I’m Different: Masculinity and Women

This is a post trying to explain my thoughts on how I see a lot of women talk about what separates them from to social expectations of femininity. In other words, girls who brag about not being like “other girls”. I’ll touch upon person matters maybe once or twice but it’s not significant enough to warrant a duel category.

Content warnings include: Very infrequent use of sexist slurs (specifically the term “slut shame” as it has a slur in its name), binary viewpoint (as in, I’ll be talking almost exclusively in guy vs. girl terms as this is the easiest way to configure my thoughts on this matter. That isn’t to say I’m unaware that non-binary people may be affected by these dynamics, I just haven’t observed enough non-binary folk speak to this kind of thing to form ideas about it), and discussion of patriarchy.

I’ll be up front about using Tumblr on a very frequent basis, I like the site and I generally like the content I’m provided. But I’m far from being uncritical of the trends that circulate the website. One of which is the frequent ridicule of girls who try and separate themselves from other girls by bragging about traits which, in the big picture, aren’t all that unique for a girl to have.

Now, I’m not a girl, but I was treated like one for the vast majority of my life. I thought I was a girl and so did everybody else. I remember in Middle School falling into the same thought process as the girls I’m talking about. I thought because I rejected make-up, fashion, gossip, and other stereotypically “feminine” behaviours and interests that I was special. I thought I was a unique person, but most importantly, I thought I was better than all those other girls.

So often this happens, mostly with girls who are young (but someone may maintain this thought process until much later in life and perhaps for their entire lives). Someone who is aware of how patriarchy functions, and how competition between girls is particularly damaging to feminist ideas and movements, may find these girls obnoxious. It’s easy to roll ones eyes at their claims of being unique, better, and different over traits that one is well aware not only exist in many women, but can exist without conflicting with “feminine” interests and traits.

But I don’t think that’s particuarly right to do, as it completely overlooks the complex systems that tend to produce such behaviours. After all, in a patriarchal society, masculine traits are praised. Men are the top dogs and the more masculine a man is the more valued they are. It makes sense that women who find themselves naturally drawn to, or displaying, masculinity will start seeing themselves as better than their more feminine peers. They are basically saying “Look at me, I do all these things so I’m not weak like them. Therefore, I am worth more as a person and this should be reflected in how my peers treat me”.

Often the behaviour of the guys around a girl like this will actually provide reinforcement of that attitude, at least to some extent. Particuarly when both parties are younger (Middle School to early High School age), a girl with masculine traits may be treated with far more respect than her feminine peers. She may be praised and have the “privilege” of hanging out with guys and being apart of their recreational activities. More importantly, she isn’t seen as threatening. Her presence as a masculine girl doesn’t directly conflict with the guys masculinity.

(On that note, later on in life, the straight girls who hold these beliefs may find themselves being pushed aside in terms of romantic and sexual encounters for girls who are more feminine. In terms of straight partnership, a masculine girl is conventionally undesirable. As this person grows older still they may find guys growing even more distant as they become more and more intimidated by them. They may be called names like “bitch” and perhaps actively roadblocked in their careers.)

I feel like the irony in making fun of these girls is that it’s really no better than what those girls are doing to others. It’s still putting another girl down and creating tensions and abrasion between women.

I’ve found the best approach to be an indirect challenge of the ideas that person is putting forth. For example: Slut shaming is very common among those girls. This is the notion that because a woman sleeps with many people (particuarly men) they are bad, dirty, and undesirable. The girls who hold masculine traits often abstain from frequent sexual intercourse and brag about it as to make themselves seem more valuable. Slut shaming is something that many who are in feminist circles agree is very toxic and sexist. The very definition of the word slut varies wildly, with some people feeling that even sleeping with so much as more than one guy in a wide timespan warrants the usage of the word in its oppressive context.

When my childhood best friend started to slut shame I started asking her questions. Why would the nature of a woman’s sex life negate their intellect? Why would the number of partners a woman has been with erase her accomplishments? Why bother factoring in someones private life when talking only about their professional accomplishments? Furthermore, the amount of sex one has with different people doesn’t define ones personality. Someone can be kind and gentle and still like to have lots of sex, one does not negate the other.

