Today is apparently International Women’s Day, it has a theme, and the organisers of this campaign have asked social media users to take and share a selfie of themselves doing a certain pose which looks a bit like a whatever I don’t know why are you asking me shrug.
You can find out the details at the destination of this link: International Women’s Day 2019 campaign theme: #BalanceforBetter
Usually these sort of events pass me by even if I read headlines in the news about them, because my mind treats much of what goes into it like spam and pops it into the appropriate folder, the contents of which then get deleted, and I only become aware of them several days or weeks later… and then I do a whatever shrug.
Occasionally I wished I’d been paying more attention and had participated in whatever it was.
The reason I noticed this today is because my female body decided to celebrate it naturally, and so when I saw an article online about it I decide to go with the flow.
I wasn’t tempted to dip my fingers in the red gushing out of me, warpaint my face and then take the selfie… I kind of wish I had been tempted to do that and given in to temptation.
But when I have my period I don’t feel like making the effort to do anything, I certainly don’t feel inclined to take a selfie.
Instead I took a photo of a skeleton, which hangs from the beam above the doorway to the bathroom to remind people of all genders to mind their head when crossing the threshold, doing the #BalanceforBetter pose.
Because when I spotted it, the thought which struck me as I ducked, thanks to it being there, to avoid the beam and potentially knocking myself out or adding another lump to my noggin, it seemed the perfect symbol for a campaign which wants us to see ourselves and others as equal.
Underneath our skins, we’re skeletons.
And unless you’re trained to spot the gender of the skeleton, it could belong to any gender.
I’m female. I was born female. Growing up I didn’t think that much about my gender. It wasn’t really relevant to me, my daily life and activities. My parents didn’t make much of it either.
Up until I was about 5yrs old I wore trousers and my hair was cropped short like a boy because my mother thought that repeatedly cutting my hair would turn it darker – the peach coloured fuzz bothered her. She mainly dressed me in trousers due to my propensity to climb everything and hang upside down wherever I could do that.
Up until I was about 5 yrs old I was regularly mistaken for a boy. It didn’t matter except for that time in Japan but I don’t really remember much about that, and my mother liked the attention she got for having a peach-coloured fuzzy boy.
When I was about 5 yrs old I was allowed to grow my hair out, and when I wasn’t running around nearly naked, I would wear skirts. I also had my first experience of mingling with other children and being classified based on my gender, usually by adults who seemed to think this was an important detail.
I used to get a lot of unsolicited opinions disguised as advice from adults about what I should and shouldn’t be doing as a girl. Most of what they said went into my mind’s spam folder.
Surprisingly my parents didn’t try to genderise me, unless someone whose opinion they valued made a critical comment about me – luckily my parents were narcissists and rarely valued anyone else’s opinion above their own, and they quite enjoyed having a child who was viewed as being atypical, since they viewed themselves as atypical and this was a good thing.
I didn’t think much about the gender of others unless they made a big deal about it. I was more focused on other aspects of their being, such as whether they were fun, friendly, interesting, or not.
I went to several all-girls schools. Thinking back, I’ve just realised the few girls I became friends with were either tomboys or weird misfits like me. When we played, the play was mostly adventure games – if gender was relevant to the story we’d be the gender that we needed to be for the narrative easy-peasy.
As I got older I did factor in gender simply because women tended to be less friendly, less fun, less interesting when I interacted with them.
I didn’t realise until much later that part of the reason I experienced women that way was because they felt free to be unfriendly, rude and cruel, with me because I was the same gender as they were. The way women treat other women just because they’re the same gender can be chilling to the bone.
Males don’t seem to do that with other males. But that impression could be due to my being female which makes me unable to be privy to information which comes through personal experience of being male.
I love what is happening at this period in time where gender is concerned. Having more gender options, being able to choose your true gender, including choosing to have no gender is exciting, inspiring, an amazing moment of history in the making.
It can be confusing sometimes because everyone and everything keeps changing, structures are being restructured, the landscape of knowledge is transforming, there’s nothing to cling to and it is better not to cling to anything, go with the flow, stay fluid.
Staying rigid will break you. Be the reed in the wind… I think it was the reed which survived the wind blowing.
And yet underneath all the constant flux, there’s a very solid framework. A skeleton upon which all the rest is built.
Take care of your skeleton and the rest will find its shape, form, and place when it is ready to do so.
In recent years I’ve found myself feeling more in tune with my own gender, perhaps it is due to my nearing that time in a woman’s life when she bids farewell to her monthly cycle, and enters into a new experience of getting to know her own body, and the changes within.
I’m getting better at finding my own balance, an inner balance which ripples out and brings an outer balance too.
I am learning to become friendlier with what was unfriendly, finding fun in what was not fun, being interested in what did not seem interesting.
Part of being human seems to be to going from one extreme to another, back and forth, to and fro, push and pull. The extremes fighting each other, trying to break free from their union of opposites, one wanting to exist without the other and searching for a way to do it.
The pendulum swings, erratically at first, then it slows because all that swinging erratically is tiring, and finally it gradually begins to circle around a sweet spot in between.
For a while anyway, until the next challenge which tips the scales, and the process of discovery through adversity, through taking sides and pointing fingers at the other side, through seeking freedom to be ourselves as we are or want to be, and so on… begins again.
My skeleton thanks all of yours for sharing yours with me. Rattle, rattle… mind your head!