October 26, 2011

Why short hair rocks my socks

Hey there gender blenders,

I've consistently had short hair since 2005. And let me tell you a little secret--I haven't looked back. Period. I'm a total short hair junkie. Pixies, bobs, faux hawks, real hawks, partially shaved off, all shaved off--stick it on a girl with attitude, and I'm a done Thanksgiving turkey.

Short hair won't stick to your sticky name tag. It won't cramp your style when you roll the windows all the way down and rock out to Tegan and Sara. And best of all, you can create crazy hair art in your sleep that will say "hey" to you every morning in the mirror. Without even trying.

I've been asked, "Are you sure you want it this short?"

Who do you think I am? I am not having a "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair" moment.

I've been told, "I've always thought women with long hair were beautiful," by a professor after I read a feminist manifesto about cutting my hair off. This professor also thought I didn't know I was writing feminist poems, and then proceeded to give me permission to write that way. "It's okay, most feminist poets calm down after a while."

Well, you've done your part to set that date back to something beyond Never Land. Sorry Peter Pan, being a feminist forever totally has your whole being a kid forever thing beat. Then again, "Mr." Pan--you did have that whole gender bending Mary Martin episode back in 1954.

Three words:

October 12, 2011

Coming out, and femme as a genderqueer identity

Hey gender blenders,

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day in the U.S. I rather like that there is an actual day because I honestly don't have a specific anniversary for "the day I came out." I mean, it's not like we just make one announcement and "ta-da!" we're permanently out. Not even close. We could come out every day for the rest of our lives, and still be stuffed back in the closet any second, thanks to a case of mistaken identity. (You know, when people assume you're straight and/or gender conforming.) We constantly face a dance with the closet door--at work, sauntering down the street, playing hopscotch with the other kids in the neighborhood, and even with friends and family.

So what day counts as THE day? It's not even so easy to use the day you came out to yourself. There wasn't one day. It was/is a re-vision process that doesn't really have an ultimate endpoint. I'm not suggesting that real conclusions aren't made--they are--and I don't mean that these conclusions are any less significant or meaningful than some hypothetical endpoint would be--they are. However, I am suggesting that identity, desire, and gender are not static in how they are experienced or in how they are culturally defined.

Case and point--I recently picked up a copy of Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity, and I've hit upon something that has vastly changed how I think about femme identity in regard to myself and in general. All it took was the title of one of the essays (actually more like a two-sided interview).

Femme has always been a simultaneously comfortable and troubling identity for me to carry, and if pressed, I would give the long-winded explanation that I am a radical feminist, femme queerelle with an androgynous aesthetic. Oh Sally, that is more than a little awkward and befuddling. I've tried to bookend femme so it's not read as feminine, at least not straightforwardly. Imagine my startled joy at finding what I have actually felt articulated--that femme can be genderqueer even when the one expressing it identifies as female.

I subscribe pretty closely to Butlerian (as in Judith Butler) gender/queer theory, so why wasn't the nonessential, arbitrary "connection" between femaleness/femininity/femme-ness obvious? Gender is a spectrum of performativity that materializes through actions and stylizations; a spectrum that only gains gendered meaning through culture. Meaning that if there is no essential connection between femaleness/femininity/femme-ness, if the "connection" is all fabricated and assumed by culture, why can't their connection also be queer?

October 7, 2011

My genderqueer library book tells me, "My god, you're so pretty!"

Oh hey there gender blenders,

Yesterday I went to the library and checked out a book called Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity edited by Mattilda a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore. And between the pages of the essay, "'And Then You Cut Your Hair': Genderfucking on the Femme Side of the Spectrum" (the essay I was most excited to read in the first place), I found the little note in the picture over there. It kind of made my effing day. The funny thing is, I actually say "my god, you're so pretty" on a regular basis.

Have you all heard of Operation Beautiful?
"The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!"
I don't know if my note specifically stemmed from this project, but you get the idea. The plan is to make my own note to put in the book before I return it to the library.

In my next post I will discuss the essay "'And Then You Cut Your Hair': Genderfucking on the Femme Side of the Spectrum" that is included in Nobody Passes.

October 1, 2011

Androgynous femme fashion goes to the office

Hey there gender blenders,

I've been having a little excitement lately! Guess who will be starting two new jobs this month? Moi! So, I thought now would be a perfect time to talk about androgynous femme fashion in the office! Not only delving into some wearable goodies, but also addressing gender expression in the workplace.

Here's a page out of August's issue of Harper's Bazaar--I love the idea of menswear-inspired trousers and jackets. (Check out the suit on the woman with the red hair in the bottom right corner.)

I found a few look-alikes at Anthropologie and Modcloth. They're pretty pricey and not all that size friendly beyond a large on the jacket and 14 on the trousers. Think of them as inspirations for your own little scavenger hunt.

Dapper & Dashing Trousers
Buried in Books Blazer

Confession: Outwardly, I'm rather femme looking. While the way I "do gender" is a lot more complicated than that, I can remember very few instances in which my gender expression was questioned, challenged, or read as somehow a "problem" in terms of its so-called appropriateness. (Although femme invisibility is a whole other issue.) The relationship between my gender and female existence are generally seen as "uncomplicated," while in truth, "doing gender" is always complicated. I am interested, therefore (and for other reasons as well), in experiences of gender in the office and everywhere else. Do you "do gender" differently at work than when in other situations?