On reputations, boys, and difficult realisations

So it’s come to my attention that I’ve got a bit of a ‘reputation’ in certain circles and it’s not something I’m proud of. Something along the lines of going through guys faster than a broken-hearted girl goes through a box of kleenex. There’s this sexual connotation towards that impression, that simply because I’m constantly surrounded by guys, there is something going on between me and said person. Two people of the opposite gender can be just friends. But that’s an entirely different can of worms and we’re not going there just yet.

I was very much a “tomboy” when I was younger: your whole ‘basically a bob hair cut, knee length shorts, baggy t shirt, never wore a skirt unless forced into it kicking and screaming, played sport every day of the week’ tomboy. I grew up with guys. The first friend I made in kindergarten was a guy and the first ‘friendship group’ I ever had consisted of me and two guys. Slowly, that group expanded to about 8 of us, all of whom are guys. I didn’t wear a skirt voluntarily until about Year 7/8 when it was weird if you didn’t choose the skirt option for your uniform (out of skirt, skort, and trousers) – and even then, I owned only one skirt that I wore on days I had PE because it made changing into PE kit that much easier.

When I came to an all girls boarding school, I suddenly had to somehow form friendships with a group of people with completely different social dynamics. I had friends, sure, but ‘best friends’ came and went. It was really only last year that I’ve made girl friends I can call ‘best friends’ and be close to certain that these friendships will last when I’m at university. Because of this ease I have with talking to guys, girls think I’m flirting with every guy I meet and guys think I’m flirting with them, get the wrong idea, and get angry when they realise they’ve misread the whole situation.

When you’ve grown up with almost exclusively guys, you forget. Well – I do. I forget a lot of the time that I’m a girl. I forget that I’m not the same as my best friends, that we are inherently different, that, as we get much older, it becomes more and more obvious that I can’t do the same things as them like I used to or act in ways I used to. As I get older, because of whatever societal pressures, dangers, norms, structures, I keep getting brutally reminded that I’m not a guy and I am so innately different from my best friends in so many different ways. Whether it’s at a party, or the gossip I hear about myself about my ‘reputation’ with guys, or the bad situations I accidentally get myself into, it all boils down to the fact that I forget that I’m a girl and the way I act around guys matters. And it downright sucks (and hurts).

Now, this really angers me. Why should it matter that I have a lot of guy friends? Why should it matter that I just happen to find it easier to get along with guys than with girls? It’s hardly my fault that I’ve grown up with guys. It’s like that Ice Age film where the mammoth grew up with possums and thinks she’s a possum. I mean, I’m not saying I think I’m a guy – I just happen to forget the ‘gender norms’ that society so often forces upon us and what is expected as a girl. Why should it matter, though? It’s, quite frankly, none of anyone’s business. I shouldn’t have to explain myself to anyone – especially if my actions don’t affect them or hurt anyone. I just thought I should because it’s something that I realise not many people experience and I hope that it might be interesting for people to read in their spare time. And if I were to be having sexual relations with any of these guys, all of these guys, or none of these guys, it’s not only none of anyone’s business, but it’s also me embracing my sexuality, whatever that may be, and in this double-standard, patriarchal, slut-shaming, judgmental society, it’s about God damn time we celebrate that kind of empowerment and be done with this mentality of tearing other women down. There’s enough out there, we don’t need to create that for each other. So mind your own business, stop judging people if it doesn’t affect you, and get on with your lives. Please and thank you.


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