A month ago, elsewhere on the Nexus, I was having a conversation with a woman about who counts as a Real Woman (tm). I am of the opinion that everyone has the right to declare their own gender for themselves instead of being forced into the mythical binary. She interpreted that as me saying that womanhood itself is a myth. I clarified that not only do I believe women are very real, I also would gladly defend her right to call herself a woman. That’s when she dropped this line on me*:
“You’ll never need to defend my right to be a woman.”
My god, we’ve found it. This woman has no ordinary gender. No, she has super-gender! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and deflect bullets, her gender is beyond questioning and above scrutiny. Unfortunately, she’s one of a kind. (I take that back, I believe Chuck Norris also is in possession of a super-gender.) As for the rest of us, we’re subject to having our gender card revoked at even the most trivial of violations of the gender code. Don’t believe me? Google it.
According to Ask Men, a Real Man (tm) is strong, focused, knows the importance of family, doesn’t gossip, strives to be a role model, makes his own fortune, doesn’t look like a woman, keeps his house in order, and can defend himself. Or if you want a more indie source, Mocha Dad says a Real Man (tm) has integrity, compassion, self-control, perseverance, bravery, and humility. Of course, we could always ask Urban Dictionary, which says:
A true man can best be described as rugged and that does not have any fears. A man has a good deal amount of knowledge about tools, cars, the outodoors, knows how to act around women by being a gentlemen, but is not always serious and can have fun with them. Men financially provide for others and themselves and are overall responsible. Men are clean, well groomed, and can have a very short beard to portray that image of ruggedness. True men do not think about themselves. They do not always think about sex. They stand up for what they believe, take responsibility for their actions, help others, they are self confident, physically stong and in shape, have a sense of humor, generous, honest, and are considerate. They provide a sense of security. Men are brave and do not need to show off for their friends nor do their sway their opinions because of their friends. Now even if you are biologically a man, this does not mean you fit my definition of all the components of what a real man is.
So what about women? Don’t worry, as much as society loves judging men, it loves criticizing women even more. Ask Men keeps it simple: a Real Woman (tm) wants a Real Man (tm). Chastity Call has a very long list, a few of which are likes being a girl, knows she’s special, wants to do God’s will, gives compliments and praise, appreciates her fertility, never uses other people, loves babies, finds strength in her husband. Then this weird site has a whole essay about it, a few points being she’s independent, doesn’t solve men’s problems, looks nice all the time, stays calm, doesn’t need much money, has nice dresses, runs late, makes men spend money on her, isn’t afraid of mistakes.
Apparently Real GenderQueers (tm) never knit scarves while watching TV.
Anyway, Ms. Super-Gender, you may never have your gender validity questioned, but the rest of us probably will at some point or another. And I’ll be right there defending them, as I hope they will me. Because, as you may have noticed, none of us have the magic power to prevent others from questioning our identities, no matter how proud we may be of who we are.
*Sorry, can’t link to it.