Friday, October 28, 2016

Every kinda wrong. Every kinda right.

Hi,

A couple of weekends ago, I was sat reading the news when the Ever Lovely Mrs J asked: 'have you read that article by Grayson Perry?' Perhaps my TransRSS was on the blink, as I'd not, so she elaborated. "It's about What's Gone Wrong With Men?"

A word to the wise: you might want to read the above first and make your own mind up, before reading my thoughts.

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Back? Sitting comfortably?

My initial thought to Mrs J's question around What's Gone Wrong With Men? was Why are you asking me? I'm not exactly in-tune with Joe Normal, but I've learned to keep remarks that might accidentally upset or embarrass, to myself. By the way, I mean upset or embarrass me, as much as the Ever Lovely Mrs J. ;-)

We had a chat about it and in the end, I Googled it and read it for myself. Grayson's walking his own path (there's that walking term again), and I'm fine with that. Some may not like his alter-ego and as much as I think it would be wrong for me to ask him to tone it down, it would be as wrong for him to tell me to brighten up. Yeah, I'm being reasonable again ;-)

There was much in the article that gave us a topic of conversation and later, me to ponder as I nursed a cup of tea.

One of the lines that jumped out was "I held a constant internal dialogue about how to pass as a man." Oh, how that hit a mark (Ed: Just a Mark, but not a Fred or a Bill, mind). For yes, dear reader, I don't have standard wiring when it comes to 'being a bloke'. I don't say this as a brag or a dis, just a statement. Sure, I get some of the male traits naturally, but other elements are alien to me and I just don't have the abilities, desires or interests of gents playing with a full deck. I was tempted to make a comment about Top Trumps, but a) it would make things sound overly competitive (we'll come back to that), or b) a set up a cheap gag about farting. ;-)

This passing lark is bloody tiring and I've alluded to this before about masks and not being true to yourself. Of course, being openly 'somewhere-in-the-middle' will draw you some flack with less then enlightening people or you'll be judged as being camp. Frankly, I could care.... but I don't. Life is short. :-)

Mrs J read out the line: "Though men might plead that their muscles, big cars and sharp suits are for attracting women, really they are for impressing male rivals."

I think I can see how that can work and I wonder if I'm guilty as charged too? I don't do big cars, suits aren't my bag and big muscles, I'm too lazy and worried they'd spoil the line of my dress. :-) But, do I compete in other ways? Do I compete on 'the slacker scale' by pushing disinterest and rejection of the mainstream male behaviour. Possibly, methinks the trans person doth protest too much. :-P

But I asked Mrs J about her view on a previously said media line that women dress for each other, not for men. She said she could see how that could work and beautiful as Mrs J is, she's not a girlie-girl. Yes, she'll wear make-up, but in the main, she's a boots & jeans kinda gal, not heels & hemlines (BTW, that's probably the campest Dungeons & Dragons spin off never written, but moving on. :-) ). Mr's J work-team is predominately women and not working in your regular office environment, the usual office clothing rules do not apply either. I notice when she changes her hair or wears something new, but then I'm trans* so I may be predisposed to noticing!

 Cyndi Lauper inspired
pun goes here
What about the question of people dressing for themselves? After reading Grayson's thoughts, I was reminded of a time I had upset Mrs J: the matter of the smooth armpits. It was back many a moon when the Chameleons folk had decided to have an 80s themed party and it being warm that summer, I'd been - shall we say? - attending to my underarms for a while. It wasn't until a week or so later that the heat, rather than the shaving, had given me a rash and Mrs J spotted what was going on.

As you well know, we have an agreement that I don't shave anything other than face or chest. I had either ignored this or thought I could get away with it. Whichever it was, cross words were exchanged, but the point of this anecdote was the comment: "Why did you do it? Are you trying to attract men?!"

I assured Mrs J that I wasn't and her comment has stuck with me. Mainly because it made me think why I had. The perfectionist part of me wants to say a strappy vest doesn't look right with man pits, but I could have picked something else to wear. It was, if I'm honest with myself, that I wanted to be pretty. Not for anyone else, just for me. Not for me in 'a sexual way', but that looking good makes me feel good. In the same way a fine outfit can put a smile on a lady's face and a spring in her step, so too, will that work for me.

