|Science Fiction and the Female
||[Aug. 4th, 2013|01:59 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
Let's turn the clock WAAAAY back to 2006! (OK, it's not that far back, but time is squishy for me.)
January 23rd, 2006 to be exact, Emma Bull posted an essay about watching the new-at-the-time Battlestar Galactica introductory miniseries.
Near the beginning of the essay, she wrote:
Like Pam Noles, I inserted myself into the stories I loved. I identified with the brave, resourceful, persevering heroes. When in high school I read Lord of the Rings, it was something like a religious conversion: I was determined to do right whatever the cost, to become the kind of shining hero who would carry the Ring, who would defend Gondor, who would defeat the Dark Lord.Yes! Exactly! Except I read LOTR when I was in 3rd grade, so I imprinted on having a white knight complex MUCH earlier than you might imagine possible.
I never felt I couldn't do that because I was female. Nope. Because at some point, in my mind, I had given up being female.
Anyway... This, I felt, was the exact same process I'd gone through as a child. The abdication of my female-ness/femininity in order to identify with my heroes, followed by the awkwardness of puberty when my body made it impossible for me to be anything but female.
And then I lost track of the essay and couldn't find it. I asked Emma and she couldn't find it either. I gave up but never stopped thinking about it. So I never wrote THIS essay in which I explored my thoughts about it.
But last week, while cleaning and organizing with Jen Hunter (http://www.findyourfloor.org), we unearthed a printed copy! Calloo callay! And it contained a date! (And a link... but it's probably no longer valid; it was easier having an exact date and it took 3 clicks to go through her archive to find the page.)
I've been reading a lot about gender dysphoria AKA gender identity disorder lately and it's interesting to me because I didn't have that. I didn't think I was in the wrong body; while I've hated the weaknesses associated with being female, despised the frills, tights, uncomfortable clothing, stupid shoes, boring hair styling, yucky make-up, I've never had the sense that I was supposed to be male. I don't know if it matters, but I'm heterosexual as well. Internally, at least, I'm basically cisgendered (AKA gender normative).
But in terms of cisgendered behavior, I don't wear skirts or high heeled shoes or make-up. I don't "do" my hair. I dress like someone who would forget a purse if it wasn't attached to her body, i.e., lots of pockets full of important thingies and objects hanging off my belt/belt loops. I wear shoes that are comfortable for walking, because I do a lot of that, but that also would not betray me if I had to run or defend myself. I have muscles... lots of muscles.
Other stereotypes I avoid: my sentences don't end on an up-note unless I'm asking a question. While I don't interrupt people while they're speaking, I will often counter-interrupt if a male overrides my talking time. Although there are significant wells of shyness within me, I try to stand up for myself and others when injustice is flailing about or stupidity is revving up. I try not to play up to men. There are a million little things I do, both consciously and unconsciously, to present as intelligent, articulate, and solid.
But I have heteronormative sexual feelings and I enjoy a certain amount of romance. I enjoy my girl parts, even if my boobs get in the way of some things. I do dress up femme for the right occasion, but it's fairly rare. (The last time was about a year ago for the wedding of some friends where I wore the top half of a tuxedo & tails with a long black skirt.)
My point back in 2006 would have been something like, "Life is confusing." But my point today, in documenting all of this, is that I'm glad the cultural norms are shifting (albeit painfully slowly) so that I don't get the "What a freak!" looks and comments as often as I used to... and kids are more and more being allowed to grow up in the gender where they feel normal... and we all have a few more female heroes to admire and emulate.