W: “I strrrrruggle with the intersectedness thing”

1) What physical spaces do you feel safe or unsafe in?  Emotional spaces?  How does this relate to your race, age, sexual orientation, background, class, etc?

 

Physical/Emotional:

Realized again this month I have a fragile sense of safety. Thought I was absorbing the sadness around me after Sandy and Boston, a week each time of feeling unable to cope. Realized I was feeling fear. Related to being Jewish, the particular way I was raised because I have no Jewish friends who seem to feel the way I do, or even close it seems, out of many. physical and emotional.

Emotional:

Felt unsafe, the exact word I used to describe it, in my college department. Afraid of 3 male colleagues. In the last year, I stopped checking my mailbox till after 5:00 when one who’s office was there would be gone. I didn’t want to be alone with him. So there was a little physical fear, actually. Didn’t feel afraid of 2 women colleagues who treated me similarly.

Class:

I very often feel more secure, as a woman raised in a middle-class “professional” family, than does my partner, a man raised in a poor family whose 4 sisters and brothers and parents didn’t graduate high school (except him).

2) How do you perceive your own physical appearance and those of other women?  How do you think others perceive you physically?  What elements contribute to these perceptions?

 

I can tell you what I notice in other women’s appearance:

I notice how fit and “firm” they are, regardless of weight. (I have no idea if this is relevant.)

I notice how grey hair “ages” women or doesn’t; my brown hair is 100% fake.

I’m transfixed by plastic surgery on women’s faces. Oh, didn’t need to say “women’s.”

I think others see me physically as middle-aged, plump, often Jewish but not always.

3) How do you feel walking outside as a woman?  Safe, unsafe, targeted, ignored, harassed, invisible?  Does this change depending on where you are, how you are dressed, who you are with, who else is around?

 

I feel, like, fine walking outside. Not sure I did as a younger woman, in terms of verbal stuff. Have felt safe physically going back at least 30 years (of 57), I think.

 

At a Mika concert with my daughter last week (who insisted on standing nowhere near me, so I looked like I was alone) I felt VISIBLE because of my age. In a good way. Kind of an intimate night club, and when Mika played first notes of each song, we all cheered. But after 3 notes of one, I was the only one around me who could i.d. the song, and I got props! Took great care in how I dressed. Tho who knows how what I chose to wear was perceived. I was going for hip but not “young,” whatever that is.

At my college, I felt invisible, again the exact word I used. First noticed it when I was rushing to class pulling an overflowing briefcase and trying to balance armful of other materials and no one held the door for me. I think students literally didn’t see me, middle-aged woman.

4) What does the intersection of your woman-ness with other elements mean to you?  I.E. race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I’m sure I’m missing some.

 

strrrrruggle with the intersectedness thing. Just have never been able to grasp it. Or articulate it. How embarrassing is this.

Love the word “woman-ness.”

 

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Internalizing it all

Although I have “officially” completed this portfolio assignment, I wanted to revisit it to discuss Wednesday. 

Rewind to the previous Wednesday, where my planning-an-ism-group focusing on transphobia and gender performance/presentation decided that we would challenge ourselves and our classmates and professor to pick “something that is integral to their/our gender identity” and alter it in some way over the course of the next week.  The members of my group gave the option to complete this activity at Columbia, on the next class day, and agreed that we would do this ourselves, so that if someone else decided to, they would not be the only one.

I decided that for this activity, I would not “do” my hair-brush, product, style, etc, and just put it under a hat.  Additionally I decided that I would not wear makeup, heels, jewelry, or accessories of any kind. 

Fast-forward to two days ago.  I had been nervous all week. 

I put on my jeans, T-shirt, and hat as planned and nothing else.  Finding I was ready twenty minutes early, ate some ice cream for breakfast (my version of a pep talk).  Walking to the subway, I felt like a little boy.  I watched as men on the corner who usually call to me said “Hello gorgeouuussss” to the woman in front of me and looked right through me.  As some middle-aged women in my interviews described feeling as they aged, I was invisible.

