This is my lap at the moment. Something that usually brings me a calming joy. It’s been rough lately. I’ve finished some knitting side quests and am trying to focus on my daughter’s sweater now.
I was reading a comforting murder mystery, but my mood has shifted with the world’s turmoil and I’m back to reading non-fiction. This book is titled Gender and Our Brains, by Gina Rippon. I bought it a while ago and started it after my daughter began talking about her own gender identity.
I have lots of thoughts and emotions related to this topic. Some are rather conflicting. My whole life has been spent seeking out women’s stories. Our history, our lives, our art, our biology. So much has been hidden from us. I have worked hard to empower myself and others with what I have learned.
I grew up under the rule of needing to be better than my male counterparts in order to be equal. I squashed out pieces of my femininity in order to “unchain” myself from the bonds of society’s expectations of me, while still embracing other aspects of my femaleness to remain part of the club. I honestly wasn’t completely aware of what I was doing until I was pregnant the first time.
I often talk of how I never wanted to be married or have kids. Those were antiquated ideas of what I should want from life. I wanted to travel and then settle somewhere in the woods, on my own, with lots of dogs. Then, I met my husband. My ideas shifted. When I was pregnant I had an “aha” moment and could feel the difference between me and males in my bones. Now that I’m raising daughters I find myself exploring these concepts even more.
With all these different ideas on gender, I’m finding that some of my ideas may still be a bit stuck in patriarchal concepts. I also refuse to give up on what my femininity means to me. So I’m exploring different ideas, opinions, and perspectives. I want to understand others as much as I can, including why some feel so threatened by such conversations.
So, while my daughter struggles with her identity I’m learning. I don’t want her to feel she needs to call herself a boy to make life easier. “People think I’m a boy because of how I dress and act, so I’ll just be a boy.” I don’t want her to deny who she is in order to fit anyone else’s narrative. I want to support her to explore these concepts and decide for herself when she is ready. She is still very young. Exploring gender identity is part of growing up. So we talk about it. Often.
So, while being female is still seen as being “less than” I struggle. I support everyone’s right to be who they are. I just don’t understand not being able to be male and be feminine. Or being female while being masculine. It hurts a part of me to hear women say they don’t feel female because of society’s expectations.
These are the reasons I am trying to learn more. To listen. To really hear what people are going through. I’m challenging my own ideas of what it all means. Our concepts of gender fascinate me.
I’d love to hear what others think. Start a conversation. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to reading Gender and Our Brains while knitting for my curious, energetic, compassionate kid.