I was catching up on some blogs tonight and read these two interesting posts on the Lost in Transgender blog:
One of the articles mentioned the influence of media. I started writing about my media influences but then I thought that the results of those influences were more interesting to me this evening.
I have two archetypal views of femininity at work in my brain, and I think they are both more a result of media than reality (or at least my “reality” based on my relationships with women).
The first view is very unflattering and I’m embarrassed to admit that this idea is somewhere in the core of my psyche. And that is the idea of a girl as sugar and spice and everything nice. Cute, funny, sexy, happy, carefree. Maybe a little ditzy or naive. Somehow they are adorable even when they are angry. Somehow everything works out for them in the end. There are variations on a theme, sometimes the geeky-but-super-competent girl fits into this category. Kaylee from Firefly comes to mind.
One undercurrent is usually the girl doesn’t have a ton of confidence. There’s something vulnerable about them. Maybe it’s hidden, maybe it’s not. But there’s some aspect to them that says to me they need taking care of. And they are so lovable and attractive that someone will come along to do just that.
See my other posts about Brittany, Amanda, and Meg. I can’t say I’m too surprised to find that the girls that I’d like to be fit this archetype.
I can trace the influences back, I’m sure, to all sorts of movies and stories that I saw when I was a kid and a teenager.
The second view I have is of the superhero girl. Buffy, Veronica Mars.
Pretty and scary smart or scary tough. Either way, ultra good at what they do. Witty and confident.
But if I think about it more, there’s still this vulnerability to these characters that I find compelling.
What does it say about me that all my examples are of fictional characters? Even when I named the actresses, I’m more drawn to their characters than the real person.
I’ll go out on a limb and throw pop singers into the “superhero” category. Britney in her heyday. Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Taylor Swift. Why? Because I’m buying into the image of the superstar and the music videos. And usually they are portraying an image of strength and sexiness.
Yeah, I was totally into Madonna in the 80’s. Not too hard to see where this archetype came from.
I do know that I spent waaay too much time by myself from high school until my mid-twenties. I didn’t have any girlfriends or even friends who were girls during that time. I only remember 3 “dates” during that time period and 2 of them were set up for me by friends. Didn’t have real ongoing interactions with women until I started working. So a lot of my world view is warped through the lens of tv, movies, magazines, and books. Let’s not even get started on comic books.
Even though I have good relationships with women now, these two archetypes are still strong parts of my concept of women and gender roles. Logically I know these archetypes are unrealistic and chauvinistic and I don’t base my real life actions on these ideas. (Or at least I don’t consciously.) I do know that having these particular archetypes make me feel guilty about myself.
I think it’s because I consider myself to be fair and honorable and believe that there should be equality between genders. So my inner archetypes feel old-fashioned and sexist and, well… wrong. And yet they are alluring and representative of the girl that I’d like to be.
My male-self finds the archetypes arousing and sexy. And my female-self knows she should be properly offended, but can’t really get there as she’s too busy enjoying being pretty.