Mocked because my name ends in “SHE”
By Mahi Chitti
I grew up being mocked by both my peers and my elders because my name ends in “SHE.”
The shaming pushed me to invent a nickname, Mahi, so that my name would end with “HE.”
At the time I thought it was pretty cool. And having a name that ended in “he” made me feel a lot better about myself.
But now I realize that I had simply internalized the idea that men are better than women, and that masculine is better than feminine.
In fact, being teased as a “she” may have started my whole thought process that, “acting more like a man will help me.”
That, plus my brother constantly calling me a sissy. I was far from that, but I still got the title.
It all took a toll on my feminine side — a side that all men have, but hide.
For instance, I have always liked things to be neat and to look nice. But people shame me for being “girly.” For a while I tried to dirty up my room and be a little more rugged, but I didn’t like it at all.
Girls internalize these ideas too. A female friend of mine took a look at a binder I use for school and complained,
Damn, you’re such a girl! Why is your binder so organized?
So both men and women reinforce our gender notions, making them hard to change.
The strange thing is that this girl is a tomboy. She likes to hang out with guys and do male activities. But she doesn’t get much criticism.
That’s probably because we rank men and masculinity over females and femininity. If she crosses gender boundaries she is not seen as demeaning herself. I am.
Both masculine and feminine traits should be valued the same, but they are not. So men are under constant pressure to prove their manhood by cutting off parts of themselves. Women have much more flexibility to develop and express their whole selves.
Men and masculinity may be more valued but we often end up being more harmed in some ways, as we suffocate some of our best and healthiest parts.
This was written by one of my students who gave me permission to post it.
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