Thursday, May 10, 2012

Non-Fancy, Non-Girly, Lost Girl

I am pretty damn fascinated by the concept of gender roles.   I knew a woman who told me many times that gender roles were very important to her, in her marriage.  She wanted her husband to take care of the lawn, the cars, killing bugs in the house and general manly stuff.  She wanted to be the only person in the house who did the cooking, cleaning and decorating.  Her husband was actually a pretty good cook, too, so it seemed a shame to me that he wasn't going to make his fabulous Coq au Vin anymore and that she was going to be responsible for all household chores when they both worked full-time.
There is certainly nothing wrong with a couple who happens to fit into those traditional gender roles.  But with this couple, all I could think was how is she going to get it all done, especially since she doesn't really like to clean?  And won't he miss cooking, since obviously it had interested him before?  I mean, does one bother to learn how to make Coq au Vin if one really doesn't care about the culinary arts?  And why did they have to be so separately defined?  Isn't marriage a partnership?  And shouldn't the people in it be comfortable enough with each other to be exactly who and what they are?  If they are, in fact, a very girly girl and a very manly man, then hey - great.  But not everyone is so easily defined one way or the other.
As an unmarried woman, I generally assume that married people must know more than me about marriage (makes sense, right?).  But I always thought this woman's idea was both crazy and sad - because it was forced.  Why would anyone try to fit into that glass slipper that they know does not belong to them?
I have also been told, especially because I'm "still single," that men would like me better if I were a little more girly and made "more of an effort" (which is an implication that I'm not dressing nice enough, wearing enough makeup, etc.).  I am very lucky in my friends that they all know better than to say this (and most of them wouldn't even think it), but you always run across someone (usually a friend of a friend or a great-aunt) who just can't help but try to give you advice.  Single at 36, oh the horror!  Interesting tidbit for you - When I looked up "gender roles" to provide an embedded link, an ad for engagement rings popped up.
What I grew up thinking of as "girly" is just not my scene.  I also equate it with fancy, which is something I've never been.  I have brief moments of girlyness (like when I walk into a LUSH or find really cute underwear) and had a spell of fanciness in my mid-twenties (which included a Kate Spade bag, Via Spiga heels, and not being able to pay rent that month).  But I prefer a good burger and fries or a homecooked meal (which in my mind, always means Italian) with friends (and lots of wine) to being taken out to a fancy restaurant (regardless of how good the food is).  And it isn't about having money or being too cheap, it's about what I find comfortable.  Special occasions with good friends or my family at a fine dining establishment, I can do.  Fancy dates where I'm expected to wear heels and a skirt - no, sir, I cannot.

Most of the time I'm not really conscious of this, but every so often I find myself giving in to that gender-specific idea and thinking, "Oh yeah, I'm not a real girl."  Not in the way Pinocchio's not a real boy - I'm just better suited to muckabout clothes than anything involving a skirt.  I don't look good in pastels and have never been a fan.  I may care somewhat about how I look, but I don't give a whit about trends when I'm shopping for clothes.  At the same time, I find fashion fascinating.  I just prefer it on other people.  I don't wear a lot of makeup, but I own  plenty of it and I do care about taking care of my skin (which is why The Thinnest Skin exists).  What I find so interesting and so baffling is why I would care so much about fitting into a type that it is so obviously not natural for me in the first place?

No matter your level of girly (whether you're a girl or a guy) or manly (whether you're a guy or a girl), you should, in fact, always just be yourself.  Maybe that means that you're going to rock a little black dress and kitten heels.  Maybe you'll look like one hell of a woman in overalls and galoshes.  Or maybe you'll make people stare at how damn good you look in that tailored suit.  All I know is that no one ever seems to be truly happy when they're trying to be something they're really not.  And I'm certainly not going to find the perfect partner in crime for me if I'm masquerading as someone else.

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