Thursday, September 27, 2007

TMI: Just Like A Woman

"One is not born, but becomes a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society: it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature,
-Simone de Beauvoir

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
-Sojourner Truth

This was sort of inspired by this Saturday when I elected to watch an Ugly Betty marathon instead of doing what I would have most likely done a year ago, watching college football. At that point and that decision seemed to me that I had actually crossed some sort of gender divide. My theme for tonight was also reinforced by Ugly Betty tonight and Alexis Meade awakening from her coma and thinking she's still a male, and so the question is what makes a woman? I've been debating this for many years in cul anth and women's studies classes but over the last, oh 9 months it has been a far more personal pursuit. But one with a definitive answer that still eludes me, like when I go to WebMd and I'm tripped up by what biological sex I should select. I mean biological at this point I can't be considered a male, if being a male means like be able to get erections or father children and all that jazz, and I have more estrogen in my body then it probably knows what to do with. So where does that leave me? with breasts and a fattening ass. Is it your acts that define what your gender is, because I dress "like a girl", I try to behave in feminine behaviors at all times, somtimes in ultra feminie acts because I'm scared of being read, but if being a woman is a sum total of traditionally feminine acts then that disallows that large number of women who don't partake in such activites, So am I more of a woman than they are? Or is the vagina still the ultimate decider? In a lot of research and study it seems to be that vulnerability is related to femininity and I know that I'm freaked out a lot of the times especially when I'm walking by myself at night because I've learned that being in heels and being as physically unimposing as I am that there could be bad people in the world. Am I a woman because I spend so much time on my appearance and perfecting my make-up? "real" women have the luxury of kind of dressing down sometimes but no one would ever question their womanhood at such points, but whenever I lounge and am less than totally groomed I feel so gungy and assume that others will think I'm manly or whatever (especially when my voice isn't where I went it, which has been happening too much lately). Or Is being a woman a result of being penetrated sexually? because then there are many - lesbians and nuns who could not be qualified as women, and many males who could. Is being a woman about being insecure? because if so I have that in spades, with more seemingly coming up each day, like worrying about my thighs. is being a woman about not being in control of your emotions? my friends will tell you about the brutalness and bizzareness of my mood swings and my crying over sadness or beauty. I think the whole thing is, and I've been trying to figure this out to write in an essay but woman, the idea of woman was created by men and so I'm basing my behavior appearance and aspirations on what other women do which was sort of dictated by the desires of men. And going out and just living my life in public, is my gender based solely on what people think I am? like in those moments where they just see me and assume one thing but later they do a double take- everything stays the same except their thoughts, and consequently my gender. I guess I'm worried more about this is, I know it wouldn't really help or be healthy and my doctor advised against it but if I take more hormones and have more female hormones in my system I feel that would validate me in a way- I think my dosage is too low. And also I worry because if an amazing job comes along but I have to be a boy I don't know if I could play that part and to be honest I don't think that would be good for my sanity at all. If I'm not a woman than what am I? I can't be accepted by guys really and there will always be that gap with my girl friends, like if I adopt a girl I'll have to have on of my friends explain about monthly visitors. Maybe a huge part of being a woman that precludes me is that history and the past of growing up as a girl with sugar and spice. It's like I forgot which music festival that limited attendants to "born women" because those shared experiences of girlish youths were formative and shared yet unique to that sex ( though the experience and self doubt of a transsexual kid is probably a close kin to any growing up experience.) I'm not sure but I know that I don't think I'd be comfortable at some "women in business" networking conference, just because I feel others wouldn't accept me. Of course in the long run I think it's a question of confidence and experience, like when I'm 30 or whatever I kind of feel that this whole question will be moot, and not just because I'll have undergone SRS, but at that point I'll have lived through a purely "womanly" life for more than just these 3 months and I'll have lived much with people who only know me as a woman, which is probably a huge part of the problem in my mind, that it's strange for one of your friends to change so dramatically and their nervousness and awkwardness kind of makes me insecure. It really just seems like I'm a constantly molded lump of clay, or a prism where whatever people think I am, I am, be it feminine boy, androgyne, manly woman or hot chick. That my gender or sex is purely a variable decided by others. Who can tell from a distance the difference between a moth and a butterfly? I'm not sure if that versatility is a cool thing or not, I don't know if I should want to be easily confined and identified in one sex or gender, though I think now it would really help my confidence. Well maybe that or plastic surgery. I don't know- whatevs.

I'm sorry I started so late but Ugly Betty and The Office premieres were tonight. And to be honest I had much higher hopes for this piece but I screwed it up and I'm not even drunk. ugh.
Here take these instead:
Bob Dylan- Just Like a Woman [download]
Jeff Buckley- Just Like a Woman (live)[download]

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