Why there need to be numbers between 0 and 1

Or: Why I have no use for the Gender Binary

The big problem with having a rigid, socially accepted list of traits that are for Boys and traits that are for Girls is that if you’re neither fish nor fowl… wtf are you? My metaphor breaks down because mammals and reptiles are things, but you get the jist. 

My whole life I’ve been Not Quite. I was a little girl who looked cute in dresses and bows but preferred androgynous shorts and polo shirts from Lands End. I liked ninja turtles and barbies. I wasn’t that good at playing sports, but when I did play, I played hard, and fought my way onto the boys basketball court at recess. Many thanks are due the Aged P for giving me Bullets and Kings NBA jerseys like it was no big thing, because when I think back on it, I was almost definitely the only girl at my school wearing them.

It would have been all too easy to say "those are for boys and these are for girls " instead of arranging the Christmas morning where I put on my Chris Webber jersey to pose for a picture with my new Magic Attic doll while sporting a bowl cut and sitting in my giant bean bag chair. That was a good year. And you know what, this past year when I got a Mets jersey and Gail Collins histories of the women’s movement, that was another  awesome moment of acceptance – these two aspects of myself were  recognized, rewarded for being very good all year, and went home with swag. Anyhoo..

I had a conversation recently with a dear friend who feels like "Women" (the socially constructed sex-based class) are looking for "Men" (…ditto) who are strong, dominant and masculine, who can take charge of things. He’s having trouble finding a serious relationship because (he thinks) he’s physically slight, kind of a dork, and while he likes being the one with all the responsibility, he’s more of a sympathetic listener than a Mighty Decider. He doesn’t think Women Want That.

Here is this talented musician, a good friend, nice Jewish boy…. who thinks the reason he can’t get a date is because he’s not domineering and arrogant. Thanks to the gender binary, he’s socialized to be looking for The Kind Of Girl Who Makes A Good Wife, who will in turn kick into gear his aspirations to Be A Good Husband. 

I have kind of the opposite problem. I’ve learned from experience that the purity of "opposites attract" doesn’t play on this monitor – Pair me up with a gentle soft-spoken philosopher and I’m a sarcastic bully. Send me out with an assertive Alpha Male and I wind up wanting to take him out back for fisticuffs because if he gives me one more statistic on how "women just physically can’t do X" I’m going to make a SCENE. 

I need a guy on the spectrum. Because I’m a woman on the spectrum. I refuse to believe I’m a failure as a woman because I can’t handle long hair, refuse high heels, don’t cross my legs daintily. Don’t do much of ANYTHING daintily, come to that. And I’m not a hypocrite for liking hot pink, loving well-written rom-coms, wearing skirts sometimes, and thinking chocolate is amazing. 

Because I shouldn’t have to reject "typical woman things," thusly passing judgment on women who do like all the "woman things" that I hate, just to carve out my own territory! As long as we exist in this binary world where it’s either Manly or Womanly or the advertising agency can’t possibly make any money from it, I have to keep bouncing back and forth between the disaffected Pong paddles that are masculinity and femininity. 

Studied that "prove" or "posit" or "claim" or "suggest" that women do X and men do Y, whether it’s because of brain chemistry or socialization or bone mass or WHATEVER are totally useless to me. All they do is create stereotypes and expectations to fence both women and men into their binary corners by telling anyone who doesn’t fall into those percentages that they are aberrant and wrong-o.

I don’t need to hear that 89% of women would never dine out solo, and 76% of men, while they eat alone themselves, think a woman who eats alone is sad…because I’m a woman who likes eating alone in restaurants – WhyTF should I have to contemplate, while standing out front of Yum Thai on 46th street, the thought that "gee, maybe eating alone is sad…maybe I will wind up dying alone and unloved if I don’t find a dinner date. Maybe someone masculine, who will pay the check so I don’t have to calculate that super tricky 15% tip, and order for me so I don’t get something that will make me fat and therefore unloveable. If I were the kind of woman who attracts men, I wouldn’t be doing this."

