Janet (j4) wrote,
Janet
j4

All they say is "na na na na na"

1ngi wrote a good post about the way sexism hurts men too. This isn't at all a response to that post, I'm just using it as a jumping-off point.

I find that I mostly only think about gender roles in relation to me (rather than as some kind of abstract thing) when other people voice their worries, and (possibly because of this) most of my angst around these issues is kind of second-order angst: I'm a female programmer and I'm not particularly feminine, will this encourage people to think that (or think that I think that) female geeks can't be femme too? If I want to have children, will feminists tell me (as they have in the past) that this is letting the sisterhood down? (I already know that if I do have children everybody will tell me I'm doing something wrong, and hopefully by then I'll have learned not to listen to them.) If someone asks me "As a woman, what do you think about..." am I overreacting if I give them the three-page disclaimer about how I'm happy to answer for myself but while my biological sex and my gender are a part of that they're not necessarily the most important part and I don't regard myself as particularly representative of Womankind and certainly wouldn't want to think that I was being assumed to speak for anybody other than myself of any gender? If someone tells me that I am being discriminated against at work because of my gender, and if I don't feel it or see any ill effects then that just means I've been stunned into submission, are they in fact full of shit?

Anyway. I find it hard to synthesise the things I notice about my gender, gendered reactions, sexuality etc into any kind of coherent whole. So instead, a series of disintegrating observations about myself:

  • I am biologically female; my height/shape makes this fairly obvious to a casual observer and I don't make any conscious effort to hide it (but I also don't [think I] generally make any [conscious] effort to emphasise it either).
  • I am a bisexual woman married to a straight man
  • I feel like my bisexuality is mostly invisible (but I think this is a good excuse to kiss girls ;-)
  • I know that I shouldn't say things like the above, even in jest (especially in-jest-where-it's-actually-true) because that's objectifying women, and I certainly shouldn't say "girls" because some women find it patronising, though others find it cute/fun/affectionate, but they probably shouldn't because they're accepting a demeaning role for womankind, even if they do it in private, because we used to be able to do things in private but now everything we do is part of a public discourse even if (especially if) we don't want it to be, and the constant fandango in their minds between their right to accept a role for themselves and their responsibility not to for others they end up waking up exhausted in the morning with their dancing shoes worn through and nobody really knows why...
  • ... but it's OK for me, because I objectify boys too.
  • I'm joking! I don't really objectify anybody. I just find people attractive. Is that so wrong?
  • OK, it is. Let's start again.
  • I am a woman.
  • Too much time spent on the internet means that even that statement feels PROBLEMATIC by which I mean I AM TOO SPECIAL AND UNIQUE TO BE RESTRICTED LIKE LANGUAGE.
  • I am still a woman.
  • I want to have children.
  • I'm not sure if this means I want to give up my job long-term. I don't think I can "have it all", because there are only 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year or thereabouts, but I think life is always a compromise and there are lots of different ways to be wrong in the eyes of the internet, and if you spent all your life worrying about that you'd never get out of bed in the morning, and it might all turn out to be an academic question anyway because I might never have children or I might lose my job anyway or I might run away with the metaphorical circus (which is better than the literal circus because the tigers are far more dangerous)
  • I am getting to the age where people have stopped saying "Will we be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet?" and started saying "I assume you're not interested in having kids?", and that saddens me, but both questions are so fatuous that I just reply according to how I feel at the time & how much I feel like trolling, but it still saddens me so much underneath.
  • I don't think every woman secretly wants to have kids.
  • I don't think every woman who does have kids secretly wishes she could be doing something else.
  • I think most people are mostly thinking nothing in particular at any given time, their brains full of bits and pieces of the fragmented now that hasn't been hammered into a narrative yet.
  • I don't wear makeup. (A previous female boss told me: "You should.") Don't like the feeling, don't like the look, don't have the time, don't know how to do it 'right'.
  • I am aware that I'm drawing on stereotypes here. Life is short and stereotypes can be statistically valid shorthand for having to make a formal acknowledge of everything in the world individually before you can talk about any of it, so long as you don't assume that they mean you know better than the people who are telling you something about themselves.
  • I wear trousers more often than skirts/dresses.
  • This is largely because I travel everywhere by bike, and I can't cycle as easily in a frock.
  • The fact that you can't cycle in a frock is the fault of the PATRIARCHY (and physics).
  • I actually like wearing skirts, though, so long as they have a pockets to keep my keys/iPhone in.
  • I'm a geek. I work as a geek and I play as a geek. I even, so help me, self-identify as a geek.
  • I'm less good at talking to non-geeks than geeks. I know fewer female geeks than male geeks. This sort of helps to reinforce my worry that I don't find it easy to get on with women and/or that women don't like me and/or that women don't find my attractive. The fact that I ended up married to a man rather than a woman reinforces that, too. Because as damiancugley points out (in response to my reaction to some stats from OKCupid) bisexuals seem to be quite unfairly expected to be absolutely 50/50 all the time otherwise they're not real bisexuals (just a phase, just trying to be cool, just experimenting, midlife crisis, rebound, political statement, blah blah blah) and it's very hard to be a real anything all the time if by "real" you mean "one-dimensional".
  • Look, so much of this is angst is surprisingly little to do with strictly gender and surprisingly lots to do with what the more general question of what makes a person who they are and whether things are 'real', and the more fragmented society and culture get, I suspect, the more we cling to the unlikely hope that we can label everything with absolute certainty, though in fact if you stop mithering about absolute certainty and stop problematising the hell out of everything then it turns out you can actually label quite a lot of things with kind of useful amounts of certainty, useful in the sense that it stops you going completely batshit insane, and I don't have a conclusion here, but in the words of Robert Anton Wilson, reality is what you can get away with.
  • I do like shopping, though.
Tags: angst, gender, lists, meta, rants
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