I must have been four or five. My mom and I were talking, and I asked, “Why do I have to be the girl? Why does Alex get to be the boy?” My mother answered in that high voice she used for lying, “It’s just as good to be a girl as a boy. You’ll understand when you’re older.”
I knew I’d been gypped. The discussion just started because I couldn’t do any of the boy things I wanted to do. As years went on, though, it grew. Why does my brother go out and play while I fold his socks? If the church rules on something, it must be righteous. So it is ok to forbid women from speaking aloud, voting, lighting the candles, teaching adults, and earning equal pay.
Voices formed in my head: Girls aren’t as good or smart as boys. Girls work while boys play. Being a girl is being less capable and worthwhile. I’m less capable and worthwhile than other people. The voices competed. One followed the bible passages and said it would be a sin if I didn’t believe that women were less than men. Another voice insisted on love and justice, and on equality and kindness. Treating women badly was neither just nor kind. Early cracks in my belief formed as the irreconcilable voices refused to behave.
Trying to understand why I had to be the girl got it all started. Being the girl was good practice for being mentally wild.