Gender

7 Aug

i went shopping yesterday, which turned out to be very exciting.  i found two dresses and two skirts ~ the dresses are the kind of casual elegance that i was looking for about this time last year and not finding.  They flatter my figure, making me look a bit slimmer than i am, so i was delighted.  The skirts are short and flippy and perfect for COPE, which is coming soon.

Last night i went out for dinner with Ms Constance, her slave Drew, and some other people from the community.  Went to the munch, and went to this bar, where i saw my first professional drag queen show.  Very different from the amateur benefit i went to last week, in some ways.

Watching people who are cross-dressing stirs some kind of odd feelings in me.  Whether it’s the professionals with their wigs and fancy outfits, or a couple of young female friends of mine, who have cut all their hair and dress to appear male, who practice gestures and mannerisms that are stereotypically male.    

Gender bending.  They talk about sexual identity not being binary, that it’s on a continuum.  i have some trouble wrapping my mind around that idea.  i don’t know why.

For sure, i was raised with the idea of binary sexes.  You “are” either male or female, not something in between.   In fact, gender roles were pretty binary, back in the dark ages of the late 50’s and early 60’s.

You acted like a girl, or you acted like a boy, and while one could act like the opposite sex, it was seen as ~ wrong.  Against nature, really.

And really, i guess there are people who still think that way.  When i think about the toy store aisles ~ the rows of toys that are pink, and the rows that are brown and green, maybe blue, or bright primary colors.  Clearly, clearly the pink are girl toys and the rest are boy toys.

The scientific toys, the problem solving games ~ those are in the “boy toys” aisles.  

Of course girls can play with them, and theoretically boys can play with the pink toys.  But they know at a very early age that they’re crossing the gender line.

There is a series of books for children – The Chronicles of Prydain ~ that i dearly love.  When my kids were little, the covers were white with multi-colored, fairly pastel, pictures.  When i went to buy them for my granddaughter, they’d changed the covers.  Now they’re dark colors, browns and greens.

i bought them for her, and when she opened them, of course she did the obligatory thank-you’s – she was maybe 5 at the time, and raised properly, of course, so she thanked me nicely.  And then she said, “But – why did you get me boy books?”

Sigh.  

Not just boy toys, but boy books?

When i think about all that, i think that maybe my ideas about male/female are just as antiquated and wrong thinking as people who believe in girl toys and boy toys.

My friends who practice “gender bending” in its most interesting form shift from “male-presenting” to “female-presenting” and back again, apparently at whim.    A couple of them prefer that you not use male or female pronouns when referring to them, which makes talking about them a challenge.  

It seems artificial to me, i don’t quite get it.  i think i am very much at the female end of the continuum, if there is one, and truly can’t imagine myself male.  

But i have traits that are masculine, at least in the Jungian sense.  And i was raised with the idea, and totally believe, that i’m capable of everything that a man is, unless it requires physical strength.  And notice the way that idea is presented – the assumption that i am measured by and need to live up to the male standard.

When i think about these things, i’m grateful to my gender bending friends, and hope that they are pushing the pocket of what’s normal and accepted to the point that we’ll be more open to accepting the strength and beauty of everyone.

i had a client once who was a drag queen, lost her insurance in mid sex-change process, and was caught betwixt and between sexes.  She was an amazing person, and i learned so much from her.  And still i’m clueless to really understand how this all works. 

You know, i was raised, as most of us are, with the idea of God as “He.”  My mother taught me that God was spirit, not male or female.  But all the images of God i knew were male.  

The church i go to now includes feminine images of God in our worship, like the nun who recently came under scrutiny for writing about the feminine aspects of divinity.  Before i started going to church where i do,that wouldn’t have meant anything to me, i would have told you it didn’t matter if God was presented as male.

But the idea of God as our Father and Mother shocked me and opened me to ways of relating to God that i had never known before.  Allowed me to see God and connect spiritually in ways i had not known were possible.  

So i’m watching the drag show last night, and all these thoughts are there, not clearly formulated, but just floating in my mind.    The show was beautiful and the performers are ~ powerful, i think, and poignant.  i watch the audience, fascinated by our fascination with the show.

And maybe that’s all i can really do ~ watch and learn.  

 

23 Responses to “Gender”

  1. Jz August 7, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    There are a whole lot of other realities out there that society has decided to ignore in it’s mission to homogenize us into a functioning unit. That narrow world view does a disservice to us all … yet it’s devilishly hard to overcome, even when we recognize it and push against it.
    Worth the effort, tho’, I think…
    There’s a lot of beauty out there to be seen.

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

      @Jz –

      Yes, there certainly is… a lot of realities, and a lot of beauty. It’s hard to stretch my mind as much as i want to sometimes – maybe not even my mind, maybe it’s emotional, to push back against things that are deeply ingrained over years of having looked at things through one lens.

