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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Do you feel female?

43 replies

Thistledew · 20/07/2010 01:19

Continuing on the theme of transexuality, I have to confess that I do struggle with the concept of feeling that you are one gender trapped in the wrong type of body.

I honestly cannot say that identify any feelings in myself that are definitely more female than male.

Yes, I like dressing up in a nice dress, heels and wearing makeup, but I am also quite happy to go out in jeans, flat shoes and no makeup. I enjoy cooking nice food for DP and friends, but also enjoy DIY. I want to have children, and am pleased by the idea that I can be pregnant and breast feed, but am also slightly jealous of DP that he does not have to go through that to have a child.

I feel that if I were to wake up tomorrow as a man, (after I had got over the shock, obviously) I would not feel any different to how I do now. I would still feel like 'me'.

I have discussed this with friends, and none of my close friends feels any different- but this could be because we all work in a fairly male-dominated environment, and enjoy adventure sports as hobbies, so have an outlet for our sides that are more traditionally perceived as masculine.

So, my question is, do you feel more female than male (or vice versa)? And if so, what is that you attribute to your gender? How would you feel if you woke up in a parallel universe where you were of the opposite sex?

OP posts:
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Thistledew · 20/07/2010 01:22

Oh, and before I get flamed, I am not denying that some people do feel that they are more strongly one gender than the other, I am just trying to understand the feeling.

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tortoiseonthehalfshell · 20/07/2010 01:46

It's an interesting one, and I find it hard to conceptualise as well.

I feel very, very female. I was talking to my mother about this the other day, we agreed that despite the whole inconvenient "being the oppressed class" thing, neither of us would change being female in a million years.

I loved giving birth, it was the most amazing experience, very primal, lots of fun, really really want to do it again. My mothering feels very - I can't articulate this, but it comes from a very deep place inside me, and it feels like a female place, and it's associated with my physicality. I'm not at all jealous that my partner can't give birth - I feel incredibly lucky to be the one who gets to do that.

But it is interesting. A lot of the things that make me very female are things that I think are socially constructed; I have what tends to be thought of as a very female sort of intelligence (empathetic and intuitive and whatnot), and certainly all my hobbies (cooking, gardening, writing) are stereotypically female. I don't know how to separate out how much of this is inherent and how much cultural.

I do know that my husband, having been given the space and encouragement to take on part of the "female" parenting role, has become very attuned to our daughter. I've read studies that agree with this; the more time fathers spend with their young children, especially with bodily contact from cuddling, bathing, etc, the more 'loving' hormones their body produces - the same oxycontin hormones as tends to be found in new mothers. So that's tricky again, if hormonal secretions adjust to a social role.

Very long answer, sorry. The short version is yes - although I can't articulate what, and why, I do feel integrally female. The idea of being male, with external genitalia and testosterone rushing around and not being able to carry a child is - much as I love men - slightly repugnant in how alien it feels.

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Tempestes · 20/07/2010 02:09

Yes, I do. And I think the last paragraph of tortoise's post is fairly close to how I feel. And it's not the same as being feminine.

When I was younger I had some doubts about feeling feminine, due to fitting neither the girly nor the tomboyish stereotype. But luckily I learnt to ignore the stereotypes.

The thing is, despite it's flaws, I love my body. Not aesthetically, or even functionally (as it is deeply flawed both ways), but in that it feels right. In a way that a male body wouldn't.

The way I understand it, those who are transgendered feel as if their body fits wrong, as if it is uncomfortable.

There are other layers in there about femininity/masculinity, which encompasses child birth/rearing and "girliness", but I've always had it explained to me as being primarily a discomfort in their own skin.

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blackcurrants · 20/07/2010 02:17

I'm 39 weeks pregnant in 34C heat - I've never felt so 'female' in my life!
My nipples have recently shocked me by oozing, my privates feel like a big bruise, and the bump is dropping (well, it feels like it's going to burrow out of me at this rate) - so yes, I think I do feel female. I rarely feel "feminine" though - but at the moment I feel very essentially female (and I've never considered myself an essentialist when it comes to matters of gender.)

ALL THAT SAID: doesn't mean that people who feel trapped in the wrong body don't feel that way. How on earth could I pronounce on what they 'really feel'?
And saying what I said in the first bit doesn't mean that I think gender is essential.

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FrancesFarmer · 20/07/2010 02:36

I feel human. I feel like a living being. The fact that I'm female seems like a minor detail. If I became male tomorrow, I could not breastfeed or carry children any more but that would not change my essential self.

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NickOfTime · 20/07/2010 02:55

i feel individual. i'm a mother, a wife, i've served in the military and run around with a gun...

i'm fascinated by the whole idea of gender - i do have trans friends and have discussed it at length with them. fascinating.

we are all individuals, indeed.

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Pogleswood · 20/07/2010 10:10

I don't feel particularly female,I don't think - I am certainly not stereotypically female.The point in my life when I actually felt that I positively liked being female was when I was pregnant,and breastfeeding.(Didn't enjoy being pregnant,but is is an incredible thing watching that new life develop,and I loved breastfeeding.)
I'd been thinking about this in the light of all the threads discussing gender,and realised that in some ways I have felt all my life that I wasn't normal/a proper woman/whatever and it was quite relaxing having the DCs because of course that proved I was and dropped me into a neat pre-determined female slot...

