Friday, June 19, 2009

How I Came Out To My Brother

He found this blog.
Henrik had been joking that if I wanted to come out to my family, I should have them listen to the podcast we're doing* and of course I didn't take him seriously. But I left AVEN up once, apparently, even though I thought I was being as careful as I could be. Guess not.
So my nosy little brother (not little anymore: he's about to turn 18 and graduated from High School yesterday, which I'm very proud of him for) had a good look at the AVEN boards and foun my username. As he explained it, he figured I was the only one dorky enough to have a lolcats avatar (I'm totally not!) and when he saw the link to this blog, he got that it was a Big Bang Theory reference and knew for sure that I was the only one who would do something like that.
His plan, he said, was to read the blog and comment anonymously to 'get the whole story', but he changed his mind and just asked me about it instead. And he's totally cool with me being ase.
Happy ending.

*have I plugged my podcast yet?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Picture, As Promised

Here I am. Don't I look nice? If you're not sure why you're looking at this picture, read "Don't Dress So Asexually" part 3. Come to think of it, you'd better start back at part one, so it'll all make sense. Happy reading!

"Don't Dress So Asexually" pt. 3

The thought I left off with at the end of Part Two was that the way I dress sometimes affects my gender identity as it exists that day as much as my gender identity affects the way I dress. A situation can do the same thing.
When I dress up for church, for example, part of the way I make the decision what to wear is based on how my gender identity feels when I wake up that morning. If I feel boyish, I put on pants (still women's pants, mind you) and look around for a button-down shirt. If I'm feeling feminine, I have a couple of cute dresses to choose from. (Somehow, no matter what my gender identity is, I'm stuck with high heels, because I own no other nice shoes.)
Similarly, when I wake up in the morning I choose between a t-shirt, a button-down shirt or a tank top based pretty heavily on whether I feel boyish or girly that day. It doesn't take a drastic change in what I'm wearing to make me feel comfortable on an average day. I can fulfill the need to feel boyish by pulling my hair back tight and wearing a button-down shirt and sneakers. If I feel girly, I can wear a tank top and wear my hair down. Easy stuff.
A little more complicated is when I can't really choose what to wear- some situations, I'm just expected to wear a dress. Let me be clearer about this: I am never in a situation where I'm forced to look more masculine than I want to. I'm often in situations where I'm expected to look more feminine than that day's gender identity would have me feeling comfortable with. I often compensate by acting more manly than is really necessary and I have to be careful to "sit like a lady" in any case, if I'm in a dress. Still, I can usually adapt pretty easily. My flexible gender identity/expression isn't really a cause of any emotional turmoil for me.
More interesting, to me, are the situations where my clothing affects my gender identity. This is usually when I'm in a dress, or when I'm the only girl in jeans and a t-shirt. I start to feel more masculine when I'm with a group of girls who are all dressed more nicely than I- this was a common thing when I was younger and it was in vogue in my age group for girls to hang out at the mall. Frequently, the other girls would dress up, so as to look cute for any boys who might be there, and I would just be in a t-shirt with my hair in a ponytail. Talk about being the token guy!
The other place this happens in when I reenact (Yeah, I'm one of those nerds!) and where, of course, I'm wearing a very lovely, old-fashioned dress. And petticoats. And a corset. There's just something about this that makes me feel very feminine- I like the idea of being a lady in that situation and I never have gender issues while I'm reenacting. It's very easy for me to be just straight-up female. The other thing that probably contributes to my feminine identity in that situation is the fact that the men in those situations treat me as a lady- just like men are supposed to have done in the 19th century. All this works together to make me feel like a lady, just as I'm expected to be. And I really don't mind it. Unlike a real 19th century lady, though, I'm not lacking in rights and opportunities and I think that's what makes the difference. For the most part, I am still thought of as an equal, though I'm treated differently, so I'm not putting up with any of the male-dominated culture stuff that women then did. So I can enjoy being treated nicely, I can enjoy not having to pitch in- although actually I feel guilty about not doing more work, which I know I'm capable of. But last time I tried to help pack up the Unit's gear after an event one of the guys looked at me like I was crazy and said "hand me that". When I did, He said to the guy who'd asked me to pick the stuff up and said, "She's in a dress" as though that explained the whole thing. I actually found it pretty funny. But then, as a good buddy of mine says, "With chivalry comes chauvenism" and I think he's right. But still, in this instance, I can feel female and enjoy it because it doesn't feel like real life. I don't have the experience the downside of being female at that time and it's all playacting- my gender doesn't matter because for the whole weekend I'm living the life of somebody other than me.
I think that may, in fact, be about everything I want to say about my gender. Wow. I'm sure I'll come back to it, possibly in a more explicit fashion, having worked out in my mind what I want to say, and talk about the ase community and gender in general, but I think that covers the specifics.
Having talked so much about my hobby, I think it deserves a picture. Let me figure out how to post one...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Don't dress so asexually" pt. 2

So this time I promised to explain how being asexual makes me mentally androgynous (a word I can't spell without looking it up).
I think it works like this: Because I'm not interested in 'coupling off' in the traditional sense, I don't need to be particularly female. I don't need to do any of the things that women typically do to find a male partner. I have a really hard time explaining to people without some background in the LGBTA community what that means, because they don't see it in themselves. To them, acting gendered is just a very natural way of being and because they see the obvious differences between themselves and other people who act in a way specific to their gender, they don't see the difference when someone is not gendered. It doesn't help that I look like a very average girl, though I feel like your typical amoeba.
So, when I say that I don't need to do the things women do to find a partner, what do I mean by that? I'm not referring to wearing miniskirts or makeup. Although I think you'll find that sexual women do that much more often than asexual women, there are plenty of sexual women who wear no makeup at all and there are probably plenty of asexy women who wear lots of makeup. I think it's more often the little things- they way a woman walks, the way she looks at a man she's attracted to, the way she behaves around him, and men do the same thing- they walk a certain way, look at women a certain way and behave a different way towards attractive women than they do towards guys.
I often say that I give out 'ase vibes', because I rarely get any attention from men (I mean that kind of attention) and with most guys I find it very easy to be myself, in contrast to sexual women who, more often than asexys, get silly and giggly about men. I think I told a story in an earlier post about an outing with my Girl Scout troop, several years ago, in which these budding teen mothers decided to 'pick up boys'... who then spent the evening talking to me, since I was the only girl who was willing to act like she had a brain in her head.
And while I don't act like a woman, I don't actually act mannish either, leaving me somewhere smack dab in the middle of the gender spectrum. In a group of girls, I feel like the token guy. In a group of guys, I am very definitely the woman. How gendered I feel, and in what way, is affected by the setting I'm in because with my female friends I notice all the little things they do that make them feminine and which I don't also do. With guys, I notice all the little things they do that make them masculine, which of course I also don't do.
You know what? I have a lot more to say about this. Stay tuned for part three, in which the title becomes very relevant indeed and I continue to ramble on about my gender. I'll update sooner this time, I promise.