I wasn’t going to write something for this month’s blog carnival, until I ran into Ily’s post. In a nutshell, she is wondering: if girls and boys grow up into women and men, respectively, what happens to people who don’t fit these standard definitions?
Which made me wonder whether I considered myself a girl or a woman or what?
Warnings: mostly for etymology and non-gratuitous song quotes.
I’m in the lucky position to be cis.
Also, I feel comfortable within my body in a way that I haven’t since before puberty. I ascribe this partly to settling into my asexual identity. Some things (like clubbing) do get easier when you know that the flirting will go nowhere, and that you’ll never need to look sexy again.
However, once I started thinking about the usual monikers females have to describe themselves, I came up with a blank.
Am I a girl? At near thirty? And with all those connotations: Girly. Pink. Cute cats on the nightshirt. „Girls just wanna have fun.“
Thanks, but no thanks the implied immaturity. Even though I don’t mind being a fangirl, I left real girl-dom behind the day I started renting (and paying for) my own place, if not earlier.
I also sincerely dislike the German word for girl: Mädchen. It’s a diminutive, as indicated by the -chen, and therefore a grammatically neuter. It just doesn’t sit well with me to have to refer to a female-identifying person, including myself, as an ‚it‘.
Lastly, as mentioned above, girls are expected to grow into women. It’s a supposedly transitional state, something someone is expected to leave behind, and well. I don’t believe I’m currently in transition to adulthood.
So on to my second option. On its basic definition, „woman“ would be a female of the human species who has successfully survived puberty and can procreate. But… „treat me like a woman“. „Man, you make me feel like a woman“, „I’m a red blooded woman“. And stuff. I can’t quite connect with this ‚feeling like a woman‘, because there seems to be a sexual connotation that I can only grasp on an intellectual level, and even that grasp is tenuous.
In German, the term „Frau“ is derived from a title: a married woman of good social standing/nobility. As I am unmarried, I could also go for „Fräulein“, which is, originally, an unmarried noblewoman. „Frau“ is currently both used as „woman“ and as an address, like „Mrs.“. „Fräulein“ is mostly an old-fashioned address: Miss. (Also: -lein indicates a diminutive, the Fräuleins, too, are grammatically neuter.)
I dislike tying my identity to whether I am married or not.
I don’t mind being addressed as „Frau Xyz“, which is nowadays the standard address for females in German. From older people, who somehow ignore modern speaking habits, I occasionally get to hear „Fräulein“, and I rarely mind that, either.
However, there is a difference in what is social norm as an address and what term I use to think about myself, and the options for the latter have proven to be somewhat insufficient. All available terms have connotations that I can’t relate to. I am a female person who is currently feeling neither like girl nor a woman, which makes my brain hurt if I think about it too closely.
I believe this is a direct result of myself being ace and not looking for traditional partnership models. I don’t quite get sex or marriage, therefore an identity that ties more or less directly into these concepts is not useful to me.
I’m well aware that not fitting a slot comes with some hiccups in the presentation – after all, other people have only ‚girl‘ and ‚woman‘ as reference points, and until I grow some wrinkles or gray hair, I am and will be put with the girls more often than not.
I have no idea what to do about this, exactly, because I refuse to go for an uber-serious look which would just make me feel like I was in costume. So, all I can do is proving by actions that I might look young, but I know what I’m doing, thank you very much.