Effemiphobia: A Fear of Femininity and Weakness

My sister and I (mostly her) have discovered something. Our life is a lot like the TV show Supernatural, if you take away the supernatural elements, and genderflip everyone. Crazy, abusive parent? Check. Older sibling scapegoat who has to be the parent? Check. Younger, golden child sibling who has to be protected? Friggin’ check. Effemiphobia? You bet! Now, I’m not a big fan of the show, so a lot of this is what my sister tells me, but I’ve seen it in the episodes I have watched.

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been split into two parts. I was in middle school when I finally named them after my two male OCs (original characters) who they seemed to represent. There was the quiet, cold-tempered, intelligent chessmaster who despised all weakness (the cynic), and the kind, gentle peacemaker who just wanted everyone to be happy (the sensitive). My two personalities, as I described them. I knew I didn’t have multiple personalities, of course, but that was the best way to explain it. When I was experiencing negative emotion like anger, sadness, hurt, fear, whatever, I tried to emulate the first. Shut down my true feelings, raise an eyebrow and make a snarky remark. When the emotion was positive, I was the second, laughing at myself, making jokes at my own expense, slipping on ice and taking a bow. But sometimes, I fell through the cracks. I’d cry. I’d fly off in a rage. I’d scream when I saw a spider. And the cynic side tried to tear me apart, angrily telling me how stupid and weak I was, while the sensitive side cowered before that rage.

Depressed people have described feeling like they have two voices in their head. One, always berating them for the stupid things they’ve done, and the other, constantly apologizing for living and wondering what they could do to make things better. This was me in a nutshell, for most of my life.

The problem: why were they both male, in my mind?

In the past, I’ve described myself as a tomboy. But maybe that’s not altogether accurate. I’m not really the sporty type. I hate almost any sport that involves a ball, as a matter of fact. No, what I am is terrified of femininity. The trap of masculinity, as I’ve called it in the past.

So, yes, I’m a girl. Yes, I’m friggin’ effemiphobic. Dean Winchester’s line, “No chick flick moments,” might as well be my motto.

It’s a hard concept to explain. Effemiphobia is the word commonly used across the Internet (especially Tumblr), though it’s mainly used to describe men, especially gay men. It’s got nothing to do with misogyny. I don’t hate women. I am one. I don’t even hate femininity—forgive my language, but I’m fucking terrified of it. It’s a message I inhaled from my first teacher, Hollywood. Feminine women need a hero to rescue them, while they stand around looking terrified. Masculine women (and guys) are the ones who save the day, and kick the bad guy’s ass. Maybe it was also because I idolized my dad and action heroes, but the only feminine role models I really had were either damsels in distress or my mother and sister (who were both their own brands of crazy). Masculinity, to me, was sane. My dad was masculine. He was sane. He was smart. He was rational. My dad could fix things. My mom and sister knew how to mess them up, and let their feelings get in the way.

And the more masculine I acted, the more my dad acknowledged me. The more he wanted to spend time with me. The more I wanted to be his son, not his daughter. Anything was better than being my mother’s young lady. Because my batshit crazy mother wanted me to wear dresses all the time. She wanted me to be the proper young lady. Her golden child. Her perfect little girl. I rebelled. My sister is far more feminine than I’ll ever be, and that was not the way it started.

I have guilty pleasures in anything remotely romantic or soft. I love fluffy animals. I’m decent at amateur romance scenes. I love analyzing every romantic moment of my favorite movies. Heck, I love a good chick flick, and I’ll occasionally pick up chick lit. Sometimes, I just want to eat a salad and listen to music that’s described as girly.

But all that sucks. Know why? Every time I engage in one of these activities, I hate myself for it. I don’t want to be the romantic. I don’t want to cry when I see a mouse get killed. I want to consume the entire double bacon cheeseburger, and I’d drown it with beer if I drank. I watch horror movies, I read and write the most horrific, gruesome things I can devise. I can burp on queue. I bombard myself with action movies. Because they’re safe. They’re not weak. They’re not feminine. They make me strong.

I have a different perspective than any guy who’s effemiphobic, obviously. I can’t escape femininity completely. I can deny all the aspects of it I want to, but in the end, I’m still a girl, physically and mentally. I’m still attracted to men. I still want them to notice me. To find me attractive. But I’ve been told I’m beautiful more times than I can count. I’ve been told I’m awesome, smart, funny, cute, whatever. I’ve been told I’m soft, and I can’t stand to even think about that. The highest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a guy that I was more of a man than he was. Because that made me strong. That meant I could protect myself, that I didn’t need anyone else to protect me. I need that assurance as surely as I need to breathe. I need to be strong. I need everyone to see that I’m strong.

