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.

14 thoughts on “Masculinities and Femininities

  1. My personal style was constructed by my limitations. I’m not good with make-up, because I fidget and sweat and it doesn’t stay in place. I have tattooed eyeliner and sometimes wear lip gloss. I buy outlandish clothing just because I have a taste for anything unusual or extreme. I have expensive boots with 7 inch heels, which I cannot walk in, but it amuses me to have these boots.


  2. It is exactly the same with me. Everytime a man tries to pick me, he just makes me wonder why is he so interested in proving what an idiot he is. The army-adventures thing makes me sick just by itself, not to speak ’bout football and buddies and stupid stories of long lost past/ highschool.


  3. I am becoming considerably more femme as the years go on, and I’ve noticed this too. I actually now wear a “lipstick lesbian” pin (Though I’m not fully les) on my hat (right under the “Fight Ableism” and “Read bell hooks” pins) and they still approach me with macho stories about their time in “the service” as if I am to be impressed by this. The scariest one was the one who boasted about having “thirty confirmed kills” to his name in Iraq. :-/


    1. Well I don’t like your chemical vat runoff anyway so fuck you too Dr. Pepper / Seven Up Inc. And here I thought the “Drink DP and Gene Simmons will fuck you” campaign was the worst they could come up with.

      I once knew a woman who would only ever drink Dr. Pepper. I haven’t talked to her in years so who knows maybe the molecular whatsits that make up the 24 or however many flavors have turned her into a man by now.


  4. My guess is that most guys (with the exception of some ultra sleazy types) have one strategy which highlights their “strengths” which they use for pick up which they use over and over.

    The long hair rock band type will always use that approach, the macho marine will always stick to that. The beef cake will wear short and tight t-shirts. The sensitive type will tell you about the kitties he rescued before breakfast. So is not like people are changing their approach to you, is more the type you seem to attract at the present time.


  5. I’ve never seen the point of femininity. I like makeup- just as a way to put on a different face, and occasionally wear nail polish or shoes with a heel. I own a few more skirts than I used to, but I get way more milage out of the ‘tough chick” persona then I would out of the “girly girl” persona. And dresses? In public? No, never.
    It does, however, save me a lot of trouble. The guys you were talking about? I’d probably tell them to grab their gloves and kickbox with me. I’d enjoy taking them down a couple of notches.


    1. ” I get way more milage out of the ‘tough chick” persona then I would out of the “girly girl” persona. And dresses? In public? No, never.”

      – And that’s super cool. Nobody should criticize that or get in the way of you being this way.

      ” I’d enjoy taking them down a couple of notches.”

      – I enjoy that, too, but I do that verbally. 🙂


  6. I do kind of wonder how people manage in long skirts and dresses? Seems to me that they’ d always be tripping over the hems if they tried to move fast.


  7. I’ve never been able to find an ‘ankle-length’ anything that doesn’t actually go down to the floor. Then again, I am very short.


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