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[personal profile] ishyface
The fun thing about being genderqueer is that you just can't win for losing sometimes.

Lately I've been trying out a different aesthetic. Girl-cut shirts, eyeliner, skinny jeans, femmey stuff like that. And while I like it, and while I think it looks fucking nifty, I don't like the baggage that goes along with it.

Part of the reason why I've always gone for baggier clothes is because it hides my shape. I'm a pretty curvy person and a lot of times that bothers me- it's harder to pass when you've got child-bearing hips, and even though a lot of the time I don't pass anyway it's still nice to have that extra bit of security. For the past few years I've mostly bought things a couple of sizes too big for me because of that. Now that I'm getting into more form-fitting stuff that's not really an option. People can tell what my assigned sex is, and they treat me differently because of it.

It's the little things you notice. When you pass for a guy- or even just for a very butch girl- people do not maintain eye contact as long. They do not hold doors open or try to strike up conversations on the bus as often. They don't call you by pet names, and they don't ask if you need to be walked to your car. Masculinity gives you a kind of impenetrability, and I mean that in as many senses of the word as you like. Masculinity means that people assume you can take care of yourself, that no one will fuck (with) you. It means that you can move freely and that people won't ask as many questions. This, I suppose, is part of what they call male privilege.

The first time I noticed a difference was in the summer. I'd been playing around with eye makeup that morning and was wearing a pink shirt, and I went downtown for some reason or other. After an hour or two I went into a pizza place to get some lunch, and the guy at the counter smiled at me and called me "sweetie."

I'd been going to that pizza place for about four years, and that guy had been working there the whole time. He'd never "sweetie'd" me before. Never smiled. It was weird.

It's the little things you notice. People rushing to hold a door for you. A casual "honey" from someone who's known you five minutes. Profs passing you over in class. Questions about boys- which ones are cute, which ones are nice, which ones you're dating (and if not, why not?). People telling you that you "look nice"- not because you actually do, but because you look more like what they think you should look like. People assuming that you want to talk to them, or sit with them, or fuck them, because it's not like you're doing anything better with your time, right? People explaining things to you. Femininity opens you up in that way- or, rather, it lets people assume that you are opened up. Emotionally, physically, sexually, whatever, you're available and convenient and you'd damn well better be grateful, too.

It's all because of a few pieces of clothing and a stick of fucking kohl, and it pisses me off.

My biology is incidental to my personhood. I'm not a different person because I've got two X chromosomes instead of a Y; wearing eyeliner and skinny jeans doesn't make me a girl, any more than it makes fucking Pete Wentz a girl. It shouldn't carry so many gendered connotations. There's nothing female about makeup (the Celts agree) or tight pants (hey there, Shakespeare) or the colour pink (the "proper" colour for boy's clothing until very recently). There's nothing male about them, either. They're just things. That's all.

But people pounce on them and make judgments and decide based on their own preconceptions and insecurities whether you're a boy or a girl (and God help you if they can't decide). And THEN they decide how they should react to you, not in spite of gender but because of it. It's stupid, and it's fucked up, and I don't like it.

My identity's complicated. I'm not a boy (except for when I am), I'm not a girl (except for when I am), I'm not really both or a mixture or something in between (except for when I am). I'm Gerald.

I wish there was some way I could get that across without having to conform to a fucking dress code.

on 2008-11-11 05:17 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
here, here. gender is a dire, miserable thing and you'll always be treated differently based on whether you're a perceived chick or dick, so i figure the only way to make people stop is by being VERY FUCKING SCARY. like me. i'm utterly conformist in the way i dress -- i wear uncomfortable high heels and toolish fashionable clothes, but no one talks to me, looks at me, or calls me honey. EVER. i hear that i'm utterly unapproachable. i don't know how i do it but whatever it is, it makes me blissfully happy.