But I’m still a girl. I wear flattering clothes and jewelry and makeup and fix my hair. I own a lot of shoes. I like to cook, and I love to dance. But I haven’t worn pink in years. Lace is disgusting.

It’s like constantly being at war with yourself. Wanting so badly to just be a guy, but at the same time, realizing how much that would suck. Wanting to enlist, but knowing you can’t get in because of depression. And even if I could make it in, I’d wash out during basic training due to depression. I know that. And I hate myself for it.

But, oh well. Life goes on. First step to fixing the problem is admitting that there is one, and I’ve come a long way toward fixing it already these past few years, even without having a word for it. I’m pretty happy being the way I am, honestly. Effemiphobia doesn’t control me. . . most of the time. And when it does, I just need to blow metaphorical raspberries at it, because I’m awesome. Right? Of course right!

Thank you for tuning in to the Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings and Musings of Mac. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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If I were a Guy, I’d Probably be Arrested

Men are stronger than women, right? A man can always defend himself, and those around him. They don’t cry, they enjoy competition and action, and will always protect the women in their lives.

Yeah. Society’s full of crap.

I’m not denying that there are men out there like that. There are women like that too. On a good day, I fancy myself to be one of them.

Sexism is a double-ended trap. The same force that tells women that they need to be weak and submissive and emotional and soft-spoken and feminine tells men the exact opposite.

Women are allowed to mock men freely (I, myself, have often engaged in such behavior and thought there was nothing wrong with it), but if a man dares to joke about women, he is automatically a sexist pig. If a woman hits a man she is strong. If a man hits a woman, he’s an evil abuser.

With women, ever notice how no doesn’t always mean no? Of course, they’ll tell you that, but then they turn around and say things like, “If I say I’m fine, you better be worried.” It’s spread across the Web in images like this one:

Lies Girls Tell

Got that? I’m never fine, I’m always jealous, and I’m never over him. We can never be friends, and it’s not okay. Ever.

Except, you know, how men aren’t mind readers. We can’t expect them to know when we really ARE fine, which is pretty much always, for me. I’ve had boyfriends constantly asking if I was okay just because I wasn’t smiling or talking. One used the memorable line (forgive the swearing), “Whose ass am I kicking?” Which he probably learned from this one:

Whose Ass am I Kicking

Except, as an introvert, I was just being me. Not smiling or laughing. Just thinking, perfectly happy in the private realm of my thoughts.

Moving beyond these hated images, I’m a girl, as I have already stated. And I’ve often wished that I was a guy. Men are perceived as stronger. When a man tries to be strong, nobody’s gonna laugh at him and say he’s cute. Nobody calls him soft and sensitive unless they want their faces smashed in. Nobody assumes that he wants to join the military to a)prove that he can do whatever other guys can do, b)meet guys. He doesn’t get odd stares when he holds the door open for other guys.

But, if I were a guy, I’d probably have been arrested. Why? Because I have an older sister whom I’ve been in physical fights with, and I always won. No, I never started any of them, but she’d be the girl—therefore weaker, and I’d be an evil abuser for touching her, even though it was only self defense. Because, obviously, if she was attacking me with scissors, I must have done something horrible to her, and I probably deserved it. I have very little doubt that in that scenario, I’d have been the one arrested for domestic violence, not her.

So, I know I’m better off as a girl. But I’m still a masculine girl, though 100% straight. I wear guys’ clothes, I communicate in a more masculine way. I prefer hanging out with guys, and really hate it when one of my bros says he likes me. The highest compliment I’ve ever received is being told that I’m more of a man than one of my guy friends will ever be. And, like a lot of guys, I’m embarrassed to admit that I enjoy a chick flick every now and then, or that I like a good romance plot. Crying in front of someone is one of the worst things I can do. Being called soft is the surest way to piss me off. I hold doors for everyone, and often joke that my dad raised me to be a gentleman.

I hate being tickled by a guy, because it’s not flirting to me—it’s war. They’re making themselves look stronger than me, and I’m expected to put up with it and giggle? HECK NO!

We have come to the end of our ramble, and you may now return to your regular scheduled programming.