Who the Frag Am I?

February 23, 2010

On Imaginary Virtue

Filed under: Identity — wtfmi @ 8:37 pm

I’ve known my whole life that I’m different. And except for occasional struggles with depression, I’ve been proud of that fact.

For example: I never bought into the whole passel of silly requirements that most girls and women feel they have to meet. I’ve never tried to strictly control my weight. I’ve never worn the kinds of shoes that destroy your feet and legs. I’ve never spent too much money on clothes. (I own six pairs of identical jeans, one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals, and something like ten shirts.) I don’t style my hair or blow-dry it, and I get it cut once or twice a year when it gets too long. I only wear make-up on job interviews and first dates, and for those I only blot some powder on my face so I don’t look oily. I stopped shaving my legs in college because really, it’s just a waste of time.

And I was inordinately proud of these things: “Look at me! I’m too smart to fall for all that misogynistic bullshit!”

But I was rationalizing.

I don’t avoid high heels because I know the damage they can cause. I do it because they hurt my feet.

I don’t skip the diets because I believe that enforced starvation is one way that our patriarchal culture keeps women from thinking about serious things (like why we make 77 cents on the male dollar). I do it because food tastes good and not eating gives me a nasty headache.

I don’t eschew clothes shopping because excess consumption is morally or ethically wrong. I do it because I don’t really understand the interactions involved in shopping and the lack of a script makes me very anxious. Also, I can’t handle the crowds.

I didn’t stop shaving my legs because it’s an excellent way to weed out ill-fitting potential partners. I did it because it hurt my skin.

So while it’s true that I don’t buy into the whole silly feminine ideal thing, it’s more or less an accident of genetics. I find the feminine ideal silly not because I’ve evaluated it with an analytical eye and made a rational decision, but because it’s painful and boring and it just doesn’t interest me. And if something doesn’t interest me, it might as well not even exist.

If I were more neurotypical I would probably find many of these activities less painful and possibly more rewarding. I hope that I would still evaluate them rationally and come to a rational decision about their place in our culture and in my life. But I am not neurotypical and I really have no idea what I would be like if I were.

So no, I’m not virtuous. I’m just lucky that this is who I am.

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