03: Things That Frustrates Me
It was 9th October 01:42. I was in bed and my thoughts were running wild.
I figured out more stuff to add to my never-ending “Things That Don’t Make Sense” list.
I hope this turns out to be cohesive piece. These are very random thoughts I’ve had at very random moments compiled together.
The Unspoken Rules
Throwback to a summer when I was 12, I was running around with a white tank top because it was hot in our house. Keep in mind that age 12 is when puberty just hits. I loved wearing tank tops around the house. I didn’t see a problem with it.
Mum: You shouldn’t be wearing just a white tank top. Your dad is here.
Whoops. 12-year-old me was confused about what that was supposed to mean. I wasn’t bothered wearing a crop top at home because it gets quite itchy and stuffy. After all, I’m in my house and dad is someone I know. I didn’t see a problem with it.
Soon I figured out more of these “rules” which falls under the How to Puberty guide, or perhaps it’s called How to Be Self Conscious. I was sitting at my desk in a T-shirt one day, with sleeves that are slightly above my shoulder.
Dad: Why don’t you shave? That’s gross.
Oh no. I didn’t see a problem with it, but I knew it made me very self-conscious. Since then I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my body hair the same way again. They seemed… gross. Even though none of these rules made sense to me at the time, I never questioned why. I subconsciously learnt these unspoken rules.
These thoughts didn’t hit me again until I was 17, when I’ve grown to become a more independent thinker. I would spent hours at night getting frustrated over things that still don’t make sense. Sometimes it hurts my head when I think too hard, but I’m glad that it is hurting— it means that I’m consciously questioning these weird social constructs.
Awhile ago I was told by my best friend that I am “too obsessed with the topic of gender”. Aha quite offended. “Sometimes you are forced to speak up about these issues”, I replied, “maybe you are lucky to not realise any of these things, because they do bug me a lot.”
Making Sense of the World
My thoughts become louder as I stepped out of the all-girls’ school comfort bubble. When you are stuck in the same environment for too long you tend to forget how people in the outside world interact differently. I love observing how people communicate with one another, especially their tone and body language — you realise how you get treated differently because of your identity.
As I watched a man giving another man a pat on the chest as a sign of comfort and reassurance, I realised I could never get that sort of “brotherhood intimacy”. If it was done to me it would haven been sexual harassment.
As I observed guys taking off shirts casually on scalding hot days, I questioned why I couldn’t do the same. It would be a dream if I too could run around like them.
I want to run free, shirtless. You feel me?
I proceeded to Google “why can’t women take off shirts in public but men can”, “why do women have to shave but not men”, “since when did women’s bodies become sexualised”…
I couldn’t find answers to my questions.
Does It Really Matter?
I was on the train the other day with a grey hoodie over my head, black knee-length shorts and a face mask. I was about to get off the train when I saw this 3 year old girl with her mum. I smiled and waved at the little girl (just like how you would to little kids), only to get a “it’s a boy :o” from her in return. Her mum and I stared at each other and laughed.
I wondered why that was the first thing that concerned her.
I wondered what assumptions people make about me.
I wondered how our sex/gender limits what we are able to do.
So are you a boy or a girl?
In an ideal world, it shouldn’t matter. You shouldn’t have to know.
If I were a girl, I want you to know that I can be strong and powerful.
If I were a boy, I want you to know that I can be soft and emotional.
I want to be seen as a human.
I want to be seen as me.