On being “one of the boys”

Picture this:  you are a woman, and you are surrounded by a group of your closest friends. You’re not the only woman in the group; rather, you are one of two. Everyone else in the group identifies as male. Amidst the light-hearted conversation, you hear one of your male friends turn to your female friend and refer to her as “One of the Boys”.

You pretend like it means nothing, because the interaction had nothing to do you, but you can’t stop thinking about it. You think about it so much that you need to write a blog post to eloquently organize your feelings and share them with others.

You think about what it means for your friend to be called One of the Boys. The Boys probably see her as a relaxed, low maintenance friend, who meshes easily with their group. She can contribute to the witty banter between the Boys, and can receive playful insults as well as she can give them. The Boys can relate to her without stepping outside their comfort zone.

You think about what it means that you were not called One of the Boys. Do the Boys see you as high-strung? High-maintenance? Does this make them like you less? Are your contributions to the witty banter less valuable than that of your female friend’s? Can the Boys not relate to you while remaining inside their comfort zone?

You begin to feel overwhelmed by a looming sense of Otherness. Clearly, you are different. There is something about you that separates you from the Boys, something that your female friend must not possess. You are not One of them. You cannot be One of them.

You begin to consider your relationships with your female friends, and how in all your years, you have found only one group that mirrors the closeness you observe between the Boys. Not just these Boys, but any Boys. You wonder why it is that you flock towards groups of men, rather than women, if you will never be seen as One of them. You are reminded of the trope of Girl Who Doesn’t Get Along With Other Girls. You do not like this. You do not want to be a Girl Who Doesn’t Get Along With Other Girls.

You question why the epitome of social assimilation and “coolness” is being One of the Boys. Why fitting in requires a partial erasure of your gender identity. Why femininity and womanhood stand in such dissonance with the people you consider your closest friends. Whether or not there even is a dissonance. Could this be all in your head? Is it your gender or your personality that separates you from being One of the Boys? Is there a difference? Does it matter?

You realize that, perhaps, you do not want to be One of the Boys. Rather, you yearn for the Boys to see you as One of them, in the same way they see themselves, without forgetting that you are, in fact, a Woman. You are not a Boy. You can never be a Boy. But this is because you do not want to be a Boy. You want to be You.

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