December 30, 2003

dressing gender attraction

I was reading normal over the Christmas break and thinking about why some people feel compelled to make massive changes to their apparent gender - so it fits their internal one.

And I started to wonder why people get so attached to the way they appear outwardly. I'm pretty calm about it at the moment, but I've worn 7 dresses in total my whole life (and none of them more than 5 times). I've only owned 3 (currently 1).

So why did I care?

I think I cared because of the way it invited people to treat me. If I wore pretty pink sandles and white cardigans it seemed to invite people to find me dolls and talk about more dresses - none of which I was even romotely interested in.

Whereas, if I dressed myself in corderoys and t-shirts, it seemed to invite people to find me cars and cowboy outfits - which I was rather stuck on.

In some ways they way other people does define your life. Yes, you can make opportunities - but being offered them is so much more civilised.

Anyway, C has an opinion that you can define butch as what femme is attracted to and vice versa (which doesn't help until you've decided what one or the other is, but never mind).

Which suggests to me that a critically important facet of why we create our outward appearance of gender is how we want other people to see us. And even more importantly, specific people to see us. So, if I am a straight man, I will want pretty ladies to find me attractive *as a man*. And even more so, as a specific type of man (maybe sensitive and arty, maybe strong and protective - who knows!?!). If this desire to be seen in a particular way occurs in a woman, there is a somewhat uphill battle to bring the two together.

For some people, being found attractive is enough (I don't *care* what I look like, I just want every Latino boy to drop at my feet!!!). For some people, it will be very specific. For some people it may be horribly conflicted or complicated (Yes, I want you to see me as macho *and* cute - they are *not* incompatible!).

And we use the widely available cues and clues to construct the look that will get the right reaction.

(I am currently wearing a pair of British Army suplus shorts and a size 10, boy's, camoflage, flanellet pajama top. I have no idea what this says about me.)

Posted by carla at December 30, 2003 08:56 PM
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