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I'm a girl - and yet a womyn, 2002-02-25, 12:14 p.m.


I'm taking a break from school for a few minutes. A prep period within which I do not make any preparations. I just need to destress.

I had a horrid class today. I yelled at them. They said to me that they disagree with me because I'm the teacher and they're students and so they have to disagree with me about topics and what I say. The topic? Date rape. I was saying that if someone says no, they mean no. They were trying to argue with me. I was angry. The class didn't react much to my yelling. I said that the statement that they had to disagree with me was the dumbest thing I'd heard - what if I'd said to use protection or to wait until they were ready - would they not simply because I'd said to do so? Someone said that no one would state their opinions anymore because I'd said they were stupid. I yelled at her, telling her that it wasn't their opinions I said were stupid, but that statement. Past all of that, someone said it was the stupidest class they'd had and apparently it's been called 'sex-less Ed'.

I think this is the first time this year I wanted to cry after a class.

But that class is over. And my class after that is over. And thus, I return to my thoughts.

I've considered linguistics and their power to hurt lately. For example, I was involved in a diaryland brouhaha a few months back. It involved the auction and someone that I enticed there. The first auction was a first auction and, in many ways, it was the one feeling out the rules. To raise the bidding, someone who fully intended to pay for all the designs they won, bid on all of them. Bid 10.00$ on all of them. The person I got to go there started saying how corrupt it was. She left comments in the guestbook (it's from the December auction). But, as my friend, then friend, she wrote me as well. First she was telling me it was corrupt. Then, with all the fur that was flying, I wrote the auction people saying that I was sorry that someone I had asked there had caused this grief and that they were doing a good job. I wrote her as well. I then got an e-mail back from her, saying that I'd apologized for her with the auctions people and saying that I betrayed her and believed their order of events. She stated that my loyalty should be to her as I read her diary and she was my friend. While I wrote back saying that I didn't apologize for her and all of that, she still cursed me for apologizing for her. And for believing what others told me and not what she said to me. Yes, the hypocrisy of that, believing what others said and using that to be mad at me for allegedly doing the same thing.

But that's not the point. Part of what she said was that they were 'girls'. That the auction people were girls. And while they may have been younger than her - some only half her age - the usage of the word seemed less age based but actions based. And an insult as opposed to something we should celebrate.

She ended up locking her diary. However, during my random trails throughout the internet recently, I found it was unlocked. I read some trying to figure out what I'd seen before, as I had enjoyed her for a while, and then, as temptation would have it, read her comments on those days. She called me a girl also. Adding the statement about how I didn't stand by her, so I deserved the comment. Or something to those means. I don't really care enough to go back to it all and reread.

The point? It's too bad I had to bring up everything else to get to it. The usage of words to hurt someone is amazing. To call someone a girl, not because of their age, but their actions is something that has struck me as odd. I know that at the time, my reaction was not to them being called girls, but it being used as an insult. I reacted to it, as I knew it was an insult and something that was stated for a reaction. A statement of superiority - I am a womyn and you are just a girl. Yet, what determines this? Was I a womyn in her eyes before this, yet, because I displeased her, became a girl? Is the use of the word girl because of femininity or because it is chronologically the step before womynhood? If actions of disagreement prompt this 'insult', what would make someone a womyn in this? To agree without agreeing?

I find the use of words interesting and have been thinking about it a lot since I stumbled upon her diary once again. Looking at it with a rational eye - one that is far removed from the person and the situation this word use interests me. We demote people from us linguistically when they disagree. It's like the saying about driving - those who are slower than you are idiots and those faster are maniacs. We classify and we label in terms of our perception. We use what will hurt - such as a comment questioning our status on what we have 'earned' - and we grind it in. I feel I have earned womynhood. Through blood, sweat, tears and pain, I have fought for my right to call myself a womyn. For many, this is something they feel they have earned. So to hurt, we take this earnage away and state that they are not at that level.

Linguistically, I find this full scenario interesting. Our choices of descriptors dependant on our level of respect.

Because, really, girlhood is something to celebrate. So often, we try to move out of it to quickly. We rush into womyn hood, hoping we will be grownup. To be called a girl can be a good thing. Words that mean good things shouldn't be used as words indicating lack of respect. Yet, because it is all chronological, because it indicates a younger person, we use it as not a younger statement but a lower-than-us statement. That's how it was used. A girl is equal to a womyn. A girl will be a womyn. Yet, linguistically, it can be such an insult, if said a certain way.

Then, what does it mean when males are called 'such a girl'? What does it mean when we say that a male is a womyn - indicating he is weak in some area. Is this another form of insult, based on invisible scales that cannot be seen but are always judged? Is it equal or is one worse? And are both indicators of the respect that the speaker has for those younger or a different gender? Is it ageism and sexism - or is it simply ignorance? Where do these levels come from and how can we cure them?

I don't know if this is making much sence. I may come back to this entry and rewrite it sometime. Perhaps investigate it further.

And I am a girl. And a womyn. I am strong and I have earned my place in my life. I have many years behind me and many ahead of me. I hope I never become that which I have disagreed with today.

{sigh} If only my thoughts translated well to words. I feel as though I had much more to say, and could say it so much better.


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