Thursday, January 24, 2008

My gender...

Ariel has recently been posting about gender, and what hers looks like. I got fascinated, and started thinking about how gender applies to me. Ariel mentions that "I have a lot of gender but very little direction," meaning that she likes to present a wide variety of gender-y appearances.
I think, perhaps, that I have a lot of sex (as in, identification with my biological sex, being female), and just enough gender to come down on the side of "feminine". I read about Sinclair finding her butch identity, and performing gender - and I wonder at the amount of work it seems like, to have to be so deliberately oneself. But, on the other hand, the intentionality appeals to me - gender must matter if folks are willing to take such pains with it.
But I'm gender-lazy. As I said in my comment on Ariel's blog, I am high nothing. Not high femme, not high butch, not high tomboy, not even high-scholarly, for crying out loud. I am female, and generally somewhat feminine, but that's about it.
I love my RHPS corset, fishnets, and heels, with heavy makeup and space-age hair.
I love dressing hippie-boho-girly and sharply elegant with makeup to suit.
That's about 5% of the time, though. The rest of the time, I wear sweaters and t-shirts and comfy pants and Birkenstocks and the occasional skirt. I just got a pair of nice brown flats and a pair of tall black boots (with no heels) for Christmas, and that was a huge step for me. I don't want to put so much effort into how people see me, how I appear, most of the time.
I was a dancer for many years. From sixth grade until my senior year in high school, I was in at least one full-length ballet per year. I learned, through those experiences, to love the high-maintenance required by performing - but it was a special thing. Only a few nights out of the year does one put on the makeup, slick the hair, and wear the costume - take on the part. It's ritual, this dressing-up, which requires adequate scenery and lights and music to go with it. I couldn't do it every day. Dressing up, performing, is for me a way to explore and relish the sides of me that are not the everyday me.
For instance, I absolutely LOVE going to Rocky Horror, once in awhile. I love yelling the callbacks, love putting on my eyeliner and darker eyeshadow to go with my crimson corset, black panties, and fishnets. I love putting my hair up in those two, Leia-esque buns. This is my Shadow, my overtly sexual and crude self, my self who seduces. My self who revels in the sounds of the woman being flogged in the back of the theater, and the looks the ticket-taker gives me as I walk past.
But this is not someone I want to be any more frequently than once or twice a month (in public, at least). I need and crave that outlet, that stage...but only on occasion.
I understand that, to one degree or another, I am performing my gender everyday whether I think I am or not. But it does not feel like it...I'm really not even sure what my gender is. Comfortably feminine? Low-maintenance? I associate gender so much with appearance and fashion that I can't separate the two. I know gender is more than appearance....but I think it's reflected in appearance, at least when in "high" forms. I don't know, though. Hm.
This is what I know: I am feminine. I am female. I am submissiveish. I like boys and girls and girls who used to be boys (and probably the other way round, if I ever meet one). I am attracted to androgyny, femininity (not girly-ness), and masculinity. I am attracted to dominance and confidence, in men and women. I love being bitten and having my hair pulled. I'm fascinated by kink and power exchange. I'm deeply spiritual, and conceive of God'dess as Lover. I wear my hair down as much as possible. I am poly.
Some of this is biological sex, some is sexual orientation, some is preference...does all this together make gender? Maybe?


sinclair said...

"I associate gender so much with appearance and fashion that I can't separate the two" - I definitely agree with this. but I also think that just because you don't wear makeup and heels (or vests and ties) every day doesn't make you 'gender lazy" ...

I like what you have to say about ritual, too, especially the rituals of costuming. that stuff can be so fun.

Joy said...

It's good to know that I'm not the only one for whom the concept of gender is tied up in appearance. I felt like I must be grossly and horribly oversimplifying or missing something.
And, yes. Rituals of costuming are a damn good time. I could stand to have more excuses, more frequently, for them.
Thanks for stopping by!