Posted by: beansai | February 8, 2008

Journal Entry #1: Jarhead

    I realized today that I am a Grunt, a corporate Grunt. I am the shit-stirrer, lighting up the corporate waste that I am a part of, becoming one with the stench and smoke that makes up this burning. As I chicken-scratch on the cardboard backside of my spiral-bound notebook, shaking with anger and frustration, it is taking an overwhelming amount of effort to halt the uncontrollable jarring of my leg as it bounces up and down, and to keep from screaming. What I would really like to do is punch somebody in the face, but that is not acceptable behavior in the workplace.

    There is no physical expression for my anger in this lifestyle, so it comes out in tears instead. I hate this. When I cry in anger (because it is not permissible for me to rage in a drunken stupor, even outside of work), I feel as though I am seen in that weak-woman persona that has haunted the feminine for too long, as though I cannot stomach the wrath. It makes me ashamed of these briny droplets and the tear-ducts I have no control over. Yes, I would much rather punch someone, or something at the very least.

    Perhaps this is why Swofford enlists, because he is searching for the “Okay” that will condone an excessive expression of fury. I would like my masculinity back. Or at least the option to employ “masculine” behaviors when it is necessary without being called butch or a dyke. As unbecoming Swofford’s and his Marine Corps buddies’ behavior is, I can’t imagine that it would be even remotely as accepted from a woman. Even in the military setting. But I can’t honestly claim any knowledge of military life, aside from a vague capitalist understanding of the pyramid scheme of rank. All I know is what I have seen in the movies or read in books, and most service oriented works focus on the men. Even when a woman is part of the crew, femininity fits her about as well as a size four fits me (and for those who don’t know me…a size four anything doesn’t fit). I don’t want to forfeit my womanhood for the right to be as angry as the next man.

     I don’t mean to say that we should all go around beating the crap out of each other, but repressing 20 something years of grievances is hardly the way to go. Perhaps my situation was a bit on the extreme side though. An act of serious aggression from me would not have been tolerated, I would have be berated, told that I knew better. This is where the gender conflicts come in though, isn’t it? My brother, while his behavior wasn’t condoned or encouraged by any means, it never quite came as a surprise either. I can’t help but wonder if my mother would be surprised to learn that there were rare instances, where I managed to get in a few good punches on my brother. Usually after these tiffs, I was worse for wear, with bruises on my arms and thighs, but at the same time it was a relief, we had worked a small piece of anger out, and we both had plenty in store, mine closeted and quiet, his blatant and rebellious.

     I can’t blame just the gender stigmas my own parents enforced, I played my own part, acted my own role. I let myself be manipulated. Especially once I was older. Now it comes back to haunt me, in times of high stress, when the anger is always brewing just beneath the surface and I struggle more to contain it than I once did under the constant vigilance of my parents. So how do we balance between the pressure cooker and the primal outlets of acts like war? How do we unhinge the gender roles we have played party to for so long? I simply don’t know. But I would appreciate an outlet where I won’t be criticized for simply feeling and expressing every range of emotion.


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