I was raised in as close to a gender neutral environment as my parents could manage. Oh I knew that there were differences between girls and boys, but none of those differences had anything to do with ability. I truly believed growing up that I could do anything I wanted, and no it didn't matter that I was a girl, I could still be a baseball player.
This afforded me all sorts of amazing self confidence growing up, and allowed me to do all the cool sporty things I wanted to do. In short, I grew up a tomboy. I remember hearing the phrase "You hit like a girl!" for the first time and not understanding why that was supposed to be an insult.
The only major disadvantage that I've learned about growing up the way I did is that I have very little sense of "girly". I don't wear makeup unless absolutely necessary, and when I do I feel awkward, like I have a ton of paste smeared all over my face. I don't wear a lot of jewelery, only sentimental pieces occasionally.
The worst part however is my inability to dress myself. My default outfit is Jeans, a T-shirt, a Hoodie if it's cold, and sneakers or Doc Martins. This is fine. I honestly wouldn't want to change what I wear day to day. For dress up however I am hopelessly lost. I resort to collecting "women's magazines" and gleaning outfit ideas from there.
These are all minor inconveniences however. I am proud of my Tomboy status. When I was active at the dojo, I was proud of every bruise, every scrape, every hit. I loved the fact that I could go toe to toe with the guys and fight just as hard. It bothered me when then pulled punches.
The most annoying thing I've ever been told is "I can't spar you, your a girl, I can't hit a girl."
Ok, fine, stand there while I pummel you then, if it makes your macho ego feel better, but I honestly think that behind every time that I've gotten that statement was a truer one: "I can't spar you because if I loose, I'll have lost to a girl!" Which of course is somehow the worst thing ever. Because girls are Less then guys, and a guy should never loose to a girl, especially in a physical contest.
Well you know what? No. It dosn't work that way. Girls are not less than guys. We can hit hard and we can fight hard and we can run hard. In fact I've seen studies that prove that we can handle pain better, so I figure that makes it so we can work harder than you. (Ok so that study was about arthritis, but I think it applies to the "day after a workout" ache too.)
I'm proud of the fact that I "Hit like a girl" because you know what? I am a girl, and I'll still kick your butt.