I was never the “typical little girl” when I was younger. No Barbies, no pink schoolbag, no dress, no little girl mates to play with. I was a kind of girl that was going against the perfect stereotype of the gender theory. I was playing with little cars with the boys of the neighborhood, my hair was always very short and my clothes came from the kid boys’ section of Zara.
Then, I went to high school. Boys were looking at me differently, my hair was growing longer, and my little boyshorts were disappearing for skirts. My interests stayed the same—books, video games, and sports. I started watching football, first following my hometown team and the French national team for a big international tournament. But soon, I heard about European leagues and in one month’s time, I was a fan of the great, the famous, the fantastic club of Manchester United.
When college came around, I had my own apartment and was working to support myself. I went out often to watch football with my mates, while trying to ignore the sidelong glances the other guys were throwing me. For 6 long years, I kept my calm when serving behind a bar, people judged the way I was dressed every single night. I kept my calm when every week I heard “You’re so much prettier when you smile”. I also kept my calm every time a drunk fool tried to flirt because I was a “vulnerable bartender”. And I kept my calm every time I heard “for a girl, you know what you’re talking about!”
This was until one peaceful afternoon while drinking a beer outside my favourite pub with my then boyfriend. Three of his friends saw us as they were walking by and stopped to join us. Soon, the conversation landed on football, and more importantly on my dear club Manchester United. I disagreed with one of the guys on a subject. He started interrogating me on my knowledge of the team, as he doubted my knowledge on the subject. My patience starts leaving me, but I was used to it.
I calmly answered to the human football encyclopedia in front of me. After a 10/10, I lost 15 minutes of my time and life, I expected the guy to take me a bit more seriously, and to appreciate my point of view on the subject I knew well and have loved since I was 10 years old. This was not the case, surprisingly. I spoke louder and actually took some pleasure to raise my voice against this clown, even for a subject as little as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. When I finished my speech, he clearly did’t know what to say. Everybody around the table knew he just been ridiculed by a “little girl”. But even when there was nothing left for him to do, he still chose to disagree with me. I then asked him if a girl being right about a subject like football would hurt his ass too much. He replied that he was not ready.
At this point, I’ve heard too much and I decided to finish my beer inside. I was tired of justifying myself on a subject I should not have to. The three guys left too—they probably went back home to the eighteenth century. I heard my boyfriend say goodbye. I turned my head and saw those three boys, laughing to death with their eyes full of arrogance as they called out this last sentence—
“What’s your problem anyway? You’re lesbian or what?”
After this journey in hell, my boyfriend tried to comfort me. “Don’t be sad about them, they are idiots.”
The problem isn’t that they’re idiots, though I’m sure they would never win a Nobel prize. But if this kind of situation were uncommon, I would not be here telling it right now. The problem is, when you are living in a woman’s skin, this situation is reoccurring. The problem is, that they disqualified my knowledge and my intelligence because of my gender that day. They took me for what I am not. They excluded me from a discussion because it was apparently reserved for males.
That night, I realised I was tired. Tired of justifying myself, every word I say, and every move I make. Tired of hearing people telling me how I should dress, behave, or live my relationships. Tired of knowing that the label of “dyke” or “slut” is not far away if I dare stray off the path society has drawn for me.
Since that day, I’ve decided to fight. To fight for a more free and fairer society. To fight for a sexuality with no taboo, embarrassment, or judgment. To also fight to be able, one day, to raise my kids in a world where they do not submit to gender roles. A world where my little boy could wear pink or my little girl could watch Manchester United without being called a homophobic slur, and without the fear of people eyeing them with surprise, mockery or disdain.