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18 July 2012 @ 09:21 pm
maybe shorter maybe clearer no promises  

Here's how I experience gender:

Woman is a good term for how people read me, and thus one sort of marginalization I face.

Femininities (culture-dependent) are modes of behaviour I've learned, survival skills, things imposed on me from outside, things I can manipulate for effect (eg people react more kindly to the health issues when I'm not also presenting in a way that confuses their expectations).  They're not me.

In general I always have an awareness of which femininity I'm acting at any given time, just like I have an awareness of which accent I'm using as I hear it; but, like accent, how it comes out is not always coherent with how it "ought" to be in my head, and I feel wrong a lot.

Actual sense of gender ID is I think fluid, shifting from feminine to neutral/neither/other/agendered generally over the course of days or weeks but sometimes quite quickly.  I don't ever really feel masculine per se.  I think.

I've been saying I have a weak internal sense of gender, but IDK if that's actually accurate or if I've just weakened it over the years.  Realizing just now that I have spent most of my life squishing my awareness of this, thinking of it as one more thing I wasn't doing right, one more way I wasn't good enough, so now it's really hard for me to hear that part of me. Since I started listening to it again, it's never been weak enough I could ignore it completely or just stop thinking about all it, which... you'd think, if this wasn't internally-important, it would have shut up by now.  Given how little energy i have in general.

So okay what does that even mean in terms of labels?  That's where I get confused

Things I'm pretty sure of: I am a woman (I claim the label!), I am still most comfortable with she/her/hers, I am cissexual, I'm not cisgendered.

Things I'm less sure of: what specific label actually works.  I think genderfluid works as a description, but less as a label, because the cultural connotations don't fit me, and English terminology isn't actually universal, and flail.  But it's not like I speak Hindi, or am even fluent in Tamil or anything other than English.  So, for now, not claiming any labels with any degree of certainty.  Hopefully the only person this confuses is myself.

And now I am pretty irreparably out, aren't I?  On this at least.
Right.
g'night!

 
 
Current Mood: tiredsplat
 
 
 
Brit Mandelobritmandelo on July 18th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
Sympathies and also congratulations for your bravery in discussing this.

One book I've found helpful for navigating complex intersecting categories of gender is "Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation." It also has some essays that deal with the intersection of culture and genderqueer identity (re: language, words, possibilities, etc) that might be handy for you? Or, might offer some sense of solidarity.

Best wishes. This stuff is tough to work out.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 09:31 am (UTC)
<3

Thanks for the rec! Once I'm well enough to parse non-fiction, or more than a page of it at a time, I think it needs to be top of the list. I also really want to read up on relevant movements in India.

(Or actually once I'm well enough to do these things, I'll probably finish the diss, so after that...)
Brit Mandelobritmandelo on July 19th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC)
<3
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on July 18th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
Languages are horribly limiting for talking about things like this, I think, but having said that, you have explained what you're thinking very clearly, and I am impressed.
I am not only cis-gendered, I'm fairly well along the feminine spectrum, and I always have been, I think.. Long hair, long skirts, never a tom-boy, and while I am definite in my views of how capable and brilliant women are, I have never, in my memory, not felt female. So in terms of performed gender, I tend to be at home in a series of fairly feminine roles. For me, these roles are very class-inflected, because class is still so dominant in the UK: I'm feminine lower-middle-class; I cannot perform the very different role of female (not feminine) upper middle class at all, because it distresses and confuses me to have to be that strident.
My best friend, by comparison, likes the trapping of feminity, but is far less feminine in her self image, and often says how much more comfortable she is in psychologically male space.
We are all so very different, which is fascinating.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 09:37 am (UTC)
:)

Pondering the trappings of femininity, I really like long hair - but, in everyone. (My hair would be long if it could, but health screwed that up; otoh you met elsmi at WFC right? He's got the lovely long hair because of my bad influence.)

And I love long skirts, but again, partly because trousers set off the eczema in my legs; so I rail against the way in which skirts are a feminine marker, and rather wish everyone could wear them.

But I also love wearing bright colours that are quite gender-marked, and again I think male-identified and non-binary folks should get to wear them toooo but I don't feel as indignant about it as I do with skirts, perhaps because I feel that *is* being reclaimed more than the skirts? I don't know...
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on July 19th, 2012 10:32 am (UTC)
I am also a fan of long hair on everyone -- you've met the marquis: like elsmi, his is splendid.
And yes, colours and clothing types should be more widely available outside gendered lines too.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 11:03 am (UTC)
Yes! It is :) I just have no idea what part you played in that if any. elsmi had quite short hair when we met & I coaxed him to grow it out :D

I seem to do that with a lot of friends actually.

Y'know this whole conversation suggests that whileI don't feel able to claim "this is femininity", I feel perfectly able to claim "this isn't necessarily femininity". Which is telling, no?
Kari Sperringla_marquise_de_ on July 19th, 2012 12:32 pm (UTC)
It is, yes.
The marquis grew his hair long all by himself, but I have always encouraged it on him and others.
Julie Andrewsjulieandrews on July 19th, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
I like long hair on guys and short hair on girls. And short hair on me! Most of the time. It's actually long right now. I also love ponytails on anyone.

I have Highlander to blame for that one. :)
Julie Andrewsjulieandrews on July 18th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
I just think of the awesome conversations we could've had at Clarion about this if more of us had been out/vocal. Well, and not totally buried under a load of reading and writing stuffs! :)

Of course there's the whole maturing, redefining, better articulating thing. I know I'm not where I was at 5 years ago. I know more labels now, which means I can find better fits, but it no longer feels like enough to say 'I know what/who I am'.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 09:44 am (UTC)
SERIOUSLY
I want to have (some subset of) Clarion again, with the things I understand now and without the cluelessness I've overcome since then. Though I don't think I'd have gotten to this point without Clarion the first time over, and talking to you & others since then?

Also, I'd be much less patient with some other subsets (*coughDAVEcough*) at this point.
Julie Andrewsjulieandrews on July 19th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
I'd include some people from other Clarions in a new Clarion. :)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
I like this plan!
Rose Fox: genderqueerrosefox on July 19th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
Sometimes it is enough to replace society's ! with your own ?.

Or, to quote Joy Ladin:

"I" is beyond gender, a third term, like the voice of the angel calling from the underbrush, the voice that dissolves the unbearable binaries of must and cannot be.

Labeled or not, consistent or fluid, you are you, and a wonderful you. I'm glad you feel safe enough to show a little more of your you-ness.

I wish you the very best as you sort through this, and I'm happy to talk gender wackiness with you anytime.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on July 19th, 2012 09:44 am (UTC)
<3 thankyou!
Lila Ralstonunhappytriad on July 20th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
Reading, witnessing and hopefully learning from over here in WhiteCisPrivilegeLand.