Thursday, 27 July 2017

Female Competition: Digging Deeper

My last post touched on how I was raised with an all too common female myth of competition.  Now I am going to delve just a little bit deeper into the subject, and the conflicts that I had to overcome and still do when interacting with women today.  As a society we are raised to keep work, home, and our family all in proper and perfect order all by ourselves.  We are taught that women are the competition and we can only make a name for ourselves by outdoing the lady down the street.  As I mentioned there can only be one best friend, and all other women are out to get you.  It is a sad but all too true myth that has kept many women from creating community and support systems that would be beneficial to all.  This is not a post though to place blame, just more to express where I came from and to accept and grow from those all too common norms.

When I was a young teenager I watched the adult women in my life and how they interacted for guidance.  It seemed that they believed in wine, makeup and gossip.  And as is all too common, children grow up either emulating their elders or trying to aim for the complete opposite behavior.  I chose the latter in concept.  However I did not have any skill set in mind, to replace the gossipy interactions.  So I developed friendships with men, rather than learn to forge close bonds with woman.  And those I did create bonds with were not what I now would recognize as healthy. 

The truth is, I have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to female interaction.  I have pushed away loved ones to prevent myself from getting hurt.  I have closed myself off emotionally to ensure that my nearest and dearest couldn’t know my inner thoughts, rationalizing that if they didn’t know my secrets then they couldn’t stab me in the back later or tell all their friends.  I isolated myself in an effort to protect myself, my pride and simply shut myself off.  I was raised to believe that this was the only way to interact with woman.  That they were my enemy, out to get me, and could not be trusted in any capacity. 

After my last post, I realized that I was not alone in this misguided thinking.  I am recognizing that woman should be champions of support for each other.  We should cherish each others differences and support the ladies in our lives.  We should be free to be intimate with our emotions, desires, and dreams. And yet, like many out there, I did not have a template to achieve this growing up.  Instead I had catty women, who never truly trusted one another and were constantly vying to be so and so's best friend, as there could be only one.

I cannot make the pain I caused the beautiful woman of my past go away (both inside and out), but I can try.  And further, I can help educate other woman that we can work together in business, friendship and relationships without contempt or jealousy.  I may not yet have mastered the art of the female compliment, but I remember the ladies who have complimented me in the past, and I cherish those moments.  They stand out for me, and they have made a very positive impact, tearing down the myth that I was raised to believe.  The ladies in my life are not out to get me, they are here to love and support me.  We do not get together and gossip.  Instead with have conversations about our goals, dreams and provide support during the rough patches in our lives.  

I did not see this type of interaction growing up, but it is my earnest hope that the generation to come does.  That they grow up seeing the benefits of a female positive bonded society, and they forge healthy relationships with their peers and allies as children, instead of feeling the emptiness that I did, and frankly didn't recognize until my 30's.  And a personal thank you to all the women who have stood by and supported me as I broke away from this myth and opened myself up to your love and support.  I love you all!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Overcoming the Female Competition Myth

When I was little my mom raised me to believe that you could only have one female best friend.  She told me that women couldn’t get along in a dynamic greater than a pair scenario as we were too jealous and competitive.  She taught me that I should always have one best friend at a time and be happy with that.  Anything more was trouble.  This was reaffirmed during the bullying I experienced in junior high when one by one, the girls I befriended would turn on me and attack in groups both physically and emotionally.  It was a hellish time, and one that unfortunately was a large part of growing up and I dare say there are few people out there who do not have their own experiences with a bully or two.  It made me leery of women, especially in groups.  It took until my 30's to hush the voice of "they are laughing behind your back" whenever I would go home after a girl's night.  That strong distrust that was cemented was difficult to over come. 

As I came to recognize the reality of my female mis-education, I realized that I had actually compartmentalized my female friends and gave them titles so that they were no longer competing for that one prized spot of best friend.  For example, my cousin was family, so she was more than a best friend.  I had my childhood friend who was long distance so she was my oldest friend.  I had the girl who I called my sister in high school and I had my 2 wives.  Writing it out like this makes it seem so calculated and yet, each one of these titles came organically and played a major role in who I am today.  

Having grown up with these preconceived notions, I knew I was not allowed to have a bunch of female friends for fear that we would always fight and compete with each other.  And as I result I feel I missed out in one big way, I did not have the female on female exploration that media says you are supposed to in college or university.  I had women around me, but I was incredibly selective of who I shared what with.  And I felt I needed to spread my feelings and secrets around.  No lady in my life knew everything about me.  They instead each filled a very select role and place to ensure that they all were equals at the end of the day.  If there is no head honcho of best friend then there is no person to rise above for supremacy, thus competition is eliminated.   

