1.03.2008

A Response

I should have expected so much intellectual shit from you. ;-) Now back to my normal aloof writing style (read the comments on the previous entry to catch up):

Where do I even start? I would like to say that I’ve thought about everything you’ve said, but I haven’t quite thought about all of it. Reading Transgender Warriors brought a lot of these issues with the social construction of gender identity to the forefront of my mind. And I appreciate and understand all of these. To step back and say that gender is all this social construction and we should just throw it out the window is great and postmodern and I am a great fan of postmodernity. I wish that it worked.

It all goes back to why I'm writing this blog. Why am I? Okay, so I am a bit of an attention whore. But fishing for attention aside, it was to figure out where I stand. It has a lot to do with the title, with the words to that song: To those that understand/I extend my hand/To the doubtful I demand/Take me as I am. I know exactly who I am and how I feel and how I want to be seen. What I want to know is where do I fit into this binary society? How do I exist and stay true to my inner self in this binary society? How do I teach those around me that there is no such thing as "normal"? How do I teach myself? How do I not absolutely despise the girliness that is such a key aspect of my personality? How do I not fret over every interaction with a stranger, wondering how I'm going to be read?

I am constantly trying to understand gender. Why do I like baggy pants? If girls wore baggy pants, would I want to wear tight pants? If I were male-bodied, would I want long hair? The funniest part about this whole gender thing is that it is such a big fucking deal, 90% of the world doesn't give it a second thought, and it is all completely ridiculous and totally arbitrary. If we took all the clothes away though, what would I have? How would I convey to the world how exactly I want to be treated?

There is a picture of me that I think is the exact expression of my gender. I was going to describe it, but then I decided to just post it. I don't know where the original one went, but this is slightly photoshopped, but you can see that:
That is me. It was before I started wearing boxers, but I had stolen the whole gym shorts under my pants thing from Jim. I want to be my image of masculine and this is it; my pretend-boxers (now real) sticking out of my pants and a sports bra. I know that there is nothing traditionally masculine about a sports bra, but in my little genderfucked world, it is one of the highest forms of masculinity. On a side note, I was probably 16 in this photo and I miss that stomach!

So I know in my brain that gender is this big social construct that shouldn't mean a damn thing. My biggest struggle with this is why, then, does my body not fit? As the Gender in Plaid photo suggests, why does my nudity end at the boxers? There is something there, tying sex and gender together, I just wish it made an ounce of sense.

Taking in the view from the outside
Feeling like the underdog
Watching through the window I'm on the outside
Living like the underdog

1 comment:

C said...

Okay okay, you have a point...it was post -modern. and it was reductionist. and it was the easiest way to go with out actually saying i dang thing about myself and my own situation - - which generally suits me just fine. but since the point of this project is to ruminate and make progress, i have decided to climb myself out on a limb a bit and try to write something about that has nothing to do with hiding behind abstract theory. something that only has to do with me ;) and so i give you:

