First off, I have to say thanks to Mama Pants for thinking up this idea of Fancy Pants, and getting such an interesting topic to think on. I have a six year old; I understand not feeling like yourself, like part of you is gone and has been eaten by the unending pile of dirty laundry. I am all for getting back in touch with who we are as individuals and not letting parenthood define us.
The problem I encountered was that F-word. Fancy. It’s not that I don’t like fancy; fancy is great. I’ve just never identified as fancy. Fancy- in the normal, non-Lisa sense of the word- is something to be admired and contemplated. Marilyn Monroe with her fancy gowns, Martha Stewart dinners of beauty and perfection, HGTV-worthy home with gorgeous flowers- none of that is stuff that I want in my life, just something to watch once in a (rare) while. OK, I lied, I would like fancy desserts to be part of my life more regularly than they are, but that’s it. I’m decidedly not a fancy gal, no matter how one defines fancy.
Fancy is definitely one of those terms that most people think of in gendered terms, and falls on the distinctly feminine side. Or at least it does for me. Then again I’m weird; whatever. It’s one of those things that always gives me pause, and really
challenges me. Truth be told, there aren’t many things that are typically feminine that I identify with. I’ve always been the more rough-and-tumble, gruff, stoic, brute force type of person. A tom-boy as a kid, I always had short hair because I hated taking care of it, and would have happily had it even shorter if I’d been allowed. I took after my dad, had guy friends, and was interested in science, science fiction, being outside, and work with my hands.
The one way I do associate as female more than male more than any other is reproduction. I not-so-secretly love being pregnant. Not the maternity clothes and baby showers and shopping and nesting parts of pregnancy, but the creating something out of nothing and being wholly responsible for the shaping of something parts. I don’t like kids and babies, so since my son, I’ve gotten my kicks by being a surrogate twice. Being pregnant is sort of like being Michelangelo (but with cells instead of paints), and that’s a huge ego boost.
So what’s a gal to do, when she doesn’t fit in with the other gals? Try her best, that’s all she can do. Struggle with identity issues, try to balance fitting a mold with being true to herself, and consistently challenge gender roles. Add in serious bi-sexual feelings, and yeah, it’s a wonder said girl manages to keep a marriage together, not to mention a family with a young
Oddly enough, it’s the same on the other side of the fence, from what I hear. The men who want nothing more than to be Marilyn Monroe fancy are just as unhappy. They want to wear heels, put on make up, wear sexy lingerie. And it’s just as hard or unacceptable for them to do all those things as it is for women to utterly reject fancy, maybe more so. It’s less restrictive now that we’ve seen a rise in the metro-sexual man, but there’s still stigma. They tend to face more acute danger-beatings, abuse, and the like- while on this side we face more chronic issues like low self esteem and internal conflict and stress, but both are valid and destructive. The men tend to be seen as“effeminate” or weaker, other traits that are socially attributed to females. Being like a woman in one manner means they’re looked down upon, in most cases, because in the US being a woman or womanly is still considered a bad thing.
So, yeah, this was supposed to be a post about fancy, and I’ve (unsurprisingly) wandered off track. It’s kind of what I do. The point to all this rambling is this: Gender stereotypes, whether positive or negative, are hurtful. Not just to the person being stereotyped, but to the person doing the stereotyping. The genders are different, yes, but equal nonetheless. And to limit the world to a simple dual gender system is naive and potentially disastrous; most societies in history have accepted more than that, up to five genders, and cases can be made for more than that.
Let’s break down those fancy barriers, look at individuals instead of body parts, and stop judging books by their covers. Lace is great for dresses, but it makes a chain to tie and bind people, so let’s go ahead and do our best to cut it off.