As a woman who grew up in a predominately female household, I didn’t learn that we were inferior or incapable of doing things that society indicated was otherwise.
But as I left my home and became integrated into society–school, work, college, etc, I learned differently.
To admit this is maybe weak but, for a long majority of my life I have defined myself by Men. By their standards, judgments, and beliefs about me. Or about my otherness in relation to them. My wanting access to the circle that only men belong to. Forget about the glass ceiling. I didn’t want to be the most successful female. I wanted to be the most successful person, period. I wanted the men to lay in their tears while I threw tissues to them on the ground, walking away in triumph.
One thing I have hated since I was as young as seven years old, was the feeling that the male circle was impenetrable. I hated when boys gathered to talk and gossip or dominated classroom conversations. I wasn’t considering that these little men might just want to be around other little men, but that because I was female I couldn’t join in. It didn’t matter that I was smarter than most of them or as equal to them, or that the same jokes they liked, I did too. I just had to merely squeak by the circle, and lean in to hear what these XY’s were saying.
Then I got older, and then the circle got even tighter. When I was younger, an occasional boy would let me in, and even let me play sports with the kids on the block. As I got older though, the message was clear: If you don’t have a cock, keep out. Having good looks occasionally meant entering into the circle, but usually then for other reasons such as, one man or a few men’s sexual needs. Maybe one or two might have found me clever and smart. Most were not considering me beyond what my appearance had to offer.
I imagine my experience is no different than many other women, however the thoughts, rejections, and acceptances from men really whittled me down. For the majority of my early twenties, I found male attention and approval intoxicating on the level of addicting, and their rejection, painful and harsh.
When I entered stand-up, I found men to be either wonderful and helpful, or absolute toxic creatures who liked to shut me out of conversations with not just looks, but with words. Telling me I wasn’t smart and wasn’t funny. These were the same men of course, who wanted to sleep with me.
Let’s not let the cute one succeed. Instead, let’s take her for all of her good parts, and throw the rest of her to the wolves.
The one moment of fresh air came when I entered college. While my former educational experiences taught me that the boys are more cherished and nurtured intellectually, college was a bit more fair and egalitarian. I felt like my intellect and potential mattered.
There have been many times in my life pre-30’s in which I let men decide where I would be allowed to go both personally, and professionally. I cowed to their toxic comments. I backed away at times when I wanted to be treated as an intellectual and artistic equal, yet I always had a bit of a fight in me, like a scrappy dog who refuses to get beaten down by a shinier, larger full-breed. The same girl who wanted to beat every boy competitively, not physically, in elementary school has always been alive and well.
After spending a long time–years–working on my memoir, I realize that claiming my identity and refusing to let it be defined by anyone, especially men was my big hurdle to cross.
After six years departing from comedy, I went back last night. I went back because I will not let men tell me what I can do or who I can be. I am not 25 anymore. I am not someone’s plaything or some stupid blonde.
I am me, and after taking the time to do other important things–reproduce, finish college, get my head together–I decided I wanted to share my story in more than just the printed word again, and I won’t shut up until someone enjoys me. Until someone figures out that my story is much like many other women and people.
And if anyone doesn’t like it, F-off.
I am woman. Hear me roar.
Now? The 30’s have told me