Clothes

On being a girl – Part one of a journey of unknown length…

Friday, October 12th, 2012

EDIT – More than 50% of the women I know are scientists and mathematicians, bear this in mind when I use 50’s definitions of “woman activity”.  This is the modern age, I sometimes write about it in older, inappropriate language.  Sorry about that.
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I wrote this post, Femininist, a couple of years ago, because I was tired of being that man wearing a skirt, and NOT trying to be Trans, A Girl, (well, alright a woman, but I’m still so young in my head…), gay, in drag or anything else.  When I was married my wife hated me wearing a skirt because she a “a little Welsh Girl”, bought up in rural Wales where, with all due respect, there are mostly farmers and Men must be Men.  As farming fails this culture is changing.  But she would fight like a tiger for it, my right to do it.  I had a lot of reasons for doing it, read the post.

My wearing skirts had a much more profound effect on my boys than I had thought we were more grown up as a society than we are.   While my friends are universally supportive of whatever I do, the general public is not.  Bigoted attitudes have come from parents and been passed clearly to their children.

Moving on.

Point is, that up until a short time ago I was just fighting the good fight, being that guy, taking care of my kids, teaching them that true equality does not come out of watching every word you say, (though I have been banging on at them for ten years now that the term “Gay” should not be used as a term of derogation, I have succeeded, largely), it comes out what real respect you pay, out of recognising the shortcomings of each side of the fence, (Equal pay anyone?  how about equal Marriage rights, let alone this article and my commenting blog), it comes out of accepting that people are not the same, and that our differences make us strong.

I was asked recently what the real difference is between Men and Women.  I don’t know, I am beginning to think that in an advanced, civilised, modern, society

that the differences are ineffable.  Nevertheless I have had to teach my boys to be Men, (as I have said elsewhere), one of the things that I have had to teach them is that they must respect women and a woman’s right to say no.  The flip side is that I have also had to teach them that they must trust any woman they are alone with implicitly, an accusation of rape or sexual molestation can blight a man’s life forever, true or not.  Let’s be clear here, this is about their behaviour, not necessarily about false accusations, though that possibility is included.  This is a dreadful thing to have to say to a young man, but I shall not dwell upon it, that’s not the point of this entry.

The point is that I have had misogyny when wearing skirts, in the street, and in work; at a University I might.  You can imagine that I slapped it down pretty hard.  I felt minimised, and I don’t bloody take that well.  Especially someone in Uni should be thinking about my head not my ass, or about if my skirt is “too white” and thus “too transparent in the sun”.  Fuck off.  I can tell the difference between jokes and misogyny.  I slapped down 18 year olds when I was doing my degree, sure as hell wasn’t going to take it from a work colleague.  And I might add that at the end of that degree, the now 21 year olds were right in my corner, and their parents thanked me for guiding their sons and daughters, for showing them that it was ok to be them.  Apparently many of my uni colleagues mentioned me to their parents, I didn’t think I had made that much of an impression really.  Many of them are still my friends, we’re around the country now, so this means Facebook, but they are mature and clever young Men and Women and I am proud of them if I may be so arrogant.

So why am I going Girly?

I ask myself this, and I outed myself on FaceBook without even meaning to as such, it came as just an off remark about wanting to be less mannish and enjoying the feminine clothes that I had been wearing recently, yes, drag mode, and enjoying the iodea that many of my friends see me as not worldly, (I am aware that have just insulted Real Women everywhere, sorry), and that I have had many many, talks with people about sex and love and child rearing and friendship and life and feelings and fashion

and shape and desire, and that all of them, ALL OF THEM, have eventually said to me,

Gosh Friday, you really are such a girl.

It’s not what I wear that makes me a girl inside, that is outside, I like it because I see men as not pretty, and I want to be pretty, well, alright, prettier, I don’t ever think I’ll get to pretty; it is what I say and do.  It is the sewing and the cleaning and the cooking, and the career break to look after children, (which by the way started and shagged my career path at the same time), the protesting at being a Man with what is done to men, (I refer you to the blog entry, Boys will be boys) once more), the tightness of corsets, the feeling that I’m missing a part of my body, (yes breasts), the feeling of emptiness in my belly because I can never carry a child under my heart, which has sometimes made me howl in the pain of that emptiness.  (So yes, ladies, I do know, intimately, something of what you are going through if you cannot get pregnant, except that there is, and never was any hope for me, I lived it vicariously through my wife, when we had our boys).  It is a hole in my very soul, and nothing can fill it. So yes I have been a “girl inside” for a long time.

