I’ve written before about struggling with people who see any sort of observation that I’m not similar to most girls/women as misogynist.
It came up again this morning when I read this post, linked to by a friend. The post begins:
I’m sorry for all of the times that I’ve said that I’m not like other girls, implying that there was something defective or inferior about being a girl. I’m sorry for how hard I’ve tried to be “different,” not because being different felt authentic but because I was afraid that I would never measure up to you.
This is what people are talking about when they give me shit for trying to explain how I feel.
For a lot of women, saying they’re “not like other girls/women” is indeed about setting themselves above the rest.
The assumption that someone attempting to describe isolation is talking about superiority is so strange to me.
When I say I don’t feel like I am like most girls/women, I don’t mean I’m better than them.
I mean that I feel alone.
I mean that I feel like everyone is in a secret club but I don’t know where the meetings are or what the password is.
I mean that I don’t fit in, that I feel like a stranger.
I mean that I wish more than anything that I were like those girls/women, that I fit in.
I mean that I feel like a freak.
But somehow, because I was assigned girl at birth, I’m required to identify that way or be a misogynist. And yet, the people who tell me off over this stuff would (I am fairly certain) not do the same if I stood up and announced I was trans*. If I stood up and said, “I am actually a man, I am not like girls and women, I am like men,” I would be cheered and lauded for coming out.
My inability to fit neatly into either box not only isolates me by setting me apart in gendered settings, it turns these folks against me.
Maybe, ultimately, the problem is that I can only make negative statements when it comes to my gender. I’m not a woman, I’m not a man. And that kind of statement is taken to mean that I see myself as better when that isn’t it at all.
Somehow I need to find a way to identify that is a positive statement. I am [label].
Edited to add: It occurs to me that maybe the issue is that I don’t use “other” in “I’m not like other girls/women” but people read it into what I’m saying.
When I say “I’m not like most girls/women,” I am not implying that I am a girl or woman the way that I would be if I used the word “other” in that sentence. But people see that I use female pronouns in my public internet life, see that I’m female-assigned, and they assume that I mean I’m not like “other” girls/women.
I clearly need to find a different way to express myself on this subject, if people are going to misread my current expressions regardless of how I try to clarify.