Labels

So, sometimes I think maybe it doesn’t matter what I call myself. What if I declare that my gender is just me?

But then I see statements like this:

I also see underthings.

I can’t help it. I’m a woman in her late 30s, all I think about is lingerie.

And I want that.

I want that belonging, that being the same as other people. Somehow the other labels I can put on myself don’t quite cut it in the way that a gender label would. Sure, I’m androphilic, but nobody uses that term but me as far as I can tell. I’m a [dayjob job title], but I’m more than my dayjob. I’m a cat person who also likes dogs, but that’s not the same. There’s [my true calling], but I’m more than that too, and anyway, gender is somehow different from all of those things.

Tonight, at least, it feels like the reason it bothers me so much that I don’t have a gender box to fit in comfortably yet is that I feel excluded. I feel like everybody but me knows where they fit in – but that thought comes from media, from society, from the overculture.

I know I’m not the only one who has problems with this. With as many billions of people on the planet as there are, I can’t be the only one.

So, maybe I’m the only goth in a school full of jocks and cheerleaders, but there are goths at other schools too, there must be.

But how do I find them when our thing in common is the lack of a label? Goth is just a metaphor here, I don’t have a word for what I am.

It’s hard to keep this up. Part of me wants to give in, to just pick woman as a label. If nothing else, it would make things simpler with my partner, who is a straight cis man. He’s open minded and awesome and doesn’t give me shit about my gender crap, even when it interferes with our sex life (which it does, boy howdy, does it ever; that’s a whole ‘nother post I’m not really up to writing yet), but I know things would just be simpler if I were a woman, or a butch straight woman, or something other than I hate gender it’s stupid societal bullshit and I’m sick of thinking about it.

I wish I could just let this whole issue go, but I can’t. It’s like a slightly loose tooth or a piece of gristle stuck between my molars, I can’t stop poking at it.

Interestingly, I can think of at least one other major issue in my life that has the same deal going on. I wish I could just drop it and stop reaching for a simple answer, but somehow I can’t.

…and suddenly I am reminded of what T. Thorn Coyle says about holding the yes and the no at once, and looking for a third path.

This is Another Fucking Learning Opportunity, isn’t it.

Goddammit.

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Binary Bullshit

Yesterday I listened to a podcast episode that talked a lot about masculine/feminine energy, and how it can be problematic to use those terms because we have so much baggage attached to them thanks to patriarchy. Things like yin/yang, solar/lunar, etc were proposed, but I kept thinking “but wait, WHAT ENERGY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

Because pretty much everything they were assigning to either box was either also present in the other one or actively contradicted something already in the box!

Here, I’ll try to show what I mean.

Feminine/Lunar/Yin:

  • Receptive-but-not-passive
  • Creative/nurturing
  • Being (rather than doing)

Masculine/Solar/Yang:

  • Active
  • Destructive
  • Doing (rather than being)

So these seem pretty straightforward, right?

WRONG!

Receptive-but-not-passive as an opposite to active doesn’t really work.

I think farmers would be startled to hear the sun is destructive.

Last time I checked, men and women both do shit and are things.

Another example: feminine energy was described as nurturing.

Until pretty recently, a lot of nurturing roles in society were held by men – they were powerful roles, so men had them instead of women. Farming, teaching, animal husbandry, etc. were manly things to do. Now they’re not.

Also: isn’t nurturing active? Doesn’t it require output? You don’t nurture by receiving or being. You nurture by doing. ARGH.

This all just slides back into my frustration that you can’t really assign anything to masculine/feminine without some pretty major contradictions.

Furthermore, insisting on a binary all the damn time is pretty narrow-minded.

Like, presumably the opposite of nurturing is destroying… or maybe it’s ignoring something and letting it die?

Receptive and active aren’t necessarily opposites – what about a great big snake swallowing something? That’s receptive in that the snake is receiving the thing it’s eating, but I suspect the prey wouldn’t consider it inactive.

If “being” and “doing” are opposites, what do we call mindfulness? You can walk mindfully and be both fully present (being) and in motion (doing).

As the podcast went on, it got harder and harder to pay attention because my mind kept running off on tangents.

I seriously could not come up with a single trait/characteristic/descriptor that was exclusive male or female. Most of the standard ones offered by society are patriarchal bullshit and easily dismissible, but so are a lot of the ones offered by alternative lifestyle folks. Between confirmation bias and unconscious sexism, it’s almost impossible for us to really shed our binary-gender lenses, I know, but still.

Of course, ultimately society’s expectations have  huge impact on us, and there’s something to be said for the argument that yes, gender is made up and a societal construct but it still impacts people so we should quit bitching about it. I know a trans person who transitioned in part (as they explained it to me, anyway) so that other people would react to her in a way that felt appropriate.

I’m woo-woo enough to admit that folks who identify as masculine and folks who identify as feminine have different vibes to them. I can’t figure out which vibe I give off, though, and I sure as shit can’t figure out what I am using the bullshit boxes society offers.

Clearly I’m having a GENDER IS STUPID CAN WE JUST STOP PLEASE UGHHHH day. Time to go pet the cats and get back to focusing on my dayjob.

WTF DO NOT GROK

So I saw this Tumblr post.

And almost reblogged it, adding:

How do you tell if you’re a woman in spite of not being ladylike or if you’re agender/genderqueer/whateverthefuck and not being ladylike is part of that? I get told a lot that just because I don’t feel feminine doesn’t mean I’m not a woman, but at this point I seriously have no idea what “being a woman” even is. 

aaaaaaaaand then remembered that oh right my Tumblr is under my legal name and I’m not 100% out as not comprehending gender or being genderqueer or whatever the fuck I am and so I decided to post it here instead.

“get told a lot” is probably an overstatement, given that I don’t talk about this shit all that much outside this teeny blog and my irregular posts, but the times I’ve been told it feels like being punched in the gut. Like a pat on the head and “there there we know better than you, of course you’re a woman” and just.. ugh.