I was reading for, studying for, my research paper about gender tonight. And it occurred to me how our interaction last night was so gendered. Out with the two of them, I became the “girl” more than usual. When I put on my comfortable suit of femininity, the differences between my behavior and theirs are highlighted, juxtaposed. I feel that I become more myself when I’m around them. Is that possible? Is that safe or good?
Walking into the restaurant some tall, built gentlemen held the doors open for the three of us. It wasn’t necessary. I didn’t feel like it was motivated out of a desire to be polite. Something incomprehensible was said to me so I sped up. I felt a little panicky. “Hide me, I look straight!” and Kay put her arm around my shoulder.
When I am alone, or lacking the company of butches, I do not wine and cry about things like that. I stomp around in my heels like the bitch that I am. So why did that come out?
Later there was some discussion on whether or not the restroom might be “safe”. We were in a relatively safe neighborhood but depending on how keen the eye of anyone who might be in the ladies room, it might become awkward, uncomfortable. Why can’t we divide bathrooms by whether you stand or sit while peeing? I guess it’s not that simple.
The discussion in class today was about how gender relates to social class. Some wanted to do away with gender, but I argued that we simply must learn how to wield it safely and with respect for others. “But I’m a nanny, I have a little boy who likes dresses” and “Yeah if we did away with gender we would become more unified”… really all they meant was that we are not finished detaching gender from biological and physical sex. Not to say that gender is not born in the body – to an extent I think it actually is – just not the same gender for everyone in either sex grouping. For me, yeah, the majority of the femme that I project was born in my body. It is integral, intertwined with my sense of self. I know it is the same for women who are not femme, or who are something else entirely.
And I was reading tonight about male impersonation in contrast with butch realness and I think I fell in love all over again.