Feeling not desirable, sexy, beautiful, or even cute, affected me in almost every interaction I had that day.  It shook my self-confidence, it changed the way I walk and assert myself in conversations.  I had conceived the activity to challenge what it might feel like to not be able to present as the gender we identified as, as the gender we ARE.  But the activity turned itself on me, as these things often do.  It became an exercise in misogyny, the male gaze, and internalized misogyny.  I could not wait to go home to change and wear heels and flowers in my hair the next day.  Even my size had become traitorous: as a skinny woman, I was perceived as attractive, the “right size.”  Without my other feminine accessories and form-fitting clothes, I felt young-not like a man, but like a boy- and asexual. 

Was I still myself?  Somewhere beneath my “undone” face and hair and baggy clothes, of course I was myself.  But I didn’t feel it.  The world has spent the past 27 years teaching me that the BEST me, the most desirable, presentable, acceptable, RESpectable, successful version of myself, takes an hour to “become” each morning and otherwise, I was doing it wrong. 

I don’t want to end this blog by condemning myself or other women and taking the onus off of men and patriarchy for putting this male gaze, this rape culture, this blatant and more covert misogyny upon us.  It is NOT our job to shake this but we may be the only ones willing to begin interrupting it.  Even just a thought: perhaps I don’t shave my legs twice a week.  Perhaps I let my hair frizz.  Part of this is difficult for me because it intersects hugely with my OCD: ‘put-together’ means a different thing to me and moisturizing, accessorizing, perfect hair, perfect face, perfect matching underwear and bra: these give me peace of mind on multiple levels, they are part of a checklist.

Or MAYBE, maybe, I look at each piece of it and try to find out what feels good to me: the essential me.  Maybe I have internalized, breathed in, so much misogyny, so much genuine hatred and non-acceptance of who women really are that this will be a never-ending process.  I’m okay with that. 

If I let my hair puff and swirl and put flowers in it, maybe I am more that original me than the girl with ironed hair OR the girl with all her hair beneath a cap.

Nicole: one trans woman’s perspective

4/21/13

Reposted without permission from: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/lifestyle/4867253/pre-op-transgender-woman-takes-revenge-on-childhood-bully.html

 

Bloke who ogled me in bar called me Glenda the bender when I was a boy

Nicole’s revenge as she waits to have sex op

Transgender Nicole

Looking to the future … 32-year-old pre-op transgender Nicole Gibson
Stewart Williams
Exclusive
By JENNY FRANCIS
Last Updated: 01st April 2013
 
 
 
 

PULLING pints behind the bar, stunning Nicole Gibson’s slender figure and long blonde hair never fail to get attention from men.

At 6ft and with shapely curves, the barmaid loves the compliments but admits she is still getting used to them.

Because despite her striking good looks, Nicole, 32, was born a BOY and, although now living as a female, is still pre-op transgender.

Born Glen, Nicole — who changed her name last year — was relentlessly bullied as a child and cruelly named “Glenda the bender” by some boys at school.

But now she has had the last laugh, as one of her childhood bullies flirted with her at the bar, unaware who she was.

Nicole, from Horsham, West Sussex, who is due to have the operation to complete her sex change later this year, explains: “No one can believe I’m the same person.

“When I was at school I tried to fit in with the other boys but I was a target for bullies.

 

Pre-op transgender Nicole

Curves … Nicole shows off her feminine figure
Stewart Williams

 

“I was working a shift in the local pub last year when I heard a guy behind me say, ‘Who’s that behind the bar? Phwoar! I would’. When I turned round, I realised it was one of the boys who teased me at school.

“I couldn’t resist confronting him so I walked over and told him who I was.

“The look on his face was priceless and it made up for how terrible they made me feel at school. It’s funny that the boy they bullied for being gay is now a 6ft blonde woman they all fancy.”

