Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: gender norms


I’ve been thinking about gender more because I watched Next in Fashion and had some really big issues with the way gender was portrayed. Or rather, how rigid gender was defined. It also darkly amused me that they were talknig about how gender didn’t matter, and yet, everything for women had to be form-fitting. And showing off nonexistent boobs.

When I was eight, I hated being a girl. Not because I felt like I was a boy–I didn’t. But because I was told by so many women in the Taiwanese church that I wsa not acting like a girl should act. Over and over again, I was admonished for liking to run outside, climb trees, and for laughing too loudly. I hated wearing dresses/skirts, and if I did stay inside, I just wanted to read. I did not want to play with dolls or makeup or clothes.

I never felt like a boy; I just did not want to be made to act like a girl. Yes, even as young as eight, I was aware that the gender I was born into was not the one that felt comfortable for me. My solution at that time was to pray to a God I didn’t really believe in to make me the other (binary at the time) gender, a boy. God was all-powerful–or at least, that was what i was told when I was a kid. It should have been very simple for him to make me a boy. Yes, I now know that God doesn’t work that way, but, honestly, why couldn’t He? I still don’t understand how the God who was presented to me when I was a kid as all-knowing and all-powerful couldn’t make me a boy if He so chose. He could have, the explanation went, but He chose not to because He works in mysterious ways.

Look. I get it. God is not a vending machine. You can put a quarter in Him and get a candy bar out of Him. He’s also not a McDonald’s in which you can have your burger made to order. At the same time, Christianity tried so hard to sell Him as the God who can do anything, you would not be remiss to wonder what you needed to do to get Him to pay attention to you.

Let me be clear. I have never felt like a boy. I never thought I was a boy. I just hated being a girl because it felt so limiting. Think about that. At eight years old, I had been fed so many poisonous beliefs about girls that I wanted to be anything but one. I used to wake up disappointed because I was still a girl. That was not a good feeling, I’ll tell you that much for free.

Then, when I was in college, I hung out with mostly dudes. I did not like so-called girly stuff like clothes and makeup. I did not want to giggle and gab because that was just not my style. I was a down-to-earth person. At the time, i liked sports. I did not like outdoor activities, which made me an anomaly in Minnesota, but I definitely leaned more towards the male side of things, and I didn’t see any reason to hide it.

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Gender! What is it good for?

In the last post, I was talking about a comment in the weekend Ask A Manager forum asking if a single woman and a married man could be friends. I digressed (as is my wont) before gettinrg to my main point about the comment. I was very sarcastic in recapping the comment (it was deleted by Alison) but in essence, it was saying that since Alison was grcious enough to allow LBGTQ+ questions, then we should STFU when straight questions are asked. It was upset by the comments from LBGTQ+ people (including me!), and it finished by asking how we would feel if they (presumably stragight people) dismissed our questions as LBGTQ+ nonsense.

Tell me you don’t consider LGBTQ+ people equal without saying you don’t consider LGBTQ+ people equal. The fact that she dared to drag Alison into the  mess is even worse (argument by authority, by proxy). It’s very much ‘This is MY house, and you are lucky that I allow you in it!” energy. The very fact that the commenter thought it was fit to mention that Alison was so graceful to allow us filthy queers to even ask questions in her pristine forum (again, not how she herself feels. At all) told me all I needed to know.

A question for the hets? All the fucking questions are for the hets! This is so fucking irritating about being the minority. There is a quote that is oft-said on this topic, but cannot be attributed (which means it’s probably a minority woman):

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

The finst time I read that quote, it hit me hard. I am a minority in so many ways, and I just dealt with the frustration of trying to explain my position to the majority by mentally shrugging my shoulders and moving on. But it still hurt. It still was frustrating. And this quote perfectly encapsulated why people in the majority push back so relentlessly on equality. They ARE losing something because they had a bigger piece of the pie for so long. It’s natural to feel upset when you get leess. That’s human nature.

In this case, though, as with many cases, it’s laughable. Heterosexual relationships/marriages are still the norm. Yes, being queer is more acceptable these days. We have same-sex marriage (still to my surprise), but that doesn’t mean discrimination still doesn’t happen. It doesn’t mean that het monogamous marriage isn’t still considered the norm.

The fact that this commenter STARTED by trying to put queer people in their place was very telling. It showed that we were there on the sufferance of Alison (in the commenter’s mind) and that we were outsiders and interlopers. The funny thing is that most of the queer people had thoughtful, nuanced comments. The lesbian who wrote that it was straight people nonsense, well, she wasn’t wrong.

Jealousy isn’t a straight thing, obviously. Neither is navigating friendships with people you’re attracted to/are attracted to you, but the way it was stated was very het. Single woman and married man. Marriage equality has been the law of the land in the States for less than a decade at this point. That means a lot of queer people didn’t have the legal protection that straight people had for much of our country’s existence.

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Friends of another gender flock together

In the weekend Ask A Manager, there was a question asked if a single woman and a married man could be friends.


Well! Glad that was an easy question to–oh, wait. What? Not everyone agrees with me? Oh dear. Do I really want to–


What year are we in again?

Checks calendar. 

