Playing with my gender presentation preferences
Playing with my gender presentation preferences
This is a post for Hack Gender a project happening this week only, which was promoted at and launched during WisCon but is for anyone to participate in.
This comes at a good time for me, since I used WisCon this year a bit to play with my "butch" and "femme" sides. As I posted here recently, I consider myself genderqueer not because of a female/male dichotomy but because of a feminine/masculine one or a femme/butch one. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
I feel that I'm very much both femme and butch in most of the aspects of myself that can be gendered, if that makes sense. I used to think maybe I was androgynous, but it's not that there is a lack of gender to me - it's more the case that there's a LOT of gender to me.
Usually, when I dress, I'm not going for one or the other or any kind of gender presentation. I just wear what I like and that often happens to be really girly-girl things, men's clothing or mens-like clothing, or often a mix of the two.
I also have a shaved head (or very short hair when I don't get around to shaving it as often as I'd like), and unshaved legs and pits. OTOH, I have a very round and curvy body and like to paint my nails girly colors. I don't wear much facial makeup or jewelery on a day-to-day basis, but do enjoy decorating myself when I am attempting to dress up.
This weekend, I decided to dress one night for parties as butch as possible and one night as femme as possible, and feel I pulled both looks off fairly well - and thought I looked damned sexy both nights to boot! I laughed with my friends, though, about attempting to *act* masculine or feminine each night, because we all knew I wouldn't be able to pull that off. I'd be in my pinstripe pants and vest but get all excited about the sparkly earrings at the haiku earring party, or I'd be in my long black boobtastic dress with all the fixin's and find myself sitting with my legs wide open in a broad stance. I'm just no good at being one or the other no matter how I dress myself up. And I'm cool with that. I *like* the combo. Both in appearance in behavior.
Even in my daytime outfits this weekend, I had fun playing with the gender presentations - this time generally going for more of a mixture, which does feel more natural to me. The first day was a sporty outfit: tank top with meshy texture and athletic looking numbers, but it was pink and the numbers were silky; black terry cloth skirt also with a silky white line down it that looked a little like a tennis skirt or something, but it was very short and had built-in shorts so I didn't worry too much about things like bending over. The second day I wore a dusty rose tank top with lacy beady things and cut off jean shorts with stylish holes cut into them - and a lot of soft pink and blue jewelery, and a wonderful dusty rose cowboy-ish suede hat I'd picked up at clothing swap that happened to match beautifully. Both days I carried a pink corduroy zip up jacket for cold rooms/times. The third day was mostly femmey, but not traditionally so: I wore a longer purple skirt with butterfly prints and slits up both sides with blue and pink tank tops and a blue funky patterned long-sleeved shirt for cold rooms/times. The fourth day was more masculine - in fact it was a men's Superman T-shirt and men's blue and white checkered shorts. With my shaved head and hairy legs, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in that outfit and thought I looked mostly male except for the shape of my boobs showing due to the fact that I never wear a bra. This happens to be one of my all-time favorite outfits that I do actually wear a lot, btw. It's comfy, as men's clothing often is, which is a bonus. But then, of course, all weekend I had bright red polish on my fingernails and blue shiny polish on my toenails, so that *ahem* colored my gender appearance as well. Not to mention that the makeup party fell on my butched up party dress night and I ended up wearing some of that makeup around that night, as well as the bits of makeup I purposefully applied for the more feminine dress night.
I don't specifically have a point with all of this, except that I am having fun exploring these things about myself. I do think I came to the conclusion that I prefer not purposefully trying for one or the other look and instead prefer to just go for whatever I happen to like on any given day, which will sometimes be more masculine and sometimes more feminine, but most of the time will fall somewhere - not between, but with aspects of both thrown in.
I do notice a slight difference in behavior and body posture when I do something that puts me over the line in one direction or the other. Whenever I have freshly painted nails, I notice that I hold my hands more delicately in sort of feminine ways. When I wear heels (which I didn't do this weekend because I felt that the dress I wore worked better with just socked feet) I walk with more of a sway to my hips. Actually when I wear a skirt or dress even without heels I tend to do that. When I wear men's clothing, I put my hands in my pockets more in a more masculine kind of pose - which has a lot more to do with there being great deep long pockets in men's clothing than anything else, I suspect. When I put on that vest Saturday night, I found myself wanted to hit on chicks more! I didn't, because my general nature is not to hit on people at all really, but the desire was there. Whereas in my long flowy Sunday night dress, I especially enjoyed the obvious male attention I was receiving. (Interesting to note that in the masculine outfit I wanted to experience more assertive flirtation and in the feminine outfit I wanted to experience the more passive act of being flirted with.)
On Monday, in the Superman T and shorts, I also found myself lusting after a book in the dealer's room titled Femmes, which was a picture book of mostly femme-looking women in sexual poses with one another. I now own this book. I am not normally the type to want or be comfortable with naked pictures, and I wonder if being in the more masculine clothing helped me to feel more empowered or something. Possibly, it was just the being at WisCon in the first place that allowed me to be more comfortable with such things, since it's such an empowering space. But it's something to think about.
Today, BTW, I'm wearing red silky pajama pants with black, white, and pink polkda dots, a pink pajama tank top with silky pink edges with white polka dots and a little hole with a ribbon tie at the cleavage - which when I am cold I completely cover up with a rough-and-tumble plain red sweatshirt. I like the way I look both with and without the sweatshirt.
DATE ADDED: 2010-06-30 16:24:47
ITEM TYPE: Document
CITATION: Sophy, "Playing with my gender presentation preferences," in HACKGENDER, Item #30, http://hackgender.org/items/show/30 (accessed June 19, 2013).
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