Sunday, October 02, 2005

27. Stoned

I managed to medicate myself enough to be presentable for the evening church service tonight (I have a fairly bad cold).  Although, by doing so, I also managed to medicate myself beyond any ability to concentrate on said service.

That might be an exaggeration.  I can tell you the passage the pastor spoke from was Matthew 20:1-16, and that the sermon was on… uh … life not being fair… um… God’s ways aren’t our ways… oy.  I did manage to come to the conclusion that this particular pastor has a sort of angelic ‘baby-face’ that he disguises with a goatee… something I hadn’t noticed before, but which makes sense because his kids all look like those angel/cherub paintings.  Being stoned is frustrating.  I hate not being able to concentrate.  

I spent most of the worship watching the drummer and thinking that one day I will take drum lessons… and then I had a bit of a flashback.  I remembered when I was in grade 5 and I joined our school ‘band’.  I remember being asked to choose an instrument, and without any hesitation I picked the drums (there was an actual drum kit in the back corner of the room).  The teacher told me I couldn’t pick the drums because I was a girl, and drums were for boys (there were 2 boys in band class, and neither of them wanted the drums anyway, they both picked saxophone).  He tried to push the flute or the clarinet on me, but I was so mad at not being able to be the drummer that I picked the next most masculine instrument they had available – the trombone.  I really hated the trombone… I mean, it was so heavy to carry to and from school.  I didn’t actually hate playing it, but I never got to play the melody… which meant that practicing at home I sounded kind of dumb.  But I was determined to show this teacher that I could play a “boys’” instrument as well as any boy around – not that he noticed.  He just kept telling my mom how good I was (which may or may not have been true, I think I was just the only person to choose the trombone in years), so she made me stick with it long past when I would have chosen to stop.  

Anyway, this got me thinking about some of this ‘gender identity’ stuff.  I mean, I didn’t want to play the drums when I was 10 because I wanted to be a boy, I wanted to play them because I thought they were cool (still do, obviously).  And I don’t have an aversion to wearing skirts because I don’t like being a woman, I don’t like wearing skirts because I feel uncomfortable in them.  Make-up?  I just don’t care enough to put in the effort, and besides, I’m hyper aware of it when I’ve got some on.  Jewelry?  Well, unless it’s a ring that just stays on my finger, I just never think of it.  And let’s not even start on my taste in entertainment – I’m a sci-fi/fantasy nerd – there are very few girls in that world. I don’t want to trade in stereotypes here, but a lot of gay women feel the same way.  Liadan talks about the whole skirts vs. pants thing in a recent post.  

So what is this?  What is it about? I mean, wearing make-up, jewelry, and skirts are not what make a woman, and plenty of straight women I know avoid all of those really girly things… but, well, why are more gay women like that than straight women?  Why are more gay men into fashion, and divas and musicals than straight men?  These things have nothing to do with sex, or romantic desire… and if you break them down, they really don’t have much to do with gender either.  I mean, who decided that musicals weren’t ‘masculine’… it’s kind or ridiculous, really… most of these ‘gender-specific’ things are made up rules… so why do a fairly significant percentage of gay people have an innate desire/need to break them (or bend them slightly)?  

I do not reject these hyper ‘feminine’ things out of any desire to be a man… I have absolutely no desire to be a man… what with the chest (and back) hair, possibility of hair loss, and their weird and unpredictable genitals (no offense!).  So, what causes this rejection of things that are normally associated with being female?  ‘Rejection’ is probably too strong a word.  I have worn make-up, earrings, and skirts in the past… and I will probably do it again, but I can tell you that I probably won’t like it very much.  

Anyway, I’m still a little stoned (which might account for some of the content of this post), and I have to take another pill so I can sleep tonight… but this is what I’m thinking about right now.      


Liadan said...

I'm with ya here. The only jewelry I ever usually wear is a steel Celtic cross on a ball chain, and I'm a big SF/F nerd. (It's less rare for girls than you'd think, since most of my straight female friends are SF/F nerds too, but then I'm at art school, which has a ridiculously large geek contingent in general.)

I played drums for a short time in high school band (I substituted for someone else, I normally played oboe). I wish I'd kept it up, I was told I was decent at it and it was a great deal of fun.

None of this stuff would ever occur to me to be related to being gay; it's just stuff I naturally do or like without regard to "blue vs. pink." In fact, given my childhood as a small, sensitive, bookish, artistic child who wasn't very good at sports, by Focus on the Family's standards I should rightfully be a gay man instead of a lesbian.

Kikko-san said...

I think that your focus on "gender identity" is really more USA gender identity.
If you look at other cultures, indeed many Western ones included, they don't inculde these strict guidelines on male vs. female as we do here in the USA.
We have just been guided by the American culture, but go to Germany, France, Italy, Thailand, Japan, etc. You will so find so many blurry lines of what we would find 'inacceptable' here.
So, what does this mean?
It's all learned behavoirs taught to us.
Do what you are comfortable with and be true to yourself.
BTW-I'm a lesbian who LOVES make-up, jewelry, shoes and feminine clothing. I don't like sci-fi and love tear jerker, in the eyes of Foucus on the Family, I should be straight!

Nicole said...

