“If only society was so advanced as to find it perfectly acceptable for men to dress like women, as it is for women to dress masculine, there would be no problem.” How many times have we heard that old chestnut? (BTW, never call my breasts ‘chestnuts’, I hate that) it’s such a lovely, egalitarian and liberally enlightened sentiment that you just have to appreciate the meaning behind it, even if it’s just so horribly wrong. Well, for us anyway; the CD’s would probably be thrilled.. or not, I still don’t have a strong bead on the motivation there to be perfectly honest.
I, and dare say we, have gotten into that conversation plenty of times. It’s such an uncomfortable one because we understand that for sure the person saying it is trying to be understanding and very supportive with the very best of intentions. We reach over, head tilted, lips puckered in sympathetic understanding, stroke their arm, and say, “That is just so nice, but sweetie, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about.” It’s rough, right? The last thing we need to be doing is taking a seventh floor tinkle on our allies’ upturned faces on a day they left the umbrella at home.
The question was posed to me again recently at the dinner table by my spouse/ sister and a friend. “What if the societal norm was such that men and women dressed exactly the same and had the same roles in society, and such was that they were virtually indistinguishable in outward appearance?” A Star Trek analogy was tossed in there for good measure. It was a thoughtful way to put it, I must admit and had to think for a moment. I chucked the Star Trek thing aside at once. There is absolutely no mistake of which characters are female and which are male, roles or genderless coveralls aside. But what if no one could tell and there was no social discernment?
I think there is only one right way to answer this. Even if this was so, and when I walked out the door female it would not be one iota different than walking out as a male, as far as the neighbors could tell, it still would be necessary to transition, just arguably easier. You see, I would know. I would still feel the frustration of missing emotional depth. I would still see the difference when I got in the shower. I know some are able to get over themselves and enter into a physical relationship with someone while still sporting the wrong parts, but I simply can’t. It just feels too uncomfortable. And let’s face it, no matter how homogenized society becomes, there are always going to be differences between the genders. How we plug into the world is just different. One way is just way more ‘us’ than the other and there is no way around it.
When it comes right down to it, appearance is nothing more than finding a comfortable way of modeling our personal look in public, to whatever sub-demographic we further identify with. There is a secondary factor in there to blend with our gender enough to avoid getting hassled when we have to pee, but this is really a ‘nice to have’. OK, a really nice to have, but you get where I’m going with this. In the unlikely event that we become disembodied intelligences floating about the ether willy nilly with no regard to an animal gender binary, things might change. Just let me know when that happens, because I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath for it.
Snapping back to reality, it’s all such a moot point. For the foreseeable future, which I think drags on for hundreds or centuries or worse, our species has markedly different genders. Maybe two, maybe a lot more, that is all still being worked out through philosophical semantics and endless biological and mental variations. By and large, my overall impression is that almost everyone likes that these differences exist. Even in the Star Trek universe, it is plain to see that the ‘androgynous’ uniforms have a way of amplifying a woman’s curves, front and back, as well as a man’s shoulders and , er, package. It’s a long toss down a short pier to say the show would have been just as popular had they went with a Snuggie model. Dear God, please let that never happen! I like things the way they are.