Thursday, September 23, 2010

Being Woman for Men

As salaam alaikum,

{Currently Listening: Close to You - Carpenters}

I was doing reading for my Gender and Health class (and so it begins!) about the health of LGBT adolescents, indicators of poor health and improvements of health instruments, and the reading took me back to a very important period in my personal development...when my best friend came out to me.

I was just telling my roommate about it the other day, and I realize that it's not something that I really talk about, at all. For one thing, in the early days, when she wasn't out all the way, I didn't want to out her, so I didn't talk about it to anyone but her, and we didn't really discuss certain things. Anyway, I mean, on one hand, that solidified our relationship as best friends because she put that trust in me and I wanted to make sure that I was worthy of that trust. On the other left me really confused.

Short version...I didn't understand how she differentiated from me as her best friend and women that she was emotionally attracted to. I didn't understand because for me with guys, liking a guy friend was ultimately on a continuum that could end up with me liking them otherwise than friends, so I felt like in the end I was in a position as best female friend that was transitory, and that I was replaceable by an ultimately more desirable girlfriend...

Short version...there was a lot of crap going on with that.

So around that time, and with the advent of college, I began to struggle with the idea of what love was for me. Man, I was so young. Anyway, I don't think I got past the continuum idea. Other people differentiate between being attracted to someone and liking a friend, but I can't separate the two. If I'm friends with a guy but I'm not attracted to him, it's because I find something about him annoying or in general undesirable. Is there a physical aspect? Sure. But it's not insurmountable...

Anyway, so freshman year, I went through all sorts of crap, and then I met MQ, and, man, totally blew my mind!

{Currently Listening: Encontros e Despedidas - Maria Rita}

I wanted to be better for him...not for for him, but so that he would think I was I could be an attractive perhaps maybe option for a relationship.

In retrospect, I realized this was messed up...if I had issues, I should have wanted to get better for myself, right? Well, in my life's path, it wouldn't be self-motivation that got me out of a dark place, but hope for companionship from this one then-boy that drove me.

I've told this sordid tale before. I won't delve further into the actual and instead will dance on the side of the theoretical, while keeping it still somewhat personal.

I think that an unfortunately large part of my female expression has been shaped over the years by men, or at least what I think men would want from me. There is a small part of me that thinks that I would be, by definition, a failure if I cannot get a worthwhile man to be attracted to me. Heh, I say worthwhile and not just any man precisely because of the phenomenon of street randoms, the random men on the street who will hit on you regardless of how you are dressed or time of day, really.

So currently, I see myself as a little bit of a failure of a human being. Yeah.

I'd be so different if my identity as a woman didn't depend so much on what I thought was attractive to men. I'd carry myself differently. I'd dress differently. I'd probably walk differently. I'd hold my eyes differently, I probably wouldn't smile as much. I'd probably care less about fashion and what other females are doing, because I wouldn't care so much to compare myself to them to figure out what I was doing wrong and what they were doing right. I'd probably not be so keen on losing as much weight as I currently want to lose and I wouldn't worry as much about my hair.

There would be things that didn't change. I'd still be interested in maternal/child health, I'd still love delivering babies, I'd still be into family medicine and love adolescent health and reproductive health. I'd still wear orange in the summer and spring and brown in the fall and winter. I'd still be in love with Brazilian Portuguese music and sing it to myself every chance I got. I'd still frequent the gym and go to my samba class (which is all women, pretty much). I'd still watch novelas...

So I guess it goes to show...I'd look a little bit different on the outside, maybe what I would consider right now to be more sloppy, but on the inside...I'd be the same person. And that's good to know...well, except maybe for the smiling part, the other things are things I don't really need anyway.

I just thought about all of this in the context of my attraction to MQ (trying to figure out why that was such a train wreck in the story of my life), and I think the answer in the end will be...I was young.

I don't know.

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