Sunday, December 21, 2014

On femininity and rebellion

I was painting my nails a sweet, delicate pink, one night and tweeting that I was going to pamper myself with a face mask and a bubble bath when someone made the comment that I could be so girly sometimes. The comment brought me up short because I realized that I had spent much of my life trying hard to not be perceived as “girly” and that this had obviously changed.

Now—I am quite aware of the fact that a man can enjoy the color pink, face masks, and bubble baths—this is not an exploration of gender preferences, but of the associations I made with femininity as a young girl and my reaction to those associations.

Disclaimer over.

The face mask and bubble bath part of this has no real meaning to me, but pink most definitely does. There was a time when I would have rather gone outside in a garbage bag than let someone see me wearing pink or, god forbid, anything with flowers, lace, or little sparklies.

Well, I stand by that last one to this day—I do not BeDazzle™.

I think that a large part of this was a reaction to my older sister. She was the girly-girl who was always in full make-up—oh-so pretty and ready to be seen. That, to me, and to the society around me, was femininity. I have never doubted my femaleness, but I did doubt my ability to fit into that mold of femininity—I was just bad at it. I knew from a very early age that I would not be pretty in the same way that she is pretty, so my response was to rebel against that and show that I didn’t care by being cool and edgy instead. In my experience, very few people, including myself, are as cool and edgy as they think they are, but I still tried and flirted with punk, and goth, and finally settled into a whole wardrobe of black, grey, and earth tones. A few colors made it in—a bit of blue, the occasional green, but no pink, never pink.

This didn’t begin to change until my late twenties— I blame it on BDSM.

Some people get involved with this lifestyle and dive headlong into black leather and latex, both of which I love—but I found that my inner submissive liked to be “feminine” in a way that I had never allowed before, and she really liked pink. Allowing her to indulge was a safe place for me to let that side of myself out without embarrassment. Slowly, as I became more comfortable with myself and the many, many aspects of my personality, it started to come out more—my own girly-girl went public. I am still pretty bad at the traditionally feminine ideal that I grew up with, but I also no longer feel as if a specific definition of femininity needs to be achieved.

Now I have no issue wearing pink--aside from the fact that it just really isn’t my color. Chances are you will never see me in some frilly little number that looks like it just came from a cotillion—I am still very choosy about my floral patterns, and lace only makes it to the dungeon where it is used to barely cover my sexy bra and panties—but at least now my fashion choices are based on taste, and style (and, apparently, general level of sluttiness) and not a need to rebel against some bullshit idea of what feminine looks like.

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