I honestly never got the importance of gender. Why people think it is so important has always been a mystery to me.
I don’t consider myself “gender queer”, instead I’m more of a gender agnostic. I tend to ask annoying questions about gender and gender roles.
One of the reasons I embrace the word, transsexual as a descriptive term rather than embracing the more recently popular term, transgender has to do with my whole agnosticism regarding gender.
When I was a kid I was labeled a sissy and never really understood why. Except I was physically small and nonathletic. The sports I enjoyed were solitary like swimming, wandering the woods and fields rather than playing team sports.
I was bookish, a passionate reader. I loved movies.
There were other kids, effeminate sort of campy boys whom I assume were gay boys. I had more in common with bookish tomboy girls.
I had a hard time understanding why certain crafts were for girls and others were for boys. They all seemed about making things with your hands.
I was fortunate to enter adulthood during the time of the hippies. I tried to find a place in the androgyny of long hair and androgynous clothes.
I still felt the discomfort within my own skin, the extreme discomfort with even the unassertive male sex characteristics that were coming as I entered my twenties.
I came out to my friends. Other than the most obvious aspect of my starting to wear skirts and dresses very little changed about my approach towards gender.
What did change and started changing the minute the first female hormones were in my blood stream was my sense of my physical being.
As my physical characteristics changed and I started living as a woman people responded to me differently than they had.
I wasn’t that conscious of my changing behavior but in retrospect I’m sure I started responding to the way I was being treated based on my appearance with gender appropriate behavior.
That is what I describe as the social dance of gender. It isn’t the same thing as what people call gender identity, which is something I have taken to calling core sex identity, that inner awareness of being male or female. The social dance of gender is more what we spend our lives being socialized into. It is what we are told is the appropriate behavior and dress for real men or real women.
As I said I’m kind of a wallflower at that social dance.
I fit right in as a hippie, clothes were almost like costumes then and loose interpretations of roles was encouraged.
I also fit easily into the 1970s era feminist and lesbian feminist world. Women went braless, wore jeans and t-shirts. Lots of us learned the basics of car repair along with how to cook different food. I personally became a photographer instead of a model. I studied Taekwondo. Became a computer nerd.
I liked the idea of challenging oppressive sex role stereotypes.
Sex roles… The term seems like an anachronism in the brave new world order of macho boys, little princesses and GENDER. I guess sex role stereotypes morphed into gender role stereotype when the neo-Victorians prudishly decided that it was slutty for women to like sex, although how we ever forgot the secret joys of reading Erica Jong and identifying with her doppelganger Isadora Wing, is still a mystery to me.
There was a concerted war against the liberation of the 1960s and the 1970s with all its non-conformity.
Yuppie women computer techs weren’t supposed to go home on Friday night, put on jeans, a band t-shirt, black leather jacket and go slam dancing in the mosh pit of a punk rock club.
I thought I could pass until one day in the elevator of the Bank America building I was riding the elevator with a bike messenger and he looked at my multiple ear rings and said, “You were a lot hotter last Saturday night at the Mabuhay.”
I was canned a few weeks later when I refused to suck up to a regional manager, didn’t want to show him a good time. Told him I didn’t have a husband and didn’t want one. Basically I told him he was a fucking fuck and should go fuck off.
Bad attitude. Bad girl not conforming, not obeying the rules of the social dance of gender.
I never got the whole idea of high heels or spending a lot of money on make-up.
There was a time when I did, then one day I was at the Macy’s counter in the SF store. I was looking at make-up from England, Mary Quant or Yardley. I was high on consuming the stuff of gender when a gorgeous blond hippie guy, looking like a rock and roll angel whispers in my ear, “Buying make-up won’t give you better orgasms.”
I had a snarky come back because I always had a wise mouth, but he was right.
All those trappings of gender, all that expensive junk is just a way of selling over priced goop based on gender insecurity.
I like jewelry but never got the supposed thrill of diamonds or highly expensive jewelry and I’d much rather buy it for myself than have someone get it for me as a present. When it comes to presents I’d rather receive a camera or guitar, or payment of an over due car repair.
Now for the last thirty years I have watched the selling of gender. “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
It all seems like a backlash against the 1960s. Sell sexual (gender) insecurity along with conformity to gender roles. Label those who rebel against those rigid stereotype as being gender queers or maybe gender out laws, like being either of those is a bad thing.
Well maybe being those are bad things in a rigidly conformist world based on marketing to gender insecurity.
I guess that the corporations have a vested interest in selling us crap we don’t need and rigid gender roles help sell the garbage of man caves and ugly pink crap.
I’m thankful I’m old and no one gives a damn that I prefer Birkenstocks and running shoes to expensive high heels.
Being part of the Older, Wiser, Lesbian set means that the few lesbians in my social circle often have the same casual at best approach to gender conformity that I have.
All of which makes me sort of sad because some of the same battles I fought forty years ago need to be fought again.
Time to bury Reagan and the 33 years of bullshit that have followed.
Time to throw off the chains we donned again in the years since that small taste of freedom and liberation.
Fuck the conformity of gender and gender roles.