CHILD-BEARING HIPS! that is one of my all-time favourite expressions for no apparent reason. i want to run around town shouting CHILD-BEARING HIPS in the direction of anyone who'll listen.
also, what is it about pete wentz and why does he make me all, arrrggg, melty? i've never been melty for an emo boy before. it's discumbobulating.

on 2008-11-11 05:34 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That is awesome. :D Girls who can walk in heels are the scariest girls around, I think. Because in order to walk in those fucking things you've gotta be a secret ninja.


Pete Wentz has that effect on many, many people! I think it is because he is half delite emo blossom and half twelve-year-old boy. And also because he is weirdly attractive.

on 2008-11-11 01:42 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Girls who can walk in heels are the scariest girls around, I think

That reminds of me visiting Paris. The women there wore scary ass high heels and could be scary and badass women. They just seemed utterly unapproachable, because they looked that tough and aloof. Mind, Parisians tend to err on the "aloof" side in general.

on 2008-11-11 04:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I will keep an eye out for that if I ever go to Paris.

on 2008-11-11 05:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
>Because in order to walk in those fucking things you've gotta be a secret >ninja.

yay! all this time, i've been critiquing myself for appearing as a het conformist woman completely and utterly imprisoned by The Male Gaze, when in reality I AM A NINJA. hoo-wah.
*empowered grunting*

on 2008-11-11 05:26 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
God, yes. I know how you feel.

And God has a fucked up sense of irony, because I too have a perfect child-bearing frame. The whole nine yards. THANKS MAN. Thanks.


on 2008-11-11 05:36 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I feel like I should donate these fuckin' things, dude! DEAR GOD: YOU CAN TAKE 'EM BACK NOW, I PROMISE I AM NOT USING THEM.
(deleted comment)

on 2008-11-11 06:04 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

(deleted comment)

on 2008-11-11 06:09 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
*Bender-style air punch* AWRIGHT!
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Posted by [identity profile] - on 2008-11-11 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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on 2008-11-11 06:08 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
*snuggles back* DON'T DAMAGE YOUR NECK.

It really shouldn't matter, you know? If I woke up tomorrow and I had a Y chromosome I'd still hate sports and I'd still unironically listen to the Spice Girls and I'd still cry every time I watched Moulin Rouge! That's just the way I AM. It's got nothing to do with what gender I am (or what gender people think I am, anyway). It's so hard to explain that to people sometimes, though, because it's been ground into our heads that it makes a difference- and if it doesn't, it should and you're just doing it wrong.

Katie, you are such a fucking sweetheart and I love you too. ♥
(deleted comment)

on 2008-11-11 04:41 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Depends. Can I be your orator in Superman boxers? :D
(deleted comment)

on 2008-11-11 11:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Then I am IN.

on 2008-11-11 06:40 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I am new here, but this was a super interesting read.

Gender is a complex thing, and it makes me sad that there are so many people who take for granted what they're told, instead of thinking about it for real and understanding that it isn't a matter of an arbitrary binary thing, or even a binary choice to make.

on 2008-11-11 04:43 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
*nod* Yeah. I hate that people are made to feel like it is a choice that they need to make, and that the choice itself is so damn limited.

on 2008-11-11 10:40 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Gerald is a neato name.

Yes, that's really all I have to say. Given that I just had a long evening with my boyfriend and my ex-girlfriend where we discussed my FTM roommate... Well, let it be said that I have heard and understood...

on 2008-11-11 04:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm pretty fond of it! (I didn't choose it, though- I kind of got renamed in eleventh grade and it just stuck.)

on 2008-11-11 01:28 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I know! I'm constantly having to prove that just because I am a girl and -- god forbid -- sometimes even look like a girl, that I'm not going to break.

I was bringing down heavy flats to start building yesterday, and I almost wanted Sol to walk in so I could school him. He's amazed that we do the things we do, being girls. I guess the strong females he knows are strong of mind, not of body, but it's different with us somehow because we almost don't have a choice. If we waited for the guys to get things done, we'd need a hell of a lot more time, so why not just do them ourselves?

