Conformity is exhausting

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Conformity is exhausting

Post by yunoquestionmark on Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:30 pm

Never was a neckbeard, never doffed a fedora, never did any of that.

But over the last decade, especially the last 5-6 years, I became a lot more conservative in my appearance. I started actually applying for jobs that fit my skill level and I quit hanging out with a lot of really toxic and neckbeardy people. I've done a lot of research into Feminism and into Masculinity-Studies to try and get at what about society I don't like. But I'm way more comfortable with the mental changes than the physical ones.

I feel awkward and ungainly when I wear "normal" clothes. Long story short, when I was in highschool I went through a phase where I wore well.. female-gendered clothing. skirts, panties, worked very hard to remove body hair... I even passed when I did it especially if I took the time to fix my hair and do makeup and for a few years I was pretty sure I was supposed to be a girl. My interests were mostly nerd-bait stuff so, they were still primarily male-gendered. And I was still exclusively attracted to only female-gendered subjects. Women, other cross dressers, and trans girls. My therapist wrote it off as simply being a sexual fetish. On the best of days I'm a switch, I liked to be treated as a girl by other girls, and to this day I still often prefer being the little spoon (so this has lead to me often looking for women who are very close to my size which can be tough as I'm just under 6' and about 175lbs... ) So I acted mostly male, but I looked mostly female. Following that I got heavily into goth and rivethead stuff and so my appearance, as I got older, became more gender conforming but way less societally conforming. Long hair, earrings, lots of black and mil. surplus... it was tough to find a job and so after 4-5 years of loving the scene but not being able to get anywhere I decided to start changing my appearance... I pulled a Metallica Black Album and went corporate... less hot topic and more express during the week and aeropostale on the weekends...

the problem is I just kind of hate myself now. I feel like I've sold out in order to get ahead. I feel like I'm taking advantage of and encouraging unearned and unwanted systems of power dynamics in order to profit from it. I feel like for the most part I'm still attracted to the type of women I was into when I was in that scene but now they aren't interested in me. it's lead to me becoming exceedingly domestic, my interest in feminine gendered things has shot up, my friends joke that I'm a basic white girl cause I cook things in mason jars... and now I feel very confused about my gender again... I know I'm a man, I look, act, and present as a man, yet when I get home in the afternoon I'm not interested in performing that way anymore. My most recent breakup happened because I just couldn't manage to be the sort of stoic john wayne figure that she wanted me to be. I like fixing food for people and having dinner parties and keeping my apartment tidy and decorating it with kitchsy stuff I make from reclaimed materials.. and I like listening to all my loud angry music .. and I like all my nerdbait stuff and I like outdoorsy stuff. I just feel like I'm spread too thin across too many societal groups and the expectations of all of them are sort of crushing now and leaving me worn out.  

Trying to find a partner who is willing to be a comforting dom pressence is really hard because I'm not a "sissy" and I don't get off on forced fem so that's ruled out a lot of women. Also not a smoothie or a little so I'm not as religious about the removal of body hair these days which combined with the fact I filled out means I can't really do Xdress anymore and I'm not into Drag.

I'm too manly to be a Xdresser, not kinky enough to be a sissy/forced fem, too mundane to be a neckbeard, not manly enough to be just one of the guys, not dom enough for most women I try and date (I'm sure there's plenty out there who would be okay with it too I just seem to struggle in attracting them cause I'm a bit too Chadly now..), too normal to be into the music scene I liked... and yet my ability to conform has hit a wall and I can't seem to get a promotion to save my life.

I'm just super confused at the moment.

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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by Enail on Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:18 am

I'm not sure if you're looking for advice or discussion or just to rant, but the thing that jumps out at me is that it sounds like you've got a bunch of frustrations/challenges mixed together there.

You want more room in your life and relationships for different gender presentation and roles, as well as to enjoy aspects of different subcultures and groups. And you also are having a signaling problem, where the people you'd be compatible with or attracted to don't recognize you as 'one of them.' And then it sounds like you're becoming increasingly uncomfortable with presenting in conformist ways for work, and with the morality of that, and that that may be having an impact on your success at work? (Is there something that makes you think that's the reason you haven't been able to get a promotion, or is that a separate issue?) Am I getting the general gist of things?

