The Wrong Kind Of Protection
I am being raised in a Catholic household by parents who have always set very different standards for me than they have for my brother. For example, while my brother was allowed to go out alone at 12, I still have a hard time going out at 16. My parents have explained to me that I am in more danger of being hurt than my brother because I am a girl and need to be kept safe. While I initially dismissed my anger and accepted this explanation, I now realize that instead of limiting my social activity and autonomy, instead of trying to blindly protect me, they should have exposed me to the realities of the world.
What my parents don't realize is that, first of all, I'm plenty capable of defending myself without their protection. In fact, instead of trying to protect me from all of the evils of the world, they should have recognized that I am strong and speak my mind and speak the truth. Sometimes the truth offends and speaking it can be risky, but I love shutting down sexism, racism, and homophobia, not because it's "trendy" but because as a decent human being I realize that oh yeah, everyone is equal.
Second, they are pretty oblivious to the things I face on a daily basis that actually cause me the most harm. While physical violence is obviously something a ton of women face, that's not what harms me personally on a daily basis: double standards are the thing that I probably face the most often, and the thing my parents are doing nothing to protect me from.
Boys who have sex are congratulated and girls are called sluts and considered "easy". Why as a woman am I expected to be pure and saintly? Why is my sex life so easily judged? Am I worth nothing if I no longer have my virginity? What a load of shit. Sex is a personal decision, and no one has the right to tell me, or anyone else for that matter, how much, when, or why we should have it. It is no one else's business and if I want to have sex, then I deserve to be congratulated for getting laid, too.
Also, I don't understand is why I'm treated differently than guys for being smart. I get called "boring" and "stuck up" and apparently think I'm "better" than everyone else and I have a stick up my ass. I'm not saying I'm a super giggly girl, but I have fun, too. Intelligence isn't synonymous with being male or being an uptight girl. Smart women are not anomalies based on their gender, but anomalies for being smart, period. It's apparently a rarity in this day and age.
Finally, I've experienced so many double standards and sexist reactions to the fact that I'm a gamer. I know, I know, what would I know about games right? I'm only a girl. WRONG. The only reason I was exposed to video games is because my brother played them (tragically, my parents probably would have given me Barbies had he not been around). I love gaming. I grew up with a Sega, a Nintendo 64, a Gamecube, and a Nintendo Advance SP and no other belongings have made me quite as happy. I loved the worlds of adventuring and catching "them all". Yet when I tell boys I prefer one game over another or that I don't approve of the latest graphics or mods released, they stare at me wide eyed. I get one of 3 reactions:
1. The "that's so hot" reaction. Demeaning to say the least. I thought it was quite normal to play video games as a girl and didn't realize it wasn't "normal" until I was introduced to the hell we call middle school. I find it rather offensive that something I enjoy dearly has made me a sexual object, that I am attractive because I play a game, as if I was playing those games in order to live up to boy gamers' fantasies. How crazy is that? Why is it that only when I achieve a skill that society has set for boys, I'm recognized as "attractive"?
2. The "you don't know what you're talking about and I'm a boy so I'm right" reaction. This typically comes from boys who don't agree with me and don't have very good arguments other than they have played a "long time" and have penises so apparently are superior to me. Woopdy-fucking-doo dude.
3. The complete dismissal. This one is usually along the lines of "oh that's cool" then the subject is changed. I can never decide if a boy ignores me because he actually doesn't care about my opinion as a girl gamer or because he doesn't care about games at all and wouldn't care about my input even if I was a boy. It's the hardest to read, but usually the least infuriating.
The point is there's clearly something wrong when I can't exercise my right to have sex, to be intelligent, or to play video games without attracting some sort of amazed or disgusted reaction. But there's no way anybody can protect me from these things. The best thing my parents (or anybody else's parents) can do is to raise their daughters not to hide, but to be strong and fight so future generations of women don't have to deal with this kind of bullshit.
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