This is why I got so upset when Cody told me she was hiring big farm boys from the valley to build the set. Luckily they didn't work out.

Anyway, in conclusion: YES. THAT.

on 2008-11-11 04:47 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That's so weird! People did that a lot at camp, too- Graeme was pretty bad for assuming that girls couldn't do things, and Caroline and Chelsea sat him down and schooled him about it one day. Apparently the first thing he said when they were done was, "You know, I don't think girls should plan campfire." :[

It's really silly to expect that you would sit around and wait for the boys to do things for you. I mean, you're going to film school for a reason, you know? Building sets and moving heavy shit and all is part of that. Why wouldn't you learn how to do it yourself?

You should totally school Sol. And maybe catch it on film so that I can watch said schooling.

on 2008-11-11 01:40 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

If it makes you feel better, even when I'm in full boy!mode and think I'm pretty much passing, people still "sweetie/honey" me and open doors for me. (Which means I ain't passing.) Meh.

I wish people didn't care so much and would mind their own damn business.

Also: the way my culture treats women and feminity is simply craptastic. I really wish people would knock it off and stop treating women like things that could break, objects to fuck/admire, stupid, need protection, etc. Women are like, people, duh. Even in this world where the cards are stacked unevenly against the feminine presenting . . . I just find the world's problem with women and feminity so tiring.

I think it's a testament to human (and women especially) survival that people haven't gone nuts and killed each each other off with all these gendered assumptions and expectations being heaped upon us.

on 2008-11-11 04:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Women are like, people



on 2008-11-11 05:45 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]


on 2008-11-11 06:34 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]


on 2008-11-11 08:00 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]


(OK. Now I am just deteoriating into a childish mindset were I consider advancing on some poor, future sex partner to the Jaws theme.

And then I think: hey, I can put this in my novel.

Nuthin' says comedy gold like JAWS. THE CUNT.)

on 2008-11-11 11:20 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

on 2008-11-11 04:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I know what you mean about being treated differently when people assume 'girl'. I was sexually harassed by classmates on a regular basis from grade seven onwards, and most people who knew about it thought that I liked it, despite my constant assertions to the contrary. When I'd complain about things like not being able to work in class because of the constant stream of comments and 'accidental' physical contact, I was usually told that I actually 'enjoyed the attention' and 'had a crush' on the main instigator. And it wasn't even like I had to dress 'like a girl' to get this kind of treatment. (I wore so many layers of baggy boy-clothing that I could have been hiding a conjoined twin.) It got to the point where I was having horrible graphic nightmares about these guys, but clearly the fact that I'd been assigned female meant that I liked it. *headdesk*

Now that I'm always read as male, I get no shit of that variety. I hate the fact that it was a change in appearance that's made people leave me the hell alone; my former self could really have used the space.

on 2008-11-11 04:52 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
:( I'm so sorry, Dev. That's horrible.

I remember when I was a kid I used to hang around with this little boy that my mother babysat. He was younger than me, but he was also stronger, and one of his favourite things to do was hold me down and spit in my mouth. It really freaked me out at the time, but because we'd played house and stuff before nobody really took me seriously when I said that.

I'm glad you aren't getting that shit anymore. Because if you did? It'd make me really, really angry.

on 2008-11-12 12:21 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
What the fuck is up with people? It's like they don't believe we're capable of forming an opinion. Actually, no; they seem to think we're incapable of forming negative opinions. If we dislike something, we must be WRONG. Or lying. Or something. ('Oversensitive', probably, come to think of it.)

*kicks an innocent hydro pole to relieve feelings*

on 2008-11-12 11:18 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I KNOW. Fuck. It's so ridiculous and backwards and just... just fuckin' wrong.

on 2008-11-11 05:51 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I heart you so much. You make these amazing, smart posts all the time and I'm so happy I'm on your flist.

