I wrote before about how one of my clues that “something was up” was seething anger when attempting to shop for clothing, anger that these were the clothes I was apparently supposed to wear, that anyone anywhere would wear this shit. Once I figured out how to get men’s clothes that fit (thanks J), just like that, poof, I’m not angry when shopping anymore. I don’t stop to find stuff in the women’s section, but I don’t take it’s existence personally. The fact that some women buy those clothes no longer pisses me off.
I can be a very harsh person, and a hefty dose of my judgment, historically, has been reserved for “girly girls,” for women who “waste time & money” on how they look, on hair, clothes, shoes, makeup, instead of doing something useful. When Gail started her efforts to look better, to wear better clothes, my initial knee-jerk thoughts were along these lines, “Doesn’t she have better things to do? I thought she was better than this.”
Similarly, I’ve judged men, for years, as generally being “total assholes.” I wouldn’t say it out loud, but underneath, I often started with this general assumption until proven otherwise.
My friend J insists that if you don’t take care of whatever gender crap you have (and apparently I have a decent sized dose), it comes out in other ways, probably not good ways. I wonder if this nasty judgmental streak might be one of the ways it comes out for me. Because now that I get to be in some other as-yet-not-perfectly-defined gender category, but definitely something different, I really don’t care if other women want to get fancy. Hell. More power to them. I think they’re cute (well, some of them, especially Gail). There’s also the part where I’m spending huge amounts of energy (and a fair amount of money) on how I look right now, so I can’t really get too harsh about anyone else “wasting time and money” on such things.
And a similar shift has happened for men, though with a different tone. I’m looking at them differently now. Before I had most of them lumped into one big giant “probably a jerk” category. I wonder now if some of that may well have been anger that I couldn’t have some of what they got for free, or about an uncertainty about how I fit, how to interact with men (am I like them or different from them?), even though I constantly place myself in male spaces. I’ve always gravitated towards environments where I end up being one of very few women. I live much of my life, especially educationally and professionally, in a very male world, and I always have. I absolutely believe women belong in these spaces, but leaving myself a little room to be more like the men I work and socialize with, seems to have helped me see them more kindly.
Goodness knows I don’t have this anywhere close to figured out, but I guess I start to get a glimpse of the larger payoff of working on it. This is really hard. I feel so much uncertainty about where I am and where I’m going, and as a mathematician, uncertainty really doesn’t sit well. I hate it. I find it physically uncomfortable and extremely distracting. But simply granting myself permission for, at the very least, living in some “other” gender category, immediately dissolved some longstanding bad stuff, without even trying.