It’s not easy being female. I mean, I think every woman can attest to that. Not only are we automatically deemed the “weaker sex,” not only do we live in a patriarchy where men believe it is their RIGHT to decide what is best for women, not only are we living in an impenitent rape culture…. But, Eve had to mess around at talk to a flying serpent and screw us ALL over with cramps and monthly bloodletting! Only so that we can generate the eggs necessary to make even MORE ungrateful and privileged men who believe they can decide what’s best for women…
And when you’re a lesbian who has never felt the desire to actually birth an ungrateful human, YOU AREN’T EVEN SPARED THIS BULLSHIT!!!
(If you’re atheist that’s fine, but I mean, when you feel like you’re dying, you have to admit, it’s kinda nice to have SOMEONE to blame for this shit, amirite? No? Okay, then ignore the above about Eve should you desire…)
Obviously, this weighs heavily on my mind due to the time of the month it is for me. But don’t worry, this is not a long ass period post… Cause… well, this isn’t a blog about women’s health or anything. No, this is to tell you what happened to me today that made me think of this post.
This morning, having awaken to the curse, I was obviously a little cranky. Marge and the girls, (that’s what I call my reproductive system, just go with it) began work in the middle of the night (which never happens) and woke me up cramping at 3am. I decided that I should find the Midol before facing the world of other humans. Other humans are daunting when I’m NOT feeling like I’m being stabbed in the stomach multiple times like I owe someone some money. Therefore, I felt that this morning, a little assistance was needed to deal with the day. Alas, being in a home with 2 women who are now “in sync,” Midol can be scarce. (We also take this week to remind each other that we DO love each other, no matter how much the other is C-walking on their gahtdamn nerve.)
So, we have a store in my building that sells little things like drinks, snacks, some meds, and PRAISE BE – Midol! I went down there very shortly after it opened to pick up a box. The lady behind the register was a Black lady I’d never seen before, so I assume she’s new. When I approached with my treasure and placed it on the counter, she looked at me and giggled.
Me: It’s either this or cuss out EVERYBODY upstairs… When you the only sista on the team, sometimes you need a little assistance. Particularly on day one.
Her: Girrrrlllll… I feel you…
Ah… I love Black women. I mean, I love women in general. (Men are okay too I guess lol). But that moment made me feel so validated not only in my woman-ness but also in my Blackness.
So of course, my mind turns that moment over and over again like a Rubik’s cube all day. Why? I have no idea. I LITERALLY just bought some doggone Midol; but naturally, my brain has to make it a “thing.”
In the past, I’ve always been uncomfortable in my femininity and my Blackness. It’s only recently that I have learned to embrace and love both aspects. You have to understand, I’m a Black stud/butch lesbian in the South. My very existence has led me to a lot of discomfort.
In regards to my femininity, I think it’s a mix of things. Yes, a large portion is due to the violations of my childhood. As stated before, to this day I cannot bear being referred to as “pretty” or “beautiful” as it makes me highly uncomfortable. I’m not saying those words are inherently feminine in nature. I mean, I’ve heard of some men being considered beautiful. Shemar Moore, that’s a beautiful man… I mean have you SEEN him?? (Hey, I’m gay, not blind…) It also doesn’t help that my violations were never really discussed or dealt with in a healthy manner. It was the 80s, my Black baby boomer parents did the best that they could with me, but they were Black baby boomers and we just didn’t discuss that kind of shit.
(Black folks, we HAVE to do better on our mental health. Have you SEEN this world through our eyes? But that’s a different blog entry…)
There was no heartfelt discussion about what happens when I hit puberty and Marge and the gang clocked in for work. I was disgusted by my body. I have always been overweight, a fact that was the subject of much of the bullying I received as a child. However, when my breast started developing, I hated it. Much of my violations surrounded two regions, and as one of those regions got bigger, I wanted nothing more than for them to disappear.
Because there weren’t any gay people around me when I came out in my early 20s, (well, there were, but none were out), much of what I learned about the gay community was online chatting with other people. I learned of the “boxes.” Femme, stud, butch, gold star, blah blah blah… I’m actually still learning about the “boxes” because they keep finding MORE. FREAKING. BOXES. (I blame you millennials… there, I said it…) I was told that I would be considered a “soft-stud.” (As opposed to a hard stud, right?) Because I knew absolutely nothing about this shit, I just embraced what I was told. I changed from women’s underwear to boxers because “studs wear boxers.” I stopped wearing feminine clothing and started shopping in the men’s department. I adapted a type of “swag” that is conducive to being a “stud.” Back then, my understanding of being a “stud” was a rejection of one’s femininity, so that’s what I did.
However, as I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with myself, I realized that there is no reason to reject my femininity. I fell into a sort of lesbian “toxic masculinity” thing that I shouldn’t need because… I’m not a man! I’m not transgender, I’m a lesbian. I’m a woman. I’m just a woman who likes women. I enjoy boxer briefs because they feel better, but I DO need women’s underwear, particularly during this time of the month. I still shop in the men’s section because I am honestly more comfortable in men’s clothing. And they fit better! For some reason, women clothing makers believe if you’re fat, you’re also tall. Or you need additional stretchy weird material. With men’s clothes, it’s just, “what’s your waist? How tall are you?” Okay you need 36W 29L. Boom, done.. (I’m not a 36W, but you get the point… One day…One day…)
I love to cook, and I’m REALLY good at it. I’m clumsy, so I don’t fix things. I’m not very good with my hands… (ahem… we’re solely speaking outside the bedroom, I have a rep to uphold after all lol.) I HATE HATE HATE bugs and I’m super squeamish, therefore my wife is the bug killer. I cry during TV shows and movies. I love to watch football… I love to watch cooking shows… I can’t change your oil…but I make a mean mushroom risotto… I love to do things for my wife like open her door and lift things to feel like I’m being useful…And yes, in my old age (cause it didn’t happen back in the day), I cramp when I have my period, and need a Midol from time to time.
