Nostalgia and a vocabulary lesson

It seems to me that we are very busy humanizing humans.

  • Muslims help Hindu man run over by bus.
  • Watch these vegetarians opening their home to beef eaters.
  • Study shows refugees are hard working people too.

Faith in humanity restored, so on, so forth.

[Any resemblance to actual news bulletins is entirely coincidental.]

Do we need constant reminders to remember that people are…people? Like you, like me, for the most part. One could argue that I am not the best candidate to endorse this way of thinking, seeing as how on most days I cultivate an active dislike towards human beings in general. [Must we monopolize the planet so? Must we be consistently inconsiderate?] Is it too late to say labelling and categorizing work best for three ring binders?

I learnt a phrase.

Gender creative

adjective

  1. Not conforming to traditionally held gender identities or roles

Or, as Raising My Rainbow puts it, she was raising a boy who liked girl stuff (too much).

The more I read about this phrase, the more I relate to it. At the risk of burdening you with too much information, it must be said that the first time I decided it was alright to be friends with a girl, I was ten.

Why, you ask.

Short answer: I didn’t like girls (until then).

I found them annoying, playing the most inane games. They liked the wrong cartoons and spoke about unbearably boring things. They sat down a lot and they wore frocks. They weren’t like my first friends in life, G and S, who ran around with me mimicking rifle shots and fighting over who would be Police in the next round of Police-Robber. They didn’t climb walls and they didn’t want to jump from said walls.

Or you could say I was a girl who liked boy stuff (too much).

I remember how I cried when an aunt tried to stuff me into a frilly (and itchy) pink monstrosity. I remember the promise my mother made me keep, that I would wear ‘girl clothes’ to school once a week. I remember going to school angry every Friday as a result. I remember my haircut, the one I had for years, a boy’s haircut. I remember declaring that the teddy bear resembled a large furry insect (therefore it deserved to be banished to dusty heights), and that plastic dolls were ugly (no exceptions). I remember my grandmother buying me numerous shorts and t-shirts (/But that’s what she likes, what do you want me to do/). I remember my mother worrying (about me).

Maybe it was understood I would grow out of it. I did. The older I got, the more I identified myself with girls (women). I still like my cargo pants and bermudas a bit more than normal, but I am neither creative nor nonconforming anymore. I am too frustrated with what I have to deal with, as a direct consequence of my gender.

These days, I merely arrange my face into a frown and wonder why it is easier to accept a girl in boy’s clothing and not the other way round.

I also wonder why we must use labels at all.

If we could just let people be… Apologies, I was trying to be funny.

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2 thoughts on “Nostalgia and a vocabulary lesson

  1. I recently read an article who ‘learns’ and ‘realizes’ that the fat lady who sits next to him is a nice person. The article made it sound as if it is normal and natural to hate a fat person and that this is some ‘bodhi maram’ type revelation to learn that she is a person too.

    I guess Gender identity was never a problem for me. I liked being a girl and the prospect of growing up and becoming a lady who is in charge of the happiness of the husband and children. Many of my friends All my friends would have preferred to be boys. I’d have hated it. Cricket, WWF, trousers, gun games, ugh… No Thanks.

    I don’t know what it is like being a boyish boy, but being a girlish girl was pure bliss until I realized that the world expected girlishness out of me AND the right to look down upon my girlishness. That is rich, no? You should wear pretty clothes, you should not shun it, but pretty clothes are the mark that you are a lesser being.

    How does the world want women to view femininity? To embrace it? To be suspicious of it? To be ashamed of it?

    And labels. People get too offended by generalizations and not take them for what they are. It is said that women are better in languages and that men are better at mathematics. I hated language and was better in math. That particular rule did not apply to me. So what? That point doesn’t make me boyish. It just makes my math marks higher than my Tamil marks. Avalo thaan. But many believe that they have “PROVED” the theory wrong. That isn’t the case.

    Why is this done to us? It is because we do it to others. “She is a woman who can’t cook”, “He is a man who doesn’t drive”, “She is young but has a tummy which makes her look old”, “He is 35 but not even a manager yet”, “He is a brahmin who eats mutton.” We find it irresistible to push attribute after attribute into the MALE cookie cutter and the FEMALE cookie cutter. Then we are surprised that the rule doesn’t fit us. Sometimes we are proud that the rule doesn’t fit us. We are too scared of the FEMALE cookie cutter as we are meant to be the special snowflake.

    But the cookie cutter is not unnecessary. I don’t have to understand each man/woman from scratch as I already know the template. The Tamil guy I met today for the first time is probably desperate to get Kabali tickets. The Punjabi girl I met yesterday is probably desperate to get flight tickets to her home town in Punjab this Diwali. I may be wrong. But it is more likely that I am right. THAT is why the cookie cutter exists. To get a reasonable template for each new person. It does NOT exist to push men on Royal Enfields that are too heavy for them and force them to be thrilled by it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that comment!
      I can’t say I ever liked WWF or cricket, but I did spend a few confusing years in my childhood. Because not being girly was apparently an issue. A minor one of course, in comparison to a boy not being boyish.
      Also regarding the fat person incident: I’ve seen something similar. In a bus, there was an empty seat next to a guy, and a fat girl sat there. The guy kept looking at her in a way that wasn’t pleasant. He was very fidgety. Finally the girl snapped and she asked him – am I making you uncomfortable, do you want me to sit elsewhere? He behaved normally for the rest of the journey.

      Like

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