Some of you will probably fall over in surprise.
I'm wearing a dress. It is a relatively rare occurrence for me to be wearing skirts and dresses, though it's getting more and more frequent. That begs two questions: Why was it so rare and why is it getting less rare?
Well, part of the answer is that people I know are cleaning out their closets, which means I happily acquire their hand-me-downs. I'm happy to. It keeps me from having to go clothes shopping - something I really do not like.
The other, much more relevant answer goes a little deeper. I have discussed it before, I think. The fact of the matter is, I used to hate being a girl.
I hated it.
I hated that I was treated differently from the guys. I especially hated that I was expected to behave differently from the guys. They got to do cool stuff. They got to play rough. They got away with cursing a blue streak.
Boys will be boys, after all.
But girls, well, a girl must act like a lady.
I. Hated. It.
It led to a complete rejection of everything feminine. I didn't wear dresses or skirts. I refused to wear make-up most of the time. I resented that it was expected that I would go into Home Economics instead of one of the shops (woodworking or metal working). Screw the system! I took woodworking. I was one of two girls in that class.
Now, keep in mind, however similar this may sound to many of the stories you hear, this is vastly different from the transgender experience. I never once felt like I was a boy, despite wanting all the freedoms, choices and opportunities that boys had, and resenting being a girl so much. I knew I was a girl, and I felt I was a girl. I just hated everything that came with being a girl. I hated being a girl. I realise, in retrospect, I'm saying that I hated myself. And I did.
For a long time.
Then, somewhere around my last two years of high school, began the slow realisation that I didn't hate myself nearly so much as I hated the roles that others ascribed to me based on my gender. I had no interest in being a home maker, which seemed to be expected of me. I had every intention of being the breadwinner in my future. There was never a husband in my day dreams. No domestic bliss.
There was just me, kicking arse, owning my own shit outright, living my own life for no one but myself, gender roles be damned.
And to be honest, I've stuck with that (though not really consciously). I'm involved in stuff that most people would find to be "masculine" pursuits. I lift. I adore kick boxing. I enjoy weapons training. Collecting swords is kinda my thing. I want my own leather and maille armour set. I like watching the U.F.C. - and not because some guy dragged me to the bar, either. Oh, you laugh. The number of times I have heard, "So, did your boyfriend drag you here?" I usually respond with a scoff or a death glare.
Seriously, guys. Don't say that to girls who show up at a bar to watch a fight. It's loaded with a bunch of really insulting assumptions.
Anyway, the point is, I'm not particularly "feminine."
I never really thought all that hard about it until I went home to Australia last year. Apparently, drinks are very gendered over there.
For example, I rather enjoy a Bundi and Coke. For those of you not in the know, a Bundi and Coke is a rum and Coke made specifically with Bundaberg Rum. I've always liked it. So, when I went home, I drank it. My sister's husband said something to me that I'll never forget. He said, "You know, you're the only girl I know who likes to drink these who isn't a complete Westie."
Let me translate that for you. According to the slang dictionary, a Westie is:
1. (derogatory) person from the western suburbs of Sydney, usually characterised as being unsophisticated, uncouth, and typically wearing certain distinguishing items of clothing, as flannelette shirts and ugh boots. The word is applied negatively to any people living west of one's own suburb, thus a Bondi inhabitant may call a person from Ryde a westie, but Ryde inhabitants would not consider themselves such, and instead apply the term to people from Parramatta, who in turn apply it to people from Penrith, etc.;
2. pertaining to a westie; characteristic of a westie
See also: Cabbage Patcher , Ear Hustling , I'll holla at cha , A Rooster one day and a feather duster the next , PUN
For good measure, my sister added, "Sonia is a man in a woman's body."
It really stung at the time, mostly because it wasn't true.
I am a woman in a woman's body.
I just think that gender roles are absolute horse shit, and if I enjoy a Bundi and Coke (or swords, or armour, or U.F.C.), I'm not going to pretend I don't to please some bizarre notion of what women and men are supposed to enjoy.
And why the hell are drinks gendered? Of all things? Drinks?!?!
That sting was the first time I acknowledged to myself that I was completely and wholly woman.
I had, prior to that, been very slowly accepting the other side of myself; the more feminine side. The side that saw myself in a dress or spied a pretty skirt in a shop window, and said, "Damn! I like that!"
Now I am far more comfortable wearing a dress or a skirt. I no longer associate feminine things with weakness or incompetence. Why? you ask.
Well, things slowly started to turn around for me for many reasons, the greatest of which was representation. It matters a whole lot, and I will dive into that topic tomorrow. For now, I have a tonne of work that needs doing.