And after almost 39 years, I’m a-okay with that…
In regards to my Blackness… I believe it’s just being a product of my upbringing. I was raised in a predominately White area. If I think hard enough, I can probably count on two hands how many Black people were in my HS the year I graduated. (Two may also be generous…) Black folks can be hard on each other. If you are perceived as “not black enough” you can be mocked and ridiculed mercilessly, and I was… a lot.
It doesn’t help that I have no accent. No seriously, born and raised in TX and you’d never know it to speak to me. My parents demanded that I speak properly. I didn’t know and couldn’t really use slang. When I was around a bunch of Black people I was always told, “You talk White!”
(Guys.. stop that.. that’s not a thing, okay?)
The people who embraced me and didn’t mock me as a kid and all during my early adulthood were White women. So that’s kinda who I stuck with. But THAT didn’t help much. When I started dating, it was mostly White women… because, to be honest I was CERTAIN that Black women didn’t like me, and I was intimidated given the ridicule of my youth. Black women assumed that I didn’t want to date within my own race and mocked me even MORE…
(Again, may I submit a proposal that we take it easy on each other? Seriously guys…)
What ended up happening was that I would hang around all White people, but I was always cognizant of that. I’m also ashamed to say that I really played a “Bojangles” type role as a method of coping with that. I hear you out there, “What do you mean, BJ?” Okay, I’ll give you an example, but first let me remind you of two things…. 1) I don’t always have the good sense God gave me when I’m nervous, and 2) You’re on MY side…
When I was dating a girl in another state, during my first visit to her hometown, she scheduled a dinner with her friends. (I should also note that she was an “activist lesbian,” which I have since learn is ALSO another lesbian archetype/box.) I was nervous because I was the 1st Black woman she had ever dated, and I was meeting ALL of her friends. After she picked me up from the airport, I insisted on going to the store to pick up something to contribute to the dinner. I couldn’t show up empty handed, I have home training! So, we went to the store for beer, (which I do not drink.) I was really trying to impress her best friend, and she informed me that her friend was a fan of dark beers. So, I picked up a 6 pack of Negra Modelo. (Don’t get ahead of me people…) When I arrived with her to the place for the dinner, my nerves were in overdrive. As I walked in and was introduced to everyone, I put on a big Kool-Aid smile and announced, “Look! The nigger brought the nigger beer!!”
I know… That’s terrible and I still can’t believe I did that. And again… Let me remind you, you are on MY side…
I treated my Blackness like an unfunny caricature. (Well, the White folks found me hilarious.) I was uncomfortable being the only Black person, and I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to constantly remind these White people that I wasn’t one of them.
That all changed when I started my career in finance. It was so weird. I was working in a big city and no longer in the small, podunk town where I was raised. Turns out, if they don’t know you, White people are a little less inclined to talk to a somewhat masculine looking/acting, large Black lesbian who rarely smiles. (Who knew?) Suddenly, only the Black people would talk to me, and I just didn’t know HOW to interact with them because I was scared. I was scared of being ridiculed again. I was scared that they would feel like I wasn’t Black enough. This also may have led me to call my mother on my 1st day at my new job and demand, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME I WAS BLACK?! (It did… it totally did…)
The fear wasn’t 100% unfounded. My 1st Black girlfriend told me that I “misrepresented” myself, because my demeanor was all kinds of Black (and apparently a little “hood”) but that’s not who I was. I wasn’t a “hood nigga.” I was someone from small-town Texas, who was doing the best she could at playing up her Blackness because that’s what I was used to. Getting out of my small town led me to meet and befriend more Black folks. (NONE of whom were amused by my attempt at overt-Blackness. Like… at all.)
Then President Obama was elected… which polarized the country more than I thought it ever would. I started seeing that these people always saw me as the Negro that I was, and all I did was mock my own existence for their entertainment. As things got more divided, social media had these people, who claimed to love me just a few years before, showing their ENTIRE WHITE ASSES. I guess you can say I woke up.
There is no such thing as not being Black enough and there really isn’t such a thing as being “too Black.” The “levels of Blackness” construct is solely created by people who like to talk about others who are different. Looking back, it wasn’t ALL Black people who mocked me for the way that I spoke, it was mainly those who chose not to learn how to code switch, something that is sadly required to make it in a White world. Whether I’m educated or not, no matter how I speak, no matter how I act, I’m Black… and that is more than okay.
In fact, it’s kinda freaking awesome… I LOVE the melanin that graces my skin, and all that it means. It means I’m strong. It means I survive. It means I’m fierce. It means that despite living in a country, hell in a world, that hates me for my color; they can’t stop me, because that melanin makes me magical. Magic because no matter how many road blocks we hit as a people, we find a way to keep on building, keep on succeeding, and keep on thriving.
But those road blocks? They come with stress. Sometimes, especially when your body is going through the COMPLETELY fruitless endeavor of producing eggs to make a baby that will NEVER be made, you need Midol.
And there is nothing more validating than buying it from someone who understands EXACTLY why you need it. No judgement. No mockery.
Just, “Girlllll.. I feel you…”
I know you do, sis… I know you do.