Nicole changed her name by deed poll last year and is now legally recognised as a woman on her passport and driving licence.

On hormone medication to help her develop breasts since June 2011, she now has a 34B bust and will have a full sex change operation later this year on the NHS.

She says: “When I was referred for treatment I wished I’d done it sooner.

“I couldn’t wait to start taking the hormones and I was shocked at how quickly they worked and I started developing hips, a bum and boobs.

“If I’m honest, I always worried people would be able to tell I was transgender.

“But I’ve been amazed at how well I carry it off and 99 per cent of people I meet have no idea. It is very flattering and has made me realise just how feminine I really am.”

After developing her new curves, a photographer friend was so impressed that he invited her in for a photoshoot.

 

Transgender Nicole

Smiling through the pain … Nicole would sneak out at night in make-up in her twenties
Stewart Williams

 

She says: “I was shocked that he asked me and didn’t think I’d look as womanly in just my underwear. But I loved the pictures and realised I was actually quite sexy.

“People who have seen the photos tell me I could give the Victoria’s Secret Angels a run for their money.”

It is not just her friends who think Nicole has the ability to wow. She attracts the attention of a lot of men.

She says: “I get chatted up a lot but I’m always aware there is a bit of a time limit on things, as I can’t let things get physical — it’s not fair on the guy.

“It’s important to be honest so I don’t want to trick a guy into bed only for him to have a shock when we get there.

“I met an amazing man last year and he knew from very early on about my gender change.

“He was OK with it and said he was shocked with himself that he fell for someone like me, but we decided we didn’t want to take things further until I’d had my operation. We’re still friends but it just didn’t feel right when we couldn’t be a couple in the normal way.”

Now Nicole is counting down the days to her sex change op, where surgeons will remove her penis and create female genitalia, giving her the body she has always dreamed of.

She says: “I can’t wait to have sex as a woman for the first time, and having seen how much interest I get from men it’s something I can’t stop thinking about.

“I’m sure there are some guys out there who wouldn’t mind experimenting, but sex as a man doesn’t feel right to me.

“I enjoy a snog but that’s as far as it goes now. I’m saving myself.”

As a youngster, Nicole could not understand why she was not allowed to wear pretty dresses.

Coming out as gay aged 16, instead of feeling relieved she knew something was still wrong.

 

Transgender Nicole as a schoolboy

Past … Glen aged nine
Stewart Williams

 

By 21 she was secretly sneaking out at night wearing heels and make-up.

She says: “At school I was bullied a lot by boys who couldn’t understand why I was different and they used to taunt me about being gay.

“They used to shout ‘Glenda the bender’ and made me feel horrible throughout my education. It was a very hard time for me.”

As she grew older, Nicole’s female urges only got stronger.

She says: “It sounds silly but I used to get jealous when I walked past a building site with my female friends and the guys wolf-whistled at them.

“I wanted for that to be me and for people to find me sexy as a woman, not as a man.

“I had relationships with gay men but it never really felt right.

“I didn’t feel good about myself unless I looked feminine.”

At 25 Nicole began growing her hair and wearing women’s clothes, but she did not approach her doctor about surgery until three years later.

She says: “My friends and family knew I wanted to become a female so no one was shocked when I made the decision.

“My family were supportive and as I’ve always been open with them, nothing has come as a surprise.

“I’m really lucky as my mum’s been brilliant and loves having another girl around.

“My dad’s been great too — he totally accepts me for who I am. He’s so sweet and always panics when he slips up and calls me ‘son’.”

Nicole began intensive counselling in October 2010 before psychologists decided she was emotionally ready to start hormone treatment the following June.

She says: “My GP was amazing and told me she had been wondering when we would have the sex change conversation.

“I was her first transgender patient but I think she knew instinctively that I would never be happy as a man. I had to attend a lot of counselling sessions to make sure I was ready to start the hormone therapy.

“But I already had long blonde hair and a wardrobe full of girl’s clothes so I knew I couldn’t live as anything other than a woman.

