If you asked me last year if I understood what a gender spectrum was, I would blatantly say no. However, when I started thinking about this question a few weeks ago, I realized I had always known the answer. I just didn’t match my gender traits to the idea that gender identity is somewhat fluid. The advantage of the gender spectrum is it (very theoretically) relieves the societal pressure to forcefully adapt stereotypical male or female traits. From my perspective there is a lot of focus on identifying as feminine or masculine and particularly among men there is a conscious effort to avoid appearing feminine. I am very willing to step forward and say I am as heterosexual as you can be, and male, but I still embrace my feminine side. So let’s get on to it, here are some feminine things I can relate to!
Apparently society has tagged crying as a feminine trait. I’m not saying I’m overly emotional and cry openly in public given any reason at all, but I have a cardinal rule when it comes to crying. If you hurt me, I cry. I’ve cried in front of my parents, my cousins, my girlfriends, my friends, and anyone else who was close enough to really hurt me. At that point location doesn’t matter. If it was a good enough location to hurt me, then it’s a good enough location to cry. I’m not afraid to cry because I’ve learned my lesson from the past. Being introverted, it’s very hard for me to express emotion clearly and I’m highly skilled at hiding it. So for years of my childhood people would make me feel bad about myself and I wouldn’t bother to let them know they had really hurt my feelings. When I finally started crying openly, even my parents at times would tell me “you shouldn’t be crying over this.” Call me stubborn, but I will definitely let you know I’m hurting. Just because you don’t like seeing a grown man (or teenager) cry doesn’t mean I will stop letting you know how I feel. Honestly it’s a much more effective form of communication than bottling it in and then crying in private.
2. Beauty Gurus
From watching numerous “My Boyfriend Does My Makeup” tags, I can tell you most men can’t be bothered to understand makeup. It was only when I logged on to Whisper*, did I find a bunch of completely straight men who secretly confessed they used a bit of concealer and foundation to improve their appearance while still looking natural. I personally don’t wear makeup, but I am addicted to watching beauty videos. Here are some of my favorites: Jaclyn Hill, Ingrid Nielsen, Rachel Levin, Tess Christine, and RachhLoves. There is something extremely therapeutic about watching some taking good care of their body. They promote a healthy body image, while teaching you the superficial fine points of the little things that can boost your confidence. Honestly that’s what keeps me coming back to beauty videos. I can’t find that specific kind of communication and acceptance in the stereotypical male world*. In addition to that makeup is pretty awesome and one day in the future I will give it a try for sure. Nothing wrong with flawless natural looking skin, right? For now I like my beard too much so that will probably have to wait; imagine foundation getting stuck in the beard hairs…ugh.
This one doesn’t really apply to me anymore, but until I was 5 my mother dressed me up as a girl at times. I had several frocks I could choose from and apparently I liked to frolic around the house in them. I also had longer hair at the time so my mother would give me ponytails or pigtails. On top of that I had a doll named Lissy Baby, which started this whole ordeal. I was at Toys ‘R Us to pick out a toy for myself. My mother and I were walking down the girls section that had a bunch of baby dolls to get to the action figures. Before we exited the aisle I spotted Lissy Baby and my maternal instincts were awakened. I tugged on my mom’s coat and told her I needed that doll. Luckily she’s awesome, didn’t question me, and bought her for me. For the next year and a half I was Lissy Baby’s mom. I fed her milk, changed her diapers, and sang her lullabies. Just to clarify: I asked for the doll, then my mom got overloaded with cuteness over time, and then she put me in a frock.
Somehow there’s this stereotype in society that the father’s main responsibility is to earn money and the mother is supposed to raise the children. Honestly the way I see it both parents should be concerned with earning an income and both parents should be concerned with raising their children; this is regardless of what their respective duties related to the family are. If Lissy Baby demonstrated anything, I have a natural instinct to nurture living beings (or dolls) I care about and I fully accept that. Growing up my father was traveling a lot, which meant he had to spend long periods of time away from home. My mother was struggling with the responsibility of raising a child because let’s face it, may women don’t know what to expect from motherhood when raising their first child. My memories of seeing my mother ask herself,”How do I do this?” forever changed expectations I have for my future self. I never want my wife to have to deal with that question herself. Whenever that time comes, I want to be that dad that’s always around for his kid(s). Somehow being career driven has become the dad’s role, but I would sacrifice career ambitions for extra time with my family. What good is extra money and luxury if you’re not there to spend quality time with your family?
As more women enter the workforce hopefully employers will stop milking men for extra hours of work simply due to the biological factor that they are not giving birth to a child. That’s too optimistic really so I can be the first to tell you that my family will come first. Regardless of what my wife does, my instinct to nurture my child is too strong to just deny it. Also I’ll make sure to get enough paternity leave to support my wife during childbirth. That’s just messed up that some husbands miss childbirth, are only there for the actual childbirth, or don’t help their wives through the pregnancy process. In all of these circumstances when I say “make sure”, I mean I would literally quit my job if I had enough money in the bank to do so, if it came down to that.
The nurturing instinct I have felt in my 20’s is kinda getting overwhelming so when I graduate I’m adopting a cat and calling him Sir Wallace.
*When talking about the communication found in the stereotypical male world, it mostly consists of tough love and positive reinforcement through that channel. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have always needed extremely open communication of the type that gets categorized as feminine (a.k.a. “Let’s talk about our feelings”).
*Whisper is a mobile app that let’s you write secret confessions in a style similar to a meme since the text is placed over an image.
Small disclaimer: My main point is that a “gender spectrum” is really just recognizing the diversity behind how we identify our gender characteristics. Some of us will fit gender stereotypes and others like me will be a bit more fluid (or in some cases do not want to be identified with a gender). Instead of pushing acceptance onto other people, I would just like everyone to act without inhibition if possible or start to recognize that they may be suppressing parts of their character. There’s nothing wrong with someone who fits a stereotypical male or female role perfectly. I just wanted to make it very clear that I am a pretty manly dude and I can still express my so-called “feminine” traits. There are plenty of men out there who have these thoughts or desires and are fearful to express them. Maybe I can convince you there is no need to be afraid. Hopefully in years to come I can simply describe my traits instead of having to label them. I think the labeling process is what inhibits people from displaying their true emotions and desires at times.