2023. We’re in the year of our grumpiness 2023, and it’s still a question whether men and women can be friends*.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s tackle the thread and what was said. Remember, the site is overwhelmingly progressive women (in the commentariat). There were plenty of people saying why do you need different rules for differently-gendered friendships, and those are my people. But, there were sitll more than a small minority of people who had all these rules for a friendship of a single woman nda a married man. Funnily enough, most of them assumed you bcame friends after the man was married, not before.

In general, there was an undercurrent of ‘you can be friends, but not good friends’ for those on the ‘men are from mars and women are from venus’ crowd. There was even one who actually said something about that old saw about bisexuals…um, I may be old, but I’m not a saw! She tried to dance around it by saying that it was different culturalization, but not really. I gerw up in the same society she did–though I do have a Taiwanese background, which makes it doubly sexist. So you would think I would be more entrenched in sexist beliefs. But since my twenties, I have been questioning needless gender roles and tossing them aside.

That woman I just mentioned was a hot mess. She believed that every man wants to have sex with every woman, apparently, because she does not believe men and women can truly be friends. Which, fine for her (albeit very limiting), but she states it as if it were facts. Which it simply isn’t. It just is not. I have had many friends of different genders who have not wanted to bone me and/or vice-versa (including men!). Anectdote is not data, and my experience is just as valid as hers.

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Gender roles determinism

I’ve always had men as friends. I get along well with men for reasons that are different than why I like women. This was in the days before we were aware that there were more than two genders, and I’m still sorting out gender for myself.

It’s weird to me that there are still people who believe men and women can’t be friends. It was strange to me because I’ve always had male friends. I get them in a way I sometimes don’t get women because they’re, in general, less complex than women. (Insert sexism and societal expectations of genders here. No, I’m not going to go in depth about it because I’ve  written about it so much in the past.)

Let me rephrase that. I love women. I love the camaraderie and shared experiences. When there is not some Alpha Female bullshit going on. We’ve all heard of Alpha Male behavior, but there is also Alpha Female behavior. It’s different, but just as annoying. It’s when a woman is constantly judging you for what you’re wearing, your weight, your makeup, your clothing, whom you’re dating, etc. It can be hilarious when I simply ignore the behavior because it enrages the other person.

It was discouraging in college, though, that some women got upset with me for having male friends. One woman exclaimed that all the guys liked me. I retorted it was because I treated them like normal human beings. I never got the ‘I’m going to treat you differently based on your gender’ (in terms of common decency, I mean) mentality, and guys liked me for it.

Side Note: My boyfriend at the time told me that every guy who was a friend wanted to get into my pants. I dismissed him at the time, and I still don’t think it’s true. Yes, some of them might have wanted to fuck me, but it’s reductive to say that men and women can’t be friends simply because of their differing genitalia (again, going by what we assumed at the time, which was thirty years ago).

Here’s the thing. I am genderqueer and queer in general. I am attracted to people of all different genders, so I would not be able to have any friends if the rule was you can’t be friends with people of the genders you’re attracted to.

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Insidious gender norms

Gender is a hot topic right now and it’s something that I’ve reached an uneasy alliance on. I’ve settled on genderqueer, which, while it’s not exactly what I want, is the closest. That’s my M.O. for many issues, by the way. Close enough for government work.

But, there is much food for thought in the subject, obviously, and it’s having a moment right now. Especially with all the terrifying legislation being crafted such as the Don’t Say Gay bill in Florida. Which, is totally not about being queer, claims the Republicans, which is obvious bullshit.

The thing, though, is that as frustrating and infuriating as those bills are, there is another level of gender bullshit that is more insidious–gender norms on the level of ‘women must wear makeup’. Ask A Manager’s readership is overwhelmingly female. Something like 70-80%. They are also progressive, white, high-paying, and white collar. They are very much feminists, but for whatever reason, there are a few pockets of ignorance or refusing-to-see that just annoy the fuck out of me.

The number one is that anytime a woman or female-presenting person writes about not wanting to wear makeup at work, but worrying that they may be penalized for it, without fail, commenters offer ways to wear a little bit of makeup, but, honestly, it’s not really wearing makeup. Like only foundation. Or only mascara. Which, it’s still fucking makeup! I don’t understand how ‘I don’t want to wear any makeup’ keeps getting read as ‘Maybe you could wear a little makeup?’. I say that, but it’s rhetorical. I know why it’s happening. Patriarchy. The idea that it’s not possible for a woman to have her face be all naked and shit! Horror!

In this case, it was a letter by someone who identified their pronouns as they/them. They work in the luxury beauty industry, mid-level, and have gotten comments about their skin that they find intrusive (including suggestions for hiding bags under the eyes and acne) whenever they go into the office. They are female-presenting and uncomfortable with the idea that they may need to conform to gender beauty norms and asked if not wearing concealer may harm their opportunities at their workplace. They also noted that they don’t like wearing makeup now for many reasons. They just wanted to know if they had to wear concealer when they went into the office.

The very first comment asks why they took that job in the first place whereas the second one uses the wrong pronoun for them. Then there are several comments suggesting tinted moisturizer (!), sunscreen (!!), and other makeup-adjacent solutions. Which…I mean…just, no. They clearly state that they don’t want to wear makeup and just wants to know if it’ll negatively impact their career.

There were a few people pointing out that this was sexist in that men would not be asked any of these questions, even in a luxe beauty industry. Also, that that doesn’t mean makeup and that the OP might not have a client-facing role. Some commenters also pointed out that you can work in an industry without personally using the products.

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