“The hormones were amazing. I grew in confidence and my curves helped me pass as a woman even more convincingly.”

When she started work at a local bar Nicole’s colleagues were all amazed she was born a male and she says they agreed she was the most feminine person there.

Nicole adds: “I passed so well that people were actually shocked when I told them.

“I couldn’t believe how well I fitted into life as a woman.

“Then when my old school bullies came into the pub and were leering at me it was the ultimate confidence-booster.

“It serves them right for bullying me as a child and I hope they feel bad for causing me so much stress.”

Now looking forward to the future, Nicole says she has never been happier.

She explains: “I’ll be on the hormone treatment for the rest of my life, and every woman knows that sometimes hormones can make you a bit loopy, but it’s worth it as I feel more like myself every day.

“People not knowing I was born a male is very comforting.

“Now I can’t go anywhere without men staring at me and trying to chat me up.”

jenny.francis@the-sun.co.uk

Additional reporting: GERALDINE McKELVIE

 
 

Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/lifestyle/4867253/pre-op-transgender-woman-takes-revenge-on-childhood-bully.html#ixzz2R8g3IfIg

What makes a woman?

4/14/13

What makes a woman?

Who decides that?

In composing this portfolio, I decided I wanted to branch out beyond articles, blog posts, websites, and talk to people in my own life.  I sent out 4 questions, that can be seen in a variety of the other posts below, to family members, friends, acquaintances.  The responses I’ve gotten back have commented on everything from society’s sense of entitlement to pregnant women’s bodies, the invisibility of aging for women, the back-handed slap of being a mostly straight and very beautiful woman being eaten alive by men’s desires, the complexity of meaning behind the hijab, to where and why we feel safe or unsafe.  They have been honest and beautiful, as are these women.  But I made a mistake, I think.

 

I purposefully sent these questions only to women.  I questioned this decision, but ultimately felt that the questions were designed to explore sexism from the perspective of those experiencing it, on a very personal level.  I would love to work on a whole new project that explores sexism and rape culture from men’s perspectives, but for the purposes of this assignment, I wanted to hone in on the female experiences of rape culture, safety, the male gaze, beauty, sexuality, etc.  

 

But one friend who I sent it to is a lesbian with a very masculine gender performance.  She uses feminine pronouns but over the years of our friendship, I have heard her say things to indicate this is more for logistical than preferential reasons.  She has a gender-neutral name and is often mistaken for a man, both in person and on paper.  She is often asked if she is trans* or transitioning.  She answers no, at least when I’ve heard her, but makes no claims to feel connected to an identity as a woman either.  Several days after sending these out and looking over responses, I had the thought that sending it to this friend as part of “my group of women” was incredibly thoughtless.  I’m not sure what -ism that falls under, but I’m fairly sure I’ve made a mistake.  I can’t decide what to do about it because if I say something and she did not think twice about it, I am singling her out in an uncomfortably way.  Or maybe I’m the one it would be uncomfortable for.

M: “assumptions- that I will not be very tough”

4/13/13

1) What physical spaces do you feel safe or unsafe in? Emotional spaces? How does this relate to your race, age, sexual orientation, background, class, etc?

I feel unsafe in places where I’m one of few women or one of few white woman on the street. more at night than during the day. generally where llok different than other and may draw attention.

2) How do you perceive your own physical appearance and those of other women? How do you think others perceive you physically? What elements contribute to these perceptions?

I think of myself as small and noticeable (with big, red hair). I think of my self as white. Others would view me similarly. Gender roles and assumptions- that I will not be very tough.

3) How do you feel walking outside as a woman? Safe, unsafe, targeted, ignored, harassed, invisible? Does this change depending on where you are, how you are dressed, who you are with, who else is around?

I feel less vulnerable in a sexual way as I get older and more vulnerable as a weaker person. Mostly, I feel safer as I age.

4) What does the intersection of your woman-ness with other elements mean to you? I.E. race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, I’m sure I’m missing some.