I don't want to get too advicey if that's not what you're looking for, but it seems like maybe it would be easier for you to get a handle on your confusion by separating those things out a little and focusing on one piece at a time, even though they're intertwined and do affect each other? Questions of identity and fitting in and finding a place for oneself tend to be pretty complex and constantly changing throughout one's life, so  I think often they're more easily resolved in bits and pieces and in different ways at different times than by trying to find a one true answer that will solve all your needs at all times.
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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by yunoquestionmark on Sun Dec 04, 2016 1:55 pm

I suppose all of those at once?

Like I'm trying to be the most authentic version of myself that I can be.. but I'm finding that that is a bit of a mess with little continuity to make it hold together as a single thing. So it feels like I spend a lot of time code switching to try and appeal to different groups.

I do feel as though my job especially is not allowing me to have the kind of wiggle room that I really want in terms of presentation. All suits, all the time. Short haircuts. Big fake shark smiles all the time with strong clammy handshakes. It makes me feel bad because while the job isn't directly hurting anyone (besides maybe myself) it's encouraging a specific type of masculinity and presentation I have issues with. I'm not saying that I want to be able to suddenly wear a sundress to work... I think that my days of that level of gender non-conformity are long gone thanks to genetics.

How would you recommend breaking down something complex like this? Because like you said from my perspective it's all just a big tangled mess.

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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by litterature on Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:34 pm

Trans girl here. I know nothing about kink or your hobbies, but as for your presentation:

If you've always had trouble conforming to masculinity then probably the sooner you do something about it the better, because this isn't the kind of thing that you can just shove away. I understand body acceptance is probably going to be a source of anxiety (it's not a lot of fun to find yourself being mistreated, shouted slurs at and dragged into violent situations on a daily basis), but whether people (or yourself) accept your genetics is not what determines your needs in terms of adjusting your presentation to your actual position in respect to gender. That doesn't mean you should completely forget about your safety or your ability to support yourself if, for example, your workplace is not accepting of gender non-conforming people. Maybe you could break it down into little pieces: getting new clothes, talking to gender non-conforming people or even a therapist (a true therapist, not a gatekeeper), looking for a less strict job if you can afford it, etc. (side note: if you ever think about getting on HRT, remember that as long as you aren't under strong gatekeeping, you can follow your treatment without necessarily coming out or going full-time if you don't feel like it.)

Also, I don't think there's any connection between how manly you are and your hobbies. I'm a trans lesbian who is 100% guaranteed to eventually become an aunt figure to her straight friends' kids (sigh), but I'm also into hardcore punk and pretty nerdy. Assigned male at birth women (not implying you're one, but we're probably single most stereotyped kind of gender variant person) can make chip-hop, front punk bands, or even invent vaporwave while leaving the trans part out of the picture entirely. Besides, your presentation being feminine doesn't rule out being identifiably associated with a scene if that's worrying you - I totally look like I listen to the music I listen to and play the games I play and read the books I read. Whether most people are trained to even consider that trans women can be defined by anything other than their assigned sex at birth is another story, but I do look like a punk who is into anime.

One last reminder: this is about your own comfort, so if you think your genetics are an issue then that's ok, but talking as if not passing was a natural obstacle precluding gender variance (or being whatever you want) is insensitive. Judging from the kind of everyday abuse I get I'd say I don't pass very well myself, and yeah, it gets to me, but that's because people give me shit for it, not because there's anything intrinsically undesirable about not being able to conform to patriarchal demands of what femininity should look like.

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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by yunoquestionmark on Sun Dec 04, 2016 7:51 pm

I'm sorry that you are confronted with that. I'm also sorry if I came across as if I was trying to say that I was or might be Trans... I don't think that's the case at all. My desire to wear female assigned clothing has largely abated, I did it when I was in highschool because I looked really good when I did... but as soon as I opened my mouth I betrayed what I was.

I am correctly assigned, I just find "traditional masculinity" to be very restrictive in terms of how I'm expected to act. I'm a very empathetic and sensitive person and that makes it difficult in many ways for me to perform well. You're right, it's just that camping, hiking, survival skills and that kind of thing are typically "male" coded... where as my domestics (cooking, canning, jamming, etc...) are "female" coded.. I just wanna look as I look and wear comfy clothes and eat cookies I made and read a book.. but co-workers seem to constantly want me to go out with them and then I have to put up with them making antagonistic and sexist comments.. which if I call them on it I can be punished in the workplace (See: Lack of promotion) but I'm not financially settled enough to try and abandon that... and the reactions to my house from some perspective dates has been just as damning. They almost without fail seem to assume I'm homosexual because i have a nice apartment... good job patriarchy... etc.

