shermarama: (bright light)
[personal profile] shermarama
Is there such a thing as a consulting feminist? Because I feel like I need to talk to one, on how I got to where I am, and where indeed I actually am, on gender issues. I don't spend a lot of time reading around the topic, and I'm not likely to either, but things come up where I find my experiences of being female, and of being a female that does science and engineering in particular, to be different to other people's experiences. I never felt I had to see a woman playing the drums before I thought I could, or had to re-imagine myself male in order to see myself doing it; the same with science. And I understand other people do, and I don't know why, and I'd like to. Although, I can get right behind a campaign to produce a fairer balance of female characters as role models in children's TV; I suspect I'd like to see a fairer balance of characters so that men are less surprised when women show up doing something. (I'm familiar with that surprise, and it can be a bit tedious at times, but that's about as bad as it's ever been, for me. Energy-consuming but not an actual impediment.)

A couple of times recently in conversations about this sort of thing, people have mentioned my size. It feels plausible to me that it's a factor; several women I know recently agreed that they recognised a description of lava-balling, men spreading their legs unnecessarily widely on public transport, while I didn't. Do men not do it to me because I'm large, or do I think about it differently due to my own experiences of trying to fit in the small amount of space you get allocated on public transport? But while size might have an influence, it can't cover everything. It can't cover whether or not I get an interview on the basis of having a woman's name on my CV which, I dunno, looking back maybe I did suffer from that in the Australia jobs I didn't get interviews for? I'd just assumed they had internal candidates they wanted to put in place, and I don't know how I'd ever know the difference. My name hasn't stopped me getting plenty of other science and engineering jobs, including pretty much every one I've ever had an interview for; have they all just been relieved to see my size when they meet me?

When I was eight, my Sindy doll had a sword and shield that I'd made for her because she was a warrior Sindy, but she still wore a ballerina dress at the same time because, well, that's what clothes she had. It didn't seem wrong to me then, but I can see now how it doesn't fit in the boxes we're told are right. When did I learn about the boxes? Did I know about them then and ignore them? Why have I continued to exempt myself from the pressures of those boxes relatively easily? Is it just because I don't fit in either men's or women's clothes easily, so have had to find a sort of third way? (Even I hadn't started having that problem when I was eight, though.) Why is it that I sometimes do feel those pressures, though? Several times I've taken some pains to find or make a dress or skirt to wear when attending a wedding, even though I literally never wear them for any other part of my life that isn't fancy dress.

And whenever I try to write down anything about this and I just keep coming up with rambling interconnected anecdata along the same uninformed lines. I had a trial singing lesson yesterday, and I got a lot of information very quickly from just talking to someone who had a sense of the shape of the field, of what the options were and how I might fit into them. I suspect the same sort of expert help might answer a lot of the questions I have about where I stand in the world of gender. But it just feels like far too large and complicated a field, full of conflicting theory and a whole lot of bullshit, for there ever really to be any experts, as opposed to people with particularly vocal opinions. And as for getting to grips with the field myself... Yeah. I suppose I just carry on making the trousers and try not to get involved in arguments, which just feels a bit useless. Ho-hum.
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February 2015

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