Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My girly factor

I've done a fair amount of soul-searching on this blog, contemplating big questions like "am I a snob?" and why I thought I'd be married by now. But last week, as I sat in a vibrating massage chair watching Sex and the City and sipping prosecco while someone painted my toenails, I was struck by how behaving so girly felt unnatural to me. As Carrie Bradshaw would say in voice-over: "I got to thinking: how girly is too girly?"

I think it depends on the girl. Or woman, rather. I have recently started thinking of myself as a grown-up woman. Which brings me to an interesting point re: nomenclature. When I have asked men my age if they self-identify as "men," usually they tell me they prefer to think of themselves as "guys." "Man" seems too somber, too cowboy. Girls, unless they want to associate themselves with 1940s gun molls ("gals"), don't really have an in-between label like that. You're a girl until magically poof! you're a woman. (Except for a brief, confusing period of time articulated best by Britney Spears when you are "not a girl, not yet a woman" - thanks, Brit!).

In terms of my own gender and how it manifests itself in performative behavior (did I mention I taught a class called "Gender: Myths and Truths" at Emerson?), I have never considered myself that girly by traditional markers. I wear little make-up and often forget to wear jewelry (though I do like receiving it, future boyfriends!). I have always had more male friends than female and better roommate experiences with men, I mean, guys. I own very little pink. So when my last boyfriend told me I was the girliest girl he'd ever dated, I wondered if he had been dating, uh, mannish types. And it turns out, yes, many of his exes are androgynous in appearance and are now in relationships with women. So in comparison, I was a delicate lady flower.

I do own one very "girly" thing -- my phone, the HTC Rhyme. When this phone was introduced, it got a lot of press due to the fact that it was ostensibly marketed to women (despite HTC's claims to the contrary). It's slim and purple and came with a bunch of silly purple accessories (like a light-up charm to help you find it quickly in your giant Kate Spade tote).

Why did I buy the Rhyme? Because I'm a poet and I couldn't resist a phone called "rhyme." And also, I like purple (though not as much as Marie on Breaking Bad). In hindsight, I probably should have read some product reviews and bought a better Android, or just sucked it up and gotten an iPhone. The Rhyme did not sell well and HTC is not making any software updates for it. And my tech blogger friends tell me I'm the only person they have ever met that actually bought one. I do love to be unique!

The bottom line: I love being female and take great pride in my femininity - I just don't typically wear it on my sleeve. And sometimes I wish I felt more camaraderie with my sex. Like when I'm invited to bachelorette parties and baby showers and feel a little awkward and out of place. There's just something so parodic about certain female rituals. While harmless, they reduce being a woman to its worst stereotypes and celebrate the most normative of female roles (wife and mother). Don't get me wrong, I someday hope to be a wife and addition to being a poet and teacher. But I want all those labels on the same level of importance; why do I only get thrown a party with tiaras and penis balloons once I decide to get married?

Oh, and FYI hypothetical future bridesmaids in my wedding: No penis paraphernalia at my bachelorette, please. Let's just go somewhere with a good wine list and shoot the shit.

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