Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Woman, Womyn, Gender Roles

Being a woman in today's world is a little bit of a trip. You have two people coming at you with two different school's of thought. One is that you need to have the education, the career, the money. Women's Lib happened for a reason and now take advantage of the fruits of the struggle. We celebrate smart women like Hillary Clinton, Sonia Sotomayor, Sally Ride an the list of smart sisters goes on. Here comes the kicker. We take swipes at their looks. We say Hillary has a bowling ball hair cut. Then we assert that Ms. Sotomayor might be a lesbian because apparently she doesn't dress like she reads Cosmo, as if that matters. Oh and they seem to leave Sally Ride alone these days but I am sure there is something. Then there are people who don't make it easy for a career woman. I have been called a bitch and I have been called selfish because I don't have the husband or the family.

The other school of thought is the old fashioned notion that as a woman you need to find the perfect husband, have the dream house, and then pop out the 2.5 children. There is nothing wrong with being a wife and mother. It just seems like some young women are so desperate to meet the deadline that they go crazy, and they marry a guy just for his money. While we may throw stones at Anna Nicole Smith, all women have a little of that in them. It is the way we are raised. Shows like the Real Housewives don't help this. As women it makes us wonder if the career and education is worth it? Why do that when you can bake cookies and get a TV show.

Sadly it seems the middle ground is Sarah Palin. It is sad because I despise her politics. However, people were saying she was an bad mom because Bristol got pregnant as a teen. Maybe she was, or maybe she was a career woman. Either way, there is a price when you have a career. There is the whole you can have both. I have rarely seen it work out, really.

The whole thing with women is that our biggest enemy is ourselves. It isn't the men of the world. Most of the time they could care less. We are so incredibly catty when it comes to each other. Until recently, I didn't have many girlfriends. Not that I don't get along with other women, I just don't like the games. Once I did an all women's comedy showcase and when one comedienne was onstage, the other women simply trashed her. They were like, "Oh, she is doing that joke again. That sucks. Then again, she sucks." And when she got offstage they patted her on the back and told her how great she did. It was as if they smiled and then knifed you in the back as they offered you tea. Needless to say I wasn't social with them for the remainder of the show and don't speak to any of those women now.

Women always try to one up each other too. When we size up other women we say, "Oh, she might be smarter but I am skinnier." Or then there is the, "Oh well she might be pretty but she is a real tramp." Better yet, "I have a better job and more money than that skinny tramp, and I went to a fancier college."

The thing with women too, is that they can get stupid over a guy. Oscar Wilde captures this perfectly in The Importance of Being Ernest, when fortunately it all happened to be a big misunderstanding. I have never been one to fight over a guy, but some women do. I have had friendships end with women because according to their paranoia their boyfriends liked me better. One in particular was a friend from back in the day who I liked, that is, until her boyfriend said I seemed cool. Never met the dude so it's not like I stole him. Next thing I know she was trying to block me from the plans with my friends and saying terrible things about me that weren't even true. I dumped her and I dumped that crew cause they were kind of stupid. But I told her that if I met her boyfriend maybe I would steal him out of spite. She was such a hell bitch she was making it easy for me.

Then another time I found myself in combat over a dude was an ex of mine who was a lawyer. He had a female best friend who was down on her luck that moved in with him. They were just friends, right? Not so much. Next thing I know she was acting like the third wheel every time we hung out. She insisted on coming on all our dates. At first I didn't mind because I liked her, but it got real old real quick. Then she always had some crisis and was always getting him off the phone when he was talking to me. When I would come over the house she would try to start fights between the two of us, and then pretend she wasn't. Oh and her dog always had a health problem that my ex had to drive it to the hospital for. Note the dog always turned out to be fine. I remember talking to a friend of mine who was a guy and he said, "She wants him and wants you out of the picture. They are in love and dont know it." For as much as it hurt I ended the relationship. Apparently, later I learned, she pulled the same shade with the girl before me. Some women would have given an ultimatum. Others would have beaten her head in. I just chose to go. It was the easier, softer way and I kept my sanity.

In college I took several Women's Studies classes. Usually these can be good or bad. I took one about Feminism in Theatre. My second class my teacher found out I did comedy and gave me an article about women in comedy. About how we use the mic as a phallic symbol. At first I thought it was academic mish mash but after talking to some of my peeps we all agreed. That is why when I am onstage I grip the mic hard. I am taking the world by the balls. I ended up loving the class and the playwrights I read. For as much as I think women can be catty as hell, I am actually proud to call myself a female comedian and writer.

I grew up with a mother who was a Title IX Crusader. In college, she was captain of her swim team. They had a sit in because the women's team was denied letter jackets. My mom always told us the secret to success in a man's world was never making it a big deal that you were a woman. I think this is why my baby sister and I are both going into fields historically dominated by men. My sister is going to be a doctor. Over the years she has gotten grants and scholarships. She graduated at the top of her class in high school and will win an award Friday for her work with nursing home patients. When I mentioned she was going to Vanderbilt one of my friends said, "That is a posh residency." On top of that the kid is a champion marksman.

During my journey in comedy I have been introduced onstage as, "This next comedian is a woman." Yes, they can see that unless I am a really adept cross dresser.

Oh and when I mention ventriloquism they say, "There aren't many female ventriloquists." I didn't notice.

My gender wasn't an issue for me really in comedy until I started to see television time. Some of my most vocal critics were male comedians who asserted that I did sexual favors to get on television. Others asserted it was because I was a "cute girl." I was like, oh you thought I was cute after all. But it was heartbreaking that in this day and age when a woman gets a break or two people still assume that. Then of course some pulled shady things in clubs by bullying people to bump me as such. I made the mistake of letting it exist as a chip on my shoulder that grew into a cinderblock. Truth be told, they don't speak for all guys let alone all comedians. Other guy comedians have told me how proud they were that my hard work was paying off.

