A Dull Story of Why I’m in a Women & Gender Studies Class

I originally wrote this piece for a Women & Gender Studies class, which on my school is called WGS. The assignment for our class was to write about why we are in the class in the first place and my reaction was to pinpoint: How did I get here? What exactly in my personal life led me over here and to the conclusions I’ve reached that led me to feminism. Mostly I really just think that somehow there are factors in our life that led us to feminism or made us question why we have to play certain roles. Hope you give this a quick read.

It’s hard to pick just one experience to explain why take a WGS course. There is also the fact that I’m only 22 years old? Am I really that experienced with life? There are also the questions that a woman of my own station of life asks. “Am I feminine enough?” “Who says I’m not enough of something?” “Am I pretty enough?” “Would I look better with larger breasts?” “Why do I and all other women have to look down on their bodies?” “Do I have the perfect qualities as a woman?” “Why should I? Especially since the women I know who’ve successfully conformed to this standard of femininity tend to be frustrated and/or miserable” “Will I find love?” I’ve decided to just write down a few of my own experiences and discuss them, hopefully to conclude that this is part of an awakening towards feminism and how our lives live out.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome. This is a very advanced form of autism, basically I’m intellectually capable and competent at what I do but tend to very awkward in social situations. It’s not easy growing female and of Hispanic descent in this society, to be saddled with a mental condition that’s poorly understood and where the studies on that syndrome focus on mostly boys, just makes it even harder to grow up. Whenever it was either a group for young teens with Asperger’s or an RSP class, I was basically in a male-dominated space. There is also that some teachers in charge of such spaces (mostly women) demand feminine mannerisms and patience whenever the boys just get frustrating. I’ve met girls who were also the lone girls and formed kinships with them. Perhaps environments like this make sisterhood powerful?

I’ve found literature for girls with the syndrome, yet found it wanting. The literature seemed eager to conform them into teenage girls that wear stylish clothes, hang out at the mall, and display themselves for boys; this never takes into account that most girls with this syndrome have rich interests in many areas, that some girls don’t care about fashion, and perhaps they may not even be heterosexual. Perhaps we are better off being the girl that sits alone at lunch and maintaining her own unique identity rather than tempering our characters to fit in with our peers and please authority figures that are afraid of intelligent children that seem “different?” Thank God for that book Reviving Ophelia, Mary Pipher urged young women to maintain their own authentic selves, authenticity being threatening to the traditional idea of femininity.  Perhaps I’m taking WGS courses to help maintain such authenticity and empowered enough to resist the forces that would make young women buckle under pressure? Yes, I certainly am.

I am currently still in the closet. Mostly I like to pinpoint it to that part in Sleeping Beauty, where the Princess Aurora wakes up from her slumber and opens her eyes. So beautiful and breath-taking; I joke, because I don’t consider my sexuality to be a sort of curse but because I happen to have been born in a Mexican Catholic family that mostly has very narrow views on how to live your adult life. A few people in my life know, yet sometimes even being in the closet gives me trouble. Whether it’s hearing people making homophobic comments and cowering in a corner, dealing with the fact that most media and online quizzes targeting young single women are crafted for heterosexual women, people asking “How did you know?”, and also some women around my age assuming I have a crush on them. There was also the fact that I was nagged into coming out more by a fellow semi-closeted lesbian that is in a relationship with a man. I kept my lips sealed and shut about this sort of hypocrisy, even when she criticized me for unrelated things like having an outdated taste in music and not wearing makeup. I also knew too much: her dissatisfaction with the sex she has with her boyfriend and nostalgia for past lesbian relationships. Also she accused me of trying to flirt with her and made the snotty proposition that I shouldn’t call her until the month of August. No more with her. Thankfully I’ve found my friends, especially one who lives in Texas now, to be very supportive. I just need to feel more secure with myself now.

Body Image. Wow……does anyone really think they are completely perfect the way they are? Probably, but this is extremely rare. Even some people with great body image sometimes think there are body parts they wish they can change. How about not feeling “womanly” enough, pretty enough, too short, a bit pudgy, and that I could do with larger breasts! Nothing is ever good enough; even especially beautiful people feel they don’t measure up well. But what do you do when you realize you’re tired of feeling crappy and that you’d be socially damned if you admit to being perfectly fine with your face and body. Nothing to be changed, whatsoever; The only thing I’m doing aside from eating healthfully and exercising, am making sure I never make comments about my body in front of young children, trying to lead by example. Not easy in a world where, as Seventeen Magazine once aptly and ironically put it, “your body is really important.” Really I’ve had quite a history with my own breasts. In the beginning it was all, “Why are they coming in at all? Why do I have to wear a bra?” Obviously I was an early developer and I didn’t feel ready for growing up, especially when certain gestures that are seen as adorable when you’re a little girl, like sitting on someone’s lap, your own mother tells you that it would be sending the wrong message to men and boys. As if a 10 year old girl is a seductress on the prowl. Then after hitting my full height and having my weight re-distributed due to that growth spurt, now they aren’t big enough. Great…….now what?

Further Reading and Viewing (I really think you should check these out)

  • Caroline Narby’s Double Rainbow at Bitch Media Blog
  • The Rachel Maddow Show (Am I going to plug the show of the most brilliant, bubbly, and beautiful Rhodes Scholar with Moxie? Yes. Yes. Yes.)
  • Nostalgia Chick
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (Best Show of the Decade!)
  • As Told by Ginger (As if you don’t know, Love this show and it is a crime that it isn’t on DVD!)

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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