Pretty privilege is not a privilege, and my journy isn’t all that special

I posted last week about my anger at the invisibility of being seen a certain way. I went on rants to people about how frustrating that invisibility is. I loathe the binary gendered system, the world that judges our worth based on our ability to live up to some arbitrary standards.

And the problem is, if you live up to those standards, maybe you get treated differently… but you’re still treated as though people just want things from you. I have a friend who is scared to talk to men because she doesn’t want to see the look in their eyes when they assess her. She’s been through enough, why be constantly reminded that her worth is in her looks? It’s scary being on either side of the coin, neither side of which involve being treated like a whole person.

Fuck society and its shallow ideas of the worth of human life.

As for my personal relationship with female-bodied femininity (femininity of female-identified people), I’m pretty angry at it. More specifically: I’m resentful of it. I resent its implications. I resent how it’s the only way to be treated as a female human.

Because I’ve been there, done the femininity thing, lost weight and tanned and let my long hair flow, but it made me feel objectified rather than empowered. There are things I really like in femininity. I like painting my nails and I like skirts and I like scarves. At least, I did for a while. Now those things just make me angry, which maybe I have been confusing with dysphoria.

If you read up on it, there are a lot of women who say they’re “like a guy” or “masculine” or otherwise non-feminine because they like video games, or they don’t cook, or they’re direct, or they prefer non-pushup bras, or they like heels but not HEELS heels, or whatever. It’s like if we aren’t pushing for the epitome of femininity it negates our femininity.

So maybe that’s what I’m experiencing, thinking: well I’m not the epitome of femininity so I’m masculine or male or genderqueer… when in reality, I’m just a tomboy femme woman who struggles to be seen as a person.

And what I’m really angry about is that my lack of feminine expression right now is as much about feeling like I don’t deserve it because I internalize these messages about how femininity is reserved for the beautiful. How much I don’t deserve it because I might as well be invisible. Which is screwed up. But I do want to have a voice in this world. And as someone who likes the outdoors and does computational work and is in a family full of boys, it often feels like my voice is drowned out by the fact that I’m a gender minority always. And it makes me angry that I’m reduced to that… that if i’m not the prettiest I have no voice.

That if I don’t have a story about a guy creeping on me, I’m not part of feminism. That if I spent more time trying to figure out how to get attention from people I was interested in than avoiding unwanted attention, I couldn’t relate to other women. And then that when I did get attention from men, I hated it. I resented everybody because of these expectations I was trying to live up to. ugh.

The same friend who was at the climbing gym with me that night said she ranted about beauty standards to her mom once, and her mom said that she should conform to them in order to change the system from within.

My mom always bemoans that boys never chased her. She jokes about covering her face with veils so nobody has to see her.

How is that supposed to not affect me? How am I supposed to build a feminism that goes beyond that? How am I not supposed to reject a femininity that rejects women that look like me and my mom?

I don’t know how to get past this. I know there are things that make me feel like a person. But often I feel completely unworthy of the space I take up, gender expression aside.

I guess that’s a pretty common experience for people who identify as female, huh. Either we attract too much attention or too little attention or too much scrutiny or too much idolatry… any way it goes, it’s objectification. Plain and simple.




You know what really gets me? How we can never know what’s going on in someone else’s brain. We just can’t be sure, ever, that our experience is remotely similar to theirs.

People are black box mysteries, and that’s amazing. How can you not be dying to know what makes a person tick?!

When other people seem the most opaque is when I feel the most lonely. Or rather, when I’m the most frustrated by that opacity is when I feel the most lonely. And that’s really what loneliness is: the unfulfilled desire to relate to others.

When someone experiences a loss of consciousness after a brain injury, how can we know they’re unconscious if maybe their communication systems are just down? When someone is going through a tough time, how can we tell if they need support or tough love? How can we make sense of death if there’s no communicating with it while alive?

It’s stuff like this that makes me, if not religious or even agnostic, deeply awed by the limitations of science.

I don’t know what to do for people sometimes.

As I left my therapist’s office (we started talking about how not to end up like my mother, the true american dream), I saw I had a text from a friend asking to go get ice cream, sent half an hour earlier. Then another one 5 minutes later: “Nevermind, I’m going to go now.” I responded that I’d been in an appointment up until then, and she said she was back in lab. “Man, I have such narrow windows of time during which to catch you,” I texted. “Yeah, I needed more immediate cheering up,” she responded.

This makes me so angry, I don’t know why. Because she reaches out with an unrealistically high expectation for what I’ll be able to do for her? Because she only reaches out when she immediately needs a friend? Because maybe we’re not that close and I just don’t know what I can do for her?

I actually brought this up with my therapist in connection to my mom: I don’t know if I can ever please her. She does take out some blame on her kids, with or without meaning to, and I don’t know what to do with that. Do I indulge her? Do I shout at her? I’ve slowly learned to let things go, but shouldering blame is a frustrating thing.

I’m starting to feel really weird about my friendships, like, I don’t know, they’re increasingly tenuous. I know I’ll move in the next couple years, and maybe I’m starting to pull up my roots. But sometimes, I just don’t know what people want from me, or what I want from other people.