But some of my most vocal critics were women. One had been an old friend of mine who was like a mom type when I started comedy. Over the years I found she was only your friend when you were below her or when she felt she could take from you. Things happened for me that didn't for her, and the tables turned. I was always supposed to be a lesser being. She blasted me on a message board calling me name after name. There were several things I could have told her, like get back on Weight Watchers. But I thought, nah, my success was punishment enough.

What gets me is a man's misunderstanding of a woman writer. I invited a guy I was interested in to a book event I was having. He asked if there would be, "Angry women like Sylvia Plath there." First off, Sylvia Plath is a brilliant poet. Second, why should it matter? Just because I am a woman writer where in my clause does it say I have to hate men? Needless to say we did not last long. And then there are the other women who think because I am a woman who writes and makes people laugh I have to be ugly. Just because I tell jokes and write books doesn't mean I have to look like I got my outfit from the bag lady on the street. I go to the gym. I am young. I have a cute little body. Shoot me for wanting to show it off.

In my journey I have done some activism. Some of it was as a result of something I experienced as a young woman, and just other things. During this journey I met the womyn. Yes, as in the hardcore feminists. I joined a facebook group and at first the people were pretty cool. Some were kind of nuts and did art with menstrual blood but it was all good. Others were bi-sexual vegans who wrote poetry. But then there were the extreme nutcases. One in particular was an older lesbian who had been a part of the movement early on. She started a thread trying to ban transwomen not only from the group but from women's (or womyn's) rights events. One transwoman logged on and this idiot kept calling her he and kept pointing out that the transwoman was a man and not a woman and needed to go. This transwoman was living and identifying as a woman, not to mention had gotten snipped in Singapore. I asked what the big deal was and this horrible creature kept going after this transwoman and claimed transwomen gave her a hard time. Yeah because you are a tool. And then she went after the younger women on the board saying that they kept with men-the bi-sexuals-and that they were traitors to the gay cause let alone women. I tried to explain to this hell bitch that sexuality was not fluid and I identified as straight. Did this make me less of a woman now? This went on for two days. Finally, I broke my own rule. This woman was so vile that I ended up using the "c" word. Yes, I called her a cunt. Actually I called her Ghangus Cunt. I usually hate that word and detest the roughness but this woman so mean and hateful that asshole, bitch, and mutherfucker weren't going to cut it. I was ultimately banned from the group for my "language." But I am glad. I don't want to belong to any group where she is a member.

What got me is the trans issue took away from the bigger issues like Congress wanting to change the definition of rape for their selfish pro-life cause. Or worse yet, not protecting a woman's right to choose. In there we need to add how to help victims of stalking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. When womyn argue that point it detracts from the real issues and wastes time. I think that's what I was truly disgusted with.

The funny thing about gender is gender is what is in your brain, sex is what is between your legs. That is why I am glad transpeople are getting more rights. When God or whatever gives you one brain and nature gives you another body it was be an unhappy marriage. That is why I firmly believe insurance should cover gender reassignment surgery. My brother ended up working with transgender teens during medical school. As an ex football player, it must have been a trip when he got the assignment. However, he ended up liking it and being compassionate to this group of young people. My brother explained that it was hard because the brain had one idea but again, nature gave them the wrong body. He and my dad were discussing this and my dad asked whether reassignment was better. My brother explained it was world's better.

I befriended a transman years ago who was a regular on my broadcasts on YouNow. During his time as a lesbian she was suicidal and depressed. When he made the change he was much happier. The only thing was he would fall in love quickly and it never ended well. But he was also nineteen. I also have shared the stage with transwomen. One I knew in her male days, the other after. The one who transitioned M2F told me creepy guys were checking her out. I just patted her on the back and said, "Welcome to the wonderful world of being a woman."

The crazy thing about gender roles is I have some male traits. In a lot of my relationships with guys, sometimes I am more the dude. The last guy I really cared about was much more emotional than me, and he cooked and cleaned. He was more apt to discuss his feelings openly and honestly. I didn't even want to go there. Oh and I knew more about sports than he did. Actually I know quite a bit about sports. I love football. I follow MMA. And while we are in the neighborhood I enjoy kickboxing and mountain climbing. My favorite sporting event is the Heismans. Hell, and sometimes I even read Playboy for the articles. I don't get jealous of the centerfolds. If you got the body go rock it. I detest the bridal showers and the such. My house is a mess. I don't cook well. Oh and I swear like a sailor.

My sister is sort of the same. While she is very girly, she is a champion marksman as I mentioned. She drives a car that is more like a truck. The kid is fearless about riding in an ambulance and even rode a helicopter during a life flight assisting a patient. Like me, she loves extreme sports and football. Heisman Trophy Ceremony is one of her favorite events. While she doesn't swear like a sailor or climb mountains, her favorite flicks are action flicks. She is straight forward and like me, wired more like a guy. My sister loves science because she likes facts rather than feelings. According to some we are guys.

Then go to my window. I use cardboard and other loose paper to help insulate my air conditioner. I write angry, pissed off poetry. Did I mention I am a total klutz with a screwdriver? My sister is slightly better but not much. We are both disasters with the drill. When one of my male friends saw my air conditioner he had a minor heart attack and then corrected it.

I am woman hear me roar.

Okay, only sometimes.

Sigh, who knows?


I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl
Paperback available on Amazon and 877-Buy-Book
E-Book available on Kindle and Nook
Audiobook available on itunes and Audible this Spring
Portion of proceeds go to Greenpeace

PS. Book signing at Brown Bookstore Saturday May 25 from 4-6. Be there or be square

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