Too Feminine, Fake Geek, Not Nerdy Enough Girl
“You don’t look like you read comics.”
“You don’t look like you know how to fish.”
“You don’t look like you know how to change a tire.”
“You don’t look like you’d enjoy sci-fi.”
Not geeky enough, not tough enough, not savvy enough, and again, not geeky enough. It’s remarkable (not in a good way) how often these things get said to me. There are endless variations, each more nauseating than the last. Because, apparently, I’m too girly looking to like fishing – and too pretty to know how to change a tire. As if authenticity is somehow only found in outward appearance, and I seemingly do not warrant all the checkmarks on a predetermined checklist.
The other day, I was reminded about the assumptions people feel entitled to make based on appearance and gender. For years, people have assumed that I’m less capable or even incapable of certain things. Why? Well, I’m a woman. I take care of my appearance. I do wear makeup when I go out. Heels happen often. These are just things I like – they’re not the sum of who I am. You can argue that I’m performing my gender – and maybe I am. But my gender doesn’t prohibit me from wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt on the weekends, when I’m being lazy. Does that mean I’m suddenly more capable of changing a tire, if I look less like a girl? Does my lipstick somehow mean I can’t bait a hook? Does wearing my glasses, instead of my contacts, means I’m more of a geek?
Because, if so, I missed the damn memo. Here’s the dangerous thing about me: I wasn’t raised to believe in limits based on the fact that I have breasts and a uterus. I don’t get the vapors. I don’t faint at the sight of blood. And if you try and steal my TARDIS apron, I will cut you.
I find there’s a certain amount of entitlement when someone walks up to another person (sometimes literally) and says, “You don’t look like you [fill in the blank].” You don’t look like you bake. You don’t look like you read. You don’t look like a librarian. (Translation: You don’t fit into this box neatly, so break out the confusion, torches, and pitchforks.)
There are people who simply refuse to learn that whole, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” And it boggles my mind, while offending me greatly. I find that, as a woman, this kind of phenomenon happens to me a lot. So, if I’m not walking around performing all the aspects of my personality, somehow my likes are confusing to others.
The thing about identity is that you can’t see it, like you can hair color or eye color (and even then, my brown eyes don’t make me a certain way; they’re just an observable aspect of my genetics). There’s also no standard for identity. You are what you are. You like what you like.
I’m technology inclined, a wonderful cook, and an average seamstress. Meaning, I can most likely fix a setting on your cell phone, make you a delicious meal, and sew on a button that’s fallen off. But you can’t tell that by looking at me. You can’t discern skills by sight anymore than you can discern what a person enjoys.
I’m not going to lie: I’ve been fairly pissed off about this for the past few days. It was assumed that I simply couldn’t like a certain thing, because I appear too feminine. And I just about blew a gasket. Total, full-on Hulk Ali SMASH. Because…no. Don’t you dare try to put me in some kind of box, because you feel like it. I don’t live in labels. I don’t live inside the lines pretty much ever. And making assumptions about people is really just insane. Nobody gets to define me expect me.
Don’t let anyone define you, either.