“You throw like a girl.”

At first I took offense.  “You mean my trajectory and spatial skills are not up to par?”

“No, I mean you throw like a girl,” he said, dramatizing the statement with a limp flip of his wrist.

I almost wanted to cower and issue an apology for being the wrong gender.  Fortunately, I quickly recovered and walked off the field after bestowing a digital flip of my own.  If he wanted a tomboy to help him perfect his curve ball, then he shouldn’t have asked the lady in the slinky dress and spike heels.

Since when did femininity become a liability?  Contemporary mores dictate that the modern femme fatale should be a unique hybrid of classic womanliness and macho swagger.  Who made up these rules?  Being a woman is difficult enough without the added burden of being a man as well.

I don’t want to be a man.  If I did, I would have had a sex change years ago.  Instead, I happily accept my XX assignment and furthermore, I’m going to shamelessly revel in it. 

Why should I feel inferior if I can’t throw a ball or pee standing up?  I don’t know many men who feel ashamed if they’re unable to walk in heels or nurse a baby.  I simply refuse to buy into the argument that the attributes of my gender are lesser.

But then, I never thought it was necessary to compete with men.  There’s no need for hostility if both parties have equal footing.  And although I can appreciate the male drive for competition and dominance, I am not obliged to adopt them.

Why would I?  The full expression of my own sex is wonder enough.  It surprises me then when I’m asked (by women, no less!) why I bother to dress up.  Invariably my questioner is festooned in boy clothes -tee shirt, sweat pants or jeans- and resentment.  The implication being that I must be on the prowl because no woman in her right mind would wear anything else.

Maybe gals do primp excessively for the benefit of men, but I’ve been playing dress-up without cease since I was 4, and able to clunk around in my mother’s stiletto boots (with the rabbit fur trim!).  Were my efforts done solely for an imaginary male audience?  Doubtful.  I just loved to swath myself in ladies’ acoutrement and dream of the day when I could wear them without hearing the patronizing remarks of well-meaning, but clueless adults.

I’m still waiting.  Just last week a colleague questioned my wardrobe, chuckling as he remarked how previous contractors had never strayed from shapeless hospital scrubs and orthopedic oxfords.   “Boy, you sure like to get gussied up,” he said, giving me the once-over.  “Are you sure that you can perform your job?”

Although I patiently explained to him that my decision to wear a summer dress under my lab coat would in no way hamper my ability to think and behave rationally, I had to suppress a strong urge to smack him upside the head.  Just because a lady likes to use a powderpuff,  it does not make her one by association.

It would be a mistake to judge the girly girl as a pushover.  Her femininity does not replace common sense, but enhances it.  Only a woman who is confident and comfortable with herself, and not a stereotyped or dictated version of self, has access to unlimited reserves of strength.  Not the superimposed variety hawked by men and fashion, but the unwavering type that grows exponentially in the presence of truth.  It may not be truth of all womankind, but for those who feel an affinity, it is.


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