I think my woman-ness is a significant part of my vulnerability in all respects. Of course, I don’t know how it feels to be a man! I feel vulnerable as a white woman, but I’ve become accustomed to living in a multi-racial world so I feel increasingly less conscious of my race and more conscious of my age. I don’t think my sexual orientation play a role in this.

narrative

4/4/13

Narrative for ISMS class

What ARE you?

they asked me again and again with my bushy eyebrows my 18 year old breasts on a 10 year old chest my flying away nest of hair as it stood

three inches from my head

until I was furious with my straight-haired mother who never owned a pair of tweezers or a cup size above B

“can I turn you over and mop my house?” they asked until my father offered to walk me to the busstop

each morning.

jewish is never the right answer, never the satisfying answer

 

I am not pretty to you like this

you do not know this type of beauty and you will not. Stop. Talking. Until I am not

pretty to me either

Until

what ARE you

 

Tell them you are tired of trying to make other people happy with labels that do not belong to you.

it is the small spaces, the cracks on the edges

that belong to me. 14 is not enough,

when I crawled beneath my bed and couldn’t breathe for hours or

seconds

is there a name for this dyingness

Is it okay as long as you’re quiet about it? As long as you feel ashamed?

Don’t pretend not to notice.

Make it a joke. Make it funny.

Make it not real.

I spend only 3 dollars a week on hand sanitizer because I know all the bargain brands

I know the bargains for everything

that makes you clean

I wish sometimes I could bathe in it

I think sometimes if you sliced me open I would bleed lysol

beneath the desks I sanitize five times each class but you will never say a thing

until three beers after finals and then you say, oh I wondered about that

 

there is no section of me until intersection I am

wide open and barely here

 

I call myself crazy before you can so when you think it

I can pretend not to notice

 

so why still do I want to show you the dark-spotted rashes

of my wrists

What IS that?

What ARE you?

why do I want to tell you about the summer I was sure

my mother was trying to kill me or my friend who’s bi-polar and every three months

like clockwork, drops her phone into a glass of wine because

she just. can’t. pick up.

 

I could love a woman, a non-man, a trans person, a non-man, a gender-neutral person, I could love someone else.

“Stop calling yourself queer, you date boys!”

“You, bi? You’re boy-crazy!”

Boy-crazy boy-crazy boys are easier

boys are so easy I know how to do boys how to do

boys

maybe if I can feel bad enough about being the white one in this thing I will not notice you are the one in this thing

whose dick is in my mouth how did you not notice

your dick was in my mouth

you are not sorry so I am not

sorry for saying it

 

24 is not enough, “should I say she or they? How can you not care?” I will say she because I knew her when she

or never she

I want to say the right thing.

What ARE you?

 

27 is not enough, “you no longer

meet this diagnosis”

no shit because you stuffed me full of pills

till I was choking

 

Is it okay as long as you’re quiet about it? As long as you feel ashamed?

only tell the truths you are sure about.

 

B: “I am a mirage, I am thirst-quenching, I am brief, I am physically attractive which registers as a meal to men”

4/11/13

1) What physical spaces do you feel safe or unsafe in?  Emotional  spaces?  How does this relate to your race, age, sexual orientation,  background, class, etc?
#1) and a little #3): I feel unsafe walking to my car after work,  walking from my car to my house, walking at night…I suppose its  because I live in G-town and Im white, while most of my  neighbors are black, and Im usually dressed up in a skirt that feels  beautiful when I look in the mirror, but suddenly feels like bad  idea when I step outside. I usually regret my clothing choice when  Im walking to my front door at 3am. I wish there was a softer way to  close my car door. I wish I wasnt so aware of my fear because it Im  afraid its palpable. I sometimes think my over-awareness and fear  wakes thieves up at night….its blood in the water. Bad men sense  it and know how to find me…sniff me out.
My uncle says to walk with confidence…walk like I have power. So  I do that now.
I must appear wealthy walking out of my great big mansion with my  multiple coats and scarves dressed to the nines.
I want to yell: “NO! am very poor! these clothes were purchased by  my parents! and not even they can really afford them! they should be  saving for retirement, but I think they still feel guilty about  divorcing so I get a lot of gifts! These headphones were an impulse  buy! Im sorry! Please dont break into my home! I collect vintage  things! its all I have, my things!

