Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hard to be a girl, so nice to be a boy

I was never a girly-girl. On the flipside, I was never the stereotypical scrappy 'tomboy' either - I think I just grew up in less gender-defined times, when boys and girls were kind of lumped together in a big amorphous mass, all sunburnt limbs and interchangable t-shirts. I didn't wear a skirt until my grade 6 graduation. I never wore make-up, even in high school (assuming you don't count Body Shop lip gloss) - social suicide nowadays, judging by the prozzy-painted faces of school girls at the bus stop. Coinciding happily with the end of my schooldays and the beginning of my painfully self-conscious adolescence was the Grunge movement. Grunge tied in nicely with a) my burgeoning feminist principles; b) my fingers-down-the-throat reaction to anything pink, sparkly or adorned with heart motifs; and c) my inherent laziness.

However, since I've been living in the UK, I think it's fair to say that I have been slowly but inexorably sucked over to the feminine side of the gender divide. It started with a boyfriend who encouraged me to wear dresses, then developed via working with a bunch of girls who knit and make jewellery and cut their own hair (my measly contribution to this girl-fest is baking).

Further proof of my girlification: just recently I've bought five new necklaces (because I couldn't decide between them - I love them all!); gotten my first ever bikini wax (Not Worth It); and even applied a little bit of Holiday Skin to my legs (a purely humanitarian act - so that I don't blind pedestrians with the sight of my brilliant white legs scissoring past them in the morning sunshine).

Like 99% of my gender, however, I represent a startling mass of contradictions. Champagne and heels one day, cutting my knees open roller-blading the next. I like to think I nurture both sides; the girl who loves bright colours and new clothes, and the tomboy riding the mountain bike to work with plasters on her knees.

I was reminded of this contradiction when I watched the final series of Sex and the City for the first time recently, and (god forbid) enjoyed it, albeit guiltily. Scarier still, I identified with it. Crikey O'Blimey. I openly sneered at this show when I was in my twenties; now - single in my thirties, having lived in New York, asking myself a lot of the questions that Carrie poses, living away from my parents and family (and thus, my grown up responsibilities) - this show resonates in a way that it never used to. However, I do not condone the reckless consumerism it promotes, and I think anyone watching it should be aware that they are participating in fantasy-level escapism (girl-porn, basically).

However, just so I don't tip too far over, I have also been devouring Series 4 of The Wire. For those who have not yet been harangued to watch this show by their geekier friends, The Wire is probably the most beautifully understated, brilliant, real Police drama ever aired. This is a show that celebrates old-school manliness of the hard-drinking, straight-talking, solitary-living, authority-shunning kind. It is absolutely absorbing to watch; not least because it feels so unnervingly real that you can't help but be drawn into the worlds of the many characters, despite the often obscure jargon bristling from the dialogue. I've learned to go with it even if I don't always understand it - David Simon, the show's creator, maintains that "The first season of The Wire was a training exercise. We were training you to watch television differently." It's not supposed to be an easy watch. I have to watch it alone, because the distraction of someone sitting next to me is too much - it requires 100% attention. But damn, it's worth it.

God, someone should do a mash-up of these two shows. That would blow my mind.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Speaking as someone else who was never a girly-girl, nor really the typical tomboy, I know what you mean. Over the past few years skirts and (god forbid) pink have made their way into my wardrobe. I was never into grunge as a kid, but was a goth for a while (before it became cool).

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