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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Favorite Books: Beauty Queens

I am a huge fan of Libba Bray. The woman is hilarious, slightly morbid, and totally my type of person. Which is why it makes me sad when feminists everywhere
Beauty Queens Cover overlook Ms. Bray’s novel Beauty Queens as one of the greatest feminist novels out there.

What’s it about? The fifty contestants of the Miss Teen Dream beauty contest get in a plane crash and land on a deserted island. Not many survive. We have a feminist who wants to bring down the contest, a win-at-all-costs Indian Valley Girl, an African American pre-pre-Med student, a secret wild girl, a transvestite, a blonde, a lesbian former delinquent, a bi hard-of-hearing dancer, a pageant princess, and a couple of supporting girls. All have their own views. Their own problems they don’t want to discuss. And they’re all being forced, in one way or another, to follow what society expects of them.

But on this island, stripped of that society, they start to break those chains.

And of course, let’s not forget the Commercial Breaks. Or the very hot, very bodacious pirates with oiled pecs. Or the other things—agents, warlords, quicksand, psychedelic berries, volcanoes, guns, piranhas, maxi pads and hairspray. All brought to you with an abundance of satire by The Corporation, “Because Your Life Can Always Be Better.”

Whether or not you support modern feminism, this is a book I believe every chick ought to read. It’s a great lesson on what feminism should really be, besides being frakkin’ hilarious!

Dating, Dancing, and Why We Need Gender Roles More Than We Think

Gender roles weren’t defined by society. They were defined by biology. It’s great to challenge them, I think, but they’re there for a reason, and far too often have I seen a woman who decides to be a stay-at-home mother called an anti-feminist.

All That Catholic Jazz

I think it is safe to say that dating norms aren’t what they used to be. We are long past the days of “traditional courtship” where a man would ask a woman out on a date several days to a week in advance, show up to the woman’s home in an ironed shirt and slacks, and take her out to a nice romantic restaurant where he would open the door for her on the way in and out and always pay for the meal. These days, it seems like text messaging and instant messaging are the typical ways to ask someone out on a date, if you are even so bold as to call it a formal date instead of “hanging out.” And it can be the man or the woman to initiate. Sometimes the man will offer to pay, but the woman may find that insulting, as if he…

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Sexism Experiment (I take no credit for it, because I didn’t write it)

A thought experiment on sexism.

Today, I’d like to try a thought experiment. Something to challenge the way society regularly thinks about sexism and feminism. I’m going to link you to a photo album, and I’d like you to look at it with an open mind, and just feel whatever you instinctively feel. Don’t fight your initial reaction; because the idea of this experiment is to examine exactly that: how we are conditioned by society to think about sexism. I urge you to look at and read all the photos in this album, and then come back here for the explanation. Please, do not read beyond the link until you’ve looked at the photos:
The albumDid you read them?

Welcome back. What did you think? How do you feel? The most common reaction I get towards most of these photos is that they are sexist. Almost as common are accusations of misogyny. Let’s look at that word – misogyny. Misogyny is the hatred of women; and if you believe third-wave western feminists, it’s everywhere.

Here’s the catch. Some of you may have already guessed this, but none of those photos are originals. None of them are what they appear to be. Every picture in this album is a copy of something that was found in a feminist community. It was displayed where it was cheered, receiving thousands of likes, +1’s, shares, etc.

“How can that be?” You ask. Why in the heck would feminist communities be so supportive of photos that were so hateful towards women? Because every one of them has had their captions gender-swapped (thanks to my friends at https://www.facebook.com/idontneedfeminismbecause for this). Every time the word “woman” appears in one of those captions, it was originally “man.” When the feminist version said “women,” the community replaced it with “men.” When there was a reference to male genitalia (or kicking someone in said male genitalia) the female equivalent was used. Etc. Etc. Etc.

So, if a picture that says, for example

image

Is an example of MISOGYNY, then what does it say about feminism that the original version – “All men are animals, some just make better pets” not only garners huge applause from fems, its gets added to countless “funny quote lists”

http://www.goodquotes.com/sillyquotes.htm

Put on bumper stickers:

http://www.zazzle.ca/all_men_are_animals_some_just_make_better_pets_bumper_sticker-128689632715362160

And sold as t-shirts?

http://www.superiorsilkscreen.com/t-shirts/175-all-men-are-animals-some-just-make-better-pets.html

Why is the exact same, word-for-word sentiment an expression of hatred and patriarchy when said about a woman, but a light-hearted, silly, “empowering” slogan when said about men?

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the face of feminism. Feminism likes to tell us that our culture has made misogyny acceptable and that misandry doesn’t exist. The truth is that misandry is very real and very prominent. People just don’t notice it as much because we’re taught that saying negative things about someone because of their sex is only offensive when it’s about a woman.

<posted by WTFeminism on tumblr.com>

Tomboy Blues

You know what sucks about being a chick who never stopped being a tomboy? Relationships, to start with.

For instance, two out of three of the guys I’ve had relationships with have called me soft.

Soft.

Not a compliment.

Actually, one of the worst insults I’ve ever gotten, and I’ve had some lulus. I’d rather be heavily scarred than be called soft. Because scars are cool.

The first genius I dated once told me to take off my jacket because he couldn’t see my feminine curves.

Fail.

