By Lauren Galvan
Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be what I thought my dad wanted me to be, a boy. I knew I could never be that so I strived for the next best thing, being a tomboy.
For as long as I could remember, being feminine was frowned upon by those who were around me. So anything that was considered a trait of a girl, I got rid of to the best of my ability. I didn’t cry, I didn’t wear pink, and I especially didn’t wear dresses.
I remember disliking others who were too “girly” and expressed their feminine side. Looking back, I think I was jealous because they were allowed to be what I couldn’t: themselves. The girl I deemed my “enemy” was the one who wore pink every day, put on makeup, or in her case, lipgloss and glitter from Claire’s, and she wasn’t afraid to let her emotions shine. She might never know that it wasn’t her fault and that it was my issues overtaking me.
I surrounded myself with friends who dressed like me and boys who I played sports with. In my mind, if I hung out with boys and was able to fit in, it was like I was one of them. If I was good enough to be in their friend group, I would be good enough for my father. I would later learn that nothing was ever going to be good enough.
I let my grades slip and I put everything into being the best on an all-boys baseball team. I felt like I had something to prove. It was a hell of a lot of work just to have him show up to one of my games every season.
It worked for a while, but when middle school came around, everything changed. I changed. Even though middle school was an awkward time for all, it was when I started to dress how I wanted and express myself more than ever.
Around this time, I moved in with my mother and realized that I didn’t have to change myself to earn love from a parent. With my mother, I was my most authentic self and I was the happiest I had ever been. She taught me how to never take any crap from any man and to never back down from a staring contest with a guy who is trying to make you feel uncomfortable.
When I was young, I was always led to believe that being a woman was a weakness and showing just a hint of femininity would be my downfall. However when I got to high school, I quickly learned that femininity didn’t equal fragility, and being a woman came with more power than I had ever realized.
In high school, I found myself surrounded by female teachers who radiated badass energy and held so much power in their hands. My male classmates and heck, even the male teachers at my school feared them and felt threatened by them. Seeing their strength made me realize why men want women to reject themselves and cast away their feminine sides. If all women knew the control they could have over themselves and others, we could take over the world. We would be unstoppable. Most importantly, we wouldn’t need men anymore.
I’ve come to understand that being like “one of the guys” and viewing other women as the enemy was embedded into my brain by a man who didn’t want to see me succeed. Now in the age of social media, I’ve seen solidarity and empowerment between women, especially on TikTok. I remember the times when I would roll my eyes and pretend to gag anytime I thought someone was being “too girly,” but now I cheer them on and smile.
Growing up for me meant learning that I didn’t have to change and hide my true self in order to please men. I know now that I can dress however I want and show as much emotion as I please because pleasing men is the last thing women should care about.
If you’re scared of women rising up against the patriarchy, taking over, and creating the perfect utopia that is safe for women everywhere, just say that.