      And I totally agree that it’s worth it. 🙂

      Thanks,

      aisha

  2. sin August 7, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Very thought provoking. I had the following thoughts about your post – and I probably should have done it on my own blog cause I’m going to write a book in your comments.

    Books – yes there are definitely boy books and girl books. In fact boys won’t read books where the hero is a girl, and girls can go either way though many prefer a female hero. Boy books have to have more action. Girl books can be more descriptive, but if something doesn’t happen in the first couple of pages you have lost that boy. I think you have girl children and it’s not as obvious from the girl side, but I have boys and oh my gosh the lines are drawn rigidly and early.

    One of my sons has a male friend who is very girly. He likes girl things, dance, dressing up, books about fairies. Poor little dude comes in for lots of ribbing and it’S still early days. I expect that he has been encouraged to hide this by his peers and I can never decide whether his parents are being nurturing or deliberately blind to consequences when they encourage him to be whate he wants to be.

    Boy roles and girl roles. I was a very girly girl when I was little – barbies and paper dolls and girly dresses. My sisters who were close to me in age played with boy toys. Trucks and guns and things from the brown and green aisle. I was the lucky recipient of any dolls that strangers gave them as gifts.

    • sin August 7, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      I think that it’s much easier in some ways to cross over from a girl to the boy side, for girls to play with boy toys and to want to do boy things. Even as adults that’s true. And yet, we do hold women to different standards. They still have to be feminine, ideally to be pretty. They still have to be sweet, and if they aren’t, they are harpies, bitches, etc.

      It’s clear that gender shouldn’t be the binary, but it’s not clear how long it will take us as a society to think through and accept some of the alternatives. And just think about how far ahead we are of more traditional cultures!

      sin

      • aisha August 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

        Dear Sin,

        You know I’m wild about you, right? So I hope you don’t mind when I push back on what you’re saying here…

        In one breath you say that boys adhere to the stereotypical idea of how boys are – they just do, and there’s nothing to be done about it. In the very next breath, you tell me about a boy who doesn’t adhere to that stereotype, but instead of even considering that maybe how he is represents some boys, you label him “girly” and speculate that his parents might be better off keeping him from showing how he is.

        While I understand what you’re saying, doesn’t it make you wonder how many boys are actually like him and have just been taught that how they are is not ok, that they’re expected to live out the stereotype, whether it fits or not?

        And if some boys prefer adventure stories, I’m pretty sure that some girls do too, so maybe it’s as much a difference in personality as in gender. And maybe there are boys who would enjoy books with more description, or with girl hero’s, if they knew it was just as manly to read them or not.

        Just my thoughts…

        aisha

  3. Donna August 7, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    Hi Aisha,

    I tend to think of the range of sexuality as a circle rather than a line. In a politically context you might think of the similarities between fanatically extreme conservatives and fanatically extreme liberals meeting on one point of the circle. lol

    I know that we, as humans, like to separate ourselves from the other creatures of the planet, but that really is a conceited mindset. Here is an amazing video of male/female that will blow your mind. Four minutes of unbelievable beauty. There is a short bit that may remind you of the Cher tour, but I’ll let you guess where that is.


    Weird mating calls of the leopard slug – Life in the Undergrowth – BBC Attenborough

    Hugs,
    Donna

    • ewoman88 August 7, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      oh wow…. truly lovely

      • aisha August 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

        @ewoman,

        I assume you mean the video, and yes it certainly is.

        aisha

    • yesthankyousir August 7, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      This was a beautiful video, thank you for sharing it.

      Aisha,

      I have many many gender bender friends and have talked to them at length about there life style, feeling, relationships, etc. Coincidentally enough we were speaking about children’s toys and clothes just the other day. I have noticed and so have they a sort of blur in the lines. Granted there is still the separation of pinks/blues but somewhere in the middle before the transfer there is a blend of it all. Maybe it’s an over all societal acceptance, because we have a more forward GLBT community.

      Whatever the cause, I love that you posted this. Your fantasies always rock my world. But miss I think your mind is one of the sexiest things about you.

      Andi

      • aisha August 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

        @Andi,

        Thank you so much – I hope you’re right, or that they’re right, and that things are not as rigid as they seem to me sometimes. Well, and sometimes it seems like they really are changing. I guess it depends on whether I’m with friends or swimming in the mainstream culture!

        Anyhow. Many thanks for the lovely feedback.

        hugs,

        aisha

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

      @Donna,

      Yes. I like the circle concept. Interesting, isn’t it?

      But I LOVE this video. Omigod. It is absolutely awesome. Posted it on facebook, and am going to email it to my sister, who doesn’t actually do fb, cause she will love it too.