Now I find myself a little unsure of where to categorize the women in the couples that we date.  I don't have a natural tendency for intimacy with them, but I do have curiosity if that makes any sense.  Women tend to smell better, are softer, and have all these qualities for compassion that males do not.  So I find myself asking time and time again, what do I do with the female female dynamic?  Will this become a strong friendship, will this turn sexual.  Where will the two of us find ourselves down the road and what name will I give her?  Will she be a girlfriend?  A partner? Or something more removed, like my partner’s partner? 
I now firmly believe that female competition is a myth.  One on one especially, woman want to help, to listen, and build a strong community, not fight or vie for supremacy.  I wish younger me knew this, and had learned to forge better and stronger relationships with women.  Perhaps though, I would still find myself in the same place, a little unsure, a little nervous, and of course excited to explore new relationships in their entirety.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Stampede “Prosti-tots”: Adult Perception Skews Their Intent

If this very strange term is new to you, here is a quick definition, “a prepubescent girl (generally 10-14 years of age) who emulates the overtly sexual fashions and attitudes of twenty-something women such as pop stars” (Urban Dictionary).  And I think it is safe to say that during Stampede week, we have all seen a young girl who has fit this description.  It has made many a man uncomfortable and more than a few women glare in disgust.  I mean how could parents ever let their daughters go to Stampede dressed so provocatively?

Well, this is my story about how that happens.  When I was in Jr. High, my best friend and I were given permission to go to stampede together, without adult supervision.  We were so excited, and had our outfits picked out weeks ahead of schedule.  We planned every matching detail, from the hat, to the braided hair, “shirt” and shoes.  Now I put “shirt” in quotations because the year prior there was a fad that was starting to take hold.  And that fad was bandanas for shirts.  Yes, you read that correctly, we had decided that we were going to look so cool wearing bandanas for shirts, jeans and cowboy boots. It was perfect for a number of reasons.  We would be at the height of fashion, we already owned bandanas and the most important to us, was that we would be comfortable in the heat that always accompanies the grounds (plus 35 Celsius most days). 

So here we were, the morning of Stampede getting dressed at our parents houses in our little make shift tops without a care in the world, then off we went to the exhibition.  To be fair to our parents, I am fairly sure we wore hoodies while leaving the house because it is chilly in the morning so they were none the wiser to our attire.  I can also tell you that I know I was not developed in the breast area, and I cannot for the life of me remember if my best friend was or not.  We genuinely felt amazing in our trendy “shirts” and we strutted all day long with Calgarian young girl pride.  I remember a glance or two that felt a little weird, however, we were both incredibly innocent and appropriately na├»ve so we figured they were just jealous which is a natural pre-teen reaction.

We dressed trendy to be cool and comfortable.  We even brought sunblock and re-applied every 3 hours to ensure that our delicate skin was protected.  There was NOTHING sexual in our minds when we chose our outfits.  And that is the honest truth.  And yet, looking back, we were the very definition of prosti-tots.  We were those girls who I can only assume were making those around us uncomfortable.  And the thing is, if we had locked eyes with any man getting excited or blushing, we would have laughed in his face and walked away. 

I am aware that today’s young girls are exposed to a much wider range of social media and fashion trends that I was not.  I after all was in Jr High quite a few years prior to the social media or smart phone age.  So, my only exposure to anything socially relevant was the occasional copy of 17 magazine or Cosmo.  In fact, as I mentioned we (my best friend and I) saw a lady the year before wearing a bandana, thought to ourselves that she looked so cool, that we waited a whole year to emulate her.  It was a form of flattery if nothing else.  And we thought we were cool enough to wear clothing that made us look trendy and feel great.  If we were mature enough to go to the grounds alone, we were “adult” enough to wear what we wanted.  We never once thought that we were “slutting” it up to go pick up guys or get attention.

Now for the take away, I believe in a sex positive society.  I also believe that children and youth should never be sexualized or viewed with adult eyes or their biases.  I was a young girl, and I made a completely innocent fashion choice because I yearned to be cool and trendy.  I can tell you that if anyone had scolded or scoffed in my face that day nearly 20 years ago I would have been mortified, and then rapidly defiant!  I was innocent of the sexual perversions of adults and I am grateful that I grew up in an environment where I was safe to make these mistakes.  I cannot speak for the youth of today, but perhaps take a moment before you glare at a young girl/boy for exposing more than you yourself are comfortable with and just look away rather than parent them.  Let children be children.  And remember that we all made mistakes when we were young.  Stop calling these youth “prosti-tots” or any of the other sexualized terms of the day.  And take those first steps to acknowledging that you have a biased mindset as a sexual adult, and that skewed perspective can do much more harm than good when projected towards a young child.