|Jun. 14th, 2008 @ 09:57 am Writer's Block: Gender Bender|
Most of the time, it wouldn't even cross my mind. I am happy in my body, I am who I am, and even when that means I don't particularly adhere to gender norms and stereotypes, I still believe that female is both my sex and my gender.
I like being female, I don't particularly want a dick, and girls get away with things that don't fly for men. (Yes, there are days when I say fuck it, play to gender stereotypes and bat my eyelashes and/or flirt like hell to get out of things.)
I enjoy hanging out with women (although I have always made friends with those who aren't especially catty) and I like interacting with queer folk as a woman. What I don't like is interacting with straight people, especially men, as a woman.
They look at you like you're a piece of meat, they talk to your breasts, they comment on how nice your ass is. They weigh your appearance as much as they think about what the hell you're saying, and if you're found wanting, they may not listen to you. If you're not adhering to specific gender standards, chances are good that they'll remark on it, either to you or behind your back. And I've always wondered why men get away with calling women "butter faces" meaning "Everything's attractive but her face."
But men don't have to anxiously look behind them if they bike to work. They don't think, "Two men on the trail in front of me; is there anything suspicious about them? Can I bypass them somehow?" They don't worry about the fact that there was a rash of rapes on the last trail you take to work, just last week. Even though they caught the guy, you still have to worry, and when I called in sick last week, and the head of legal forgot to tell her assistant (my boss) that I wasn't going to be in, the first thing that popped in my boss's head was that the trail I take is a rough one, and that someone had pulled me into the bushes somewhere.
They don't have to worry about the men who are screaming out of a car window, "You have a nice ass, honey. You legal yet? Yo, bitch, why won't you answer?" You pretend your iPod's all the way up and you just can't hear them; when the walk sign goes on, you add a little more power to how fast you're pedaling, and you're at your sister's place a little bit sooner than you might have been otherwise. No power on earth will make you admit the incident happened, even though it's something you've dealt with before and will most likely encounter again.
At the end of the day, however, it would sometimes be nice to have it as easy as middle class, straight, white men have it. (Because at the end of the day, I am still a lower class, white queer woman whose family has a genetic heritage that probably includes something other than Caucasian--my father grows an Afro if he doesn't cut it, and it's not a white man's version.) There are days, when I'm running into sexism, classism, and/or homophobia, when I wish I was male. It's a momentary thing, but it's rooted in the fact that men have privileges that women don't.
I have one privilege, and that's that I'm white. Every other portion of my identity tends to work against me.
Men have power, men have freedom, and they are considered worth far more than women. Wage discrepancies continue well into this, the twenty-first century, even though it's currently at the smallest gap yet. Women earn roughly 80 cents to every dollar that a man makes. Kinda sickens you, doesn't it?
Men don't have to put on makeup to work in a corporate office, don't have to deal with the hassle of changing from jeans to a skirt when they reach the office, don't have to deal with heels, stilettos, platform heels, etc. They don't have fear lurking in the back of their brains about whether or not they're going to be the 1 in 3 women who will be raped.
Men don't have to deal with the pain of a screwed up menstrual cycle or the horror of knowing that birth control pills will never work for you. The horror of knowing that if you ever end up in a relationship with a male, your ability to protect yourself from pregnancy is considerably weakened. (Condoms are good and should always be used. But it's still best to use two forms of birth control, and the options other than the pill--or shot or ring or stick-- aren't the greatest out there.)
So yeah, sometimes, I kind of wish I was male. I wish that I had the privileges that white males take for granted, but I know that I still have some privileges as a white female and try hard not to take those for granted.
Mostly? I live my life the way I want to and try not to let fear control my decisions.
Most of the time I succeed.