Wednesday, March 16, 2005

5 hours as a woman

for 5 hours, i experienced a life i never before thought possible. i was a woman. through this short experiment for my feminism class, i learned how damn hard it is to carry two ‘x’ genes.
my first hour as a woman took place in search of the perfect outfit. ok, it wasn’t for the perfect outfit. i was at d.i. looking for the outfit that would transform me.
when shopping for clothes as a male (which i also do at d.i.), finding the right clothes is simply finding the right clothes at the right size. it’s rather simple. men’s clothes (for the most part) are not form-fitting; they simply cover the body with a little room to spare. trying on women’s clothing is not so easy. besides the total awkwardness of being a guy who is picking out and trying on women’s clothing, this was a difficult experience. women’s clothing are form fitting. my shoulders were too big. my stomach too fat. my arms too round. my chest too flat. everything i tried on made me feel like grimace (ronald mcdonald’s purple friend). i’d find one blouse that fit great on one part of my body, but would be tight or too loose elsewhere. granted, the typical male and female bodies are shaped differently. however, i don’t think that fully explains my trouble. men come in all sorts of different shapes, but that doesn’t make finding clothes difficult. because women’s clothing is designed to show off the woman’s figure, if you don’t fit that ideal shape, you’re pretty screwed. i ended up finding a large skirt and a blouse that had to be at least ten years old. i don’t think i have ever felt such a great need to diet and exercise in my life.
after getting in my outfit, i experienced what too many women waste away their lives doing on a daily basis. i had my hair and make-up done.
i cannot believe how much time all of this takes. i drove over to my friends’ apartment this morning. they whipped out their kits and went to work. first off was my hair. compared to most guys here in happy valley, my hair is pretty long. compared to most girls, it’s short. my hair was long enough though to give it a feminine look. the first part was easy. using a blow dryer about three cans of hairspray, the hair on the back of my head was flared out. then came the torture. my hair was pulled, yanked, twisted, and pinned in all sorts of directions. i was in constant fear of having huge chunks ripped out by their roots, leaving a bald spot. luckily that didn’t happen. instead my face was left stretched out with permanently raised eyebrows, and all the wrinkles on my face pulled out of existence.
with my face yanked to a permanent grin, my next transformation was put into effect. it is a flat out lie to say that makeup exists for every color of the rainbow. i’ve seen rainbows. there aren’t that many colors in a rainbow. at 32-bits, my computer can handle over 4 billion different colors. my computer couldn’t even handle the colors represented my make up. you can’t just put make-up on. make-up has to match the outfit you’re wearing. makeup goes on, then another color, then another color, and again and again and again. black goop makes my eyebrows bigger. suddenly my cheeks are rosier, my eyes more defined. my lips seem fuller. sparkling polish that can only be removed with chevron gasoline immobilizes my hands until they can be dried. i am now two hours into living as a woman and now i finally look like one.
with my clothes, hair, and make-up all looking pretty, i head to school. life as a woman is physically uncomfortable. first of all, the heels. those things have to be one of the most uncomfortable items every created. walking in heels isn’t just different. it is a totally new way to walk. with every step, i have to worry about spraining my ankles. five flights of stairs were taken in total fear. by the end of my experience, my body was sore; not just my legs, but every part of me. i hurt from my toes to my neck. walking in heels requires motions of the body that are not undertaken in regular walking. it’s taxing and tiring. while talking to a friend, i had to tell her that i wasn’t sure if i respected women more or less because of this. i want to respect them more for the difficulty they undertake, and less because of they willingly undertake this on a daily basis.
sitting at my desk and relaxing my knees, another uncomfortable aspect of what women deal with in their attire struck me. my bra. yes, i wore a bra. how else could i have boobs? my bra chafed my skin. the stupid straps kept on sliding all over the place. every time i moved, i could feel it restricting my movements. i felt like i was wearing some weird harness that kept me in position without being tied to anything.
lucky for me, this was only a one-time five-hour ordeal. after class, i was able to return to my comfortable life as a man. no more restrictive form-fitting clothes. no more makeup. no more hairpins. no high heels. none of that crap. i was able to go back to my loose shirt and relaxed jeans. even luckier for me, i didn’t have to deal with what most of women deal with on a daily basis. i didn’t have a period. i wasn’t a woman in the workplace. i didn’t deal with any sexist prejudice and chauvinism.
in the end there is at least one thing i need to say to all of the real women out there. i am sorry. you have to go through most of this because of me. i am a man. though i may have never have explicitly asked you to do any of these things, because of my part in the male culture, i have implicitly asked and even forced you to be a part of these absurd behaviors. us men have made life hell for you.

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