A Little Confused.
Hey guys, just a little gender ambiguity post from yours truly.
So, I’m a biological girl, eighteen years old, thinking a lot about gender and sex and orientation and things of that nature, and honestly, I’m not sure where I fit.
I’ll get straight to the heart of the matter and work from there.
I have a strange relationship with my vagina. Now, let me explain. You know that friend on facebook that you’ve chatted with once or twice, but haven’t actually seen face-to-face in a long while, so you’re not even sure where you two stand, but you’d never say it to that person? That’s kind of what I’m dealing with in relation to my vagina. I feel like it’s a part of me, yeah, but…I don’t know. I feel like it’s not really a part of my body. I feel like it’s someone else’s or something. I love my boobs, though, so I don’t feel like I’m trapped in the “wrong body” as some people put it. I don’t even know if I want a penis instead of a vagina. I just sometimes feel like because I have this weird almost fear of my vagina that I’m not cut out to be a woman a lot of the time, and because of that, I bind and pack and pretend to be a boy for a day so I can pretend I’m not afraid of my own body. I consider the possibility of being Agender, and just not wanting anything down there, but then I think of sex and question how much I’d really like not having anything to work with down there. It’s all very confusing, and while I’m not feeling like it’s an urgent problem, I still feel like I should really talk to someone about it, like my therapist I’m not currently seeing due to money problems. I’d like to tell my mom that I’d like to see her again (which she said I could if something happened), but I’m worried about telling her my situation. That’s just awkward. ”Mom and Dad, I’m afraid of my vagina. Can I see my therapist, please?” So, what do you guys think? Any words of advice or comments or questions?
From now on Practical Androgyny will turn its focus solely on the practicalities of ambiguous gender presentation and leave Nonbinary to discuss issues relating to identity outside of the gender binary. Obviously there is some overlap between those two distinct subjects, in which case reblogging or more focused crossposting will occur.
I hope this will help keep Practical Androgyny more relevant to those interested in ambiguous gender presentation, without such posts being lost amongst articles about the wider trans* community, celebrities identifying as nonbinary and so on.
people saying "you look like a boy" happens way too much for me to not have an equally non sequitar and inappropriate response
why is this even a thing people feel necessary to verbalise. literally, what could you possibly think i have to say to that.
“that’s kinda my look”
“…and society looks to not be advancing in its perception of gender norms but unfortunately is steadfast in reinforcing the binary; you are not helping the case.”
i just can’t.
I just read a couple articles about Willow Smith and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt who are both stupidly called out by the media for not being girly enough. That triggered a memory of the following conversation.
- Bridget: Look at that lesbian behind the concession stand. I really don't like it, when they dress like that. And the hair. It's so short. She looks like a dude.
- Me: ... that's just the way I look.
- Bridget: Yeah, but you're not a lesbian, are you?
- Me: *rendered speechless by her logic*
- Everyone: ...
- Everyone: ...
- Everyone: ...
- Everyone: ...
- Everyone: ...
- Everyone: ...
- Barbara: Well, that was a suspiciously long silence... :D
- Me: Make of that what you will.
- To this day I am still stunned that somebody actually thinks it's ok for straight women to sport a boyish look, but lesbians? No way! They have to dress girly or it's immediately considered ugly. What the hell does my sexuality matter when it comes to which kind of clothing I find comfortable? And why on earth would someone change their opinion on whether a certain look fits me well based on my sexuality? I mean she basically said "Hey you're looking good. Oh you're a lesbian? In that case you better put on this dress"
The best grandparents ever
- Them: Excuse me, we're looking for a present for our grandchild.
- Me: Did you have anything in particular in mind?
- Them: Well, he really likes Princess Lillifee. His parents don't like the idea of him playing with girl-toys though. Do you have any Princess Lillifee toys related to the sea? That way, if his parents don't like it, we can argue that it's clearly a souvenir and they might be more lenient about it.
- (The store I work in is located on an island, so people often ask for anything sea-related to give someone as a present)
Media All Riled Up Over Storm
Ms. Magazine’s recent blog post on the raging controversy over a Canadian couple’s decision to not reveal the sex of their baby got me thinking. Ms. picked up on how the news coverage of this story has been horrific. Ms. argues that the lack of adequate pronouns available to refer to Storm is one of the problems. While I totally agree, I think the uproar in the media over the parents’ decision comes from a glaring lack of awareness of what Storm’s parents are actually trying to do. In my view, the parents are simply trying to minimize the limitations of gender socialization on their child - the type of socialization that requires boys to be aggressive and emotionless and girls to be passive and lack self worth. The media has been caught up on the possibility of Storm being bullied in school. What about the possibility that Storm will have the opportunity to carve out a future that is unfettered by everyone else’s belief about what Storm should be? Unlike most people, Storm’s parents are aware of the power that gender socialization has in shaping a child’s behavior and mindset.
I became acutely aware of how deeply engrained this socialization process is and how I participate in the shaping of boys and girls into binary gender roles when I unknowingly found myself in the perfect social experiment. You might think that as a master’s degree holder in women’s studies, I might be more careful and aware of my actions, and I thought so too! During grad school I was substitute teaching for a 5th grade class when a lovely girl with flowing blonde hair was sitting at her table with a group of noisy students. She looked slightly miserable, so I knelt next to her to see what was wrong. She told me she had a headache because her table was being so noisy. I tried to comfort her a bit by patting her back gently and stroking her hair. Then, like any good teacher would do, I announced to the table that they were being much to loud and that they were giving HER a headache. When the table started to giggle, I was confused. When I asked what they were laughing at, one of the students replied, “You called HIM a HER!” Aside from feeling terrible for putting the poor child in this position, I immediately felt remorse for babying him like that. Had I known I was dealing with a HIM, I never would have been so affectionate. I tried to snap out of it, reasoning with myself that boys need affection too! But I couldn’t help the feeling that had come over me.. he was a boy after all, he didn’t need to be coddled! My conscience nagged at me. Despite knowing better, I couldn’t manage to revert back to the same behavior I had exhibited when he had been a she. With the knowledge that he was a boy, I acted totally differently toward him.
That day I had an epiphany about how boys and girls are socialized without anyone recognizing that it’s happening. I mean, I suppose I knew this, but never had truly experienced it in this way. The subtle differences in the way we treat boys and girls contribute to the gender binaries that serve to systematically limit people (not to mention contribute to female subjugation and gender oppression).
Next time you find yourself interacting with a baby or small children, simply observe the differences (if any) in the way you treat boys and girls. I know I was surprised to learn that I was an unwilling participant in this socialization process.
I’d love to hear your experiences, suggestions or viewpoints on this!
Marilyn Frye’s chapter “Sexism” in The Politics of Reality is a really relevant read.