[If you want, you can skip the entire upcoming two paragraphs and go directly to “Wordphobia.” This background info adds little (or probably nothing) to the content of the piece. It’s more to get it off my chest.]
03.34 am – 05.53 am
During the night my thoughts are different than during the day. As I mentioned before, I own and actively use multiple notebooks, which all have their own purpose. One of them used to be my main notebook, until I realised that most entries were written out of anger, sadness, loneliness, and other extreme and negative emotions. I refrained from writing in it for most of the time since I noticed the pattern, for I didn’t want to focus on those heavy emotions. Besides, I came to talk to close friends of mine instead of talking to paper. Today was one of those nights where I picked it up from the shelf again.
Because I’ve used this notebook for such a long time – page 1 indicates that I received it on my birthday in 2012 – it contains lots and lots of thoughts. A bunch of loose pages are also part of this notebook, as is one bundle about the use of words. As I was reading through it, I felt that it didn’t belong in this notebook. I’ve written this a while ago (one night in 2016), which made me feel as if a younger me was talking to me. Does that make sense? Anyway, I felt that these pages were worth sharing, from a slightly frustrated 20-year-old me with a message. I’ve tried to copy the style from the hand-written version as much as possible. Therefore, please excuse flaws in interpunction and grammar.
When I read back things I’ve written before, it gets me thinking, or gets me annoyed, most of the time. I hope this does either one of those things for you as well. Okay, let’s go.
Feminist. Slut. Girly girl.
Why are we afraid of words?
A word is just a word. The meaning it has, is whatever meaning we decide to give to it.
Feminist. Feminazi. Social justice warrior.
Since when did nazism connect to feminism?
Since when is social justice not something to strive for?
Since when can you be “too feminist”? “Extreme feminist”?
Let’s look at the word “feminism”. What does that sole word mean.
Gender equality. Equality. Equal.
Women are great. Men are great. Born or not. Feminine or masculine.
People are great.
All deserve equal treatment. Not because someone’s a woman, or a man, or androgyne, or anything other than just because someone’s human.
Equality. Too equal? Too much equality… Is that even a thing? Being extreme pro-equality? What does that even mean?
Then there’s “slut“.
What does “slut” mean? It refers to a female, who – according to the dictionary – is promiscuous. What does “promiscuous” mean? When a person has had multiple sexual partners and therefore is sexually active outside of a relationship.
A “slut” is a sexually active woman, basically.
But “slut” is also “disparaging”and “offensive”. Also according to the dictionary. This means, being a slut is dirty, wrong, and immoral. Being a sexually active woman is bad.
A woman specifically,
cause there’s no directmale version of the word “slut”.
Cause a sexually active man
is just a man.
“It’s in his nature.”
The word “slut” would have no negative power, if sexuality would not be looked down upon regarding women. The ideal woman, which gets promoted, is not a slut.
It’s a “good” and “decent” girl,
who goes bad only for you, that 1 person.
There’s a contradiction for ya.
Women are not supposed to like sex.
We should not enjoy it.
We should not crave it.
it’s a movie, or a book, or porn. Then wishes start coming.
“I want a girl like that.”
Cause in the end, women who enjoy sex are fun.
As long as no one knows.
As long as she keeps it quiet.
Hushed whispers and sounds
are made to disappear,
and we pretend it never happened.
Then you have “girly girl“.
I used to hate those words.
I used to use them as an insult.
Being called a “girly girl”, oh god not. It implied that I was stupid, and boring, and only thought about what clothes to wear, makeup to put on, and which puppies to cuddle.
When, wait. What does it actually say?
A “girly girl”.
That’s kinda weird actually.
I am female, so I was a girl when I was younger. I have never felt I wasn’t a girl.
But girly, oh god no.
However… do we realise what we say?
A “girly girl” is like a “couchy couch” or “natural nature” or a “deep depth”.
Those combinations are so obviously meaningless.
Of course nature is natural.
Of course a depth is deep.
That’s exactly what the noun means.
Then, I was a girl.
Therefore, I was girly.
This doesn’t say anything about the way I looked or behaved or thought. Or anyone for that matter. It only pointed out my gender,
which I took as a bad thing and tried to hide away.
That doesn’t seem right, now does it?
Why are we afraid of words?
We give them meaning.
We give then strength.
A word is just a word.
And my body is just flesh.
And my clothes are an expression, but they don’t define my entire being
nor my passion
nor my goal,
which is to live free from fear.
Fear of words and labels
that we’ve created and kept alive.
Free to do and say and be the way I want because I want it.
Not because it fits
with one thing or another,
or because I’m a sister of a brother
who would like me to be more girly.
Even though, as a woman, I cannot be more female than I already am.
I cannot grow more vaginas or breasts to show off my female body parts
and become an even more piece of meat than I already feel I am.
I can only try to live,
live without fear
and hope that others will try with me.
– Katrin –
Cover photo by Kristina Flour.