I love the idea of Parisian cities at night alone. Of swimming in the ocean in a dress, of maybe one day shaving my hair off. Of wearing blue lipstick to work and saving money to travel alone. Of speaking my mind and actually being listened to, without being labelled a bitch. If you were completely and utterly uninhibited, what would you do and who would you be?
I want to be uninhibited. Free of expectations. Free of social standards. Free of judgement and prejudice and the prison we call femininity. What holds me back from roaming the city at night and from wearing my favourite skirt with heels for fear of being labeled a slut.
Is it femininity that holds me back? Or is it the idea of what femininity should and shouldn't be?
I, like most girls my age, perform my femininity in a series of rituals. I wash and brush my waist-length hair every single morning. I apply subtle make-up like foundation, mascara and lip balm. If I wear too much I'm sometimes told so by boys who tell me I look fine without, as if I've painted winged eyeliner onto my eyes to impress them or to make myself feel better about the physical appearance of my facial features. I shave my legs and if I don't, I am questioned - not just by boys but usually girls and women. I am told by teen magazines that boys notice you fingernails and therefore you should keep them looking nice with a polish. I walk a fine line between dressing like a girl and dressing like a slut because 46 degree (celsius) days don't excuse dressing in short skirts and sheer tops and neither does feeling good about your body.
No one actually tells me to do these things. If anything, I enjoy performing them.
And while I fear what people would possibly think if I did not - why should I care? But it is not just my physical appearance that is dictated by who I am.
Speaking up is not socially acceptable - at least for a girl. Maybe that is a bold statement to make but it is one I have come to conclude. Feminism is hugely popular but when people in your very own social circle use terms like "feminazis" and "femtards", how safe can you feel voicing your opinion? I'm a 'lovely girl' but I have 'strong opinions'. When I argue about something that personally effects me like the language boys have for girls (e.g. the lesser gender, two holes and ham wallets). I am overreacting. I am dramatic. I am on my period. I complain too much ('too much' being the first negative word that comes out of my mouth). I am not a 'cool girl'. Even what I am writing now is too much. I am embarrassed thinking about people I know reading these very words.
I am inhibited with the need to be likeable. I must be careful not to step over the line into the territory that will label me a bitch if I wish to be respected. (I have done so many times. I've begun to stop caring if I'm called a bitch. Maybe I am a bitch but at least I'm not an asshole).
In the words of Elizabeth Wurtzel, "I intend to scream, shout, race the engine, call when I feel like it, throw tantrums in Bloomingdale's if I feel like it and confess intimate details about my life to complete strangers. I intend to do what I want to do and be whom I ant to be and answer only to myself: that is, quite respectably, the bitch philosophy..."
Cat-calls, sexual harassment and assault, in 2017 we still look for someone to blame that is not the perpetrator; this is usually the actions of the victim. Is it really such a huge ask to want to be able to walk through the city at night without fear? Without being honked at while going on a run in my neighbourhood?
Of course, while all of these things contain me and stop me from dressing a certain way or speaking certain opinions, other people are far more contained. Women of colour, for example, are placed in a box where they can either stay silent or be portrayed as the stereotypical, 'angry black woman'. It's a catch-22, if a black woman is angry about the 'angry black woman' stereotype, she is simultaneously being stereotyped in the very image she wishes to destroy.
I'd like to see girls breaking free of their inhibitions and saying "Fuck You" to anyone who protests because we owe nothing to anyone and have a right to act, dress and speak however the hell we want to.
We have a right to live uninhibited.