In my teens, I wasn’t really “one of the girls”.
Although I hate the term, I was a bit of a Tomboy. What does that even mean, anyway? Why not a Daveboy or a Geoffboy? But really the question should be, why not a Jemimaboy or Sandraboy? If you’re a girl that acts more like a boy “should” then you should be called a Girlboy.
Also, while we’re on the subject of stupid sayings – “Cheap at half the price”. No. Cheap at TWICE the price.
I had female friends but it speaks volumes that I am only really close with 4 from my school years. It’s more than just a shared history of stupid in-jokes – they are awesome people who are as fabulous and awful as I am.
In the main, though, I gravitated towards boys. Not in a flirty way (well, sometimes, maybe a little – in case I get called out on this…), but mostly because I enjoyed the low bullshit factor in hanging out with boys.
If they thought you were being an arse, they would tell you. Then, instantly move on. You could do the same back. No grudges, the occasional dead leg, but essentially, you could live in the moment and be forgiven without weeks of bitching and moaning. A very agreeable way to spend time with people.
I couldn’t be arsed with girly clothes, makeup, dance lessons and anything that involved more effort than dragging a pair of jeans and a t-shirt on. I would rather be in the woods, building a den than in town trying on mascara.
I farted, swore and sometimes looked (disastrous haircut of the early 90’s – NEVER to be repeated) like a bloke.
Fast forward 20 years (shit…it’s actually more than that, but we’ll gloss over the finer details) and most of the above is still factually true.
My wind is legendary/terrifying, as is my bad language, but I have come to terms with the fact that neither of those things define what it is to be a woman (or a man for that matter!), and maybe that’s why I felt more comfortable in the company of people that didn’t think so either.
I don’t fart at work, but I do swear, a lot. I try to curb the profanity where it offends anybody, but if they are offended by it just because I am a woman then, quite frankly, they can fuck off.
If anyone tells you that you are not being ladylike, then you can tell them to fuck off too. I am not a lady, I am a woman. You (if you’re a man telling me that I am not ladylike), are certainly no gentleman, so please throw your jacket over someone else’s puddle.
Words are for everyone to use to express themselves. Bums are for expelling waste and last time I checked* we all have them, male or female.
*I haven’t checked everyone in the world’s bums, nor am I a qualified doctor, but feel 99% sure I am quite safe in this assumption.
I now have many male and female friends, but without a shadow of a doubt feel like “one of the girls”.
Maybe it’s the shared experiences of our children (school mum pals), maybe it’s getting to a certain age and realising you don’t give a shit about half the stuff you used to, but I have so many fabulous females in my life these days, it’s hard to remember why I felt so different from a lot of other girls in my teens.
Maybe it’s a question of women vs girls and how growing up changes your perception. My own daughter’s experiences of school life and the daily dramas that seem to happen within her friendship groups are a stark reminder of how cruel and cliquey young girls can be.
Luckily, she can fart louder and smellier than I can, so I have no worries that she will come through her teens with a raft of men and women as her pals.
I also think that as we get older, we learn to see past the masks that everyone puts on before they show themselves to the world. The woman who always has her hair and makeup just so, may be so desperate for approval, she gets up at 5am to make it happen.
The loud, opinionated woman who always seems so sure of herself, may be faking her confidence and beneath it all, she’s just as scared and bewildered as everyone else.
The perfect mother who always remembers when it’s school picture day, always bakes the best cakes and puts you to shame – she might just be trying for all her might to give her children the childhood she never had.
Everyone has their own private battles going on, and whilst that doesn’t help your own insecurities or problems, knowing that everyone has that at least in common, makes the world seem a slightly better place.
What has this got to do with women in particular being so amazing NOW, I hear you ask? (You know who you are…) The truth is, that I know and count among my dear friends, lots and lots of fantastic men. The point is, that we probably would have got on like a house on fire when we were teenagers, on the same level as we do now, but the relationships I have with the women in my life are so much richer now than they ever were before.
As I wrote (and deleted, and rewrote) that last line, it made me want to be a bit sick in my mouth, because I don’t usually go in for all of that schmaltzy crap – but I can’t think of a better word for it, because it’s absolutely true.
We talk about things we would never have discussed with anyone in our late teens/early twenties (unless we were REALLY drunk). Relationship problems, but also successes. Problems with our kids, but also how fantastic they are. Sadness, grief, anxiety, love, happiness, joy, hobbies we would have thought achingly uncool 20 years ago…the list goes on.
I think the epiphany for me though, is that we can talk about all of our messy, complicated feelings, but we can do it in the pub over a beer/wine/gin.
We can be excited about mascara, but also about how quickly we can run a 5k.
We can compliment each other on a lovely outfit, or looking hot or doing a great job at work, but we can also fart, laugh long and loud without caring what we look or sound like, and then tell each other to piss off.
Being a woman is not one dimensional. There is no right or wrong. We are all; kind, spiteful, amazing, dreadful, bonkers, falling apart, keeping it together – sometimes all in the same day.
Being “One of the Girls” no longer feels like a pejorative to me and I couldn’t be prouder to be a fully paid up member.
P.S. I am most definitely still “One of the Boys” as well…