Basically what I’m getting at is that bullying someone over a problematic belief, particuarly when that belief stems from ignorance, isn’t generally a great way to give that person a reality check. It’s certainly does not provide them with an alternate way of thinking, and instead aggravates them and makes them feel bad.
Now I’m far from being a person who can, with any authority, tell girls what they can and cannot do in order to foster a healthy community and a movement to obtain equal status to men. Furthermore, I understand that aggressive responses to oppressive ideas is often a valid response. People who are oppressed are so often expected to be educating towards their oppressors and it gets exhausting. Though in this case we have intra-group tensions, so I feel like it’s a bit more valid to be critical of aggressive tactics. At any rate, take my words with a grain of salt and understand that I do not wish to directly impose my beliefs. Rather, I simply want to get my words out there. Perhaps people will agree with my thoughts who can speak with that authority. Perhaps they will not and let me know.

Either way I really wanted to get this off of my chest and onto some kind of medium.

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I’m Different: Masculinity and Women

A Difficult Conversation

This is a creative post! For better or worse I’ll admit straight up I’ll be posting a lot of My Little Pony related fanfic ideas/drabbles. I have an ongoing story I’d really like to continue so I need to flex my muscles, but hopefully I’ll have something original soon! I’ll try to explain the context within the story so if you’re not privy to the show please try to read anyways and let me know if you could keep up.

Summary:The ex-student of an immortal goddess and ruler of a country called Equestria finds herself having nightmares about her former mentor. She has to confront her guilt and decide once and for all if she should try and apologize.

Content warnings: It’s a bit horror styled. There’s implied death but nothing explicit. After that it’s basically what would be categorized as Sad/Slice of Life on FiMFiction.net. I think the tags are self explanatory.

The castle halls were quiet and dark. Sunset Shimmer made her way through the tall hallways, her unicorn horn illuminating the way with teal light. She found herself disturbed by the still emptiness she was surrounded by. Where were all the royal guards?

After a few minutes of walking the golden unicorn’s apprehension gave way to dread. Her pace inadvertently quickened as her mind raced through scenarios. Had the castle been overrun in an invasion? Had she been knocked out by a foe who proceeded to wipe her memory? Was Celestia, her beautiful and immortal teacher, somewhere out in the world fighting for her life?

As her limbs carried her towards the throne room Sunset could picture her mentor almost perfectly. A huge white pony with a slim yet powerful body. In Sunset’s mind she was wearing royal armor, her elegant wings spread wide and her long horn illuminated in the fire of her magic. She was fighting off foe after foe with all of her might. But… Maybe… Even a goddess could be…

“Sunset Shimmer!” a voice called out, abruptly pulling her from her disturbing thoughts. Sunset stopped and whirled around, her horn brightening in a display of raw power. She could see a tall figure in her intensified glow. The pony was still enshrined in shadows, but Sunset knew of only one pony that could match the figure’s frame before her.

The unicorn’s heart skipped a beat and her green eyes widened in surprise. “Princess!” she cried, galloping towards the figure. All of her fears that concerned Princess Celestia vanished in an instant.

That is until she got close enough to see the figure was most certainly not the Princess. For the second time that day (night?) the poor pony stopped abruptly. Her heart pounded wildly as she took in the new alicorn before her.

Like the alicorn that was her mentor, this pony bore both wings and a horn. That’s where her similarities with Celestia ended. Her coat was as black as coal. Her eyes were cold and the pupils were shaped like those of a cat. But her most distinct features was her mane and tail. As with Celestia they seemed to flow in a wind others could not feel. But unlike the gentle pastel colors of the princess, they seemed to capture the night sky itself. If Sunset weren’t mortified by her situation she would’ve been enamored with the sparkling “stars” in the pony’s mane and tail.

The golden unicorn backed up a little and found her voice. “Who are you!?” she demanded, unable to keep the fear from tainting the question. “Where’s Princess Celestia?!” The alicorn before her simply smirked. “Princess Celestia?” she inquired rhetorically. Her voice was smooth despite a very faint lisp. Suddenly she broke out into a grin, showing off dangerously sharp fangs. “My dear older sister is exactly where she ought to be! Banished to the very same prison that held me for a thousand years!”

