Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Who do you see when you talk to me?

gender(s)At the Guardian, a fascinating story by a woman who decided to try passing as a man for over a year, from bowling with the guys to dating women met online. It's not a salacious or trivial analysis, but a fascinating account of what was and wasn't different, how she came to see both sexes differently when viewed from the new perspective.
I had lived in that neighbourhood for years, walking its streets, where men lurk outside of bodegas, on stoops and in doorways much of the day. As a woman, you couldn't walk down those streets invisibly. You were an object of desire or at least semiprurient interest to the men who waited there, even if you weren't pretty. But that night in drag, we walked by those same stoops and doorways and bodegas. We walked by those same groups of men. Only this time they didn't stare. On the contrary, when they met my eyes they looked away immediately and concertedly, and never looked back. It was astounding, the difference, the respect they showed me by not looking at me, by purposely not staring.
. . .
That, maybe, was the last twist of my adventure. I passed in a man's world not because my mask was so real, but because the world of men was a masked ball. Eventually I realised that my disguise was the one thing I had in common with every guy in the room. It was hard being a guy.
The piece is long, but I recommend reading the whole thing; it's one of the most interesting things I've read in some time. (I imagine that the total book would be even more fascinating, but suspect I won't find the time.)

(via kottke)

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