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?


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