Then my eldest son posted this thing, “Don’t assume I’m a Gender“, on FaceBook, a brave act I thought, but what he posted earlier, this image:-

He put this image on FaceBook from https://www.facebook.com/wipeouttransphobia, and I realised that he was grown up at last, muchly, and that I should think about my situation.

I thought, “Damn, where it matters, inside, I am a girl.  Everyone recognises this, even if they can no longer tell me what it means to be a girl.

And I meet so many people who are Gay or Bi or Pan or something else.  I have no radar for these things, so I often I plant my size nines right in it, but truth is, I like the people I meet, because they are so open and accepting.

And I’m a girl.

I like doing girl things, whatever they are, I like the clothes, I like the attitude, (with some exceptions), I like dressing up, I like being me.  That seems to include being a girl.

The ultimate think about this was when I realised that despite still liking girls, women really, I am 48 years old after all, but there is a piece of me that want to be liked by women who like women.  That is complex.  It needs addressing another time.  Anyway I have a girlfriend/partner whom I love very much, and while our situation is never simple, I am not looking for a girlfriend or lover.  (I am sometimes looking for a companion, but that is also something that is best left for another time, suffice to say that my partner doesn’t enjoy movies or motorcycling and I enjoy the company of enthusiastic and adventurous young women for Movies, Motorcycling and Coffee.  Nothing more is necessary).

That paragraph went off on one.  Despite the fact that I like women for my sexual and companionship preferences, I am a girl, (I use this term because in my head I am still 18 years old) and I like to do the things that girls do, and wear the things that women wear. (Except the underpants, too flimsy, I like a bit of support ok?  You were curious, just admit it and move on).

I like being decorative in the ways that women are, I like having that share that is missing from me, I like being a girl.

And it seems that in many ways I have been on a journey to this even though I have not realised it.  It’s not through the wearing of skirts that this journey has been realised, and that is what is bizarre about it.  I know that people will think it is, and the total inability of men to recognise the difference between skirts and dresses, (ALL MEN everywhere ask me why I’m wearing a dress if they are going to ask, it is a kind of put down, a diminution of me because I wear skirts and do the woman thing on purpose, don’t think even for a minutes that I have not known this, I have known it always, if you have ever done this, then you should examine your life, because if you are not aware of it, then your misogyny is deeply ingrained and buried within you.  There is hope still, think before you speak.  The enlightened just don’t ask, it is in fact, binary.  Alright, the enlightened ask later if it comes up, and they don’t ask about dresses, they ask about the whole thing), does get in the way somewhat, but it’s the influence of my friends, and my boys that made me realise that I had a need not to hide any more.  I am what I am, and I have a need not to hide it, not be ashamed of it, not to be concealed behind my anger and my frustration.  I have genteel side that constantly struggles to come out.  As a man even my girlfriend struggles to come to terms with this side of me, but as a girl she sees it clearly within me, and responds with tenderness and gentility.  Come to that, when I am being especially girly most of my friends respond with gentleness.  I know this says a lot about our culture and what it is to be a man, and what it is to be a woman, and this will have to wait.

Point is, I choose now to live more as a girl, not because I have been getting ready all these years, whatever it may look like; I choose to live as a girl, because I finally realise that my body, my gender, and my upbringing is at odds with the feelings that I have inside.

 

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As an aside, could people stop asking me if I wear skirts on my motorbike?  Would you ask a woman that or would you treat them as a sensible person who would wear the leather trousers just like a sensible man would.  It really does mark people out as uncomfortable and a bit daft as a result.  Actually I was being gentle instead of militant then.  it marks them about as being stupid and thick.  Quit it.

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A final note; I have had plenty of friends on FaceBook immediately and without hesitation offer their support and congratulations for my “coming out”.  I didn’t mean to “come out” I was just talking.  But I have been deeply touched to the core of my being by their solicitude, congratulations and messages.  I regret nothing.

 

As usual spelling is suspect and negations may be missing.

