WordPress sent me a snazzy little graphic showing some of my blog stats for 2011. I was rather interested in what it would tell me, although I am totally unsavvy about putting stats and feedback to my advantage. Nevertheless, I am proud of what I write, and I want to know who is reading what, and why.
To my great surprise, three of the top posts for last year were marked with the “gender” tag, one that I didn’t even introduce on the blog for the first few years. I never wanted to write about being a woman, about the silent weight that bears on because of all that goes along with my sex. I didn’t want to be controversial or opinionatied. Those who know me well already know that I am opinionated, but there was something about proffering those opinions to the whole wide world that intimidated me. But sometimes, it seems, I can’t help it.
So in 2011 I wrote about the hassle of having to choose among different titles as a woman (Miss, Mrs, etc) and all of the implications that go along with those choices, whether we make them or they are made for us. I tried to unpack the seemingly universal desire to be beautiful after an afternoon of having headshots taken. I did my best to hold myself accountable for the ways I am complicit in my own woundedness and insecurity. And those posts were very popular.
But you see, that is what I don’t want to write. I don’t want the story of my life to be one of anger. I have tried not to be angry at a world that makes me a second-class citizen and at a God who makes me vulnerable. I have tried to be sorrowful or compassionate at our broken world, I have tried not to succumb to the frustration that comes with knowing that I am held to a different standard simply because I am a woman.
Being a girl, and then a woman, never mattered to me in the least. It was not part of my identity. I was daughter, sister, singer, Catholic, student, but I never thought of myself as “woman”. Perhaps I should raise my parents for raising me in too gender-neutral of a household. If I had learned to play by the rules, to keep my mouth shut and defer to men and never be too blunt, my life would be much easier.
How I longed to be a “good woman”, but my desire to fit the mold could never trump who I truly am, and so I spent years being punished in sundry ways for not being a “good woman”. And for that I am angry. Every time someone expects me to be dumb, every time a group of men excludes me from a conversation, every time I am criticized for having an opinion I am angry.
I don’t want anger to be the story of my life. But it is there, in that place that I try to keep hidden. That’s why I so rarely write about gender and about being a woman. Still, I learn that beside the anger there is triumph, and power, and a conviction that who I am is who I am meant to be, no matter what the criticism or the cost.