When I was a kid, me and my siblings used to play card games. Sometimes we got our parents to play with us, which was fun because with more players some games got more difficult and therefore more fun. Usually the atmosphere was friendly, at least I don’t remember anybody being upset from losing. None of us were skilled card dealers, meaning that we sometimes fumbled with the cards. For some reason this always made my dad remind us of that dropping a card while dealing wasn’t allowed back in the old Wild West. This comment was said as a joke, sometimes my dad formed his fingers to look like a gun and pretended to shoot himself in the head when he was the one fumbling. This wasn’t particularly funny but I considered it just another case of boring adult humor. Sometimes though, this was followed by something utterly weird.
In more than one of these occasions, my dad made a comment on how women like me wouldn’t survive a day in the old Wild West saloons. Meaning, women who spoke their minds and refused to conform to the traditional subordinate position expected from women. Women who were loud, wild, didn’t take orders from anyone and who questioned authorities. Women who were disobedient.
I don’t remember how old I was the first time this happened, but I can’t have been more than ten. When I think about my childhood, I have so many memories of this kind of comments from different people. Teachers, parents, relatives, and a bunch of other adults. They all made sure I knew that I was not like girls were supposed to be like. Very often, people made these comments in the same way that my dad did, not as an upfront accusation, but as a part of a joke. People sneaked it in and it always made me confused. If I confronted the person who made the comment I would prove them right. If I didn’t confront them, I was left confused. These comments made me feel ashamed, since I was obviously a faulty version of a girl.