearing.

My eyes burn as I sob. I don't have enough hands to wipe away the tears and snot flowing down my face, search for my clothes, and cover myself. I huddle and crouch as I move through what once was my home, but is now a treacherous labyrinth, full of traps and monsters lurking in the dark. I never make it to the end of the maze. I give up, and cocoon myself in blankets. The minotaurs take some form of pity on me, and toss my clothes onto the bed.

"What a little pussy."

I'm not sure what the weather is like today. I'm in school. It looks sunny from my seat in Math class, but I've no idea how warm or chilly it is. Still, I'd rather be out there than in here. 3x divided by y to the 7th power = z; what is the square root of fish? Show your work. At least this is my last year. Next year I'll be off to college, and explore what I want, solve the problems I know. Just one more semester of math, of forlorn looks out a distant window, and listening to my cousin brag about his sex life.

He "fucked" her. It was awesome. It was amazing. She has the most amazing ass, and her pussy tastes like strawberries. He high-fives the friend I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with when I was 7. He's fucked his girlfriend too. She is, if I am to believe his words, a "dirty slut" when she's in the right mood.

They ask me who I would fuck. No one, I say, and it's true: I don't want to fuck anyone. It would be nice if I could make love with someone, though. "Jesus," my cousin says. "You are such a fag sometimes." The question is irrelevant though; everyone knows who I glance at when she walks down the hall. My cousin points across the room. "Her?" I blush, but say nothing. "You really like her." Again, silence on my end. He smiles. "I'll help you out," he says.

"I'll fuck her and turn her into a slut. You can have seconds. It'll be easy. Girls always turn into sluts, they just need to be fucked good first."

You ask me why I considered giving up on living my life as a woman. I ask myself if I gave up on being a man. I ask myself if I could be stronger than bold-font words typed into a blog post exorcism. I ask myself if I've let those words define me and colored my perception of what it means to be a man.

I ask myself who I've become, and who I want to be. I don't have an answer yet.

6 comments:

  1. Your post is touching and fascinating. It seems you've had a life with a lot of men that aren't the best of character; douche bags, if you will. I certainly had a lot of similar experiences with male figures, but I also know a LOT of men that are really not douche bags at all. I've also met some women that are some of the worst people I've ever met. For me, those experiences helped shape the kind of person I wanted to be: not a douche bag. However, when I transitioned, who I wanted to be as a person had no bearing on my gender identity. I AM a woman, and I'm also not a douche bag. Your post suggests that, to you, those two aspects are intertwined. My advise to you is to separate the questions: What kind of person am I? and what is my gender identity? Take away all those bad experiences with men, and would you still identify as female? Just trying to help you in your journey of self discovery. Regardless of your future choices, I only wish the best for you.

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  2. im not going to sit here and give you the "not all men are like that." talk cause your smart and there is no need. i've also discovered, through therapy, in the last few years that we have very little control over how we see the world. a lot of it is subconscious formed by how we grew up. I do want to say though, that everyone on the planet is constantly asking themselves who they want to be. i don't think anyone knows for sure. it changes moment to moment. and those who believe they do know are either stupid or in denial. the best anyone can do is be happy with who you are in this moment. and if your not happy with it the next, then change it. as much as society and human nature tries to force us into nicely labeled boxes, we are not sculptures. we are human beings. living, breathing, yelling, crying, bleeding, human beings. everyone should always be asking themselves who they are, but only as far as to make sure they are happy in that moment.

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  3. This really touched me. I've struggled with the same thoughts about my decision to pursue androgyny; I suspect my desire to abandon masculinity as much as possible was because so many of my examples of it were guys I could never be like, and never wanted to be like. The American concept of what t means to be manly is so incredibly toxic.

    What I've decided, ultimately, is that I am what I am. Maybe I was shaped this way partly by bad examples of what men should be, but that doesn't make my gender identity any less legitimate. I can't go back and erase those experiences; and if I could, I'd be a different person now.

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  4. This was a really touching post. I can say that having kinder, but similar experiences still left me the same questions. My answer is that I want her to exist because I am her. I'm not giving up on being a male - I'm giving someone who was repressed a voice. I can't stand in defiance over the hurtful experiences if I'm doing the same to her.

    And Sophie, you *are* strong. You didn't take the easier path, you've questioned the status quo (even if it's just with yourself). It's something not many people can and are willing to do.

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  5. ......What can I say you had bad experience with those so called "manly men"...But does that justify labeling every person who happen to born to the "male" gender??? Yeah... I guess I'm trying to say that life is bullshit for most people even to some "guys" even if you don't believe me... Some people (female&male) even break completly and start suffering from depression...

    I... Just don't label every person to being evil or bad because not everyone is a " douche bag"

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  6. Well, believe it or not... I went through homologous situations being a straight male. Not wanting to be the kind of man you've described... well, you can imagine I wasn't treated as an equal. I don't doubt your experiences (just as the ones of many females) were sadly way rougher than mine, but in my case, I pulled through mine because somehow, I was proud of being who I was regardless. Just figured those bad things came with the package: being myself. And I wouldn't rather it any other way.

    This is why I believe this: Bad people surround us and try to harm us all. That's a constant. What's variable is... whether you let them get to you or not, to change who you are. Because in the end, whatever they are, has nothing to do with what one chooses to be oneself. It's us who make that decision - i.e. we always have the last word.

    So despite all this you've narrated, please try to not to let them change who you want to be. Hope you can find some value in my words.

    (P.S. We do like you and your work for a reason xD)

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