      Thank you,

      aisha

  4. k August 7, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Speak it aisha ❤

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

      Laughing… thanks, K! I was feeling kinda preacher-ish today, i think.

      hugs,

      aisha

  5. Bob the builder August 7, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I’ll take it even a step further than boy toys or boy books. I read voraciously, always have. But VERY rarely do I read a book WRITTEN by a woman. I know there some female authors who write in genres that I enjoy, but I find it difficult to just pick up one of their books. I have nothing against female protagonists in general…..such as the Women’s Murder Club books ( I think that’s the name).by James Patterson, I really DO need to expand my literary horizons.

    BTW, how was the caning exhibition?

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

      @Bob,

      Omigosh, you say that like you’re explaining to me that this is how men are… and really it’s just how you are.

      Try any of the J.D. Robb books.

      And she didn’t do a caning demo, it wasn’t that organized or anything. There was a cross and some people used it for flogging and such, but they weren’t necessarily experts. The new Dom we were talking to the previous night was there, but I just saw him for a minute and he disappeared.

      Sir Markos was doing pictures though, and I got some pics, which was fun.

      aisha

  6. Mick August 7, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Of course, Mistress sometimes raises an eyebrow at me when I get into my musical theatre thing. Sondheim is my gender (or preference) bending weakness. But its been a great link for me and my two older daughters, since I got them hooked on it too. Mick

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      @Mick,

      Funny… I’m not really convinced that men liking musicals is exactly gender bending, but ok.

      Laughing… ok, I ‘ve got to say it. When I was writing this, the thought crossed my mind ~ just crossed it ~ that some people might think that male subs are crossing a gender line. Not me, you know, but some people. I’m glad you don’t see it that way!

      hugs,

      aisha

  7. PL August 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I think gender is a horrible outdated concept and the sooner people stop using it the better. “Masculine” and “feminine” I mean.  At best it’s useless nonsense, at worst it’s antihuman.  It riles me a lot. The way people line up (or conflate) sex, gender and sexuality pisses me off too.

    On God, I’ve been meaning to read Julian of Norwich. Are you familiar with her work? 14th century English mystic, first woman to write a book in English, etc.  “According to Julian, God is both our mother and our father.” (Wikipedia).

    PL

    • aisha August 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

      Dear PL,

      I sooo appreciate that perspective, and fully believe the world will be a better place when more of us agree with your viewpoint.

      I haven’t read Julian of Norwich, but have heard of her. Went and looked her up on the internet after I read you comment ~ like all those mystics, she’s fascinating. I read some excerpts from her work, very interesting.

      Thanks for bringing that up, it’s always a nice feeling to remember that God as Mother and Father has a long history and isn’t just some new concept we made up. Well, aside from the pagans, of course, which is a whole other topic…

      Plus, I went and looked at your blog – didn’t even realize you had one til now. Nice. I’ll have to visit more often.

      Thank you, PL.

      aisha

  8. vanillamom August 8, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    i’ve read this twice and still…unsure. Maybe i am more like you…yanno? gotta have *some* way to identify people.

    Heard something on PBS that made me think, a black man saying that pol.correctness was kinda overboard. Why was it *wrong* to identify that man in the crowd as the “tall black man in the red shirt”…it’s merely a description, not a label. That made me think, too.

    My eldest is very sexually confused. Not sure if he is gay, or just a crossdresser-wannabe. i’m supportive of any of my kids, no matter their gender, so he’s not getting bias from us…and as an austistic Man, it further complicates things for him.

    And of course there is that issue we talked about on fb about the “non-gendered” child in Canada.

    still trying to clear my head on that….gender is more confusing than anything because there are those two absolutes.

    Did you read over on Rory’s blog (betweenmysheets.com) the post about the three genders that is happening in (of all places) Nepal? Interesting stuff.

    nilla

    • aisha August 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      @’Nilla

      No, I haven’t read that on Rory’s blog but I did see the title and made a mental note to go check it out.

      There is a tradition in some country, damn it, I can’t remember where, I thought Bosnia, but can’t find it online, that if a woman chooses to live a celibate life, she has the option of choosing to live like a man in that culture. It’s a culture with distinct differences in gender roles and inequality, but she is treated exactly as if she were a man.

      Fascinating stuff.

      Yeah, I know you and I’ve talked about this before and I agree that it’s confusing to me. But interesting.

      aisha

  9. Giggling Bunny August 8, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Yeah it’s interesting, the gender bending and the gender continuum. It’s not something I can relate to either. At one point in time I did play a part though, at least while I was exploring…and I think a lot of people have the same experiences.

    I tell people I am still for gender binary….I was just born on the wrong side. And now that’s all taken care of, thankfully.

    But that aside, Just like there are people out there who don’t understand me where I’m at…..just because I don’t understand something about someone else (or can’t relate) ….it doesn’t make their feelings any less valid.

    • aisha August 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      @Giggling Bunny,

      Interesting perspective – thanks!

      And I totally, totally agree – just because I don’t completely “get” something, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, or make it not valid. Thanks for making that point.

      hugs,

      aisha

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