I’m not talking about sexual orientations, sexual preferences, nor physiological sexual attributes. I’m talking gender — how persons see themselves and present themselves and go about their lives in an extremely dimorphic world, and how our sexually unevolved societies perceive them and then behave towards them, with dire punishment or superficial reward.
Here’s a for instance — for years I’ve been a fan of Cirque du Soleil, but I know someone who isn’t mainly because she has difficulty ‘assigning gender’ to some of the surrealistically costumed performers. And she does not like that. She prefers the cartoonish extremes of Manly Men and Girly-Girls — y’know, like John Wayne and Jayne Mansfield caricatures, instead of normal, balanced human beings.
Considering that in many of Cirque du Soleil’s incarnations the performers aren’t exactly portraying humans, I don’t see that determining whether a not-exactly-human character is male or female really matters.
“Clothes makes the man.” I’ve heard this one all my life, but whether it’s in reference to testosterone levels, trousers, or a socio-economic rank, I’ve never known. What about kilts? There’s no way I’d be so stupid as to challenge a kilted Scotsman’s manhood to his face and still expect to stagger away with my nose intact.
Did Marlene Dietrich ever look manly in her tailored suits and fedoras? Hardly. She was sleek, elegant, and all woman — and the Duke’s squeeze, ironically enough. The suits suited her, but I don’t know whether JW ever complained about her wearing pants. Want more irony? His birth name was Marion — you know that couldn’t’ve sat well with him.
In my writings, I find myself returning to issues of gender and sexual identity regarding certain of my characters. But the issues that face me in my writings are about more than mere wardrobe, they’re about third party expectations about one’s roles in life. If you might ever become a mommy, you’re expected to wear skirts (and watch soap opera and adore shopping). Is the inverse of that true, that if you do wear skirts, then you must be able to become a mommy?
Oh, my. Has anyone hepped the kilted Scotsman to this?