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BK (Before Korrektiv): Texpat Transcript

“I don’t know, I just kind of want to join their blog, because, and I know this is bad, but I just cannot STAND to only be talking to groups of WOMEN all the time. That’s bad. I know that’s bad. There is just so much SUBTEXT and you always have to be clarifying that I-don’t-mean-to-say-that-so-and-so and I only get to talk about CHILDREN and I just miss having REAL CONVERSATIONS do you know what I MEAN?”

(reaches for Blanton’s) “Yeah, I do know what you mean.”

“I am just SAYING and now I feel bad, because I don’t really mean that about only talking to women all the time, but it’s just – you know what? I *do* mean that. Everything has to be overanalyzed and I just cannot keep talking about PARENTING just because I am a WOMAN I mean when you are hanging out with guys you can just say what you MEAN, you know? Without all this worrying about what they are going to read into what you’re saying?”

(it has dawned upon him that there is no correct response in this situation. He tries to feign slumber).

“Why are you LOOKING at me like that? What are you THINKING? Are you thinking that I am just crazy? What does that look MEAN?”

Being a Girl

My alma mater had many positive offerings, but what it did not offer was a wealth of traditions passed down through the ages that bound us together as one.

At least, this was the opinion of parts of the administration, who therefore decided to form a committee on Social Life and Traditions. The first stage was an exhaustive survey which we completed in residence hall meetings (not dorms – they’re not just for sleeping, we reside there). The survey asked us if we had suggestions for new traditions, fond memories of existing rituals at the school, new ideas. I filled mine out very thoroughly. Respondents would remain anonymous.

A couple of weeks later, I was interviewing to be a resident assistant – several  of us had made it to the “group interview” stage, in which we sat around a conference table and demonstrated our ability to exchange ideas from diverse perspectives in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration. We made polite conversation while the dean shuffled through her papers to prepare for the formal interview.

All of us happened to be female.

Halfway through the interview, the dean set the script aside and invited us to lean in for a frank discussion of the survey on Social Life and Traditions.

“I have to tell you, ladies, we are up against some obstacles here.”

She panned the room conspiratorially.  “Would you like to hear what some man wrote on his survey?” She opened a file folder and read:

It is unclear to me why it is necessary for the administration of this university to impose traditions upon the student body when the point of traditions is that they develop organically as a result of shared experiences. I can’t help but wonder how successful this effort will be given the extremely artificial nature of the entire enterprise…

I blushed. Tried to look merely curious, and stammered, “Are you sure that a man wrote it?”

“Oh, ho, ho! Yes, girls, I’m sure that a man wrote this.” I contemplated the years I’d spent developing a fluid, curlicue-based handwriting –  in hopes of beguiling suitors with carefully penned letters – and realized they had all been wasted.

“Well, but I mean, it could have been…oh, never mind, I guess it doesn’t matter.”

I wanted the job. And I knew the committee would be dead in the water by the end of the semester.

I realize that most of the characteristics I dislike about myself are also characteristics I associate with stereotypical femininity, and that’s…not really healthy, I’m sure.  And yet I decided to put “All you need to know is that I’m a lady” as my descriptor here, because – well, there is something to be said for being a lady – certainly versus a gal.

I don’t know, I just can’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow lately, I just keep going off-road with all these “what if I had (insert rejected opportunity)?” detours and coming back to “hmmrhph smrf hmph, MEN don’t have to make these decisions,” which: also not really true. And then there’s the Annual Christmas Freakout, which really is a thing, and consists of making EXTREMELY BOLD PRONOUNCEMENTS about THE STATE OF THINGS.

I just keep thinking, “WOMAN. Get ahold of yourself!”