Masculinities and Femininities
A guy was trying to pick me up yesterday. He is an engineer who is a passionate political activist and whose hobby is XIXth-century history. He wasn’t, however, trying to get me to like him by discussing these topics. Instead, he did what I call “the Superman schtick” and offered me stories about how he was in the Marines and then later participated in covert operations hunting war criminals in Central Europe.
Men always do that a lot with me. I’ve had people drop on the floor and start bench-pressing (or whatever this strange activity is called) in the middle of a conversation in hopes of impressing me. I always somehow provoke the nerdiest guys into enumerating their high-school athletic achievements to me.
I know why this happens, of course. People see how I perform gender and immediately assume that I’m into men who are a collection of macho stereotypes.
In truth, however, I’m into the exact opposite. Nowadays, nobody has a chance of attracting me because, as we all know on this blog, I am passionately in love. However, in the times when I could be attracted, I was totally into the “I spent all day writing code today, after which I played Call of Duty for six hours and other players said my strategy was gay, so I went and wrote a poem about being lonely and misunderstood” guys rather than “I worked out at the gym, watched a football game with my buddies, and swapped memories of our times in the army after that” guys.
The point that I’m trying to make is that the way people choose to perform gender says nothing about their politics, their lifestyle choices, and their dating preferences. My dresses, makeup and shoes mean only one thing: I like wearing them. There is nothing else you can deduce about me or about anybody else on this basis. Gender is always a performance (want bibliography? I have it). And as such, it says nothing about the nature of the performers. An actor who plays Hitler is not an evil person. And a woman who wears heels and makeup is not . . . anything other than a woman who wears heels and makeup.