Friday, August 7, 2009

Girls Don't Brag.

Inspired almost simultaneously by what I read by Jill at Keyboard Revolutionary AND what I am really noticing "on the playgrounds" this summer, I would like to discuss the phenomenon of Bragging,/Telling, Boasting/Describing and the role it plays in our social interactions. Especially us women.

From a very early age, people like to tell about what they know. Regardless of whether the story recounted will be of interest, and wonderfully free from the notions of offending or resonating with their audience, a young child of either sex will, if you let them, happily tell you about the biggest bubble they ever blew, the highest tree they ever climbed, the most hot peppers they ever ate, the awesomest snowman they ever built, their roller skating trophies, their best drawing, their highest score on Whizzball, and, for the lucky kids who grow up in a "supportive and nurturing" culture or subculture, they will get at least their family members to listen, nod, and share in their joyful news. No matter how small, no matter how relevant to the listener, it is only...polite? accept someone's triumphant experience for what it is. Their news. Their news they chose to share with you. And then, like so so so so so many things we weirdly do to children, (and isn't it always around age 5 or so?) the genuine sharing and smiles and unwavering support turns. It turns to slight discomfort. It turns to whispered Shush-ings. It turns into suggestions that Maybe So and So Doesn't Want To Hear That, Sweetie. And oftentimes, it turns into, "Don't say that, dearie, its going to make them feel bad."...Which is right around the corner from DON'T BRAG.

And Don't Brag is the one thing that gets heaped by the truckload onto girls. by the freaking truckload. and by age 7, 8 the little boys on the playground seem to ONLY brag and boast, scarcely listening to each other, so excited to say their own braggy-boast, and the girls are deeply entrenched in the mind games involving Don't Brag, Don't Be Bossy, Don't Show-Off, Do/Don't make so and so feel bad. EVEN IF THEY ARE JUST TELLING A BASIC INFORMATIONAL TALE, THEY TONE IT DOWN FOR BROADRANGE APPEAL AND THE COMFORT THEORETICALLY GAINED BY MEDIOCRITY AND HOVERING NEAR THE MEDIAN. Don't Brag.

And this is what is happening everyday in our lives, and this is what is happening to the women who have a tale to tell about their births. Either good or bad, whether beautiful and empowering (ewww another very scary word) or damaging and completely fucking insanely illegally abusively neglectfully wrong, birth stories just are too much womanly-realm to be acceptable, period.

When bragging is wrong
and boasting is wrong
and bodies are wrong
and complaining is wrong
and calling out our assailants is wrong
and experiencing ecstasy is wrong
and being hurt is wrong
and blood is wrong
and sweat is wrong
and tears are wrong
and strength is wrong
and vulnerability is wrong
and yelling is wring
and crying is wrong
and sex is wrong
and bellies are wrong
and breasts are wrong
and vaginas are wrong
then there is no way to tell anyone's birth story. Ever.

So we must shrug off all of this, no matter how we wince inside, we have to just tell our stories. to other women. To men. Harken back to when you were really, really little, and Grandma or someone really did want to see your worm. your best worm ever. I hope you had that. And if you didn't, well, you need to tell your stories even more, so you can eventually experience acceptance and tolerance of your truth.

and in the meantime...Don't worry about BRAG. the men do it all day, and we call it Sexy Confidence!


Stassja said...

YES. This. Thank you.

Jill said...

Oh my god, yes. The whole "this and this is wrong" schpiel, that was PERFECT. You nailed it.

I'm so over being wrong. I reject the very notion. If you think I am wrong there is something wrong with YOU.

Summer said...

Thank you! We have to hold our heads up high and just tell it like it is, forget who out there thinks we are wrong.

Kelley said...

You're right. I've always disliked this phenomenon, and yet I find myself doing it to myself all the time. Awareness is key, and now i promise not to do this to my kids. At least not anymore.

caryn said...

yes,yes,yes! this post is exactly why I turn new mamas on to your blog.
Thanks (and much love)
Caryn in SC

Becca said...

You hit the nail on the head. This is the most thought provoking post I've read in a long time. All my synapses are firing!

Anonymous said...

Random thoughts...that poem(?) tirade(?) could end humanity is wrong.

Old people, not the middle aged but the frail nearing death type old people, will tell anything like young children. And they will LISTEN too.

Not sure what it means, just an observation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honest blog, your courage and for giving us all the permission (some of us need) to just say it all out loud. I have often felt guilty sharing my yucky birth story but every time I talked about it I felt better because unlike at the time, I felt like someone might be listening! I found your blog through your posting about the c-sections . . . awesome, I read it occasionally when I feel like I should somehow be MORE! and not ME!