After a week where I laid low to respect school vacation in the cul-de-sac, I wasn’t feeling powerful going out yesterday. There was a cold, sharp wind that cut through you whenever you stepped outside, and it just wasn’t nice.
But I went out and did my errands, grocery, shopping, all that, even though I felt off. Still, at the grocery store, I got respect twice, when the fellow in front of me in express offered to let me go first, and when, after giving the cashier a few pennies, she joked about how it feels to collect them all in your purse. Nothing special., just the simple social graces offered to any woman.
Offered to me.
Then I come back here, and I am pulled into duty, phone calls with my sister and parents, punching through, the expectation of solid brother/son to hold up. I feel myself toughen and it’s not fun.
I turned a few heads at the bar on Saturday, and I know why. I let myself do the chick stuff — the smile, the hair toss, the dancing, the femme wiggle. It worked.
I know that other people have other demands of emergence, like body change. Some believe, for example, they need to be seen as female or they will be cast out as a freak. I know that my fear was that I wouldn’t be seen as a woman, and to just be a guy in a dress wasn’t worth the effort, the cost, the challenge. I tend to think that in the end, the fear is the same: can I act in the world as being beautiful?
One story that touched me was about Evita Bezuidenhout, the creation of Peter-Dirk Uhys. She spent 20 minutes with a South African politician, including dancing, and at the end of the interview, the pol said “Ladies first.” From behind the mask, Uhys said “I am not a woman!” and the politican answered “Oh, yes! I forgot!”
People, in the end, respond to our performance of self, even when they know facts to the contrary. When we are present as a woman, we are a woman, at least after the first questions, and the longer we spend in presence, the more that is true.
There is a reason women travel in groups, or travel with a man. It gives a sense of security. TBB is going to travel in Philippines, maybe renting a motorcycle or taking a bus, and she has to understand the risks for her as a single blonde woman. (TBB is surprised how well she passes as a hot blonde American woman amongst the smaller statured Philippine population, but that’s just an interesting artifact of cultural context. Kelly Ripa likes to tell how she passed as a British exchange student when a substitute teacher came to her New Jersey classroom, but I doubt she would have passed nearly so well in the heart of Manchester, where they know better how British girls speak and act. Still, even young male American crew members have declared that she is hot and doable, seeing her as a MILF. Yowsa!)
It’s hard to do the driving and also remain the a chick, because it’s hard to invoke expeditionary leadership and be vulnerable at the same time. That’s why one of my secret goals has always been simple: find someone else to share the driving. There aren’t many people going my way, though.
I want to feel free to get away with chick shit.
I want to be able to fix my makeup, to get teary, to obsess over shoes, to toss my hair and get good glances from others.
And now, just now, I suspect that has always been doable, even if I have stayed defended against it, trying to hunker down in my defenses and put my desires out of reach.
I need to trust my own chickness.
And just feel confident in my own beauty