(and yes, I mean ‘girl’ – I’m under eighteen, so am a ‘boy’, and so any inversion of my gender would make me a girl, not yet a woman. Just sayin’)
I’ve been brutally, and rather unfairly, dismissive about fashion in the past, both in real life and on this blog, especially that for women: keeping long hair often requires more maintenance than is worth it for the attractiveness of that hair, heels and dresses are inherently impractical and makeup is a more one-dimensionally superficial attempt at beauty than such clothes as even the highest of heels have a practical purpose in keeping one’s feet clean. However, would it be this easy for me to be so blase about traits typically associated with women if I were one?
If I were a girl, I’m pretty sure I would do and wear all these things that the practical bit of my male brain hates at least some of the time, because makeup is simply another tool that women have mainstream access to to express their identities, that men do not. I can wear makeup as a male, but that immediately leads to connotations regarding sexuality and identity that I might not want to suggest; I might want to show basic teenage angst through heavy eyeliner, but the majority of society won’t get that if they see a dude with panda eyes.
Equally, I don’t think my personality would differ too much if I were female; I might have a greater and more personal appreciation of how patronising Barbie dolls are, but I think I’d still be a self-mocking humanities student with a Russell Group offer and an egotistical blog, only with longer hair. And that last point is the main difference between the genders for me: that men and women are not intrinsically different in their identities, but they have access, within mainstream society, to different means to express their identities.
I think this is where a lot of confusion about the nature of the genders occurs, that people confuse identity with its means of expression; some, including myself at one point, will consider that women are more superficial than men, purely because they have a greater range of superficial means to express their identities – the ability to wear a single item of clothing, a dress, instead of two, a shirt and trousers, is a choice that men will never have to make – but men can be just as vain as women, with the only difference being that male vanity involves less showing off of the legs, and more showing off of the stomach.
This is especially relevant when considering the vagueness of ‘gender identity’; I’d say I have a masculine identity, but the broadness of that term means I can choose to express it however I like – in may case ripped trackies and Nike sports tops – and if I had a feminine identity, I’d probably express it, and my individual sarcasm and mockery of society, through the skirts and closed-leg seating positions that twelve-year-old James laughed at the impracticality of.
It’s also important to note that I don’t want to be female, in that I don’t long for the means of expressing an identity that women are entitled to, such as makeup; because I deprioritise choices about one’s appearance to an expression of identity, not an inherent part of it, I’m more than comfortable with the ‘male’ options I have to show who I am: there are more than enough choices of tracksuits at Sports Direct to keep me occupied, thank you very much.
But others will want to change or adapt their genders and sexualities, and have access to the options of the ‘other’ groups, partly because society’s apparent rule that ‘women painting their faces in a bid to look attractive is fine, whereas men doing it is weird and should be pointed and laughed at like fat people on Total Wipeout’ makes no logical sense. It’s then saddening that they will be discriminated against for these choices, as they’re basically being punished for wanting another form of self-expression, which is understandable given the saturation of both numbers of people and identities in human culture.
Equally, sexism makes no sense to me, as it is discrimination based on the options we have to present ourselves; an individual’s ability to choose clothing a over clothing b makes no bloody difference in 99% of jobs (the clothing of astronauts being the all-important exception), and discriminating on these lines is like saying “You’re not good enough because you can choose to wear a dress,” which basically relegates the idea of ‘free will’ to the level of misogynist ammunition.
So if I were a girl, I’d probably wear dresses, own a few handbags and cross my legs like I need to pee whenever I sit down; I would hardly be greatly interested in fashion, but considering I’m a male who uses conventionally male, if a little ragged, means to express myself, a female me would probably wear old, worn skirts and be totally comfortable, despite twelve-year-old James’ logical point that it would be so much easier to play football in a pair of trousers.