Anyways. I don't have any genderqueer stories because I was born female and completely identify as female. But to a lesser degree, I absolutely understand what you're talking about. There are days (more often than not) that I'm too lazy and tired to bother putting any effort at all into my outfit, and I throw on a pair of jeans or sweats and a t-shirt and a hoodie and run out the door. Those days, people don't look at me very much at all. Doors don't always get held open, and no one stops me on the street to ask where something is. But then those days where I put on the makeup or the effort into my outfit and wear a pretty skirt or a flowy top and do my hair a little differently, there is a change. People will talk to me far more often, I get called "honey" at stores.

I can't completely say whether mine is due to a more girlish look or what. Maybe because I'm not so tired on the days I put on the skirts, I look a little more awake and smiley, and thus more approachable. But I'm sure part of it is that their perception of me has changed. I look more feminine, and thus more open to what people want from me. Like I'm helpful, and submissive.

I don't mind the "honeys" so much (they usually come from old ladies or, when I worked at CVS, from customers when I looked like I was having a bad day, which was kind of uplifting), and I don't even mind people holding the door open for me (most people do try to hold the door open for anyone behind them, out of common courtesy, which is great), but it's interesting to pause and think "If I were dressed differently, or identified with a different gender, would you be treating me the same?"

on 2008-11-11 06:44 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Maybe because I'm not so tired on the days I put on the skirts, I look a little more awake and smiley, and thus more approachable.

I'm glad you mentioned this- I hadn't thought of it that way and it's making me think of things a little differently. Maybe the reason why I get more attention when I look "feminine" is because I've put more obvious effort into my appearence, and that's often seen as a sign of approachability. Interesting!

I usually don't mind people holding doors for me and things like that- I hold doors for people too. It does give me pause, though, that there's such a difference when I'm wearing baggy pants and a hoodie.

And thanks. I'm glad you're on my flist too. ♥

on 2008-11-11 06:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Some days, I feel that my own gender is pretty... stable? I feel as though I'm definitely a girl. Solid, maybe? Anyway, other days, I wish I was less curvy so that I could dress butch/androgynous and have people mistake me for a boy. After I read Dick for a Day, I became mildly obsessed with the idea of what it's like to have a penis. Even when I was eight, I loudly protested how unfair it was that boys didn't have to wear shirts all the time. So it's not as solid as I thought.

I just wish we lived in a world where this sort of thing was understood and normalized. I love my mother to death, and she's exceptionally accepting of my queerness, but if I'd told her as a child that I wanted a penis like a boy, she would have probably been a little concerned. I wish we lived in a world where everyone understood that nothing - not gender, or sexuality, or anything - is solid.

on 2008-11-11 11:27 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That book looks really interesting- I'll have to try and pick it up.

I wish we lived in a world where everyone understood that nothing - not gender, or sexuality, or anything - is solid.


I was actually going to post something here about how my gender identity kind of provokes reactions similar to bisexuality- when a bisexual person is with someone of the same/opposite sex they're assumed to be gay/straight, and when I dress one way or the other I'm assumed to be one thing or the other, rather than a third option. I'm not sure if that's a fair comparison to make, though, and I don't want to be seen as co-opting bisexual identity or experience, so I left it out. :)

on 2008-11-13 04:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I think that it's a fair comparison to make in a larger essay or something (with the clear disclaimer that you're not trying to co-opt the bisexual identity). People will assume the norm if it's presented to them. So, you standing in front of a person in the street dressed in "girl" clothes will almost never provoke the reaction "Oh, that person has a fluid gender identity" (or whatever), just like me dating a guy wouldn't provoke someone who didn't know me to say "Oh, she must be bisexual." But the minute we step outside of those shoes/roles/whatever, there's this sudden avalanche of apparent queerness that wasn't there before (to them, even though to us it was always present) and a lot of times people don't understand.

on 2008-11-11 10:05 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
as a gay male who got too good at playing straight, i can definitely relate. it's a whole world of difference depending on what you feel like performing in a certain time and place. and all prescribed roles are so constrictive, that's why i will never choose just one.

also - i often find myself wishing that males would pay me the attention they so automatically pay to females. although i'm sure i'd easily get sick of it, if it were to become a norm.

on 2008-11-11 11:29 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
i often find myself wishing that males would pay me the attention they so automatically pay to females. although i'm sure i'd easily get sick of it, if it were to become a norm.

