May 22, 2011

Newsflash: I don't like being called Lady. Many people don't.

It's MAY, 2011!

May I Help You celebrates the month of May with some tips for making your daily life better so you can Savor Your Existence.

This month I'm heeding the advice of my coach and sellling it to you straight. Oh no, wait. I can't do that. I'm queer.

Did that word just sent chills up your spine? Or confuse you?

Good. That's my point. I want to intrigue, engage or enrage you. And hopefully illuminate something that will get you closer to a happier, healthier you (and maybe make the world a bit better in the process).

In this issue I'm going to share:
  • how words have meanings and share ways you can make a difference in how you use them
  • cook with taste and ease 
  • how to get rid of something that universally sucks: adult acne.
May I help you have more joy? Please?

Here I go!


Words have meanings: we use them to communicate concepts and feelings, otherwise we'd all go around grunting and groaning and not making much progress.

Because words mean something, we need to use them with intention. It's 2011, make sure you're keeping in touch with how language changes and evolves much like food, technology, fashion, etc. Just like we no longer use DDT to spray crops (or do we but call it a different name?), we can become enlightened and educated about the world that surrounds us so we can engage more fully, intentionally and respectfully.

For example: the word "lady". What image does that conjure for you? Here's what it says on

"of a lady; ladylike; feminine."  "a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken ."

In 2011, this word is still clinging on for dear life, despite progress made by feminism to move women toward being seen as equal to men in modern American society. What significance does that word hold if the role/image/definition of a woman in modern American society has changed so dramatically over time?

I encounter many folks who are the female sex (both hetero and LGBTQ) on a daily basis who don't identify as "ladies" and the  historical baggage that accompanies that word. For folks who don't conform to traditional gender roles (which are created and reinforced by the society we live in), it makes it all the more important that we are mindful of our language. Sometimes, we don't even pay attention to what we see, and make decisions based on assumptions.

Gender roles are a complex sociological construct. It's a big topic to tackle. For many people, women are women, men are men. For other people, those two choices aren't enough or the right fit. You might see people trying to work within those two extremes in the clothing department. Women's fleece jackets come in powder blue or raspberry, men's jackets come in forest green or navy blue. Ever notice that? What to do if you want one from the other side of the store?

I have been wearing men's clothes exclusively and getting my hair cut by barbers for almost 4 years now. 4 years. And people still refer to me as "lady". I go to dinner with my girlfriend and it's "right this way, ladies". I get on an airplane and it's, "right over here, ma'am." I'm greeted with, "hey, Lady!"
in emails or facebook messages from friends. It begs the question: what is it that they are referring to? My perceived sex organs? My voice? Lack of facial hair? Welcome to the world of the genderqueer/transperson. Welcome to boxes, labels, choices, limitation, politics and socialization. Welcome to pink and blue being outdated and obselete in 2011.

Over lunch with my friend recently, we talked about this. She related it to something in her own life and said, "oh I know. I hate being called [my partner's] wife. I am his partner. We are partners. And ma'am?! Don't even get me started on that one..."

She felt the same way. It was about how we see ourselves not fitting into the conventional, traditional roles that are associated with certain words. The good news is, there are new words for new times.

Listen to what people say about how they show up in the world. Look at the clues they are giving you. I wear men's clothes--I have a haircut that you see on many men. There isn't much "lady" happening here. If you're using it as a term of endearment, use something that doesn't shove me into a box that fits about as well as my jeans from 5th grade.

If someone introduces you to her husband, she probably wants to be called his wife. If someone wears heels and mini-skirts but has a 5 o'clock shadow, rethink your impulse to call that person "sir". If a 6-year-old boy likes colorful, sparkly things...he's a kid. Kids are SUPPOSED to like colorful, sparkly things! sheesh.

Even within the LGBTQ community, these issues of gender roles and presentation, sexual orientation and sexuality are intensely difficult and not clear cut. Our society is evolving rapidly and talking about it is like describing a book or music. We all have an opinion so it's tricky. We don't all agree.

That's right.

It's my intention to illuminate this more and more for the benefit of all. You might just see something in here that speaks for you, or you might learn something new. You may not agree with everything I think or the way I see things, and that makes sense. We can be different people with different opinions AND still live together and respect one another. Go us.  

1 comment:

  1. What a great article! Very thought provoking, thanks for your insights.


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