This freedom isn’t for free: Self-identifying as a badass while living under the male gaze

As a 20-something college graduate with Caribbean parents, I’m expected to jump into the dating scene and prepare for marriage within the next 5-7ish years.

Let’s keep in mind that my parents force-fed me the idea that I wasn’t supposed to even look at boys unless I was viewing them from the window of my convent, and that dating was only appropriate after the ritual of marriage.

Now with no prerequisites for the academia of dating, and everyone and their grandmothers getting married and having babies around me, I feel like the race to my “destiny” is prolonged by a couple 100 years.

OK. Obviously, I’m not gonna get married when I’m that old, but at the rate I’m going ya’ll, don’t expect to hear the “good news” for at least another 20 years.

…and jeez, don’t start thinking that I have the plague or something. Like I stated in one of my previous embarrassing tell-all posts, I think I’m pretty poppin’ and the fish do bite, but never have I ever been in what I would consider a “real relationship”. (Take a sip of your adult beverage if you had to put a finger down; that should be at least 75% of you. I know that your life isn’t as equally tragic as mine).

All my previous “relationships” have either lasted a couple months or never really got to the chapter where we would publicly claim each other as our corny w/mcm. As you all should know by now, i’m 95% awkward and 5% normal so I blame the failure of these “situationships” on me. However, as of late I’ve associated my lackluster fate with inability of the dudes I pick to appreciate the woman I am, or am becoming at least.

I feel as though I’m not “girl” enough for their liking, and frankly I don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times in which I get really down and try to be wicked feminine; I’d wear clothes that show off my prime real estate, as well as try to dim down my revolutionary tongue as to shift the focus away from my activist nature, but no matter what I do, the facade never lasts long.

I never understood why being woman enough to love meant that you had to be 100% male gaze worthy.

Even within my own household, my dad would tell me that because I spoke up too much it was a “turn off” for guys, and my mom would suggest that I should change my wardrobe and stop getting tattoos if I wanted to be “chose”.

Thankfully they’ve stopped this a while back because they’ve realized that their kind words would only compel me to go down the rabbit hole even more (Wait, don’t get another tattoo mom? Don’t mind if I do!).

My parents still come up with their backhanded compliments that mean well but come off super misogynistic, but I’ve grown to understand that they can’t help it; they’re Caribbean and if anything is woven through the soil of the islands, it’s definitely their patriarchal nature.

Anywho, I consider myself a tomboy that grew tits. Honestly, that pretty much describes me.

When I wanna show out, trust me, I like to show out and give the boys and girls a little peek at my grace and mercy but at the end of the day, give me some sneakers, an oversized sweater, some mom jeans and I’m good to go. I’ve never been the girl that would spend hours getting my face or hair together with hundreds of accessories and shoes of every color and size, I’m just me; simple af.

Unfortunately, the dudes I’ve interacted with never link with me because of my style; it’s always my personality.

Why is that bad you say… you should be happy that they love your personality you say. I’m so fucking tired of hearing that my personality is what drew people in. Ok, I’m funny and weird af but tell me I’m dope for once. I’m tryna hear that I was the ig baddie you were just lucky to be with.  Is that too much to ask?! LAWD.

There were times when I would be out with my dude and he would be shocked at how “beautiful” I was because I decided to dress/look/behave more feminine than usual. It would make me feel super uncomfortable and quite bummed that the only way to be seen as something worth being in awe of was when I was being a version of me that wasn’t…me. I hated knowing in the back of my head that the me I was in love with wasn’t good enough for the guys that claimed they liked me.

I’ll never forget when one of my previous lessons (aka dudes I liked), asked me what I would do if he went and got the number of the girl that was on the other side of the shoe store we were in. When I expressed to him that I would feel some type of way he laughed and proceeded to stare at her like a glistening piece of meat the rest of the time she remained in the store.

I felt like shit.

I immediately began comparing myself to her; her skin, her hair, her body proportions, her attire. In that moment everything was under immediate scrutiny; I wanted to find a way to mold myself into the image of what he thought was the perfect girl.

Looking back on that incident, I know my self-esteem was complete shit and that being in a situationship with him was toxic on all fronts but it makes me think…

Why did I feel like I needed to be his idea of a perfect girl instead of mine?

Now that I’m older, why does my idea of the perfect girl limit my choices of the guys that would match?

Where the fuck are the guys that claimed they wanted a girl with her hair tied, sweatpants, chillin with no make-up on?!

Sometimes I feel like my freedom of expression, both physically and intellectually, has intimidated many a suitors.

I get to talking about my ideas on blackness, the universe, interpersonal relationships, and spirituality, and it seems like as soon as I present some substance the thrill is gone; their idea of what I could be for them was crushed by who I was and I didn’t pass the test.

I don’t even want to get started about how my female friends live comfortably under the umbrella of misogyny and have tried to Rihanna me.

No trick, I will not stand under your umbrella. (10+ for corniness)

It never made sense to me when girls in media would get excited about giving each other “extreme make overs”. In my eyes they were rejoicing that they were able to make yet another irresistible girl to feed the hunger of the male gaze; it is honestly heartbreaking.

What do I say to my sister when she tells me that a boy suggests that she needs to do squats in order to get a bigger butt?

…or constantly compare her to her lighter-skinned-long-haired-big butt having-making up wearing friend?

Hopefully my prince in long locs and ankh necklace is waiting for me somewhere.

I guess I’ve said all this to say…

Hey. I’m single, ready to mingle, and no I won’t change to fit into your standard of femininity.

I am a badass, take it or leave it.

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