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Clarissa: "I've always had a "deep voice for a girl". On the phone people call me "sir". I'm tall and physically strong. My kids call me The Tree. I feel good about my strength, my deep resonant voice, my 'large' qualities of solidity and steadiness and gravity, like a tree too strong to blow over, roots in the earth. The only problem I've ever had with the way I am is how some people are put off or scared by me. 

I jar them.  A tall, strong, easy woman who doesn't apologize or moderate the way she looks and moves and sounds throws their concept of reality off. They look like they want to run away. From what? Do they ever wonder?

I feel apart of nature, the earth,  living creatures. There is no artifice in them. I would have to carve pieces of my soul out like people carve out mountain tops when they strip-mine to fit in the world where those people wouldn't be afraid of me. Why would I want to be less my self? What is to  gained from becoming less unique? Hiding in a mass identity of less-ness?

People spend so much energy trying to compromise, they never really know happiness. They never know themselves. 

Sex roles are a half life.  That shouldn't be enough for anyone. I have never been fooled into thinking it would be enough for me. "



Jimmy: A Story of Colors and Toys "This is how a girl acts. This is how a boy acts."

"I thought myself free of sexism. "I'm going to let my kids be themselves. Whoever they are, I'm lucky to have two great bambinos!"

Honestly, I didn't realize it when I held Kim tenderly and Jude at a distance. I didn't think when I bought her dolls and him trucks - they always played with each others toys anyway.

It wasn't until I saw Jude wearing Kim's pink kitten sweatshirt and Kim fighting with Jude for the baseball mitt that it hit me. I was unintentionally molding them as I had been molded. Clipping their wings and shaping them.

I put a cloud over their happiness.

I had to step back and take my hands off. Let them take the lead, pick their clothes, make their own choices. Learn from my beautiful kids how not to be sexist. How to let them be themselves. Cause I thought I knew, but I was wrong.

I get the expression now "your kids set you free". They are my favorite people. They are their own people".

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\Mick: "When I was scared I always hungered for my parents to hold and comfort me tenderly like they did my sister, but I understood that they would think less of me if I expressed my need to them. I learned to swallow my fears, cultivate a loud, pushy façade to cover how I felt, and tried to brazen my way through scary situations by hitting first.”

 

Juan: “My worst childhood memory is of being taken on a ‘manly’ hunting ritual with my father and brother. Neither my brother nor I wanted to kill a living being! My father had decided to toughen us up and show us the way real men are in the world. I’ll never forget how sad, reluctant and bad I felt, shooting a beautiful buck. My father stuck it’s antlers on a plaque on our dining room wall. I could never eat in that room again without feeling sick."

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Toshiro: "I grew up in a family where men did not express emotion. Our role was to provide and rule. My wife, and eventually my second wife and I, never shared intimate feelings; more specifically, I didn’t share my feelings. I didn’t know how, and thought they would think I was weak if I did.

Same story with my children. They went to their mothers for their emotional needs; I had no real connection with them.

After both women left me and my children never came around, it dawned on me that I was very lonely, and not only was I lonely now - I had always been lonely. And I had no idea what to do about it. No idea how to reach out and share any part of myself with another person."

 

Kara: "I was taught that women were supposed to be passive and have no life goals. I always felt incomplete, and searched for a partner who would supply the missing parts of me; drive, ambition, focus, passion. I would live in them and through them.

I felt sort of pale or ghostly as a human being. Inside I kept thinking something was missing, in me or in my relationships, and I worried about my ability to be feminine because I had these recurring impulses to assert my intelligence and will, and how unattractive was that?

The truth was that part of me hated my partner, my child, and my family members because of the role I felt they required of me. I didn’t realize that I also required it of myself.

Finally I broke out of the confining social world of the family, church, and people that I had grown up with and whom I defined myself by. I met people who were really themselves – independent, whole people – and I was so excited! I didn’t have to diminish myself to be accepted, and I refused to subdue myself any longer. It was terrifying, great, and totally necessary.

I learned that I could be strong and was amazed that instead of expecting unflinching strength from the “strong” partner I’d chosen, my expectations shifted; I felt compassion for him. I appreciated his fears. We enjoyed sharing responsibilities. We were finally able to be close."

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Photo By Coentor - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18764835

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