I’ve written over 150 posts on this blog. I’ve never written about my own femininity.
Femininity. It’s a word I run from even if I can’t explain what it is. I’ve spent over 50 years resisting compulsory femininity. I know that everyone, from John Wayne to Dolly Parton, is a mix of masculine and feminine. No matter what your gender identity is, there is some femininity in it. I have a hard time admitting to mine.
In nice weather, Donna likes to walk with me to our local playground. She likes to point out how cute the girls are, and she wishes she could find outfits that are as bright and lively as what they are wearing. She’d gladly trade places with them. I tell her I understand how she feels, even though that isn’t what I feel. I remember what it feels like to be in a playground, at recess, wearing a dress. I’d gladly trade places with the boys.
My mother and my grandmother dressed modestly and neatly; they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves. They looked in the mirror before leaving the house to make sure their hair was in place and their make up was fresh. They looked down on women who dressed provocatively or flamboyantly and on women who tried too hard to be stylish. They looked down on women who “let themselves go”. Their notion of femininity was narrow and constrained. Continue reading →
Last week at work, in the middle of the afternoon, I pushed my chair back from my desk, and said “It’s time for the seventh inning stretch.” What I meant was, I’m bored, and I’m going to get another cup of coffee and walk around the office. It is exactly what my dad used to say when he got up from the couch, during a commercial, for a snack.
There are many facets to my gender expression. Where did they come from? How much came from my dad and my brother? How much of it did I learn by osmosis? How much by imitation? Is any of it genuinely authentic?
I adored my dad and I was envious of my brother. My dad was squishy. He was masculine enough for a middle class Jewish man with a desk job in Manhattan. He was an avid Met’s fan. He watched as many baseball games as possible. When it wasn’t baseball season he talked about pitchers and catchers and spring training. He taught me how to watch the game, and, indirectly, how to talk about coaches, players, umpires, fielding strategies, rules, and stats. I still, obviously, pepper my speech with baseball idioms. Continue reading →
It finally dropped below freezing in New York. That means layers. And flannel. I love winter. It takes the edge off my dysphoria.
The official start of my flannel season is the weekend after Labor Day. I take stock of my shirts. Which one needs a button, which ones are so scruffy that they should only be worn for chores, and which ones should go into the rag box. One of the sad things about flannel is that it doesn’t last forever. Continue reading →
Tomorrow I am going to San Francisco for a long weekend. The excuse is that I am going to the Butch Voices conference in Oakland. The truth is that I miss feeling like I am part of a community; I need my tribe.
I’ve drifted out of my old communities (pacifist, AIDs activist, queer). I let friendships lapse, let Donna take control of our social life (not a criticism because otherwise we’d have no social life at all), and I spend too much time with Gracie at the dog run. I am lonely and need some contact. Continue reading →