Forget Gender Norms

With gender roles and sexuality being so prevalent in society, I have several things to discuss that come from some recent situations in my life. This blog post is not about the LGBT community or marriage equality, though I have thoughts about that as an ally as well. I’m not writing this to sway an opinion for or against any way of thought when it comes to sexuality. Today I’m coming to you with an epiphany I have realized for myself. In advance I also apologize for a few colorful words if they show up. You’ve been warned.

Today I want to speak up about “gender norms.” When I was growing up, by no fault of my parents or anyone but myself, I believed certain things were off-limits to me because of my gender. Skateboards were for boys. Comic books were for boys. Video games were for boys. I had my Barbie jeep and my scooter and roller skates, but I always wanted a skateboard, but never asked for one because I was a girl. Only occasionally when my cousins would come visit for Christmas or thanksgiving and bring their Nintendo games would I play Mario Kart (I wasn’t any good) and I thought it was so cool. But I didn’t ever grow up with video games like most kids. 
This isn’t to say I lacked other things, but many of my friends have these nostalgic memories of Super Mario and Legend of Zelda that I don’t have because in my adolescent brain I was limiting myself to things only for girls. There’s nothing wrong with this. But as I grew older I changed how I thought. This is also why I didn’t see a lot of movies or read certain books. For one reason or another, I censored myself from things I didn’t think I was supposed to do. Harry Potter was evil and I was going to a Hell if I watched or read it (granted, our church preached that and I believed it). I thought my cousin was going to Hell for liking Pokemon. Really, I was afraid of Hell because our church made me fear it. 
My sister, on the other hand, loves video games. She’s the reason I even got to play ANY, and I’m still no good at them. I get too mad when I can’t win. But because of her interest, I have some kind of introduction to that world. Even now, I love watching people play games. It’s more enjoyable for me to watch than to actually play. I hope that when I (someday. Maybe. Eventually.) have a boyfriend, he’s interested enough in video games to teach me and let me play his games because I’m too cheap and ADHD to buy my own. 
Today, I love action movies. I visited friends in Abilene and the girls were going to see safe haven and the boys were seeing Die Hard. I had less than zero desire to see Safe Haven and so I went with the boys. I also saw Riddick with them another time (which was a stupid movie). I also love romance movies. When Harry Met Sally is my number one favorite movie in the world. Any Rom-Com with Meg Ryan I’m all over it. I’ve seen my fair share of The Notebook and A Walk to Remember and The Fault in Our Stars reduced me to a puddle in the theater. But damn do I love me a good car chase and explosions. 
I can tell inappropriate jokes, swear like a pirate, console you when you’re upset, and make sure you have what you need when you’re sick. I can look damn nice in a dress and I want you to know it too. But I’m not afraid to get a little dirt on me or kill a bug or touch a frog. I’m every inch a woman and I’m not ashamed to like things “meant for boys.” Because fuck gender norms: they don’t exist. Or shouldn’t anyway. It’s crap to think that seven year old me didn’t think she could ask for a skateboard for Christmas because she as a girl. Sure I grew up just fine, but it’s sad to think that I felt ashamed for wanting that. 
“Girls have long hair.” I have to remind myself daily that that statement is bullshit. The length of your hair doesn’t define your gender or sexuality. No matter how many times I’ve been at work and been mistaken for a man, I blame costuming. Not my hairdresser. I’ve got the boobs to prove I’m female, but costuming doesn’t do a great job of expressing that. So I put on my eyeliner and my sparkly earrings and head to work. I have my own style. So be it. 

My not-so-guilty pleasure is Sylvester Stallone movies. I have an unhealthy obsession with Sly and I’m not ashamed of it. I bought a Rambo lunchbox from Amazon to take to work, and I’m very proud of it. One of my co-workers looked at me funny the other day and told me, “Hannah, sometimes I question your femininity.” This person is one of my favorite people to work with so I took no offense to his comment. I thought it was funny and moved on. But it was part of what made me write this post. 

Just take Felicia Day as an example. She’s one of the most beautiful women on the planet, and she’s a gamer. But does that make her any less feminine? Hell. No. She’s like, the geekdom queen. 

I’m not any less feminine because I love Rambo. I’m every bit as much an “average white girl” as the next average white girl. I love my John Green novels and my Pumpkin Spice Lattes (get it with one pump of white mocha. You won’t regret it). I love Tyler Oakley and I don’t completely hate 1D. I think I can rap all the lyrics to Fancy when I clearly can’t. I’m just happy liking what I like and I’m not going to apologize or feel de-feminized because I like something outside of gender norms. I’m not an extrem-o feminist, but after planning out this post, I realized that I do have some thoughts that are pretty feminist. But is it so much “feminist” as it is “living my life the way I want to and being proud of my interests?”

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