Every other week I come across a tweet, a thought, an experience or something, that gives me an existential crisis about my life. Particularly my childhood, specifically regarding my rentals.
This week’s inspiration for my ‘why is my self-esteem so jarringly non-existent?’ came from a tweet by a man whose handle is ‘meninist.’ Yes, I should know better than to take to heart anything coming from such a space. Yes, there are many more who think like him. So yes, what he said had weight.
“Any girl can give you a daughter. It takes a real woman to give you a son.” No, this is not going to be a piece trying to debunk this. I won’t spend my time talking about the paternal determinants of a child’s sex. This is about feelings, not facts. More specifically – my feelings.
I often wondered if my mother wished me to be a boy. Speculation on my part, based on what little I knew about my father, conversations we’ve had, and my mother’s reaction to finding out that her next and last offspring (my then-unborn little sibling) would be a girl.
My mother, as I have come to appreciate, raised a daughter single-handedly while watching my father be an amazing dad to another child, a son. For that, I sympathize greatly with her.
My father (and it pains me greatly to use this term) believes men and women are not equal, and should not be. Yes, he said this to me once. Seven months into my employment, he suggested I gift him and my mother (who, as earlier stated, was my sole rental in all my eighteen years of life before he waltzed in) a monetary gift as a ‘thank you for raising me’ present. He advised that I give my mother a certain amount and him, almost double that. Naturally, being the curious, raised-by-my-mother-and-my-mother-alone confused adult, I inquired. His response: “women can never be equal to men. Even the bible says so.”
Yes, VERBATIM. Yes, he used the bible in an attempt to give weight to his misogyny. I was moved. I was embarrassed for him. More than anything else though, in that time, for the first time, I was relieved to have not been raised by him.
My mother wanted a son. I was eleven years old when she fell pregnant and I knew she wanted a son. (And, dear reader, I hope you know, I am of the belief that although patriarchy benefits men, its gatekeepers are usually women. Older women, aunties, mothers, who perhaps grew tired of fighting the system, or, more likely, who simply keep the ‘wisdom’ passed down to them by their predecessors. All the same, patriarchal princesses perpetuate the idea that men, by virtue of being born with penises, are worthy of a respect unattainable by non-men).
I, already having an older brother and having had to tolerate seeing the different parenting styles in dealing with him and me, wanted a sister. Our reactions to finding out she was carrying a girl were as polar as polar gets. I was eleven years old. My young mind could never intellectualize why a woman could be anything other than overjoyed by the fact that she would be raising a fellow woman. Do women desperately want to bear boy-children in the hopes of being recognized as quote-unquote REAL women?
I traverse life knowing that my father rejected me before any other man could. I continually have to suppress the idea that he could perhaps have thought me inferior, even as a foetus, before I came into the world, before I uttered a single word, because I was not a son. I constantly have to tell myself that I am worthy, good enough, and remind my jarringly non-existent self esteem that my vagina is no lesser organ than a penis, that great black feminist women did tons of work to dismiss that idea (the fact that it was an idea needing to be dismissed is in itself painfully idiotic), and I owe it to them to consider such tweets as nonsensical and idiotic.
Sometimes though, I mean rarely, I remember that my dad told me, his very evidently female offspring, that I am not equal to his very male (very evidently loved male) offspring, and as such deserve less in life than him. Then (I mean rarely) tweets such as this one become less nonsensical, less idiotic, and more real.