Gender is something I have the power to identify with. I am genderqueer because I identify as such. Gender is also something done to me. Growing up I was told to cross my legs and sit like a lady. “Because you’re a girl” was a valid reason. Right now I move through the world being read as a gender non-compliant woman. Not identifying as a woman has not exempted me from misogyny, because the experience of misogyny does not belong to cis women.
There are several things pushing me out of womanhood. It is obviously fucking difficult to be a woman in a rampantly misogynistic patriarchy. It is even more difficult to be a genderfuck woman who does not behave as a woman is “supposed” to. Female femininity is rewarded. Female masculinity is a joke. But of course neither of these are as good as men. How dare you question your place.
It would make some people more comfortable to conclude that I am not a woman at all. Then they would not have to recalibrate what a “woman” looks like. But of course at the same time other people continue to try to police me into a version of womanhood that they are comfortable with.
It would make me more comfortable to conclude that I am not a woman at all. Then I would get to think about misogyny and shake my head sympathetically. Yeah that sucks, luckily I’m not a woman and I get to be exempt. I remember the frustration of being a young girl with a strong sense of justice, brought to tears because sexism is just SO UNFAIR. I never figured that out. I never learned how to live in a misogynistic world as a woman, until I eventually escaped into being not-a-woman and it became not-my-problem.
In many ways I am a woman, and I want to own that. My gender identity, that is, my internal sense of gender, is genderqueer. But identifying as “not a woman” is different from identifying as genderqueer. Disidentifying from and resisting womanhood has taken a lot of energy and it has left me isolated and cut-off from the rich cultural tradition of womanhood. I cannot relate to women in my life because I am telling myself that I am not that. I cannot connect with the many ways we are similar if I continue to build my identity around the difference.
Womanhood is vast and has space for the kind of woman that I am. I am a woman. It is because we live in a misogynistic society that we must be women. I identify with the long history of resistance. I identify with the billions of strong and beautiful and powerful women who have come before and will come after me. Womanhood is power and I am laying claim.