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Monday 08 November 2010

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Vanity Rules

19th August 2010

A Little Bit of History

Posted by: un-pc lesbian

Some of you may have noticed from my brief time here that I have an interest in gender issues, well gender blurring issues really, and the options that are now available to people questioning gender. So I’ve decided a wee post on ancient history is needed.

Thirty years ago in the prime of my youth (yes, I know, before some people were born!) I started to question my sexuality. I had been quite happily playing in the hetero world but moving to a new city coupled with some other changes made me realise that maybe my interests lay elsewhere. At the same time, in good punk fashion, I’d chopped my hair off so when I looked in the mirror I realised I didn’t have to look like a girl either.

At this time there were no resources available to assist in my questioning, no internet, no support groups, the Homosexual Law Reform Act hadn’t even been passed. Women’s studies was only just emerging as a university course, and gender studies hadn’t been invented. As I worked and studied at Auckland University I did have access to women’s groups on campus, however they were SCARY. I had to work through things alone.

The lesbians on campus were very political and staunch feminists. Although I did think I was a feminist, from the perspective of I think and work the same as a male, therefore I should be paid and treated the same, I wasn’t a man hater. Plus it was lesbian or straight, nothing in between, and I was still dithering about with both. So I didn’t fit into the lesbian world and I didn’t fit into the straight world. My way of dealing with this was to choose celibacy (and that is celibacy by conscious choice, not celibacy by default because you can’t find a shag) and then just concentrated on how I looked.

I started playing with my appearance and moving towards a gender free image. I wasn’t interested in looking like a man, I just wanted to present a gender ambiguous look. When I think back now I see that it wasn’t based in sexuality, but was about not wanting to be categorised or constrained by stereotype assumptions based on the gender image that I presented. I always said the world would be more interesting if there was a third gender, and this was my way of heading in that direction. I would still dress as a girl at times, with all the accoutrements, as that was part of keeping the gender references fluid.

For the sake of a bit of humour I’ve dug out some old snaps from that time of my life.

holdingpattern23.jpgnot_femme22.jpg

                                                                                                                 

                           

                       

                                                                                                                    

                                                 

     

 As an irrelevant aside the hazy image on the right was taken in Iceland where I was working on a contract in a remote fjord while on my O.E. The fishing boys inspected each new crop of foreign women when they arrived at the start of the season, and were confused by me. They didn’t have a word for me and ended up calling me boygirl. They only visited and inspected me once. 

This is of course a very condensed version of this stage of my life, however the theory that I ended up living by was my own version of fluidity, meaning I didn’t have to choose any gender image or sexuality. I could be all or nothing, though I do admit to spending a lot of time in the nothing state, androgynous and celibate. Fuk me those lesbians were too scary!

You can see why I take an active interest in the genderqueer/trans world as it is today. I think it’s a positive thing that it is now all so open and public, and that there are vast amounts of resources and support available to people questioning gender and gender identity. However I do also think that this has created, especially for women, a whole new set of pressures and questions to deal with that weren’t there in the past, and I honestly don’t think that I would like to be facing the options that there are today. I think I would be doomed to a life of eternal dither.

Tags: Dither · Gender · History

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kim Possible // Aug 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Awesome xx

  • 2 Kay // Aug 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    While I totally respect your journey to where you are now and each stage you’ve been at along the way, I don’t think that even thirty years ago “it was lesbian or straight, nothing in between”. I’ve been identifying as bisexual for over thirty years. The Wellington Bisexual Women’s Group celebrated its 20th birthday last year. Looking back through history there have often been many people on the in-between range, both for sexuality and gender identity. But you’re right that there seems to be more visible sexual and gender diversity in NZ now than at any time in the past. Isn’t it great?!

  • 3 Fiona // Aug 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Fuk me those lesbians are still scary!
    The few times my partner and I have ventured out into the ‘community’ in the last nine years we have just about been scared straight.
    Lesbian seems to equal bolshie, unapproachable, and judgmental. Lesbianism seems to be a very serious business. Needless to say we gave up on ‘networking’ years ago. Now we stay home raise our kids and dogs, knit and play with our Black and Decker collection and shag. Lesbianism in it’s purist form.

  • 4 un-pc lesbian // Aug 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    @Kay, you will see from my post that I was talking of the lesbians on campus at Auckland Uni in the early 80’s, a fiery bunch, especially those attached to the English dept. There was even an incident of “action” against a male lecturer. Androgynous me did not fit in with their politics. Also my focus was non gender rather than bisexual, as bisexual still meant identifying as one gender.

    @Fiona. Ha ha…an even greater sweeping generalisation than I am liable to make! Agree if you are going to get closely involved in the “community” but if you just dip in and out socially they’re not that bad. Point in case, and the Risque show last Saturuday night there were lesbians en masse, and it was all about fun and grand night night out.

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