Then again, given the 80s ensemble I'd put together (Primani ra-ra skirt), 'fine outfit' might be stretching the boundaries a touch ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

19 comments:

  1. Thank you Lynn, another insightful and honest blog. And loving the 80s outfit - are those actual leg warmers?

    I do like Grayson. At first I was put off by the overthetopness of it all, but actually, as Claire, she is brave and true to herself.

    My only point of feeling jarred by the article was, “I am turned on by dressing up in clothes that are heavily associated with being female… In forming an erotic attraction to women’s clothes…”. I worry that this is the stereotype we are all pinned with that attracts negativity, that somehow we are doing it as a turn on and are aroused by it - that feels creepy and wrong. My concern is that it is the misjudgment that is being made and that this statement just reinforces that, creating the idea that everyone in our community feels the same.

    I probably need to just stop overthinking...

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    1. Hi Rhiannon,

      Yes, they are leg warmers. Primark specials, along with the rah-rah skirt. The pink heels I think I'd had for a while.

      GP as Claire can, I think, be over-the-top, but there are times when I've read about her exploits, where GP/Claire is very much dressing to fit in. The Buckingham Palace 'mafia grandma' is a good example.

      As to Grayson being 'turned on' by it all, that's his view (story?) of being trans and if that's his truth, it's his, not necessarily mine nor yours. Maybe some T-folk are aroused by it, but that doesn't make all trans people the same.

      Question is: does Joe Public get that or do they simply not care? Hmm, that may be two questions. :-)

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    2. Hi Lynn, I did own a rah-rah skirt, I'd always wanted one from being little and being surrounded by girls who were all allowed. There was a trend for them a few years ago.

      Your question is definitely where I was trying, very inarticulately to arrive, I'm not sure Joe Public gets it and that's worrying to me sometimes - nothing grates like your reasons for doing something being misinterpreted. Closer to home, I certainly I think it's one of the things that so repulses Mrs Rhi about me is the mixing up of the two things. I almost wish she'd socialise with me in Rhiannon mode once because I think she'd learn a lot about my true motivation.

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    3. Those skirts did have their moment again. Perhaps not for 40 year old blokes, but hey, it was fancy dress :-)

      Personally, I try not to worry what others think. If an interaction through either appearance or dialogue, and this helps change opinion for the better, that's cool in my book. If Joe Public chooses to write me off as a perv, well, that's their lookout and as I'll never see them again, I don't really care.

      For those who I am close to, like you, I too would like to be able to articulate what I do and why. Thing is, I'm not sure I could do that just yet.

      I think I'm very with you about wanting my wife to 'get it'. Not necessarily like it or love it, but to tolerate and try to understand.

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  2. Ah, what a wondrous decade the '80s were from a fashion perspective. I remember going to an '80s-themed party way back in 1993, and being surprised at just how outlandish a lot of the stuff people wore to it looked, even back then! (Of course, if I went to a '90s, or even '00s, themed party now, I'd probably find myself having much the same reaction! Amazing how things change without you really being aware of it at the time.)

    Grayson Perry certainly comes across as an interesting character. After reading that article by him, I did a Google image search of him, and found no shortage of pictures of him in all manner of fascinating outfits (interestingly enough, some of the stuff I've worn over the years has been somewhat similar to his, if not quite as out there!).

    Re the article itself, I'm not sure what I thought of it myself. I don't think things are quite as grim as he makes them out to be (and I don't think they ever were), and I always feel a little uneasy whenever I hear anyone say men are totally screwed up and need to change, maybe because I just know they're going to provoke a depressing backlash from people with more "old school" views of masculinity (men and women alike), who'll say there's nothing wrong with men the way they are (and then proceed to pour scorn all over more "feminine" men). I had a few other thoughts, but nothing terribly profound. What did Mrs J think of it all, and what made her bring it up with you?

    Re CDers who get turned on by it, I have to admit I'm one who finds it arousing at times, though it's by no means the only reason I do it. I would say, though, that I get uncomfortable with CDers who insist that the reasons they cross-dress (whatever they are) apply to every CDer (and that any who claim they don't in their own case are either lying or "in denial"); those folk can sod right off as far as I'm concerned, and stop presuming to speak for the rest of us!

