Woman

Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Sex on soft, ugly stilts.

23 years trying to accept this body.

In a sea of voices screaming.

You are female: You are ugly, beautiful, sensual, horrible. Cover your repulsive, delectable skin. Anything that happens to you is your fault. You are a woman, it is always your fault.

Wait to be rescued and valued by a kind charitable soul, because the world hates you.

Procreate and try to be pretty and maybe it will be satisfied.

Too much and not enough. The disgusting message of my culture.

Too much, not enough.

A 12-year-old, afraid of what was happening.

What it would mean.

A 15-year-old bleeding for the first time. Paying a lifelong debt of pain and fatigue and blood to be hated by the world.

A child, terrified to grow up. Because her culture tried to get her to believe that women aren’t human. Women aren’t funny. Women aren’t strong or unique or interesting. They are pursed lips and styled hair. They are strange, needy, bitter creatures with annoying high-pitched voices. They are sexual vending machines, a status symbol, a lubricated hole.

Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Is it any wonder I hated these parts of myself?

Because all I’ve ever wanted was to be human.

And this soft body made it hard to masquerade as one.

I could try to disown myself, if I wanted–say I am neither. I am nothing.

Except my heart won’t let me.

I intend to stay here, in this body and its labels, declare for myself that it is human. My body is a good place to live, and I have decided that for myself. I will reach out for as many hands as will join mine. I will raise my voice to be heard and I will defend to my dying breath that women are funny, they are strong and unique and interesting and they can be whatever and whoever is in their hearts to be. They are human.

We are human, and we do not owe the world anything.

Quiet chest.

Steady hips.

Cherished skin.

The world cannot define for me whether I am human or not.

My body is a temple, and first and foremost, it is mine.

Hate it, hate me, if you want.

But I will not.

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A/N: Some thoughts on womanhood and rape culture.

Sweater Gender

“Do you want to be androgynous?”

When my friend asked me this, I paused. I had never considered it before.

I’ve never been particularly feminine, nor particularly masculine. I grew up climbing trees, playing in dirt, playing pretend (never house), catching bugs, exploring, and drawing and writing things. My favorite color for a long time was pink. I’m not super good at putting on nail polish, but I’ll do it anyway if it’s black. I’ve preferred my hair short since I was nine years old. I only recently started wearing makeup—mostly just black eyeliner. Honestly, I wish I could draw other things on my face and not have people question my life choices. I don’t shave my legs very often, mostly because it doesn’t serve a functional enough purpose for me to regularly invest that time. Though I will complain about the cultural paradigm that makes this decision something for women to be self-conscious about. (Because it’s dumb. People shouldn’t care.)

I’ve always identified as female, but with regards to gender expression, I find I’m rather neutral. So when my friend posed the question, I really began to wonder—am I agender? Would I rather be androgynous?

I feel I’m in the right body anatomically. Since I was a kid, I’ve periodically asked myself whether I’d choose to be male or female if I had the choice. And the answer has always been female. These days the answer to that question remains the same.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my genetic allotment. But its role in procreation is not nearly as important to me as being human. With a mind and a personality. And I can’t stand when I’m categorized, objectified, or stereotyped because of the anatomical and physiological result of two X chromosomes instead of one.

My physical container keeps me tethered to this earth and it serves me well, but I don’t want to be labeled and pushed into a mold because of it. Some people are good at fitting into the traditional gender binary. Some people are comfortable in it, and love identifying as either a man or a woman with the traits typically assigned to males and females. There’s nothing wrong with this.

But I do sometimes wonder what it feels like to fit.

I’ve always just wanted the features of my biological sex to stay out of my way. I’ll deal with menstruation for good measure, because I really don’t know what the future holds. At any rate, I just want to be able to navigate through life as who I am, doing what I do and not because I’m male or female. But because I’m a human being. Female, sure, but human.

For now, my gender expression is big sweaters, deep thought, converse, and fiction. Whether that’s female or not, I don’t know. Gender identity means different things for different people. In my case, gender and biological identity line up in my mind, so I comfortably identify as female. But I’m aware that our culture has compartmentalized and constructed restrictive tropes of what male and female gender expression is supposed to look like.

Gender is a fluid spectrum, the lines of which depend on sociological constructs. Same as the question of what is “normal.”

But we’re all human. That should be a key point of reference—but, sadly, it is something we assign and segregate away in many more issues than just gender identity.

The way things are going, I hope we’re coming to a place where we can stop categorizing each other and differentiate between preference and necessity, and that we can identify and learn to embrace who we are, whatever that looks like.

Because given our wild, creative, boundary-defying Creator, I’m pretty sure that would be more amazing than we could ever understand.