Edie Weinstein wonders if after 15 years of flying solo, with a few luscious layovers and perilous crash landings, can she truly allow herself to surrender and be protected by someone who possesses a more masculine persona?
Last week I wrote an article for The Good Men Project called The Yin and Yang of Being Straight or Gay. In it, I shared a story about being described by another woman, as ‘butch, simply because my hair is what I would refer to as ‘elfin shorn’; which means wash and go, run my fingers through without need for brush or comb and I was wearing little makeup at the time. When the original event occurred, I felt misperceived since, although I am not a typical ‘girly girl’ and I have muscles that I’m not afraid to use; it seemed like she was viewing me through a distorted lenses. I was squirmily uncomfortable with my reaction, as I was shocked by my own judgments about what someone who is butch might be like. I travel in overlapping circles in which people categorize themselves as straight, gay, bi, trans-gender, gender queer, fluid, monogamous and poly. (did I leave anyone out?)
I have been aware of gender bending since I first saw female impressionist Jim Bailey on The Carol Burnett show when I was a child. On Halloween night, freshman year of college, a man who lived in my dorm created a costume that was brilliantly executed. He shaved one side of his face and left the other bearded and did the same to his legs; one furry and one smooth as a baby’s bottom. He had someone sew a half skirt and half blouse together and one jeans leg and t-shirt side and sleeve together. One of the women on our floor did a fabulous makeup job as she applied eye shadow, mascara, blush and lipstick on the bare naked side of his face and took a curling iron to that side of his hair.
In my twenties, I was in a relationship with a man whose housemates donned elegant gowns, heels about which my feet vicariously screamed watching them slip on and coiffed wigs into which they stuffed their hair. I remember going shopping with them once and then watching them ‘suit up’ for strutting their stuff on stage. I sat back and watched the show that night, with rapt attention, particularly since I knew what went into their flawless feminine portrayal.
Another friend who has ‘boy parts’ and looks gender neutral most of the time, with shoulder length blond hair sometimes gets himself ‘dolled up’ in spandex, glitz and nail polish. This I have witnessed at parties and marvel at the attention to detail he has when putting on his ‘face’, while it takes me less than ten minutes to do my makeup.
One of my favorite cult classic movies is called To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar which is a 1995 unique buddy road trip /chick flick about 3 friends who are vying for the prize of Drag Queen of the Year. Traveling cross country in a convertible, they are accompanied by the photo of the statuesque beauty so named in the movie’s title. The dialog below sorts out some definitions, for those not in the know.
Noxeema Jackson (portrayed by Wesley Snipes) : “When a straight man puts on a dress and gets his sexual kicks, he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man’s body and has a little operation, he is a Transsexual.”
Miss Chi Chi Rodriguez ( acted by John Leguizamo): “I know that.”
Noxeema Jackson: “When a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a drag queen.”
Vida Boheme (played by Patrick Swayze): “Thank you.”
Noxeema Jackson: “And when a tired little Latin boy puts on a dress, he is simply a boy in a dress!”
I have a female friend who is married to another woman. Her wife has a gender neutral job in the criminal justice system and she has had two careers more typically attributed to men; long distance truck driver and a handywoman business. I have on occasion seen her wear skirts, but never makeup. Ironically, I would not think of her as ‘butch’.
After I posted the initial article on my Facebook page, friends chimed in with their opinions. One felt that I was more gender neutral with faerie-like aspects, another perceived me as being a balance of masculine and feminine qualities. Still others had no clue as to reasons why anyone would ever question my gender fluidity, even though, in many ways, I have come to celebrate it and perhaps enjoy the mystery of it.
According to author and teacher David Deida, there are certain gender character traits that we each embody and which attract us to each other whether we are gay, straight or bi.
Core Masculine Traits
- Sense of mission leading to freedom
- Living on the edge
- Growth from challenge
- Definitve and decisive
Core Feminine Traits
- The search for love and intimacy
- Deep radiant beauty
- Growth from support and praise
- Ambiguous, unpredictable
I view myself through that paradigm, I can easily choose Chinese menu-style; some from Column A and some from Column B. I see myself as having a sense of vision and mission, far more definitive and decisive than I have ever been in my life, experience growth from challenge and willing to live on the edge emotionally, if not physically. Although I analyze people and experiences, it is not from a dispassionate, stoic mindset. What Deida describes as more typically feminine are indeed qualities that I possess. Paradoxically, the more masculine components became apparent when my husband died and although I told myself that I couldn’t be ‘both mother and father’ to my then 11 year old son, it seems I have, of necessity taken on more stereotypical masculine roles as decision maker and breadwinner. When once upon a time, the feminine essence was so prevalent, to the point of feeling emotionally lopsided, now it has receded into the background, perhaps as a survival mechanism.
Digging more deeply, it seems that my initial expository exploration took me into territory around who I am in relation to a prospective partner. I have questioned if being an independent, self reliant woman is antithetical to allowing a man to take care of me for a change. Can I, after 15 years of flying solo, with a few luscious layovers and perilous crash landings, truly allow myself to surrender and be protected by someone who possesses that more masculine persona? I have experienced men feeling overwhelmed with my intensity, more male-embodied, direct manner. I am wondering if it is completely possible to partner with someone who is so comfortable with his own Divine Masculine energy that he relishes a woman who celebrates her Divine Feminine energy, which in Hinduism is considered the polarity of Shiva and Shakti. Welcoming a man who can handle the magical energy of a woman truly in touch with her own power (not overpowering) and confidence without dancing away.
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