When I was younger, some of my male friends had an inexplicable compulsion to define femininity for me. It seemed arrogant, speaking as an authority on something they couldn’t possibly experience, like Stephen Fry saying women don’t like sex.
I’ve only recently come to understand that feminine in our culture equates to what is sexually appealing to heterosexual males. Masculine is based on what heterosexual men are comfortable having around them in the locker room – i.e. something that won’t give them an erection. No one else really has a say in the matter. Not even Stephen Fry.
Kind of a waste of resources, wouldn’t you think, basing cultural norms on such a small portion of the overall population?
A few years ago when the Butler and I first viewed the house we eventually moved into, the agent stopped outside a door with a look of glee and said that beyond this magic threshold lay my room.
I’m thinking really cool writing space, lots of bookshelves, kick ass windows with kick ass views, maybe even a window seat and a priest’s hole . . .
|The Butler in his kitchen.|
She opens the door on an enormous kitchen and the Butler goes, ahh! As he ran his fingers over the 3 oven Aga, I actually thought, where’s my room? And then I realised this was my room. I don’t have the penis so I get the kitchen. A woman in my fifties and still that stupid.
After we moved in, a man came by to fix the damp and saw our wheelbarrow. You’d think I’d been sacrificing small children in the Butler’s new kitchen, the state of the man’s dismay. How could I have insisted my husband go about his work with a pink wheelbarrow and its untamed polka dots? The binary presumptions in his reaction boggle the mind.
|A clean version of our wheelbarrow.|
For the record, the Butler chose pink. But how did a wheelbarrow become a totem of gender? Or how did a colour? Or polka dots? Or any nod to beauty?
One dark winter’s morning, the Butler put on a pair of black jeans and headed off to work. A colleague pulled him aside to let him know there were black embroidered flowers on his back pockets. He was wearing my Gloria Vanderbilts. The Butler said, ‘Yes, aren’t they nice?’ and went on with his life.
(I wondered why a guy checking another man's ass worried about flowers being there, but that’s another blog post.)
The rules in play here are stifling. And while I’m not about to bang a drum for oppressed white heterosexual males, isn’t this entire gender juxtaposition constricting for everyone? And to what purpose? If it made sense, maybe I’d behave myself. Or maybe not. Let’s not get giddy on silly notions.
I would suggest that we stop laughing at men who buy tights or scowling at women who voice opinions, that we let our children choose colours they like and toys that inspire them. Let men cry and women rage, stop thinking anything’s gender appropriate unless it has a biological basis to it. Like toilets with seats or trousers with front zips.
|Who got what?|
In the mean time, here’s a photo of this year’s Valentine pressies. Which is for me and which is for the Butler? Two perfect expressions of love, and isn’t that what’s important – that we each feel worthy and cherished, even when flowers are embroidered on our bums?