She walked out of her home exhausted and frustrated because she felt like no one really understood her. She lived at home with her father and three brothers and there were times when she felt like they spoke different languages and were birthed on different planets. She walked down her Mayberry-like street that was filled with activity. The group of kids who were playing street hockey were all boys. The group renovating the home next door were all man. But this was what she was used to experiencing. It was rare for her to see another female and she couldn’t recall how long it has been since since the last sighting.
She attends the neighborhood school and all of her classmates and teachers are all male. She heard about a family that had a girl who once attended the school but they moved away long before she got there. She gets along well with the boys in school but when they make fun of her for being a girl or say horrible things about girls she has learned to play along; because this is how you get along. Being the object of the jokes is much better than being ignored and cast off. She slowly begins to believe the stereotypes and demeaning things she is told about women.
The church they attend matches her neighborhood and school. She is the only female sitting in the pews listening to sermons that are designed and written for men because women rarely come to her church. She has learned to accept that the male point of view is the norm and there is not much room for her voice. She has approached her father about issues that would be considered female issues but her father doesn’t want to talk about them. Talking about her differences will only make her feel worse and it will only make her feel even more different. At least, that’s what her father thinks. So her voice fades and quietly disappears. She has also tried to talk about the mother she never knew but her father doesn’t see the need to talk about this painful topic, so they don’t. His unwillingness to talk about it has taught her this is a subject that should not discussed. Those types of conversations are confined to her head and never go away.
The only representation of women she ever sees is on TV. The women on TV become her definition of what it means to be female. She begins to measure herself against the one dimensional characters she sees on TV and falls short. She can’t compete with women with makeup artists, trainers, and coaches and her self esteem dips dangerously low. All this combines with the hormones that accompany a girl of her age and creates a struggle within her. She searches to find a place to exhale; a place to be understood. She has so many questions and no one around her who shares a similar life experience.
She moves through life accepting this is how things are and she pushes down anything female. She graduates from high school and goes to a large university. The moment she steps on campus she is in awe of what she sees. There are women walking around campus, teaching classes, working in the library, coaching teams, and she is excited and terrified at the same time. She doesn’t know how to talk to other women because she has never done it before. She wonders if she will be accepted in with the woman that surround her. She wonders why this demographic was kept from her. Why did she struggle as the only one when there are so many women present outside of her community? Her struggles continue because she can’t seem to fit in–anywhere. The way women interact and even talk is foreign to her. It is like she is in an unfamiliar country where she doesn’t know the language, beliefs or cultural do’s and don’ts. Simply put; She is ignorant to the ways of women. She is seen as odd and this circle of interaction is closed to her.
On her first break from college she goes home to her all male town and home. She sits across from her father at the dinner table and asks why she never had contact with other women like her. Her father states it didn’t occur to him that that was important to her. As long as he was raising a child in a positive way he didn’t think much else was needed. Besides, she never asked to have contact with other women so how was he supposed to know. If she had requested it; showed that she wanted that, he would have provided it for her.
Love and anger wrestle in her chest and she doesn’t know how to feel. She loves her father but is frustrated that he doesn’t understand her. She feels she is being blamed because she didn’t take the initiative but she didn’t know what she didn’t know. Her frustration grows and she can feel her blood simmering moving closer and closer to a boil and then….
Her mother shakes her to wake her up. It was just a strange dream. She chuckles to herself at the absurdity of such a town and is relieved she nor any one else has to live life as she did in her dream.