That's really interesting. I've felt the same way in the opposite direction sometimes, but often the way women react to men- in public spaces, at least- is tinged with a kind of subtle wariness that makes me sad. I can't imagine what it would be like to have a romantic interest react to me in that way.

on 2008-11-11 10:22 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
THIS. This this this this this!!!!

I used to be really girly - I had long hair, wore tight clothes, the whole nine yards. Then I cut my hair and started dressing "dykier" (more masculine/androgynous, but it's hard for me to disentangle sexuality and gender when it comes to me, personally), and I feel like then and now I interact with the world very differently.

I can't say how much of it is me and how much of it is how people treat me - but I can say that, even though a really femmey aesthetic still appeals to me sometimes, I never feel like I can present that way. I am still hanging on to a few short, pleated skirts because I just really like them, but I can't imagine anywhere I could go and wear them and feel comfortable with how people would treat me. Most of my uber-feminine wardrobe from a few years ago is gone, because every time I wore it I felt sexualized.


*huff puff angry feminist face*

on 2008-11-11 11:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
It is really, really hard to imagine you as girly! That's not meant to be insulting or anything- you just have a butchy sort of energy, I think. :)

(Although I don't know if I Inter-knew you when you were presenting that way, so maybe that energy comes hand in hand with the new way you interact with the world.)

The equation of femininity to willingness to have sex- YES. That fucking gets to me. One of the weird things about looking femmier is that I find I've started subconsciously thinking of myself in sexualized terms. The way I look, and the way people react to how I look, is suddenly floating to the top of my mind, where before it wasn't important. And half the time it isn't "I wonder if so and so will think I'm sexy", it's "oh, God, I hope I'm not sending out the wrong signals." It's bullshit, and I know it's bullshit, but it's still in my head.

on 2008-11-12 12:08 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
It's kind of hard for me to imagine me girly! I just did a post over in [ profile] birls (monthly theme is "change") and was amazed at how I looked just three and four years ago.

And, weirdly, my big reaction is "Man! I was so hot!" Not that I think I was more attractive but I was definitely sexier - and is it because I was femmier or because I thought about it more and thus acted sexier? Or because people treated me that way??? Ugh.

PS - I'm really flattered you think I have a "butchy sort of energy," so thanks! :D

on 2008-11-12 11:17 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
For what it's worth I think you're adorable either way. :)

on 2008-11-13 02:33 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Aw. Thanks.

on 2008-11-11 11:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

i've never really had that problem, until i started this job. for serious, the old dudes who come in and hit on us or make inappropriate comments, it's really disturbing. and most of the girls really play into it, i guess. (which is almost more disturbing.) i'm still trying to work out a half decent way of conveying that they need to not talk to me like that, since the raised eyebrow of annoyance isn't getting me anywhere. (and it is not lost on me that they definitely don't talk to frankie like that. and i don't remember, but i'm pretty sure that they never talked to ryan like that. :////)

on 2008-11-11 11:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

Ughhhhhh, I HATE creepy old dudes. I've not gotten many of those, luckily, but I've heard my female co-workers tell some pretty horrible stories about the way they behave and it's just. I hate that they feel so entitled to treating girls that way that they actually think it's complimentary. Newsflash, Old Dudes: that girl on the cash is there to check you out, not check you out. Take your shit and gtfo.

on 2008-11-12 02:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
ughh. yeah. i think the worst part is that i probably can't say anything about it without getting in trouble. and i'm like :////.

on 2008-11-12 11:16 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Fuck, man, that sucks. D:

on 2008-11-13 11:32 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
but on the upside, i can now do a bitch!face that is almost better than spencer's.



ishyface: (Default)
the creature from the blog lagoon

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