Femininist

Monday, March 29th, 2010

EDIT If you’re viewing this professionally, it’s not meant for that, as is any of this blog.  This entry in particular contains bad language, very firm opinions, and admonitions.  Nevertheless, tempting as it is, I’m not Bowdlerising it because it’s a piece of writing that proved reasonably popular among people important to mat at the time, and it DOES make the point I was trying to  make.  I make no apologies for it, but I will warn you now, that this is NSFW and you should look at something else.  As a piece of writing I’m proud of its rage.

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Yeah, get ready because I’m in a mood and I’m ready to give a polemic.

I’m a guy, and I wear skirts.  Don’t like it?  Fuck off then.  I’m not subscriber to the “put photos of myself on the blog” guys wearing skirts brigade, because I’m not interested in that kind of publicity, I don’t do it for those reasons, maybe you’ll disagree.

I don’t do it because my tag line says “Girl Inside, Just live with it.”  That’s not why.

There are plenty of reasons why I do do it, and I’ll get to them in a second.

Why do I have a girl on my personal blog anyway?  Because you’re suckers for beauty, never mind that this stock photo, which I purchased for this, is a good representation of an old RP character in a situation in which I would quite to be in, i.e drinking coffee while shopping, YOU the good old public like the feminine, because it our society’s conception of beauty, so I want that, and this is the closest I’m going to get, because I sure as hell won’t change my appearance for you.  I look like a huge bloke with correspondingly strong features and strength and bulk.  I don’t have to enjoy it.  I’m also, as far as I’m concerned, an intellectual, a philosopher, a Geek, (coder Geek), an activist, (Albeit that I spend very little time being an activist, with the one notable exception), a Dad, a Mom, and I use this term a a job title, though it is less ongoing as an activity now, and someone who wants to be peaceful and quiet and studious.  I find that all too often I have to be loud, assertive, occasionally obnoxious (hate that), bloody minded, and even occasionally downright stubborn.

I said that there are a lot of reasons that I wear skirts.  I am often asked, and as I’m a Discordian, and the reasons are numerous, what I reply often depends on the day of the week, or my mood, or who I’m trying to wind up that day, or, Eris forbid, even for religious reasons.  (Later polemic on Discordianism and philosophy I promise).

But there is no single reason, and because I’m in a difficult mood I decided that writing about it here would be a good idea for a change, so in no particular order…

Comfort

Who decreed that all men, at least in the west, shall wear bifurcated garments usually folded up up quite tightly into something that could tear a body in half, especially jeans?  *I* didn’t.  My comfort is important to me.  It’s certainly saved me from being kicked in the balls a few times by my small children, as the small legs get tangled up rather than being guided like a tiny booted missile to the most sensitive, apart from teeth, area of my body.  Thanks trouser makes society and fashion, on behalf of all men for having that guidance system in place.  I like skirts or other non-birfurcated, trousers have their place, but it’s not a bloody uniform.  I thought we were equal. We”ll see later how we are not.

Non-Violence

It used to be that I wanted a sign of protest at my pacificism.  I’m no longer a pacifist, but I do try to be a peaceful person.  I have come to realise that “Lad” culture has badly let me down on this one, I have seem women being far far more violent than I have seen any man being, except my father; try spending a few nights cabbying as I did 20 years ago, and you see what I mean.  What happened to us?  I know what bloody happened, we tried to become equal, and that seems to mean to modern people doing what men do, laddish things; binge drinking, threatening behaviour, (I am more often threatened with physical violence from women than I am from men, for wearing skirts and possibly saying “no”).  Violence towards me has never been acceptable, from man or woman, quit it; because the outcome is going to be same, one of two things, I’ll clock you one or call the police, preferably the second.  I’ve had to do the first.  Why am I attackable because I wear different clothes from the general population?  Ah, common homophobia is still acceptable is it?  Not in my book.  I had enough violence as a child, as an adult I don’t have to tolerate it.  I want peace.

And it’s not just physical either, I had a woman confront me in the street, at random seemingly, some years ago, and declare that she was going to take away my children right then and there because to was obviously an abuse that I was their dad and wearing a skirt.  I’m not at all ashamed to say that I told I would kill her where she stood if she touched my children, (I couldn’t run away or I would have; I was carrying one and pushing the other), so she threatened to get the Police.  That seems right and proper to me, so I just carried on shopping.  I never heard from her again.  (And this was ten years and more ago).

