That dumb look I get all the time…

From Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man:

In all my experience passing back and forth between male and female – often going out in public as both a man and a woman in one day – I rarely if ever interacted in any significant way with anyone (even store clerks) who didn’t treat me and the people around me in a gender-coded way, or freeze uncomfortably when they were uncertain whther I was a man or a woman.

It was the freezing that always struck me most. People will literally stand paralyzed for a moment, somtimes in mild, sometimes in utter panic when they don’t know what sex you are. You can see the confusion registering, or with polite people, being suppressed, and then you can see the adjustment being made either for male or female or for an extremely uncomfortable and robotic neutral ground between the two.

If they don’t know what sex you are, they literally don’t know how to treat you. They don’t know which code to opt for, which languatge to speak, which specific words and gestures to use, how close they can come to you phyically, whether or not they should smile and how. In this way we are no different than dogs – with the notable exception, of course, that no dog has ever been mistaken about anyone’s sex.

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appointive
appointive
appointive
appointive