A few thoughts on being a girl

Dara Parker, ArtSci ’02
Dara Parker, ArtSci ’02

Woman. Girl. Female anatomy for the time being. And not just that, but a female anatomy sitting at the tender age of twenty (a dying species often confused for anorexic models named Kate Moss).

Alright, so I’m in the midst of discovering my sexual identity and what it means to own a vagina instead of a penis. As a budding, dare I say it, feminist, I’ve read my quota of Atwood, watched the Women’s Television Network (and quickly switched the channel), and made sure to voice my disapproval of beauty pageants when given the chance. I never actually use the taboo word ‘feminist’ in order to avoid the onslaught of disapproval stemming from stereotypes of “those non-shaving, butch-like, radical man-hating lesbians” which such semantics seem to procure. I do, however, feel justified most of the time in considering myself a “liberated woman of the twenty-first century.” I am an independent, strong, expressive female who believes in equality. There. That covers it, right? I mean, that’s a fairly simple philosophy which does not require a lot of thought to abide by. So why am I still thinking about silly things like the other night?

As I’m sitting on the porch at a good friend’s house, I notice offhandedly that I am the only, well, girl. Not an issue. The conversation varies from Laser-Tag, to summer stories, to current couples, when one of the guys stands up and walks over to the apple tree which overhangs onto the porch. The tree has been dropping fruit all night, small green apples which are good for nothing except…

“Hey Andy, try to throw it with your left hand!” Several laughs as the apple spits out of his hand and falls a few feet away.

“Hey Andy, you throw like a girl!” Andy responds to this quip in a high-pitched, falsetto voice, “Oh my, don’t hurt me!” Another poor throw completed with the left hand.

All of a sudden as I’m sitting there, watching, a new game unfolds. This game could be best described as “101 ways to impersonate a girl throwing, while (and this is the catch) speaking in a voice at least two octaves higher than one’s normal tone.” Oh, the fun.

Five minutes into our new game and someone clues in to the fact that perhaps I am not so impressed with this new hilarity.

“Hey Dara, Andy is making fun of girls huh?” Thanks, Sherlock, for that brilliant show of detective work.

“Dara, come and show us how girls really throw!” A comment from Andy, the instigator in our new drama, and here is my dilemma. First of all, I can throw. After playing baseball for six years one tends to pick up on a few of the main concepts such as, uhm, throwing. By standing up and throwing the apple, however, I feel like I am somehow only hurting myself even more. I am a little fuzzy on the details of why or how this is, yet I am certain that by proving my worth as a third baseman, I am not doing the female species any justice. So I stay silent.

The game continues on with perhaps some awkwardness now that everyone remembers that, oops, the object of their ridicule is sitting along beside them. But that’s okay. I mean, it’s just a joke. No one is really saying that girls can’t throw a ball (but we all know they can’t). It’s just Dara. She’s cool, she doesn’t care—but do I care? I feel torn in this small mental battle of mine. They’re just joking — nobody really doubts my abilities as an athlete or as a person (I think). Don’t take everything so seriously Dara. Relax, not everything is a war.

Right, okay. So then why am I feeling so uncomfortable? Perhaps I feel that Simone de Beauvoir is looking down on me frowning as I fail in my feminist duties (do I even have feminist duties?). But you can joke about things right? (are racist jokes funny?) What would the Spice Girls do (the icon of uterus power in the minds of pre-pubescent girls across the western world?) Maybe if I jump up and yell “Girl Power!” I’ll gain some respect? Something tells me I don’t have the platforms or the cleavage to be able to pull it off.

As my internal dialogue races a mile a minute I sit, speechless, contemplating the situation. The game has now lasted almost 15 minutes but the boys are quickly tiring. There are only so many imitations of the opposite sex that their minds can conjure up as their working knowledge is very limited (high voice, limp wrist).

“Come on Dara, throw the apple!” Andy attempts one last time to convince me to succumb to his mockery. Everyone is pretty much done laughing now as the game has played itself out. I remain silent going on the theory that what I don’t say can’t hurt me and Andy decides to go home. As Andy leaves, my friend mentions, “You don’t like Andy much do you?” “Nobody likes Andy much do they?” I reply with all the wit of a fifth grader. To which I receive some laughs all around and all of a sudden the “situation” is over. My shining moment, the climax of all my analyzing and reflection boiled down to a non-threatening comment made while the instigator of the incident was absent. Wow, I wonder if Ally McBeal needs some new material.

But really, what was the big deal in the first place? A silly little incident that nobody thought twice about aside from the author of this collection of ramblings. Then I stop and ask myself, if not in my friend’s back yard, then where is it that sexism starts? Will I ever be able to erase the label of ‘girl’ on my forehead and replace it with Dara? Or should I just give up my quest for identity and become a complacent acceptive anatomy content to live within a circle of misinformation. Hmm, maybe Britney Spears could help me out on this one given all the positive work she’s done for the image of young women.

Ooops, I did it again, damn sarcasm, always gets in the way of a perfectly good point.

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Dara Parker, ArtSci ’02, is a politics and drama student and a member of the Queen’s Varsity Rugby team.

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