Equality and Feminism

Yeah, equality right?  Bollocks, there ain’t any.  Women are still basically abused in the work place, go look around, the glass ceiling is still there, the is still a 17-20% pay gap between the sexes doing the same job.  On the other hand, I know young men who have gone into child care who have been asked “why? Don’t you want to do a real job?  Isn’t it a bit weird to want to care for children if you’re a man? ”  Subtext, we think you’re a paedo so you can sod off.

OH my goddess have we not left the polemical time of the 70’s when feministas outside Greenham common threw Human Excrement at my Dad and me because he was a man and I’m a boy.  Have we not left the time when at 17 years of age I got told that as a man I was basically a rapist and that was my lot in life, couldn’t be helped but there it is?  (80’s for reference).

So bad enough that I’m naturally brown, and “Paki” was the kindest thing said to an intelligent kid who got beat up every day in school, and then got beat again for getting beat up; but being a man makes me a rapist by default!  What a thing to say to a 17 year old kid, I’d never even been with a woman, and there I was labelled.  Well you know something?  I’ve been storing something up that now needs to be said…

YOU TRAITOROUS FEMINIST BITCHES.

I feel better.

Why do I say this?  Why traitorous?

Because labelling all men in this way is a foul foul thing to do to women.  It disempowers them and sets them up to see themselves as victims.  From my point of view, it messages men that their role is about power, which let’s face it rape is about it’s many foul and hideous forms, and induces a fear of being alone with women, which by the way such caution I have passed on to my boys.  Just the accusation can ruin a man’s life and I have cautioned them that being along with any woman is a risk on their part too.  What a terrible indictment of our society, my experiences, and the legacy of a generation.

Women need equality.  That is clear.  It does not mean the homogenisation of society, though I can thin of few things that I would refuse on gender grounds, (personal care pops up right away; but for me I’d rather have a woman than a man, because I can talk about more things more easily, Look! An unequality!  But this is reflection of my personal experiences and not a broader generalisation about empathy based on gender).  But we are not the same, and don’t have to be.  We need equality of respect, opportunity and all the others.  (Three days sick leave without note, I don’t know what it is now, was bought in my the way for women, because men do not get screwed around with by major changes in their bodies once a month.  Foolishness to extend to the male half for “equality”, that misses the damned point, different people have different needs).

No, for equalities sake I wear skirts because eventually I found that I wanted to “walk a mile in their shoes”.

Break for a joke.

A feminist, old school ranty person, told me to walk a mile in her shoes; so I did, but then the policeman drew up beside me and said I had to give them back.  I was glad really, because they bloody hurt.

I wear skirts in part because I want to remind people that we are not equal, and that ultimately, some people are so busy looking at my ass that they don’t see me observing them looking at me.

Shame on them, shame because sometimes, not so much where I live now, because certainly before, people treat me as I’m deaf or Second or Third Language English.  I might be naturally brown, but I’m a Brit you moron’s;  I’m so smart that I taught myself to read, I’m doing a Master’s; I have written papers, I’m probably cleverer than YOU, so don’t ask formerly my wife, or now my girlfriend if I take sugar because I’m right here idiot.  I can SEE you pointing.  I’m just wearing a skirt.  If I was truely from a non-Brit culture, hang on, I can’t say that can I?  I’m in Yorkshire, there are loads of born and bred Muslims, Hundus &c. whose parents may or may not have come from abroad but as one friend who was asked her background recently “‘uddersfield born and bred”.  Still wears the garb of here religion and culture, by choice; no-one points and stares.  (Except kids, but kids do this, proper instruction takes care of this, parent better, I did).  But gender issues are so ingrained that it seems to be ok to point and stare and assume I’m stupid.  It isn’t.

I wear skirts because, and pay attention here because this is probably the most important thing I am going to say, if it is demeaning or wrong for me to do it because I’m a man, then our societies attitude to women must still be that it doesn’t matter what they do, because they count less.

There is alternative hypothesis which I regard as just as bad, and it is that Men must conform because we are not allowed out the the same straightjacket that women have fought so hard for so long to escape, and still not have.

If nuturing, housekeeping, childrearing were really valued, really really valued for the important vital social works they are then my mother in law, for example, and my wife’s workmates would never have said, “Why don’t you send him out to work?” when I was caring for a our little ones at home.  So that’s my value is it, safely at work where I can’t rape anyone, or be a filthy paedo, or bother anyone, just work 40 years and then die.  (This used to be the old pattern of men’s work.)

