This blog will take the average adult reader about four minutes to read.
The premise of this blog is this: I am not a dude.
I’ve been treated dudely since I was a kid. (Yes, I just turned “dude” into an adverb. Deal with it.) My mother will recount the story of how I came home from school from the first day of kindergarten—after she bought me all dresses (and I apparently loved them)—and demanded pants as my primary butt coverer. My favorite toy in elementary school was my roller blades. I wanted to be a speed skater. I wanted to run the Iditarod. I joined my first sports teams in the second grade. From then until the time I graduated from high school, I played basketball, volleyball—and twelve years of softball. I wanted to be the first female to pitch for the Mariners. (I’ve since let go of that dream.)
I preferred sneakers to sparkles, baggy pants and t-shirts to dressy things with lace, and to this day, cannot sit “like a lady” without being uncomfortable. (That shit takes muscles I don’t use much.) By the time I was thirteen, I could probably shoot a compound bow better than your 13-year-old self, could hit the ball out of the middle softball field at my local Little League’s field. (I was 15 before I could hit it out of the big field, and 17 before I could do it left-handed.)
I was your quintessential tomboy.
As I got older, that tomboyishness spread into what was dubbed “dude humor”. I cannot count the number of times male friends have commented on how I am easy to get along with because I have “dude humor”. I was the girl that guys called “one of the guys”. I drink brown liquor and have the mouth of a sailor—and regularly do both of those things while being a “sound guy”.
I do better in logical, sequential contexts. A huge portion of my job is data-analysis based. I cannot multitask, and I certainly can’t hold multiple verbal conversations at once. I can’t even really hold multiple texting conversations simultaneously—I’m pretty sure I have some friends who can attest to how frequently I send texts meant for a different person to them.
I tend to not emote openly/outwardly much. (Unless you’re one of those poor souls who I’m very comfortable around—you—you get my outward emotions. Congrats!) I generally engage highly emotional situations with a detached, methodological, perhaps robotic approach. Somehow, this also added to my dudeliness. (Only in recent years have I begun allowing myself to actually experience my own emotions. It’s weird. And an entirely separate blog.)
I found more affinity with guys than I ever did—and still do—with women. I never used to mind being “one of the guys” because I fit in better there than I did with women. I embraced that—loved it—cherished it—until of course I realized I was just a woman who hung out with guys.
This started sinking in a few years ago after a pastor friend complimented me on my outfit, mentioned that he didn’t see me dressed up often—and I joked that it’s hard to mic a drum kit in a dress. We wound up having a conversation about being a woman who runs live audio—and figuring out how to be decidedly woman in a male-dominated environment. (Although, I must mention—the church I was attending at the time (and the one I attend now), the production team is *not* as heavily male as in other contexts and churches. We’ve got a lot of badass women of production.) It’s taken me years to process through some of the thoughts that were planted in that conversation.
Over the last few years, I’ve grown increasingly dissatisfied with feeling stripped of my womanhood for various reasons—but especially because I’m a “tomboy”. I’ve grown tired of being classified as a manly woman because I’m better at “man things” than I am at “woman things”. In fact, I think it’s a huge crock of shit that certain activities and behaviors are dubbed “manly” or “womanly”.
Here is where I stand on this issue today:
I’m not one of the guys. I’m not a tomboy. I don’t “think like a man”.
I am wholly, intentionally, unchangeably woman.
Being able to hit the ball out of the park didn’t make me a boy. It made me a strong girl.
Dressing in boy’s clothes didn’t make me a boy. It made me a comfortable girl.
Having a high capacity for logical, rational thought doesn’t mean I “think like a man”. It means I’m a smart woman.
Being able to joke with men doesn’t mean I have “dude humor”. It means I’m a funny woman.
Drinking and cursing doesn’t make me manly, it makes me a woman with a flask and a foul mouth. (Although I disagree with the label “foul mouth”.)
And if a woman lacks these traits, it doesn’t mean she’s “more womanly”—or “less manly”—or less strong, comfortable, smart, or funny—it makes her different than me.
For years I felt like I was only partially woman, because the traits I identify with most—were written off as the parts of me that were masculine. And the parts of me that were decidedly woman—were mostly just annoying. Like. I can identify with any woman over cramps and unwanted body hair—facial or otherwise. I can’t hack it in the shoe conversation, but, like—I can hack it in the sexual harassment conversation. For a very long time, it seemed like the only womanly traits I had were the ones that no woman wanted.
I didn’t just feel like others viewed me as less of a woman, I viewed myself as less of a woman. I agreed with them that my dominant traits were masculine.
And that is a total crock of shit.
I am wholly, intentionally, unchangeably woman.
And, forgive me, women who have been scarred by Women’s Ministry and misuse of Proverbs 31—but I’m going there. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—the “Proverbs 31 woman” is a total fucking badass. She gets shit done, and she does it well. She works hard. She works physically, and is physically strong, she understands the value of her work, provides for her family and people in need, she isn’t fearful because she is prepared, and somehow manages to do it all clothed well.
And somehow, these traits—despite being documented as good and womanly in the Bible thousands of years ago—are still written off as “masculine”.
Then there’s Ruth—who’s kind of viewed as this paragon of wifely submission because she laid down at Boaz’s feet—but let’s talk about the fact that the story begins when she lost her fucking husband and in the moment where she would’ve been perceived as totally justified to act in her own best interest, she chose love over comfort and went with her mother-in-law Naomi—and worked in the fields to provide. And let’s not forget that Boaz first took note her when she was busting her ass in the field—not when she laid at his feet.
Esther risked her life to do what she thought was right. She boldly approached the king—and wound up saving a nation from annihilation.
And let’s not forget the story of Deborah and Jael and Sisera in Judges—where there is a chosen female leader (Deborah) over Israel who was at war with an oppressive nation when the tyrannical leader’s army commander (Sisera) escaped battle and sought refuge in Jael’s tent, she gave him milk and a place to fall asleep—then drove a fucking tent peg into his head. Now, I’m not advocating that you or I go out and drive tent pegs into tyrannical leaders’ commanders’ heads—but when push comes to shove, she got shit done—and she was one of the hands by which God ended a war and delivered Israel.
Many of the women touted as the “good women” in the Bible would’ve been written off as tomboys today—had their stories not been reduced to their sociocultural feminine traits. Now we see them as these beacons of bullshit idealistic femininity—when they were actually total fucking badasses.
I am tired of being categorized as a “tomboy” or “one of the guys”. I am not a boy. I am not a guy. I am not a man. I will not be written off as less of a woman—and I will not continue writing myself off as less of a woman.
I am wholly, intentionally, and unchangeably woman.