Like I've read a lot of tumblers and blogs from Transgirls... and I know that isn't what I want.. I just want to be a very "feminine" male...

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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by litterature on Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:34 pm

yunoquestionmark wrote:I'm sorry that you are confronted with that. I'm also sorry if I came across as if I was trying to say that I was or might be Trans... I don't think that's the case at all. My desire to wear female assigned clothing has largely abated, I did it when I was in highschool because I looked really good when I did... but as soon as I opened my mouth I betrayed what I was.

I am correctly assigned, I just find "traditional masculinity" to be very restrictive in terms of how I'm expected to act. I'm a very empathetic and sensitive person and that makes it difficult in many ways for me to perform well. You're right, it's just that camping, hiking, survival skills and that kind of thing are typically "male" coded... where as my domestics (cooking, canning, jamming, etc...) are "female" coded..  I just wanna look as I look and wear comfy clothes and eat cookies I made and read a book..  but co-workers seem to constantly want me to go out with them and then I have to put up with them making antagonistic and sexist comments.. which if I call them on it I can be punished in the workplace (See: Lack of promotion) but I'm not financially settled enough to try and abandon that... and the reactions to my house from some perspective dates has been just as damning. They almost without fail seem to assume I'm homosexual because i have a nice apartment... good job patriarchy... etc.

Like I've read a lot of tumblers and blogs from Transgirls... and I know that isn't what I want.. I just want to be a very "feminine" male...

Thanks for the sympathy!
I was talking more generally about femininity in bodies visibly affected by testosterone, not so much about camab women, but I'm sorry my post wasn't too useful! Hope you eventually find a less masculine-coded job and more accepting partners soon.

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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by Enail on Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:51 pm

yunoquestionmark wrote:

How would you recommend breaking down something complex like this? Because like you said from my perspective it's all just a big tangled mess.

Well, maybe try making a list of different things you want or need that you're currently not getting, break them down into the smallest possible units and look at them as different smaller goals you can work towards rather than having to solve the whole thing in one go. "Authentic" is a big and complex thing, and I'm not honestly sure it's possible for anyone to be wholly 100% authentic in every aspect of their lives, or even that there is such thing as a one true authentic self for all situations. But you can move towards having more authenticity in your life and interactions.

So, for example, one big thing might be that you want a job where you aren't held to such rigid gender norms and where the culture is less sexist. So smaller steps could be things like doing some research on your industry to find out about companies in your field that might have a better culture or if there are sub-fields within your specialty that tend to have different expectations and norms (it sounds like even just a more casual workplace would give you more ability to present yourself comfortably even if it wasn't specifically a less gender-normative culture), trying to seek out allies or mentors within your field, picking up skills that might help you move sideways into more congenial areas, supporting organizations against sexism in the workplace.... And then on another front, you could start trying to build more social connections with people who you can be more authentic with; seek out other non-gender normative people, figuring out cues you can look for that potential dates might be less into gender roles, thinking of ways that you can signal your counterculture interests... Does this make sense?
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Re: Conformity is exhausting

Post by yunoquestionmark on Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:39 pm

I see. That does make some sense...

So like... something else really came to me and it's something that's been really eating at me for the last month since we entered the darkest timeline. I really dislike "American" culture as it stands right now... it's all avarice, and greed, and fuck-you-I-got-mine, not to mention the cult of ignorance. And all of that is ascendant now. And I feel like I'm going to some how benifit from it because I'm a white male who is straight.. and I think it's making me want to scream fuck you and rip the system and be counter culture again like I was during the Bush years... except this new thing is so much scarier so i feel like my response needs to be amplified proportionally..

I think a lot of it is just oppositional defiance against what I perceive to be injustices... in my heart I am a hobbit who wants to stay at home and cook food and decorate my hobbit hole and tend my garden.. but I'm willing to take the ring to mordor if I need to.. and right now I feel like I need to.

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