There are already so many annoying messages floating in and around my cranium, aided and abetted by the crazybrain, that I really really don’t need any that are custom tailored to my current personal level of gender conformity. 

100% of MKPs think all that is total crap. 

Nobody should be told they aren’t enough of what they are.

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8 Responses to Why there need to be numbers between 0 and 1

  1. I pretty much agree with all of this… It’s possible I’m more typically “girly” than you… but I really just want to be ME. I don’t want to not be a woman, but I don’t want to not be myself either.
    FWIW, I would go out with your friend… if I weren’t married and in another state, of course. My husband fits that “sweet guy, not domineering” description. The best of all worlds, I think, is to be somewhere between the “typical masculine” and “typical feminine” poles–you’re more balanced that way. In any case, there ARE people out there who appreciate those of us who break the gender mold, be it a little or a lot. Please don’t feel bad about being rejected by 76% of men who answered some vapid magazine survey. That is a bunch of men who are nowhere near good enough for you anyway.

    • Hey, if I were Jewish, I would totally go out with my friend. I totally made up those survey numbers, but they’re representative of many an annoying survey. I just hate the feeling that because I’m six of one and half a dozen of the other, it’s always going to be hard to find guys who will complement/appreciate all those traits instead of being scared off or confused by them.

      • They are hard to find, I agree! But all you need is one. Which, well, it’s basically a frustrating-as-hell numbers game.
        I don’t really like eating alone because I like having someone to talk to and if I’m alone I tend to not really savor my meal because I’m focused on getting work done at the same time. But anybody who would judge me for doing it is so not worth it. Most guys out there are so not worth it for that and a variety of other reasons.

      • To de-gender-binary-ify it, connecting with people in general can be difficult. My frustration with gender roles goes beyond the dating scene, obviously – there are just so many areas where I feel confronted by What A Woman Is Supposed to Want or Women Who Are Instinctively Women and since we don’t have a broader playing field (heh – broad) I have to make a firm conscious decision to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s right for me, instead of conforming to what splays across the pages of every catalog or billboard.

      • To de-gender-binary-ify it, connecting with people in general can be difficult. My frustration with gender roles goes beyond the dating scene, obviously – there are just so many areas where I feel confronted by What A Woman Is Supposed to Want or Women Who Are Instinctively Women and since we don’t have a broader playing field (heh – broad) I have to make a firm conscious decision to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s right for me, instead of conforming to what splays across the pages of every catalog or billboard.

      • They are hard to find, I agree! But all you need is one. Which, well, it’s basically a frustrating-as-hell numbers game.
        I don’t really like eating alone because I like having someone to talk to and if I’m alone I tend to not really savor my meal because I’m focused on getting work done at the same time. But anybody who would judge me for doing it is so not worth it. Most guys out there are so not worth it for that and a variety of other reasons.

    • Hey, if I were Jewish, I would totally go out with my friend. I totally made up those survey numbers, but they’re representative of many an annoying survey. I just hate the feeling that because I’m six of one and half a dozen of the other, it’s always going to be hard to find guys who will complement/appreciate all those traits instead of being scared off or confused by them.

  2. I pretty much agree with all of this… It’s possible I’m more typically “girly” than you… but I really just want to be ME. I don’t want to not be a woman, but I don’t want to not be myself either.
    FWIW, I would go out with your friend… if I weren’t married and in another state, of course. My husband fits that “sweet guy, not domineering” description. The best of all worlds, I think, is to be somewhere between the “typical masculine” and “typical feminine” poles–you’re more balanced that way. In any case, there ARE people out there who appreciate those of us who break the gender mold, be it a little or a lot. Please don’t feel bad about being rejected by 76% of men who answered some vapid magazine survey. That is a bunch of men who are nowhere near good enough for you anyway.

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