female female
October 15, 2002 09:48 AM

I do occasionally enjoy being a girl.

That is, I think many of you can attest, a bit of an understatement. I delight in many things girly.

Makeup, for instance. Lipsticks in little pans. Eyeshadows that come with tiny paintbrushes. Foundation you smear on with fingers or like crayons. Acetone smelly nail colors. I like makeup that seems like paint.

I like the idea of being able to paint myself. I'm honestly sad that it's not appropriate for boys to do the same.

Yes, to an extent I feel compelled to wear some makeup and certain sorts of clothes, to work at least, but I've always enjoyed the idea of face-as-canvas and body-as-dress-up-doll. Since my first peel-off flowery-scented Tinkerbell nail polish. And it may be that I'm vulnerable to marketing, that I've accepted a sales pitch since I was a tot, but I think of certain aspects of femininity as performative. It's costume and makeup. It's pretty.

And I don't think that prettiness is exclusive to any sort of widely accepted notion of The Beautiful People. Prettiness is the essence of feminine performance. It's white skin and blood red or cunt pink lips. It's curves outlined. It speaks without speaking. [Okay, I find it a little disturbing that part of my fondness for beauty culture involves this notion of wordless conveyance; that semantically echoes too many notions of the woman's place. But it also needs to be alright to say things that sound anti-feminist but aren't.]

Gender is performative, obviously. That is - not just femininity. But it's the feminine performance I enjoy. I told someone a few days ago that half or more of my wardrobe consists of costumes of some sort. Some of those things are flat-out costumes (as in, Renaissance Girl, Rosie the Riveter, Persephone) and others are simply expressive of different ideas. I can put on Competent and Caring, Artisically Professional, Donna Reed was a Feminist, I am Goth and Like Girls, et cetera.

This extends beyond the body, too. [Please, let's get beyond the body already!] It's in the idea of making a home. Be that for yourself or someone else. To me, that idea means decorating. It means colors and textures and structuring the area in which you'll move - not just for you, but for the enjoyment of people around you.

The great irony of that idea being that, like clothing, home decorating is something you do by default. It's not really gender-driven in life, just in our idea of decorating as "feminine". Even the dirtiest stereotype of a frat boy still projects an attitude through his clothes, still practices a form of home decorating.

I like to arrange things to effect. I do it with food, too. Basic necessities become comforts when they're attractive. Not necessarily Martha Stewart attractive [as in, I paid forty people to slave over these crudites], just thoughtful.

Doesn't that sound just like a Home Economics textbook, ca. 1963? See. Proof that not all disturbing notions of femininity are inherently wrong, just wrongly gendered.

Of course. I do not. Do. Housework.

Really. I don't clean. We don't have time for it. We eat out a lot. But, while I can safely say that domesticity is not my thing, I am at least capable of (though hardly disposed to) cooking and cleaning. I enjoy doing the dishes in the dishwasher. [They come out so shiny! Shiny! Ahem. We didn't have a dishwasher in our last apartment.]

I have an apron! It's pink, and was an irresistible choice at the vintage shop. Another costume piece.

And I make beautiful hors d'oeuvres plates. I can even spell hors d'oeuvres.

I am, basically, a thoroughly girly undomesticated female. I am the sort of person you could ask about the merits of a chartreuse twin set [few] or call for a heated debate about your idiot senator [he really is].

Now, that - I enjoy.

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