It’s not valued though, it’s not, we don’t value parenting, and Thatcher made it worse, because she thrust us into a world where both parents really speaking HAVE to work to make ends meet.  That’s no equality, that’s wage slavery.  Huh, I reflect now that I’m a student in my 40’s and £20,000 in debt to my studentness.  Because I couldn’t get a job when our kids were in school full time.

I wear skirts because we are not equal, we were never equal, and it should be daily reminder that this is the case.  Women come off worst, but they are not the only ones.

Feeling Better.

I wear skirts, because somewhere inside I feel better when I do.  I think it comes from bucking teh trend, from not conforming or obeying, or being “just a man”.  I’ve had a great deal of adulation for it, for which I am grateful, and great deal of abuse, which reminds me that we are not fixed yet.  But we don’t live in a broken society, there are many things wrong, but we’re ok, if we’re not ok, then why do a lot of people want to come live here?  We, as a society should be proud of that.  Notwithstandnig recent events, we can walk the street with a reasonable expectation of not being shot, mugged, mown down, or otherwise buggered about with.  (Oh thanks to Disney programmes, “Bugger” no longer semantically related to “Buggery” or I think you would say “Sodomy” now, because “bugger” person that bugs, affectionate in the states, “They’re cute little buggers ain’t they”.  I like to reclaim a word to innocence.  Spread it.)

I wear skirts because it makes me feel better, which is after all the only reason to wear clothes, (in the end), not for your titillation, so no pictures, no to make you feel better, not to promote YOUR feminist point or position as an individual or society, student unions take note, but to make me feel good, because I can do what I want in an equal society, as long as I don’t do any harm to others.  You have to question it though when some idiot wrote his car off on a lamp-post because he was looking at me.  How we laughed after making sure he wasn’t dead or injured. (Because we care).

Health.

I wear skirts because it’s healthier.  I’m still good and fertile despite the twin problems of diabetes and high-blood pressure, and the additional disadvantage of sitting at my desk ten hours a day sometimes.  Because MY testicles are not bound up in jeans every day, apparently a major health problem now.  Free and easy baby, free and easy.  Firm underwear prevents knocking about.  And no, it’s not frilly you fucking idiot.  Piss off, it’s personal.

Asshole filter

Basically the logic is this.  If you point and stare, you are either a child or an asshole.  If you reject me for a job because I’m wearing a skirt, then you are an asshole, I’ve worn skirts in work or at Uni for the last ten years, it doesn’t impair my ability to think,  (see the rant about equality above).  Wearing a skirt does not make me feminine so my brain isn’t going to overheat from intelligence or something, oh wait, women’s brains don’t overheat from education, reading or voting.  Amazing.  (Bear in mind that IN MY LIFETIME, women under 21 didn’t get the vote, men did; black people still suffered from segregation; smoking was cool and gosh yes I was called a “Paki” from ignorance at school because there were black kids and white kids and me.)

So next time, dickhead, that you call me “dear” beause I’m wearing a skirt, and patronise me, I’m going to have no compunction in turning the tables and possibly cause, as I have done in the past, your immediate relationship break up when your girlfriend realises that you apply these values to her.  OR for the women that shout at me the in street occasionally, I shall not cry for your lack of wages; get back to the damned sink if I’m unacceptable, and bring me my tea.

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If I have left out the word “not” and said something really right wing, then I apologise.  I leave out the negation when I am being sarcastic sometimes, and reading it back won’t help.  I am a bad proff reader for informal work.

I believe in equality and diversity.  I believe that even if I don’t like something that someone is doing, say in a social sense or a religious sense, they still have the right, and I shall stand up for that right.  I shall still value the idea that difference, difference itself is valuable and healthy, and that disagreement and discord is an inevitable part of human life, and that we should embrace it, because people of good intent can get along, no matter how different or similar we are.  I believe that Britain should be proud of itself, for we are a plural society, a place where people want to come and live, get educated, to BE.  That is something we all do, something to which we all contribute. I believe that we export knowledge and culture, and we should import culture too, and knowledge.  We should hold our heads up, because whatever the sins of the British Empire, and they were many, OUR society is essentially inclusive and embracing.  I don’t speak about tolerance, I speak about embracing, for we are all humans, and we all have human needs.