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    1. Wondrously mad perhaps? :-) I think there's something good and something awful about most decades. Funny how the 90s fashionistas dissed the 80s, but then inflicted some horrors on us of their own. Mind you, they've got some way to go to match the terror of patterned trousers ;-)

      Grayson has - or is having - an extended 15 minutes of fame. I think it helps that he's able to bring your everyman (/waves) in to art discussions and I've really enjoyed both his TV (as in television) and radio specials on the subject.

      As to the article, maybe we trans* folk are not best placed to examine and explain male society. It's not like we're fully in is it :-) Why did Mrs J bring it up? Because she, like me, finds Mr Perry's commentary thought provoking and given that we had a good 45 minute chat, the column gave us plenty to talk about.

      Hey, if you find dressing floats your boat, enjoy. What goes on in your heart (or heart) ain't my business! :-)

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    2. Funny how the 90s fashionistas dissed the 80s, but then inflicted some horrors on us of their own.

      Ha, you don't need to remind me! I recently re-watched Boyz 'n the Hood (for the first time in over twenty years), and was struck by just how... interesting some of the fashions featured in it (particularly those sported by Cuba Gooding Jr's character) were!

      As to the article, maybe we trans* folk are not best placed to examine and explain male society.

      True that. Just for starters, I can never get over a lot of guys' horror at being considered "feminine" in any way, shape or form. Anyone suggests that about me, and I'm on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day, if not the week!

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  3. Hear hear, that was both an interesting article and blogpost. A while ago I was having a nice talk at a transgender cafe with a person who identified as male, or gender fluid currently presenting as male at least. Whereas I was well aware of the public pressure on the female image (receiving end of male privilege, unrealistic beauty ideals), he commented on that it isn't easy either for the males: there is competition, competition, and competition and one needs to man up and not be a loser. This nicely chimes in on that. Makes you wonder whether the whole transgender influx is *also* a protest on that

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    1. Hi Mireille,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Yeah, competition: it's a bit rubbish. For what it's worth, I've seem women do it too. Just hang around a group of young mums and someone will play the card about 'How Hard the Birth Was / No Pain Relief For Me'. To each their own! :-)

      I don't know what the cause is, but from a Chams point of view, we've had a growing number of F2M folk get in touch.

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  4. The thing about the Department of Masculinity is, of course, that it doesn't exist: it is a handy device to express a (seemingly) innate tendency of men to (a) conform to an arbitrary norm and (b) compete in this conformance. I saw this at its most overt when I was taking photos at a departmental team thing, several of the guys came up and started bragging to me about the expensive camera gear they have: firstly I couldn't give a toss what gear you have and secondly it's all about what you *do* with your equipment ;-)
    The question about why we dress up and who we're doing it for is a timeless one, of course. While GP may find erotic undertones, I think for many of us the frisson is more akin to a performer about to go on stage: will I triumph or will I bomb? And as this dulls, it becomes just "what I do".
    As for the problem with manhood today, IMHO the biggest disfunction is the boys who never reach adulthood and become the hideous man-children that disgust me, devoid of either innocence or dignity, sexually incontinent and feckless of lifestyle.

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    1. Your comment about equipment did make me chuckle! It's the whole "my dad's bigger than your dad" crap. It's not a bloody competition! :-) Just be happy for others and keep your trap shut.

      I wonder just how may reasons or stories their are to our collective community? Dozens? A hundred?

      As to the feckless, they need help and to grow up. IMHO ;-)

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  5. Oh, I loved this blog post! Read the entire article (and was amused at the mention of Jeremy Clarkson).

    Also loved the naked pits. It just looks so.....right.

    Loved all of it so much that I actually featured it on TC. Go figure.....

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    1. Thanks Calie and for featuring my blog again.

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    2. But, was I correct in assuming Earl Gray?

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    3. It was Earl Grey Redbush, so yes. Living room, rather than a kitchen and not quite a cottage, but very rural. ;-)

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    4. Yay! At least I got one right. Wonder what someone in Nottingham thinks the picture would look like had the same situation happened in Cali?

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    5. There's a question! We've been to LA, San Diego (love that city), San Francisco and a few smaller places in Cali. They are all so different.

      To answer your question, I imagine a light airy room. Perhaps a dining living room, or something with bare bricks and plenty of polished wood. I may well be very far from the truth :-)

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  6. Light airy room - check
    Bare bricks - No
    Polished wood - No

    Add a deck, a house on a hillside that might fall off, and plenty of California wine....

    Grew up in SD.

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    1. I'll update my imagination and give it another spin :-)

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