JJ - I just found your blog today so I have some catching up to do. But I read through your first few posts, as well as your recent "Message to All Who Read this Blog" so I feel fairly informed. This also makes my post more general b/c I want to respond to your blog as a whole.

I want to thank you for doing this. First, because I'm sure it took a whole lot of courage to do so, but second, because evangelical gay Christians who are seriously desiring God's will & wisdom in terms of their sexuality seem to be too few or too silent, and the rest of us need your voice.

There are never simple answers - to anything! - so I want to encourage you that I am praying for you. I believe that God rewards those who seek him, which my superficial investigation of your site seems to demonstrate that you are doing. I pray for the Holy Spirit to grant you wisdom, courage, and patience, as well as the faith to act when you feel him leading you to. I would love to engage in any off-site conversations with you, as time allows ( Much grace and peace in Christ to you, sister.

Leo said...

You ask some interesting questions. I personally am what most people would think of a stereotypical lesbian--butch in other words. I've always liked, what our society calls masculine things, and have not felt comfortable or been interested in many feminine pursuits. I don't necessarily think that this is wrapped up in what makes me gay however. As a kid I liked matchbox cars, guns, soldiers etc. I had no interest in dolls or makeup etc. My girlfriend however is the exact opposite. She loves clothes, makeup, jewelry etc. She's just as gay as me, but she's obviously a more typical "woman" in our society. I personally believe that gender identity is much more complex than simply being male or female, gay or straight. The variations that occur in human beings are numerous. You can have a straight guy who becomes a fashion designer, or a gay one who loves working on cars. Society, likes to try and label everything and fit all of us into a particular box, because people like to look at each other and say, "oh ok you're like me" or "oh, your're a weirdo-stay away". We're raised being taught to label and classify everyone and everything including ourselves, but the boxes society uses are too few and too small to hold actual human beings. As to why more lesbians are masculine or gay men feminine I think it's perceived that way simply because if you're a lesbian like my girlfriend society sees you and thinks your straight. (no one ever thinks my girlfriends gay unless she tells them or is with me). The same is probably true for more masculine gay men-people assume they're straight. It's only butch lesbians or feminine gay men that the world notice. Sorry I rambled.

JJ said...

Liadan, Kikko-San,Leo

I realize I was totally using stereotypes here. The two gay friends I've mentioned before (the guy who lives in Ireland, the girl who has been with her girlfriend for 5 years now) do not conform to the stereotypes at all. And I haven't done any real reading or research on this, but it just seems that more gay people (male and female) tend to bend the 'gender rules' than straight people. And I agree with you wholeheartedly, Kikko-San, these rules are largely made-up. I mean, here in North America "straight men don't dance", but leave this continent and you'll find men dancing all over the place. And that statement should be narrowed down even more, because it's only white straight men that don't dance... black men have no problem dancing at all. These rules are arbitrary, which is part of why I find it curious that it seems (you're right Leo, this might just be a perception thing) that gay people tend to break them.

And Nicole, I just wanted to say "Hi", and "Welcome". Thanks for reading, and for your encouragement.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the "feminine" behavior women engage in really revolves around trying to attract men. There are a ton of feminine str8 girls who don't bother with makeup and skirts when they're not going to be around any men. And then there are some who do just because they like it, just like there are some lesbians who do femmy stuff cause they just happen to like it (or to attract stone butches).

Personally, I find skirts ok, long and loose ones can be pretty comfy, I despise makeup with a fiery passion, like some sci-fi but I've never been to a convention or anything, and currently spend most of my free time playing with babies. That doesn't mean I'm more or less a woman than anyone else, it just means that's the kind of woman I am.


marauder said...

Actually, white men do dance. We just don't dance well.

I've wondered about some of the stereotypes too. I'm about as competitive as a turnip, and almost that athletic too. I also love Broadway musicals, and played in the marching band when I was in high school. According to Focus on the Family, I must be flamingly gay -- which would explain my support for gay rights, I suppose -- except I'm somewhere around 1 on the Kinsey scale.

(By the way, my older daughter is dressing up as Spider-man this year for Halloween, and she's becoming a big SF/F fan. My younger daughter likes the Green Goblin and Shrek, and appears to be leaning heavily toward athletics. I guess that means I should be positively alarmed about their straightness.)

I've wondered sometimes if some of the cross-gender stereotypes we have of gays and lesbians are due to association, either by the individual in question or by society. You know, "Well, you like drums, so you must also like sports." Or "You're gay, so that means you'll like these thingsnot normally associated with your sex."

I don't know, and I'd have no way of knowing, not even from personal experience.

Anonymous said...

As a straight woman (or perhaps asexual...or really just someone who is not interested in sex at all?...still trying to figure that's part of my 'identity" issues right now) I definitely don't care for makeup, or jewelry, and usually skirts (though admittedly in the last couple of years I've taken a liking to dresses/skirts and shoes! XD - but other than that, not much else that is classified really as feminine).

So I would definitely agree that gender-specific rules are just made up. It's how society copes with differences or something. It's something one of my history professors was fond of talking about in some of our history classes. He's big into breaking the gender stereotypes (which is funny because he's as "manly" as any guy can get, but he TOTALLY gets the gender stereotypes and thinks many of them are bogus!)

But anyway, just like many things in our society, gender (in my opinion) is just something we use to a) justify things, and b) make sense of the world.