Pretty Is As Pretty Does… Or What the Hell Am I? And Why?

I don’t talk a lot about gender. Or gender identity.

Lots of reasons for that. Most of which are I haven’t quite dug down deep enough into my own id. And if I’m going to be stripped-down, nekkid honest, I always flounder about who or what I am.

I am not by nature an “aggressive in your face, accept me as I am” person. For some reason, a lot of people assume that means I’m a pushover. Asperger’s does make me flighty and distracted and sometimes laser focused on the wrong things so my mouth and brain don’t stop running at full tilt and I don’t see any social speed bumps. Coupled with a cultural inclination to keep a polite public face, I’m usually fighting between what I’d like to say and what’s proper and well, Asian-nice.

Apparently this has led some people to believe I’m a pushover. I’ve had someone tell me in an interview once that they didn’t think I could do the job because people would run me over.

As anyone who knows me probably for more than five minutes, you’d know they are wrong.

I am passionate… fiercely so… about not being diminished or made to feel lesser. Rabidly so. I spent most of my childhood struggling not only to survive physically but also mentally and psychologically. I know I bear those scars and flinching habits. My father was… is… a psychopath with the need to destroy anyone he cannot control when he feels he “owns” them. My mother, and I love her to death, was as much of a victim as anyone and with a clear idea of what it took to survive. My father is dead. He might be alive somewhere, probably is. But I have already mourned the loss of my father because he never existed. Not as a father. Not as a man. He was a coward and an abuser who once told me, I taught you how to survive. Like I’d gone through his torture chambers and came out the other side still breathing. And he was proud of being able to say that… and didn’t understand when I replied; I shouldn’t have had to “survive” my childhood.

For my mother, who probably had more common sense than I did, that meant letting my father do what he wanted to her, with her, with the family. Everything was about his needs, his wants, and his desires. There was not a shred of helping me grow to be a functional adult. It was about how he was perceived as a father and what he could take credit for.

We were not his children. We were his possession, and like cars or dogs that didn’t perform as he liked, he was quick to punch, kick, belittle and even shoot to make me “learn my lesson about who was in control”.

So, when I am faced with asshats in my every day life, I can honestly say; dudes, you have no fucking idea how low you are on the scale of shit that can hurt me.

Friends can. Those that don’t stand with me. I give friendship… siblingship… rarely and when it’s spat upon and thrown out, that hurts. Because I really don’t share private face. That’s what that is. Stripping away the public, culturally appropriate façade and sharing my fears, hopes, angers and whatnots. I am taking people at face value (once again, Asperger’s) when they tell me they love me. I cannot FEEL it. I hope and I mirror those emotions, attaching how I feel, how intensely I feel, to them because I am in that relationship.

Not so good of a plan when the person I’m in a relationship with is… myself.

I sat and thought about who I was… what I was… for a month. I’d been turning it over in my head and trying to figure out why I was… what I felt like. My mother has very firm ideas of what is means to be a girl and trust me when I say I’ve heard so many disparaging things over the years about how I didn’t fit into that mold. Not meant to be hurtful but that “helpful” kind of… you’d be so pretty if you’d just…do THIS thing.

First, I’m built TOTALLY different than my mom and sisters. I tower over them. My body proportions are radically different. I am built very Hawaiian while they are Portuguese. In short, I would never in any stretch of the imagination, fit into my mom’s idea of what it looks like to be a girl.

I also don’t fit in other ways, including my interests, my beliefs, and kind of… my everything.

I wasn’t a girl. And anything boyish was something to be scrubbed out. To be erased.

My mother spent years saying I was a lesbian. Um, no but thank you for trying. I have many lesbian cousins and friends and sure as hell, I celebrate when they find their One True Love. But it’s not for me. But it made sense to my mother because, I wasn’t a GIRL. So, I had to belong to this Other she understood. Because that’s what she was attempting to do. Make me “FIT” into something she could understand. No amount of correcting her could change that. She kept on it. Probably still does. But really, that’s her struggle not mine because hell, I didn’t have any answers. But I get it. I do. She struggles with… the me-ness of me.

Other than I knew I preferred men, I didn’t have any answers. But that alone was a push pin in the gender /sexuality map.

But does that even really count? That defined who I was attracted to. Not who I was.

Too many words. Too many phrases. Too many complications as the world around me struggles to identify, to sculpt out an understanding of how people feel about themselves. Binary, non-binary, agender, and other words didn’t feel… right. Omnigender? Mega-gender!

Rawr means I love you in MegaGendersaurus!

See, I don’t feel like a girl. I also don’t feel like a boy. I don’t feel like I have this beer-pour ratio of a glass to define where I am at any given moment. I’m not divided but rather mixed and while I probably lean more masculine in thought, I am not all that caring about presenting female. Because dudes, I’ve tried that and it just didn’t take. It felt… wrong. It didn’t feel like me. I like leather. I like sparkly things. Presenting a certain way depends on my mood. That’s just… me.

I like makeup. I like muscle cars. I love very hard rock. I love greasy, mechanical things and honestly the sound of a throaty V8 gives me thrills like nobody’s business. The same can be said about the scene in Winter Soldier where Bucky’s coming up over the cars and is ready to kick some ass and kill.  I love murdery bits and world-building. But all of these things are… external, right? Nothing defining me as male or female inside.

Just the odd sparkly bits in my head saying… who the fuck cares? What the fuck does it matter? Why can’t I just BE? Why can’t I just… live?

Sadly, don’t have the answer to that. Or really any other answer. I can only move forward with what I know… how to comport myself around others with that same struggle and those who have struggle and found answers. I myself have no feeling one way or another about pronouns but I know it’s important… critically important… for the person-specific pronoun to be used for that person. It’s a way of being seen. Of mattering. Of giving a bit of social acknowledgement that yes, they are separate from the landscape. That they own themselves. That they are no one’s possession. They are not society’s balled up piece of trash punted from corner to corner and subjected to the whims of others.

It’s an acknowledgement of Self.

And isn’t that what we all are fighting for? The right to be seen as valid and as much a part of society as the person standing next to you.

Pretty is as pretty does. I don’t need to be more pretty or girly or masculine or buff or any of those qualities. I just need to be me… and embrace people as they are. That’s the best we all can give… because really, the prettiest thing to see is someone being who they need to be… themselves.

13 thoughts on “Pretty Is As Pretty Does… Or What the Hell Am I? And Why?

  1. douglas j cole

    I think “ME” should be the term … I am ME … No need to be he her … just ME .. Binary is all that. But I am ME … Like and deal with Me.

  2. Jane

    “Just the odd sparkly bits in my head saying… who the fuck cares? What the fuck does it matter? Why can’t I just BE? Why can’t I just… live?”

    This is exactly what I think. As long as no one is being hurt we need to practice tolerance for people that are different than us. In fact, maybe people will actually learn something and grow as human beings if they open themselves up to new experiences. Sadly, tolerance is something that is in short supply in this country. Especially in the current political environment.

    I am not a joiner and I’m not into group think. I am more independent and I don’t care that much if they like me or not. It’s just not that important to me. But some people do. Just be yourself. That’s the best thing.

  3. I totally agree, Rhys. The most wonderful, awe-inspiring, and, occasionally, drool-worthy thing I have ever seen is a person who is comfortable just being themselves. It’s one of the reasons I usually fall in love with the villain before the hero and something I like about many of your characters – the ability to be themselves without excuses, and too bad if anyone else doesn’t approve.

    Thank you for sharing that small slice of your life and thoughts. Keep on being you, because from my perspective – that of a devoted reader – the only label you need to own is of being a kick ass author.

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