Thought Trigger: Grunthus Grumpus’ article
It was my own misogyny that very early on, I had decided that I am not going to be pretty. I was not an ugly kid, but I still decided that I won’t be pretty. Today, I feel to an utmost certainty that I am not pretty, and even slightly indulging in dressing up makes me feel like a fraud.
I disrespected femininity. I saw it as shallow. I saw it as an act, definitely inauthentic. I also disrespected the kind of guys who fell for that display of femininity. I wanted to be a boy so I could show boys how to be better at it. I wanted to access the power that even young boys possessed- of being the last word in a discussion with friends, of everybody in your family pandering to you, of that automatic respect and partiality that teachers bestow on guys for being rebellious. For a girl, friendship becomes not about wit, but about being agreeable and bubbly; family teaches you to adjust than demand, and teachers shower you with attention for sincerity and not mischievousness. I really felt jealous of guys for the fucking fluke of being born a guy. I was miserable to watch stupid guys reap benefits of a patriarchy.
I ended up being totally played into becoming a “proper girl with brains”. I weaponized “being smart” and “not girly”. I was very uptight and judgemental about a lot of things, all of them rooted in misogyny. On one hand, I rejected girls who were good at using their femininity as a tool, but I saw them being disrespected by their peers for the same. On the other hand, I chose to compete with boys but with an internalised hatred for my gender which made me smaller to them anyway. I dismissed and even patronised guys who were not smart. So, it was like choosing to rebel but still remain within the themes dictated by the system.
My rejection of femininity really affected me as a teen. I, of course, came across as a lesbian, but not even desirable to a lesbian. I was constantly reminded how I could dress better or how I was not feminine enough to be objectively pretty. There were too many failed attempts to pretend to be feminine. My parents also kept pointing out about my unfeminine ways of sitting, sleeping, combing my hair even. Dressing up is still a soul-sucking chore for me. I don’t go to social occasions or a fancy place most of the time, because of how arduous it is for me to dress up and fail at it so conspicuously. I always fall prey to expectations of me. Recently my guy-friends point out my fake laugh, or my dead smile to something that’s not funny, which made me reflect on when the fuck did I fucking pick up this creepy habit? Oh, it was for that crush when I was 15. Kill me.
My successful rejection of prettiness has led me to be the most confident when I present myself in a desexualized way. I get really uncomfortable and angry even if I am reminded that I am a woman. I was uncomfortable with my body perceived under the male gaze (not because I was uncomfortable with my body as a woman.) There is some sense of control I can assert when I interact with people in a desexualized manner. I rid myself of the possibility of a flirtatious interaction where I have to play feminine to succeed. (Not that I have never been part of such conversations, but how demeaning and problematic that short-lived experience is, is brilliantly articulated in the above article. I have this clarity only in hindsight.) I guess, desexualizing is also a preemptive rejection of myself before a dimwit guy reminds me I am not ‘his type’.
The sexualized self of myself has adopted stifling masculine notions of sex. In my teens, I ended up discussing sex with only guys, and I have inherited this shitty competitiveness of men when it comes to sex. Sex has actually become a list of to-dos for me. Have I done that? Have I experienced this? Next time I need to try that. How many times I have done it? This was so detrimental and toxic for me. I was so frustrated to not be able to masturbate as easily as a guy, not reach orgasm as quickly as the guy. Imitating this twisted focus on the sex and not the eroticism to reach the headspace for sex. How many sex-ed videos and columns and books created by women have I watched/read to decode how my own body works and how my own desire manifests itself. Despite that, there is a sense of the male gaze transfixed at the back of my head. There is this struggle when I don’t know if I am playing into it, or this expression of desire and sexiness is mine alone. Even the suspicion that I am catering to men can shut me down.
Because my reality seems like an ironic dorky ugliness in the face of a singular type of beauty, my fantastical desire requires utter narcissism. But I can no more bridge the two in my erotic life. I also can’t bridge my intellectual belief of equality with men and my reality that teaches me to be suspicious of men, and that woman>>> men. These conflicts have no positive effect on my personal life.
There is so much more that she (the writer of the above article) talks about, which I relate to in some way. I get her angst:
“How to deal with the dilemma of hotness as a feminist? Im a journey to be your own person/woman? Either you commit yourself to being ugly as a statement or you think of everything about you as attractive, also as a statement. Desiring in spite of feeling undesirable. Desiring in spite of feeling like your ugliest, most unfuckable self. If there’s one thing I have learned, it is to listen to what my paranoias and fantasies are trying to tell me. Who do I tell myself I have to be in order for me to stop punishing myself? Whose pleasure, whose power? I have been using hetero-romance as a way to wound myself, oscillating between wanting to reject the everything I have been told I should be and feeling rejected because I know I never was “that girl” anyway.”