The last genius I dated thought it was funny and flirty to poke and tickle me. He laughed during our resulting battles, when I was trying my hardest to give him a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget.

Tickling isn’t flirting. It’s war.

Second problem: clothes. I wear guy’s clothes more often than not. It’s more comfortable, practical, the pockets can hold more, and there isn’t a trace of pink, sparkles, flowers or hearts in sight. Bet you can guess how often I get asked on dates. Even though, you know, I’m freakin’ gorgeous, and I look good in everything I wear.

Third, people have assumed that I’m a lesbian. Sorry, but guys are way too hot for me to even think about it.

I know, I know. I have issues. I still go through days where I wish I’d been born a boy. Well, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be the Bella Swan or Princess Aurora or even Galadriel. I’d much rather be Indiana Jones!

Yeah, My Childhood was Kinda Crappy

I guess there are a lot of people out there who look upon their childhood with affection, remembering the good old days, when things were easy. Not perfect, sure. But easy, with little responsibility. I’m sure there are people who would love to go back to those days.

Not me.

Sure, my childhood had its good times. It wasn’t one bleak, dark tunnel with no light visible at the end. But it was depressing, sure enough.

Mommy wanted me and my sister to be different from our peers. Unlike the savage, crude, unladylike little girls of the nineties, my sister and I didn’t wear jeans, and quite often wore dresses. We didn’t have those trashy ear piercings, and we didn’t wear the equally trashy nail polish. We were taught knitting, sewing and needlework, and took ballet and tap classes. We weren’t enrolled in the evil of public school. We didn’t draw on ourselves or wear temporary tattoos. One of Mom’s favorite expressions when we asked why we couldn’t do the cool things everyone else did was, “It’s not appropriate for a young lady.”

I suppose I can kind of understand where she was coming from with that. She was born in the fifties, which I swear was like the Victorian era of the twentieth century. That was when girls always wore nice dresses to school, and things like that. Knitting, sewing, needlework and cooking were feminine arts, whereas combat of any sort and technical skills were more masculine arts.

But that certainly doesn’t mean I liked it. I resented it with a passion. I wanted to learn martial arts, but was made to take dance and be a pretty little ballerina. I wanted to wear jeans with lots of cool zippers all over them, but they were too goth, so I had to wear bright, pretty dresses instead. I wanted to learn how to work with cars, but I had to learn how to knit. I wanted to shoot, I got to sew. I wanted to learn computers, I got to learn how to cook.

But, of course, I can’t knit or sew to save my life. I have no rhythm required for being a good dancer. I can barely cook, and nothing complicated (I just barely learned how to use an oven). I spend my summers at a scout camp shooting, climbing, rappelling, belaying, and not giving a darn if I look pretty. I can be a passable computer tech, although I know next to nothing about cars still (trying to fix that). I have pierced ears, I usually have black nail polish on, and I wear what I like, nary a dress or skirt in sight.

But none of that’s important right now.

Mom succeeded in setting me and my sister apart. And the other kids in the neighborhood didn’t like us—me, more of. I was a sensitive little crybaby, you see. My name was the one that was so easy to make fun of.

In our neighborhood, there was only one boy. And the eight girls were split into two groups: the Big Girls and the Little Girls. Three families with one older and one younger girl, you see, and two with one girl who was old enough apiece. My sister and I went to our respective groups.

Mine didn’t want to put up with the tall, gangling crybaby with the funny name. I got ditched all the time, but I was still so sure that those two girls were my best friends. My diary of the time is filled with glowing reviews of them, never mentioning the bad stuff. Even though I spent a lot of days at home crying.

My mom did the worst thing possible and took it into her own hands. (Everyone knows that’s the ultimate no-no in a child’s world.) She restricted me and my sister from seeing one of the two families, because their younger daughter was the one in charge of my ditching. I believe that was after that same girl put dog crap in my brand new roller blades.

So, I spent a lot of time on my own. Playing my own games, because this was before I discovered reading. If I had to guess, I’d say that was when I really became an introvert. Sometimes, I’d still play with those girls—do anything to try to fit in. Love them in spite of whatever they did to me. Blindly believe the lies of passive aggression.

Luckily, I grew out of that. At the age of ten, me and my sister met the girl who would remain our best friend to this day, and I’ve made good, lasting friends of my own.

When I was a freshman, though, I was walking home from school, and two of my childhood bullies were right behind me, laughing and talking. Then one of them shouted to me, calling me by the nickname they knew I hated. At that point, I was mature enough to just look back and grin, thinking, Seriously? Grow up, already. I just wish I’d said it.

Gotta say, I’m delighting in being grown up. I don’t live with my parents anymore, though I come back to visit sometimes. That thought makes me feel better every time I see Childhood Bully #1, who still lives across the street with her parents and sister.

Childhood Bully #2 is a hopeless blonde who would have failed a project in eighth grade science, had I not been in her group. Boy, she shrieked at the stupidest things.

Childhood Bully #3 wasn’t as bad. She was the one I considered my best, best friend. She grew out of it pretty quickly, and we’re still friends to this day.

Probably like every other former bullying victim, I’m still looking for ways to shove all that I’ve achieved (though right now it isn’t much) into the first two’s faces. But apart from this petty desire for vengeance, I’m feeling pretty good. This story has a happier ending.