Skip to main content

Don't Call Me Pat

Today, a colleague of mine, who I've not seen in several weeks, commented on my new pixie hair cut. "Wow! You got your hair cut!" he said, "It reminds me of, oh, what's that Saturday Night Live Skit? Oh, you know, Pat! It's very androgynous."

This is not the first time that someone has suggested that I look more like a man than a woman and frankly, I've been confused with being a dude on several occasions. From being called "Sir" repeatedly by a waiter to being cross-examined by the town clerk when applying for a marriage license, being mistaken for a man is not new to me.

Before I start my rant on gender I just want to stop for a moment and talk about why some people are incapable of giving a good compliment. I wonder if, or when, it occurred to him that calling me Pat wasn't going to make me feel good about my appearance. I would have liked to hear that my haircut was very Halle Berryesque or that it really showed off my pixie-like features.

A female colleague was with me for the conversation and as we left I mentioned that the comment was less than complimentary. She, who is always direct with me, stated, "Well, it's not exactly like you try to look feminine. I mean, you don't wear makeup and hardly ever wear dresses." She alluded to my androgynous look as being my modus operandi.

I relate whole-heartedly to being a woman. I'm definitely not from Mars. I fall into many female stereotypes and Andy would gladly create a check-list if I asked. I'm moody, emotional, a martyr, sensitive and irrational. Of course, these are stereotypes and just as many men can be described using these words.

Isn't who we are deep inside of us and not on the surface? Is what makes me feminine my love of scrap booking and Bath & Body works smelly lotions? Is Andy manly because he doesn't make the bed and he knows how to fix a leaky faucet? You can probably tell that I have a problem with gender roles. While I admit that I often fall into the gender-biased traps that society has set for us, I would argue that how individuals perceive their own gender is not one or the other but rather a fluid continuum.

Because my Mount Holyoke feminist texts are packed in storage, according to Wikipedia, "The World Health Organization defines gender as the result of socially constructed ideas about the behavior, actions, and roles a particular sex performs.[4] The beliefs, values and attitude taken up and exhibited by them is as per the agreeable norms of the society and the personal opinions of the person is not taken into the primary consideration of assignment of gender and imposition of gender roles as per the assigned gender.[4] Intersections and crossing of the prescribed boundaries have no place in the arena of the social construct of the term 'gender'."

I wear my hair short because it is thinning and the shorter the style, the thicker my hair appears. I wear pants most of the time because it's so cold here, tights cut into my belly and (when I was nursing) it's pretty odd to have to lift up your dress, and expose your lower half, to feed your baby. If my lack of feminine behavior makes you confused about where I fall on the continuum, so be it.

Shoot-it's not that my colleague called me androgynous that bugs me; it's that he called me Pat. Couldn't he have picked someone better looking or a little more likable, like the amazing actress Tilda Swinton or the adorable Justin Bieber?


Popular posts from this blog

Me V. Parental Judgement

When you are pregnant, there’s so much to think about when considering the future: what color to paint the nursery, what decorating scheme to select from Pottery Barn, whether to go with disposable or reusable diapers, what to name your little nugget, and even deciding to use a cake or a box of balloons for the gender reveal party. You quickly learn that, if you share any of these decisions with anyone, you are bound to get opinions- lots of them. And, while this isn’t the first time we get solicited or unsolicited advice (where to go to college, what to choose as a major, what profession to pursue, who to date, who to marry, what dress to wear to the wedding, who to invite to the wedding, what type of alcohol to serve at the wedding..) the birth of a child seems like the first time that SO MANY opinions are given. It’s already a time of anxiety and unknowns that the opinions of others can easily feel overwhelming.What, I should have gotten the rocker that swings from side to side ins…

Holiday Letters- in Two Versions!

I don’t know about you but I love a good holiday letter. Nothing sends me into a tailspin of self doubt and depression like reading the carefully crafted story of the highs and accomplishments of those in my life. As the letters flow in, alongside the photos of the beautiful smiling faces of my loved ones, I curl up under a warm blanket, look out at the bleak, gray winter skies and think: what the fu#k is wrong with me?We are so fortunate, due to modern technological advances, to be able to experience this self doubt an average of 20-50 times per day as we addictively scroll a variety of social media channels. Yet nothing truly confirms our own personal inadequacies like a yearly summary of others’ successes and happiness neatly packed in an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet of paper, folded in thirds and slipped into an envelope alongside a card collage of beach shots, matching sweaters and smiling, happy faces. I, too, have sent along such letters to accompany our smiling happy faces, providing thos…

Work Family

Did you know that you spend around 90,360 hours at work during your lifetime? I usually only write about my job in the most vague terms but work is, and always has been, a really important and vital part of my life. A hundred years ago, when I left my first professional job, I remember it felt like somebody died. At the time, Andy, who, shockingly wasn't in touch with my emotions, asked me why I was felt this way. I told him I was so upset because I felt like I was leaving my family. I can still remember, clear as day, when I gave my resignation. I had just taken a ride in the Oscar Meyer wiener hot dog mobile (Yeah I know I had an awesome job) and I felt incredibly sick to my stomach. I went home that night and cried like somebody died. I remember Andy asking me why I was so upset and I wasn’t sure how to articulate it. Looking back now I better understand why I had such a visceral reaction to leaving my employer. I think part of it was because it was my first real job. I think …