I have this amazing friend, she’s an addiction. One of those charismatic people who makes you feel like the whole world has stopped whilst she is paying you attention.
We discuss about life and whatever crap has been thrown at each other that week.
She has a catchphrase, or rather Iv’e bestowed it upon her. Should you complain about racism or homophobia her instant answer is “You want to try being a Woman”.
Of course she is absolutely right.
What women endure globally on a day to day basis doesn’t bare thinking about, which is precisely why it should be thought about by everyone.
But I don’t necessarily feel that there’s a competition going on. I don’t feel that one plight negates another.
However, if there has to be a pecking order then I’m all in favour of women being top of the list. If we can’t treat over fifty percent of the population with love and respect, how the fuck are we expected to respect anyone else?
My friend’s catchphrase also got me thinking about it in a literal way.
Up until the age of five I didn’t realise I was a girl or a boy.
Oh sure I had male genitals but I didn’t think like other boys. It’s not that I was drawn to traditional feminine pursuits nor was I very enamoured by what little boys were supposed to playing with. You could throw me a G.I Joe (‘Action Man’ as he was called here in the UK) or a Barbie and I would have been equally as happy.
I had this neutrality about me.
Even at this young age I felt in the middle of gender roles.
I never felt like I fitted in with the boys and never felt completely at home with girls either. So I acted, I learnt the art of role play at a young age in order not to be teased or bullied. I got a skateboard, which led to disco roller boots. I learned Judo whilst simultaneously attending Disco dance class, (Look it was the late seventies, Disco was everywhere).
I was, what my mum termed “a bit of a worry”. And boy did she worry.
But I embraced my little differences, I exuded confidence as a kid. (oh for an ounce of that these days!). I felt different, but in a good way. Girls liked having me around because I wasn’t threatening and boys liked having me around as a kind of gateway to the girls.
Growing up I had problems with my gender role ‘neutrality’. Women told me I was Gay long before I had come to that conclusion. They sensed something different in me and immediately went to the lowest common denominator – he’s gay.
I can remember as a nervous nineteen year old asking my last ever girlfriend, “When did she normally have sex?”. Just came straight out with it, it was our sixth date. She leant across to me, patted my knee and said “On date two, but don’t worry, your’e very..”, she struggled with the right term, “Polite”.
It was at that moment I realised I was gay, as gay as it gets.
But here’s the thing, that’s my sexuality, I’m into my own sex. But I don’t think that has anything to do with my gender neutrality, I see my sexuality as a completely different kettle of fish.
Men sometimes found me uncomfortable. Now I should make this quite clear, I am not overly effeminate in my behaviour neither am I overly masculine. (And so fucking what if I was?) With one exception – my appearance, I’m tall, broad and well built. I look like the sort of person you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (although later in life many did!)
No, what some men found uncomfortable was the way that I thought.
Apparently I didn’t think like a ‘regular’ man. I wasn’t fitting into traditional male problem solving. I wasn’t confrontational, aggressive or quick tempered. I was logical and empathic. Another close male friend told me it was something behind my eyes that freaked him out. It wasn’t lust, that’s for sure.
He told me that he felt like he was talking to his sister in the body of a mister.
I confused him and his confusion made me feel uncomfortable. I was really upset when that happened. I withdrew socially for a while, answered no calls, accepted no invitations, I didn’t want to be the wierdo who made people feel odd. I was only twenty two and trying to figure out being an adult. The last thing I needed was other men telling me what a strange man I was.
It was during this period that I started to question my physical sex, I allowed other people to influence my perception of myself.
I started to weigh up other peoples opinion about me, these guys find me feminine, these girls find me masculine, but not traditional. It made a little sense, even in Gay bars and clubs I didn’t feel like I belonged, of all places. And then it hit me, I don’t fucking need to belong. There was only one person I needed to feel I fitted in with and that was me.
You see I realised I was really happy actually, the only people who weren’t were either chauvinist or people that were insecure with themselves. Maybe they saw a reflection in me of something they didn’t like about themselves, who knows. Im older now and semi-wiser.
You see my gender neutrality is in my brain. I’m not interested in changing my sex. God that must be awful, to be trapped inside a body that you feel completely alien with.
I’m completely indifferent about my biology. Meh! It is what it is.
I’d be exactly the same if I’d been born with a vagina. Kicked out the Wendy house for being too butch and marched out of the football locker room for trying to join the team. Although these days, I’m totally excited that the younger generation are busting gender stereotypes left right and centre. Say what you want about Millenials, they kick ass at gender politics.
So, “You wanna try being a woman”.
No thanks, I’m not that brave or strong or thick skinned. But oh for a bottle of that power. …..