My Brother -----

When i was a little kid my only aspiration in life was to be my brother. not to grow up to be like him or act like him or be smart like him... no, i wanted to BE him. I wanted his talents, i wanted his friends, i wanted his attention and most of all i wanted to exist in the world the way that he existed in the world. Though it was only much later that i realized that alot of those feelings had a whole lot to do with, not only the fact that he was two years older than me which automatically made me idolize him, but also the fact that to some large extent i saw him as a male version of me. or really, the way that i should be. So for me, thinking of what it would be like was not just a theoretical exercise, i had a living breathing example of exactly what my life would be like if i were boy-gendered. Even though my parents were very open to the fact that i just wasn't that much of a girl and let me run a muck in hand-me-down teeshirts and ripped up jeans from when i was a little kid, there were always those subtle differences that really impressed on me that i was just different and it killed me. absolutely killed me. like when my dad was in the garage wrenching on a car and i asked if i could help, he would always blow me off with some lame quip like "you can stand there and look good," or "yeah you could grab me a beer" (which is a whole other ball of wax not involved here, lol). And although i realize now that it probably had little to do with my gender and more to do with my dad's lack of fabulous parenting skills and the fact that i was younger - my brother was always right there learning stuff and eventually took over the garage as his own personal domain. But more than the actually dynamics of my family, i just envied the hell out of how comfortably my brother was able to fit into the world - he wasn't particularly competitive but he was (and still is, that bastard) naturally very athletically inclined, and good with tools and very witty and musically talented. So its with good reason that i looked up to him. But, he was not breaking any barriers when he expressed these qualities. He was not being called a freak and a dyke in 6th grade because he was muscular and athletic. he wasn't alienated from everyone one else when he went through puberty but didn't stop being a tomboy. Nobody thought twice when he spent hours and hours building go-karts and drawing cars and not keeping up with stupid pop culture bullshit. And on top of all of that, he got really tall and muscular and grew a goatee (as spindly as it was) and i got boobs and hips and a period...what the fuck is that all about. Everything was pretty ok, i was fairly free to be androgynous and asexual until 6th grade, when everyone else discovered that they were suddenly attracted to other people and it was all pretty much downhill from there. I was so freaked out that i did not suddenly discover my inner girl (which although it made me sick to imagine, i had assumed would probably happen at some point once i figured out that i wasn't going to grow up to be my brother), i was so freak out about why i felt nothing and suddenly felt so out of place and not normal that i started walling up anything that i did feel and got really angry at everyone else for changing when i didn't change. I was always a really shy kid but this totally sealed the deal and i completely stopped talking. then in jr high i was so freaked out about the fact that i really didn't like anyone that i made up having a crush (so much so that i even started believing my own lie for awhile, lol) on my best guy friend who was conveniently a huge flaming queer just to cover for the fact that i felt nothing. And then, i actually beat up a kid who was teasing him and calling him gay, but i only beat him up after he made a joke about me and my friend being together. I totally snapped and picked him up by the back of the neck (being a burly kid still of course) and slammed his face into a locker - all because he suggested i was involved with this guy.. i dunno, you explain it.
Anyway, back to my brother - so there was lots and lots of stuff going on in my family life around that time too, but i was starting to figure out that there was something very, very not normal about me and i had all of this unresolved angst about my brother floating around, but i couldn't pin point just what the deal was - and i wasn't talking to anyone at that point, so i certainly wasn't articulating any of it. so i was totally, totally miserable - so, in a rare moment of clarity, my mother was tuned in enough to catch on that i was really unhappy and actually took me to see a psychologist. all i remember is that the first time i saw her, we talked about some surface stuff for a bit, then for some reason she brought up my brother and i was trying to explain something really simple about a project we were working on or something and i just started bawling uncontrollably and cried hysterically for the rest of the hour and then we left and we never went back.
So flash forward ten years and i went through lots more traumatic alienation stuff, was completely silent and completely miserable for several more years. I was really unreasonably angry at my brother for a long time, then i finally got the hell out of my parent's house and santa clarita and got into college where i was actually still rather miserable for a long time, but miserable in a much more enlightening a productive way. Then i finally began the long, uphill climb of figuring out just what the fuck i am. And while there are still many, many things that i am in awe of my brother about, his gender not usually one of them - ( i mean the man accidently stumbled up the one girl he's dated that he has been madly in love with since he was 18 and also stumbled into a great job making 3 times as much as i do, what's not to envy).But, i have crafted this incredibly complicated but satisfying and triumphant sense of myself that i had to go through the seven levels of hell to forge and prove to myself. And not all of it is about gender, and most of it is not about sexulity - it was about just what an incredible person i'd become - not in the ego-boosting, i'm the best shit ever kind of way, but in the wow, i must have been one hell of a force to get through that shit intact kind of way. that is not something that anyone's ignorance or hate can strip away from me.