Gendered Fluids

Not those gendered fluids, you pervs. [~600 words.]

gendered fluids

My foremost concern for this essay is that it will not do justice to its title. Wordplay so fine surely deserves a finer play of words. But, to be honest, I often wish for my thoughts on gender to come more fluidly.

*     *     *

A tuft of shaving cream. A splash of lavender aftershave. A working in of moisturizer. A spritz of perfume. A smear of cover-up. A dab of eye primer. A thorough application of lip gloss. A clumsy tickle of mascara. Maybe some liquid eye liner if I’m feeling bold and my hands aren’t shaking too badly. So many drops in a bucket. Are these what make me a woman?

*     *     *


Fig. 1: A metaphor

There’s an old platitude about fluidity. That “You can never stand in the same river twice” one, you know? The river—-a symbol for constant change or endless time or whatever else—-never ceases it’s flowing, so it’s never the same. Never the same is just another way of saying always different.

*     *     *

I run into a sort of river in my bathroom sometimes (never the same one twice, though). I use the river to wash off all the bucket drops from the morning. It leaves me feeling clean.

*     *     *

When I stand in my bathroom and reach for a towel, the wall of mirrors that came with the place tells me who I am. I usually don’t flinch. That person in the mirror changes maybe not always but often. They are rarely the same.

*     *     *

I know that person is me even with all the flaws I see. I scold myself for hating the things I do, but my body seems to lack the initiative to change itself independently. When I leave the river, I put the drops back in the bucket because it gives me a power I don’t have otherwise.

*     *     *


Fig. 2: A set-up with an imminent punchline

When I was in college, I knew someone who called make-up war paint. I wasn’t wearing any at the time, but the term feels right to me now. My face has become my banner, my declaration for all to hear. Not all do. But the war paint definitely helps—-probably even better than it did in Braveheart, I bet.

*     *     *

Make-up helps me assert the necessity of she pronouns. It says something to strangers who speak its language. Like a restaurant patron who ordered a pop, I hope they accept what I call soda—-or at least that I will continue to call it that.

*     *     *

The starker contrast comes without the buckets drops, when pop is all there is and my most recent trip to the river leaves me feeling parched. “What is soda?” people ask me like it’s disease they’ve heard of but never understood.  I find myself wanting to scream, “FREEDOM!”

*     *     *


Fig. 3: Illustration of the fluidity between memes and platitudes

But I think it’s a confusing time for those who meet me as a stubbly stranger with a bob and painted nails. Confusion seem to be a guiding principle in our past, present, and future. Because of this, I try not to blame anyone. Despite my war paint, a cashier’s use of gendered language is not a battle I often pick.

*     *     *

Even though the repetition of strangers misgendering me makes it seem like it isn’t, I know the river is still flowing, never the same and always different. I dream of a new different every day. Maybe I won’t always feel like I’m swimming upstream as I frantically re-apply lipstick. But never say never.

*     *     *

Roll the credits, already.

Written by
A Bitter Pill

Directed by
The Margins of a Legal Pad

The Fundamental Conflict Between Narcissism and Self-Loathing

A Satan’s Jacuzzi Production



One thought on “Gendered Fluids

  1. Pingback: Seeing Eye-To-Eye-Shadow: In Conversation With Maddie Valley | Satan's jacuzzi

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