2) How do you perceive your own physical appearance and those of  other women?  How do you think others perceive you physically?  What  elements contribute to these perceptions?
#2) I am a pretty girl. My family tells me. My friends tell me.  Strangers tell me. Men who have no business talking to a young girl,  tell me. Married men wink at me while their wives backs are turned.  My boss likes my shirts and tells me so, more often than he should.  Old men tell dirty jokes after I help them to their cab. Police men  roll down their windows and ask if I need a ride (cue wink and hat  tip) Old boyfriends want “one more night” before they commit to  meaningful relationships.
After 3rd and forth dates I am pushed up against closed storefronts  on Passyunk and kissed violently. My breasts are ravaged and sore  for days. My hair is pulled on dark porches. I am ran-sacked. I let  it happen because im sexy. I provide an outlet for the beast in men.  I am fantasy and kink and things you do while you’re young…before  the mortgage payments come….before you wed that woman that will  solider through your marriage and always take the kids to school. I  am a last stop on the way to regualr sex, 9-5 jobs, or a mid-life  break from all that.
Men don’t want to marry me, they want to fuck me in soccer nets on  the fields of their high schools in the middle of the night because  they never made the team.
Men want me to give them blow jobs in their new cars because it’s  the first thing they’ve ever really owned.
Men want to take me to Japanese fan exhibits and take me back to  their apartments and dress me like a geisha and spank me.
Men want me to keep my glasses on, take my bra off, leave my high  heels on, turn around, apologize, say thank you, slap them, keep  quiet for three months and do it all over again.
I am a mirage.
I am thirst-quenching.
I am brief.
I am physically attractive which registers as a meal to men.  Sometimes I think Im expected to know how to be on top during sex,  give great head and talk dirty. S actually said to me, “I  thought you would have loved being on top”     ….    What the fuck  does that mean? what about me registers as loving being on top?! I  hate it, actually. WHich turned him off. I KNOW it turned him off  because when I decided to suck it up and try being on top, he lost  his erection. I climbed down like I had lost…utter defeat. “no no  its me…i had too much to drink”  he says…..not an acceptable  excuse. I know it was me. He was expecting some crazy red-head to  rock his world and I failed. Humiliating.
It will all end when my looks fade.
Other girls are jealous because their boyfriends think about me  naked. They want to have three-somes and tuck me in on the couch  after giving me too much wine. They want to give me the spare room  and they peek through the crack in the door while im undressing.
Some women are pretty and travel in attractive circles and dress  well and never pay tabs and dont know their boyfriends over-tipped  me because they paid me for my beauty (as Ani says)
I have been those other women, and sometimes, for a night, they  become me, but we are not alike.
Some women will have backyards.
Some women will never have dates to weddings.

*I think this answers #3….or its a ramble…I AM longwinded, after-all.