As the dark alicorn before her laughed, Sunset tried to cast an offensive spell but found her horn non-responsive. “No!” she cried, launching herself recklessly at her opponent. The alicorn simply stopped her with a quick burst of magic. Sunset cringed at the powerful dark magic that gripped her body, holding her above the red carpet.

“Yes! Thanks to you, who neglected her duties as my poor sister’s faithful student, I have been able to return! The night will last forever and I, Nightmare Moon, shall claim my rightful place as sole ruler of Equestria!!”

Sunset found herself screaming out in disbelief and fear as Nightmare Moon cackled.

Then she opened her eyes.

At first she panicked at the sight of pitch blackness. Her horn ignited, revealing a rather large room. The pony shifted her body so that she was only half lying down.

Slowly everything clicked into place. She wasn’t in the capitol of Canterlot confronting Nightmare Moon. She was however, still in a castle, but this one was owned and tended to by Princess Twilight Sparkle.

As her breathing regulated Sunset used her magic to ignite the oil lamps in the bedroom. She was safe… For now. Her first night back in Equestria and she just had to have nightmares! She thought she was done with those years ago!

With a sigh the pony climbed out of the extremely comfortable bed she had been resting in. As much as she’d love to stay resting for the rest of the night, the adrenaline from her ordeal hadn’t quite worn off leaving her feeling jittery.

The unicorn’s thoughts quickly turned to the dream she just had, and to the beautiful princess that it centered on. At the mere thought of her old mentor the pony felt a spike of pain in her chest.

How could she have been so foolish? The day she turned on the alicorn and fled Equestria is one she will never forget. The day she lost everything she had worked to build as Celestia’s most faithful student. She had been a magical protégé, a unicorn with a destiny to become great.

“Why can’t you see I’m ready?!” the unicorn screamed at the princess “I’m the most talented student you’ve ever had! I can master any spell you throw at me in minutes! This is my destiny I know it!”

Sunset tensed up at the memory, the way her teacher just… Stood there, gazing at her with cold pink eyes.

“You are not ready Sunset Shimmer” the white pony’s voice was calm and quiet, but it was filled with anger. “I have told you this many times. Power alone isn’t enough to ascend! Now please, go to your quarters”.

“I hate you!!” Sunset scream, the book she’d been holding in her magic shot towards the princess at incredible speeds. But Celestia was quicker and quickly seized the book in her own golden glow.

“Guards! Escort my…. Ex-student… To her chambers” she commanded.

Sunset Shimmer closed her eyes and took a deep breathe. No matter how many times she told herself to stop thinking about what happened she still found herself revisiting the memory.

After what had happened both parties were furious at each other. As Sunset Shimmer was being escorted she decided that she knew of one way to prove herself once and for all. She knocked the guards out and went through a magical portal, away from Equestria, and into another world.

She’d lived there for almost three years terrorizing other teenagers at a school. That was before she returned to steal a powerful artifact from Equestria, before Twilight Sparkle had followed her into that world and defeated her.

It wasn’t until she had been at her most vulnerable did the magic of friendship find her. She turned over a new leaf, found a life where she didn’t have to bully others into listening to her.

If only fixing her relationship with Celestia would be as easy as making those friends. Sunset stopped her pacing and set a deliberate path towards a large window. She stopped to look towards the moon, which still seemed so blank without the familiar unicorn silhouette.

“Thanks to you, who neglected her duties as my poor sister’s faithful student..” the memory of Nightmare Moon’s voice whispered in the back of her mind. Ultimately, it was Twilight Sparkle who saved Equestria when Nightmare Moon returned. It was Twilight Sparkle who brought back Princess Luna, commander of the night and Princess Celestia’s sister.

No wonder why Twilight was now a princess. Despite all of her guilt Sunset Shimmer had to admit to feeling just slightly jealous of Celestia’s other student. If she hadn’t been so horrible to those around if… If she’d just listen to her mentor… Would she be where Twilight was now?

Speaking of Twilight… The purple pony wouldn’t stop nagging Sunset about seeing Celestia. Something that Sunset wanted to avoid like she’d avoided taco tuesdays back at Canterlot High School.

As she traced her eyes over the countless stars Sunset return to the same question she’d been asking herself since she’d been reformed… Was she really ready to see the pony she assaulted and ran from all those years ago?

She still didn’t have an answer.

 

A Difficult Conversation