After going through many awkward years with a huge identity crisis I finally have given up. It’s not happening. I’m not finding myself. It’s all a hoax. I’ve been labeled and judged and that’s it. I’ve been defined by others and whether I agree with it or not doesn’t matter.
I did think sometimes however, for brief and fleeting moments of self-assured emancipation, that I was someone I knew. When I started growing up and my parents became my biggest fans and champion I thought that was who I was. A charming girl who was a sidekick to her parents and reveled in this type of quick-setting glory. I adopted their mannerism and copied their ways in order to look and act like them. Some people call it the Electra Complex which was later proved to not exist but I didn’t have that. My parents deserved reverence. Loads of it. So I wasn’t smitten by them for nothing. They were the brightest stars of my universe.
Marriage, the thing that I was told was going to be my identity, took away a lot of it. Motherhood took away the rest. A career in medicine ripped me of whatever identity I had left. My hashtags became mom/wife/physician mom/ autism mom/ brown mom/ immigrant physician. Blah blah.
So it’s not weird that my kids will fight with this identity crisis also. They will be called third culture kids and what not and I believe my daughter will have larger issues than my son because she’s a woman. She will be expected to honor culture, revive religion, celebrate her modesty. Blah blah.
My son, I think, is going to make out great. Just like my brother has and just like my husband did. He will play baseball with other kids for as long as we live in suburban America and basketball if he ever chooses to dorm for college. He will wear whatever he wants since modesty isn’t a concept that extends to men. He will also be able to date with casual warnings from his father about how he shouldn’t have sex. I have a feeling that kissing might be okay for my son through subliminal messaging that will reach him from us about how rules are different for him.
My daughter, I believe, is going to have an identity for as long as she is with me. Here’s another woman who gets her. We both dress the same, talk the same and even share ideas about equality and an ideal world for women. She’ll read about the many women who were hunted and even subjected to physical punishment for wanting to educate themselves and live a life that resembles the other gender’s. She’ll think “Thank God I wasn’t born in the 1900s”.
But then she’ll go out of the protective shell of her parents’ home and face the music. She’ll realize that education is easier now just cuz. Not because there’s intentionality involved. Education is just what more modern humans do. But work is hard. Getting accepted is difficult and moving up the ladder is inhibited by virtue of being a woman.
So I don’t want to raise my child with an identity that she has to compromise and add qualifiers to like wife, mother, sister, professional, earner, nester, hunter. I want her to go out as her mother did and take stock of the situation. Really understand how the world works against women and a lot of this antagonism is brought on by other women. How she is better off having no identity except that of a woman so she can truly feel the pain that other women go through. She should actually process the soul-searching and spirit-building. Only then can she be an ally and not pretend to be a woman while looking down upon other women through her bubble of privilege. And identity is a privilege. But an identity as a woman isn’t a privilege. It is however a bare-boned reality of my biggest truth. This is the only truth that keeps internalized misogyny at bay.
Being a woman is the only identity that sets my daughter apart from my son who sets out to conquer the world as the son of Adam while she works to change it as the daughter of a witch.