Some days I want to hide. I blame it on my profession which is kinda  like a prostitute. The sexier I am, the more likely you will buy  alcohol and get drunk and tip me money. I feel good on Mondays….I  meet my friend for coffee in the morning at a local cafe and we have  gorgeous conversaton with gorgeous women who offer insight from  their classes up the road. I feel filled with ideas and  confidence. I am excited and relaxed and feel like a million bucks.  I call it my girl factory. I need it, because every week, something  or something(s) happen where I want to crawl into a sleeping bag  while at work and change my clothes and put a patch over my eye. Its  a feeling that gives me the start of an anxiety attack. I feel  trapped. I feel powerless. Maybe I overhear my boss talking about a  co-workers breasts to a bunch of regulars, maybe Im at a table, and  this jerk with a sick southern drawl tells me he’ll only tip me if I  can name the republican members of congress. “Dont know that one?  I’ll give ya an easier one” he smirks….his dumpy wife looks  uncomfortable….I imagine very little pleasure in their sexual  life…I am unable to answer his questions about politics. I provide  some sass, and a smile and clear the table to find a “conservative  tip” and all of a sudden I am trapped again. cant go to my girl  factory, cant catch a break, cant name the rebuplicann members of  congress…fuck fuck fuck. I feel a gender gap widening. “we’ll have  two pale ales sweetheart, and make it quick cause my friend here is  thirsy”      “before you say anything, we want napkins because your  table is dirty” They dont speak this way to male servers….i know  it for a fact. Im out of responses that wont get me fired. Frankly,  im out of energy. I cant WAAIT for girl factory on Monday….I may  go Thursday too…just to get a boost.

4) What does the intersection of your woman-ness with other  elements mean to you?  I.E. race, class, age, ability, ethnicity,  sexual orientation, I’m sure I’m missing some.

4) Age plays a crucial role for women and how they define themselves  in society. I do feel pressure to procreate and marry. No direct  pressure, but there is a lingering feeling of a race to win, a rush  of sorts to complete this selfish goal of taking more space,  breeding and ruining the planet. The other day I overheard two young  Indian girls talking about their friend who had gone astray. This   woman had married a non-hindu man and was living in sin somewhere in  Philadelphia so her parents cut her off. Instead of sympathy, the  two girls criticized their friend for choosing love over financial  stability, suggesting that she would have been much happier marrying  a hindu man and staying in her parents good graces. I was appaled.  Not only because they were drinking white zinfandel which is the  lowest of the low on my wine scale, but because I was raised with  the go-ahead to fuck, marry, elope, and procreate with whomever I  chose. When I brought K home to meet my mother she didnt say  “get that philandering Jew out of my house”,  she bought him a  sweater for Christmas and told me to have sex somewhere else besides  my bedroom because we were waking her up. If I brought home a woman  to meet my mother, she might have a fit, but she’d soften when we  had children. My woman-ness mirrors what my mother and grandmother  taught me, and some things Ive learned on my own from books and  movies. I wanted to be Gigi the outspoken french girl, Nancy Drew  the daring sleuth, and my grandmother all rolled into one. I still do.
I still feel my intelligence is sub-par. That in order to be taken  seriously, I have to be smarter or I will be that wise-ass WAITRESS  forever. I feel stronger for having slept with women….like we  exchanged some feminine power that refueled me. I feel marginalized  without a degree, however. Maybe that’s on my end…in my own head.  What do you say when you introduce yourself though? My name is  B. I am working, I live here, I read these books, I listen to  this music, I went to school briefly here, maybe I give my age, my  relationship status…..It’s strange. Withiin minutes Ive been  compartmentalized to a group “no degree” “single” “almost 30” gulp  gulp gulp.
When people compliment me on carrying multiple plates I want to slap  them. “I can do so much more”! I register this overreaction as  insecurity, but I never get the chance to describe myself with the  details that make me an individual. Its seems unfair.
On the upside, I am a white girl from the suburbs. No one in my  family has ever been incarcerated or killed. I have pride in that.  We managed to keep it fairly scandel-less throughout my familys  history save for some substance abuse and mental illness. I don’t  feel alone, is what im trying to say. Even when Bipolar hits, and I  want to end my life, there is a part of me that has stability within  my family. In the end it makes me feel like I have something to  offer. My family provides a sense of security that in essence helps  me become a woman with values and love. They provide confidence and  care above all. Perhaps thats why I would be unable to live far away  from them. Perhaps Ive been nurtured too much and have lost some  independence.
Essentially I am a caregiver. I am a direct product of the love I  was given. I cherish history and continuity and tradition. I am my  mother, but with fresh ideas. I am my grandmother, but stronger.