by Devina Gunawan
I grew up with boys. I know how their biological structures are, and how women’s are. And I know that the world sees women’s structures as biological disadvantage. Compared to men, apparently.
I grew up with ideas that I could do what men could. That I could be whatever I wanted. I grew up with an empire in my head and the steering wheel in my hands, and I was not easy to ever let anyone close enough to touch it.
I grew up knowing that I was as powerful and as strong, and that no man could ever shake that idea off of my head.
I grew up with the liberty to come home with bruises and scars, the privilege of beating every boy at school, and the speed to outrun all of them. And I thought it would continue that way.
I grew up conflicted between Barbie and the Flash. I was confused with Barbie, to me she made zero sense. I started finding my passion in superheroes and strong female figures. And as I grew older, I found myself rooting more and more towards Miranda Hobbes than Carrie Bradshaw.
I grew up sitting at a round table in which I was the only girl. I learned the languages of the boys and the ways they viewed the world. I went back and forth from one side to another. I had become a hybrid, a boy stuck in a girl’s body. And I grew up believing that it was better off that way.
And today I realized that my childhood had set me off to a doomsday.
Because none of those matters. None does anything. None of those can save me from what has come and become of me.
The world sees a woman a woman. She is no different from others.
I have learned that the burning questions that have sent my friends running for their blind dates have never changed. Set decades and centuries of hope, and still women are seen as functional as their biological functions are.
Be too young and married, a woman is judged. Be successful and unmarried, a woman is judged. Be married without a child, a woman is judged. Be successful and married, and she will be questioned. Be unmarried with a child, and she is mocked. Be too old and unmarried, and she is doomed.
The safe way is to marry ‘at the right time’, have children ‘during the prime years’, and possibly stay married, avoid messy divorces, and raise well behaved children.
That will get a woman off the burning question sessions.
Be beautiful and single, then something must be wrong with her. Be ugly and single, then she must fix her looks. Be ugly and taken, then she must be lucky enough, and must work hard to keep her man. Be beautiful and taken, then nothing is wrong. That is just how it’s supposed to be.
So a woman should be beautiful and in a relationship. At the right time. For the right reasons. With the perfect man.
And we all know that age changes things. That by the age of 30, women should be more cautious when it comes to pregnancy and child bearing. That the possibilities of miscarriage and cancers and other misfortune start arriving when women grow older. So we all know that women are given sets of deadlines.
And you know what, this is exhausting and mad.
I want to be free. I want to live my life the way I desire. I want to go full mode on “I do not care what people say.”
But it is easier said than done. The world says a lot, judges a lot, and acts a lot. And in the end, I am only human. I have a heart. I have ears. And I have a brain that actively asks questions and seeks out different ways to view things.
And I want to not be seen as a clock. As a ticking bomb. I am more than that.
I may have been born with the structures of a potential mother, but I do not have to be one.
I may be seen as incomplete without a man, but I do not need one to survive.
I may have less opportunities because the world assumes that I will become a stay home mother, but I do not see them as none.
I am more capable than you know. I am stronger than you know. And I can be more than you give me credits for.
And how horrible is it that the world evolved, that the world started giving us women opportunities and chances to ‘be who you want to be.’ But by the end of the day, let the society stab us in the back with the constant campaign of women must do this and that. That we are given glimpses of hope and dreams, but at the same time are chained by the societal expectations and visions for us? That we are told that today, anything is possible and at the same time are reminded that we have our biological, ticking clock, set at marriage-to-motherhood’o’clock?
I am angry. And bitter. And sad.
But when this all comes down to it, I always end up going out and hanging out with the guys. It makes me feel better, in a way, because when I am with them, I am one of them. I feel equal, and I know my way around.
Then the night comes to pick me up and it always leaves me with cold shivers. I am fighting a battle that I believe is necessary for my life, for the empire in my head, and for my future children if I have any. I am running around in a heroine suit and believing that I might one day make a change.
But while doing all this I have to admit that it does not change the fact that I am a woman. That to the world I am one, and that this battle is my way of acknowledging my identity.