Thursday, April 10, 2008

gender wars

I'm the victim of an internal gender fashion war.

More than any paper of poem I've ever written, my clothes have always been my strongest political statements. I decided to start sagging in the fourth grade. There wasn't much to it -- in the middle of a geography lesson I casually wiggled around in my chair, and pulled my pants down just a little bit. I can remember my classmate Victoria giving me the "what the fuck are you doing?" look, but I didn't care. It felt both natural and rebellious. My low-riding teal colored Jorache jeans probably didn't make for the strongest feminist statement, but I always knew that I was different. At the tender age of 9, I wanted my style to show it.

I went through most of my pre-adolescence decked out in clothes straight off the rack from the boys department at Marshall's. Jordan jerseys, pricey Nike basketball sneakers, hoodies, big ass 49ers coats. It wasn't until around 8th grade that I started to conform. I developed breasts and the insecurities to match, and suddenly my baggy jeans weren't so comfortable anymore.

It was also around the time that I realized that my crushes on girls were real. I didn't want to be like the girls I stared at at lunch, I wanted to be with them. And while I could write a book on that process in itself, I wouldn't even know where to start. This much is true: I knew I wore my heart on my sleeve, and I was terrified that others might look too hard and uncover just who that heart was searching for. I also wanted to take some sort of ownership over my femininity. While I may not have known what to do with it, I certainly craved the attention of boys because their cat calls and "ay, shorty's" built up my confidence.

Over the years I learned how to mix and match. I'm by no means a girly girl, but I rock my shit with a little style: manicured eyebrows with tank tops and hoodies. Slacks. Tennis shoes. But then I'll have days like yesterday, when I'll want to rock the baggiest of pants with a lose fitting t-shirt and suddenly that insecure 8th grader pops back into my head. "Don't wear that because you'll look so...gay."

It's that part that still trips me out. There are some days when I just want to look gay -- different, defiant and comfortable. And not in the sign-holding way. Not even in the "fuck all the haters" way. But in a way that says I'm comfortable in my own skin, my desires, and that my clothes vary as much as my sexuality and gender. My jeans and hoodie's are my most conscious rebellions against people's sideways stares and even my own misgivings.

But like all wars, I don't know why or how it started, where it's going and if it will end. Who's the aggressor? Who's the victim? I'm both and all, either and or.