For a long, long time, I rationalized the bullying I received in high school as being due largely to my speech impediment. I maintain that this couldn’t have possibly helped things, but in my research on the potentially feminizing effects of birth control on fetal development, I was reminded of some things I dealt with as a young child.
Those test subjects (and here I am mostly talking about animals, though bear in mind that this can also include some research done on transgender humans) whom had been subjected to female hormones early in their development subsequently acquired traits/behaviors more in line with females, and less in line with males. As far as the animals are concerned, their instincts became that of females…
Geez, that’s a statement. Let’s try again.
I think I was probably kind of a feminine child. This is not something that was ever openly discussed with me, but when I look back, I can think of several times when adults gently “pushed” me to being more masculine. Below are some examples:
- When I was ~4 years old, I had a VHS tape of Serendipity the Pink Dragon. I loved it, and watched it all the time. No idea where it came from, as anime was not super popular in the West at the time, and this one is particularly old and obscure. Anyway, one day my father walked in while I was watching it, ejected it, and threw it away. I never understood why, but I very vaguely remember him saying that it was something I didn’t need to be watching.
- I never really liked playing sports when I was little, but I played all of them at some point or another, including basketball, baseball, football, and soccer. I sucked at all of them. My father, the natural athlete, worked tirelessly to make me better, with mixed results. I was always laughably bad at football, and I still can’t really shoot a basketball to save my life, but I no longer flinch when batting, and I no longer short arm throws. I mention all this because I never really had a drive to play sports, it was just something I was supposed to do: this is sometimes cited as “feminine” child behavior, but I can’t swear that that isn’t just the sexism talking. I do miss baseball, though.
- I distinctly remember seeing what girls did when they had their pictures taken at school or other functions when I was little: they cocked their head to the side, so that their long hair could flow beside them, placing a hand on their hip and smiling wide. I then began, briefly, taking my pictures this way. Eventually, either a family member or adult at school (I think the former) told me that I shouldn’t take my pictures this way. So I stopped. I think of this every time I take a picture these days, as I’ve never been able to smile as genuinely since.
There are other things that happened over the years, some of which I remember and can’t tell here, and some of which may come to me later. That said, I remember my feelings always being confused at that age. I would do this or that, and half the time, I was told not to, because boys didn’t do that. I didn’t really understand why it felt like I was in trouble, or why it thus always made me feel guilty. I was just doing following, in a sense, my instincts.
What I remember more than particular incidents, though, is the subtle-but-constant pushing I received to behave one way or the other. I didn’t really have a way to put how I felt in words, but things were always incredibly difficult for me at that age, as though I were not made for the world I was in. I was quiet, passive, gentle, soft-spoken, and I couldn’t help but cry at everything (ironic considering how difficult it sometimes is for me to cry these days).
These personality traits are often cited as being more feminine. Of course, gender is not so cut-and-dry, and while there seems to be a strong biological element to it, some aspects are socially-defined, and the distinction between the two isn’t always so clear. Clothing choice, for example, is a social construct. Personality, however, is not.
One explanation for this phenomenon that made a lot of sense to me went like this:
“All people are born with the propensity to learn and use language, but no one is born with the genetic tendency to use English over Chinese.”
Did this post really go anywhere?