Embracing Masculinity and Fighting Gender Stereotypes as a Straight Female
For the majority of my childhood and teen years I was raised by a single father. Instead of learning how to do makeup from my mom, shopping for bras with her, or talking about boys, my dad either had to fill in or I had to research it on my own.
Some of the funniest stories I can remember were when my dad awkwardly had to buy me tampons at the store, when he helped do my youngest sister’s hair for her school’s Picture Day, and buying me One Direction posters so that I could plaster my walls in blown-up pictures of Harry Styles.
I remember reading about puberty from Teen Vogue articles, scouring Pinterest for at-home acne treatments, and never having a sex talk. My sisters’ experiences were very similar, except when it came to “girly” stuff they had me to talk openly about things like periods, puberty or sexuality (as if 16-year-old me was well versed in these topics).
Because the majority of the years were filled with watching comedies with my dad, playing sports in the backyard, or laughing at stupid jokes we all came up with, I often feel like my sisters and I were raised to be more masculine than feminine.
I truly wonder if being raised this way has made us into the feminists we are today, never thinking we can’t do what guys do, simply because we were raised differently. I’ve never considered not pursuing something, even if it is dominated by males. My sisters played sports, many times as the only girl on their teams. I studied hard in advanced math classes that were mostly comprised of males, and we spent the majority of our free time at home with our dad.
I never really put it together in high school, I just described my style as skater-chic, and thought being super low maintenance was normal. I had a few female friends, but I always felt like I could be the most genuine and carefree with my guy best friend.
As I entered my sophomore year of college, I realized I had become incredibly comfortable hanging with boys. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, and I let them roast me in rap battles, eat embarrassing amounts of Checker’s chicken nuggets around them, and just joke around with them like I’m one of the guys.
It has gotten to the point where they are so comfortable that they openly share poop jokes with me, something I’ve come to understand that most boys don’t usually bring up with girls. I used to embrace my laid-back personality, easy going attitude, and low-maintenance lifestyle, but I’m starting to wonder if any boy is ever going to see me as more than a “bro”. I know I sound ridiculous, but it seriously worries me that all of my best girlfriends are in happy relationships, and I spend all of my weekends with my guy best friends. I envy that my girlfriends are celebrating anniversaries, going on cute dates, and showered in affection by their significant others, while I’m stuck in the friend zone of every boy I have ever been interested in.
Although I have some more “feminine” interests like a serious shopping addiction, and an affinity for all things pink and sparkly, time and time again the boys I’m interested in fall for my girlfriends, other girls, or worst yet, my younger sister.
I’m in a bit of a crossroads in my life, I can’t tell if I need to change my hobbies or interests in order to be seen as more desirable, or accept the fact that I will be single for a long time. Personally, I don’t want to tone down any parts of my personality, like my outspoken feminist beliefs, skater style, and sense of humor, so I’m anticipating college won’t be the place where I meet my soulmate.
It really bothers me when friends joke about me ending up gay, as if being gay is some sort of back up plan? I am completely straight, and I find it to be annoying that my lack of femininity automatically equates with me being gay. How does someone’s personality traits determine if they are gay or straight? At the end of the day, it is who you are attracted to and who you love. Just because my past relationships haven’t worked out and that my previous crushes haven’t liked me back doesn’t mean I’m supposed to “give up” and date women.
Another assumption people make that really bothers me is that just because I have a bunch of guy friends means I’ve slept with them all. I’m not perfect, I used to fall victim to this assumption too, believing the girls that had a ton of guy friends in high school were sluts. How hypocritical.
Why must society silo us into masculine and feminine, and if we fall somewhere in between we are labeled as gay, slut-shamed, or that something is wrong with us? I am so sick of society telling us that swearing isn’t ladylike, that we need to wear slips under our dresses, and that our hobbies aren’t attractive to males.
Label me masculine, label me feminine, I don’t care.
I am just as much a female as any other girl.
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Author: Lidija Jurovich
Lidija is a rising junior at the University of Maryland pursuing a degree in Marketing with a minor in Non-Profit Leadership. Growing up on the West Coast, Lidija has learned that traveling and meeting new people is one of her favorite things to do. She hopes to create her own non-profit clothing company with proceeds benefiting victims of child abuse or pursue a career in marketing for empowering and inclusive clothing or beauty companies. Currently, she is a brand ambassador for Aerie, where she works to promote body positivity and empowerment on UMD’s campus.