I never used to ‘do girls’. Let me quickly rephrase before you think I’ve made a surprising life decision.
I never used to ‘be a girls’s girl’. I used to think I was a lad’s girl. If you stuck me in a room with a gang of Lynx-wearing boys (or Brut for the more sensitive souls) who hadn’t washed their Nirvana t-shirts for a month, I was home. Fast forward a few years later, stick me at a bar with men who swigged pints and chatted about ‘non-girly’ things, and I was home. I didn’t want to sit obligingly at tables with birds who were wearing something nice they’d bought that day, with heels that made them walk funny and perfume that smelled of sweets, talking of nice things. I belonged with the men.
But women who sell this nonsense to themselves for whatever reason are denying themselves a wonderful thing. Because I now suspect that I told myself I was a boy’s girl for one main reason. Which is…
Boys seem dead exotic when you haven’t got any at home. I liked seeing what they got up to. And that meant getting up close to them. So I didn’t have much time for standing next to nice smelling women who chatted about girl things because I understood all that stuff because I was a girl and I had other girls at home. More of the same was a waste of time. I wanted to wander around the zoo of the possibilities of my own life. Men were like the monkey cage. The familiar and the curious and the unknowable all in the same skin. Similar to me but different. No one leaves the monkey cage without wanting to go back.
I suspect some girls feel comfortable around men because they either grew up with them, or some may even genuinely feel like they are more like the boys they know than the girls they know. But for me, I think I just needed to observe. Because one day I might want to be with one, to love one and understand one, maybe even stay with one and die with one. Maybe even feel that strange knowing that swirls around your heart with the tag ‘soul mate’ flickering in the breeze of complicity. It was like going to the movies and being able to walk into the film and stand beside the thing I did not know. And who doesn’t want to do that?
I think now that I get older – and this is something which is possibly now more important – actually what I, and other ‘non-girly’ girls like me, was identifying with was not the boys themselves, but with a refusal to be pigeon-holed.
Perhaps I had enough feminist spirit lurking somewhere as a kid and as a younger woman to know that I didn’t want to be told what kind of woman I should be. I equated men with freedom and choice and power. I equated women with the confines of all the nice behaviour and accepted femininity I had observed. And I didn’t want that.
I spend my time now with more women than I do men. Talking to, writing to, hanging out with, hugging, confiding in. I have had the beautiful luck to have somehow ended up with a network of female friends who fill my inner chambers with light and love, who challenge me, stick up to me, tell me when I am wrong or being dumb, who tell me when I’ve done well, who hold me and stroke my hair and hold my face and look into my eyes when I am crying. I have women I would actively go to in a heartbeat after a life of telling myself I don’t need anyone or anything. I need them. And every day throws up a succession of little sweetnesses that fills me with gratitude.
I do women now. They’ve got my back. They’ve got my boobs and bum and head and heart and blood. I am boob-honkingly burptastically in love with women. Because I am one, whatever I want that to mean. Through loving other women, I am really beginning to love being one myself. And that is something I’ll get to keep for life.