Having said that,I'm sure that what I am uncomfortable with is society's stereotype of femininity,and I have never felt that I wasn't a woman.However,I quite fancy the idea of waking in a parallel universe as a man,and trying out a male body(from the inside,as it were )

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MaryBS · 20/07/2010 10:13

Honestly? No I don't. I struggle to relate to women, and prefer the company of men. I have a very male logical brain (it always comes out as male on those online tests), and tend to enjoy the sort of recreational activities preferred by men (eg cars, football, paintballing). Having said that, I have no desire to BE male. I can't comprehend waking up a different gender, whichever universe I was in.

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daftpunk · 20/07/2010 10:20

I'm a bit of both I think...

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TheCrackFox · 20/07/2010 10:21

I just feel "me".

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DuelingFanjo · 20/07/2010 10:26

I have no idea what it feels like so no.

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minipie · 20/07/2010 10:27

To be honest I haven't a clue whether I feel female or not. I just feel like me. How am I supposed to know whether some of that is a specifically "female" feeling, or just my own individual personality? No idea.

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Jamiki · 20/07/2010 10:32

I'm not very 'girly' but I definately love being female and wouldn't swap it for the world. I feel like men miss out a bit but I'm sure they don't as they are who they are.

I love being a mother and don't mind too much the role of housewife. I'd prefer that to breadwinner. When I do eventually go back to work it will be a chore for me.

Funnily enough I know that I have felt that way since I was a child.

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OgreRebel · 20/07/2010 10:40

The thing is diy and adventure sports and liking male company and flat shoes is personality/preferences/socialisation.

I suspect most people can't say that they feel gendered because they just feel like themselves. I suspect it's when you don't feel something, a lack of something, that you aware of what it is to feel gender.

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RuthieCohen · 20/07/2010 10:53

Where attributes are brought down to their basic gender stereotypes (empathy and nurturing versus leadership and ambition) I have aspects of all of them. That is hardly unusual.

I have always worked with this balance and enjoyed the contrasts.

I have a good friend who transsexual and is in the process of transitioning from male to female. I've never questioned that she was born in the wrong body, it makes perfect sense.
I do find it difficult to comprehend how far she is trying to push away any of the masculine traits in trying to appear more female. I understand that being physically male was incredibly difficult and damaging for her but my point is that we all have something of both male / female traits and that trying to hyper-feminise herself is turing her into a caricature.

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ElephantsAndMiasmas · 20/07/2010 10:54

I am trying to imagine how things would be different if I woke up male. All the problems I would have as a result would be because of what society expects of me, as would most of the benefits. I mean, it would be great to be stronger for free, just being able to run faster and have a stronger body would be nice.

But the good things, like not having to do anything but wash myself and throw on clothes in order to be presentable to society, being able to walk around at night without fear of attack, fitting in with "the boys" at work - those are all societal benefits. If society was less obsessed with women's appearance, bothered to investigate and prosecute sexual assaults, and inclined to value women's contribution in the workplace then I could have all those benefits right now while female.

Likewise the bad things, like worrying about looking weak if I express emotions, being less "courteously" treated (aware this is the flipside of a bad thing but still), seeing people who look like me in positions of power and up on pedestals (literally) - those would disappear if sexism did.

I love being a woman, and it's fair to say I have got used to it. But I'm not sure that it's a biological thing.

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ElephantsAndMiasmas · 20/07/2010 10:55

"seeing people who look like me in positions of power and up on pedestals (literally)" - obviously that was meant to be in the good things list

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daftpunk · 20/07/2010 11:10

If I'd had the choice I would have deffo been born a man....

Women are too emotional/moody/needy sometimes, and I can't always relate to that...

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daftpunk · 20/07/2010 11:12

y'know...you're forever having to say sorry to them...

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MarshaBrady · 20/07/2010 11:14

I'm probably in the middle of the spectrum. Mathematical, brain, good at physics, but also love being a mother, having the physical closeness to my children and doing other feminine stuff like shopping (for design/aesthetic reasons).

But absolute no to white wine spritzer and girl chats with icecream, nail polish or earrings (prob aesthetic reasons for the latter I guess).

Like being me really . So would not like to be a man.

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maktaitai · 20/07/2010 11:23

I feel female and happy with it most of the time, but I do have a very strong dislike of menstruation. I also felt very strongly when pregnant and labouring that it was absolutely nothing to do with me as a person - it was a body, getting on with it and doing stuff without any input from me-the-mind (if that makes ANY sense).

Which makes me wonder if perhaps I do have a glimpse of insight into how it might feel to be transsexual - I have felt quite a lot of detachment and also occasionally revulsion towards my body at very sex-significant times.

I also think it is very hard indeed to separate the innate from the cultural, so a sense of detachment and dislike to what is required of somebody with your body in a society, is hard to separate from a sense of dislike and dislocation with the body itself.

This sounds like I think transsexualism is largely about disliking the culture of a gender but actually I don't. I may feel I've had the occasional glimpse of how it might be, but that's different from feeling it all the time from early childhood, as I understand transsexuals feel. I'm sure it's a mix of biology and environment, like most things.

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Butterbur · 20/07/2010 11:26

Thistledew, I have often thought exactly what you have posted.

But then, I am not a very feminine woman. I am logical, can read a map, did a science degree, and worked in IT. My interests have also included things like windsurfing and martial arts - once again,not very feminine.

I would love to have a man's body. I admire their strength, and hate that I will never be that strong. I envy their easy sex drive. I like their simple clothes. If I could choose, I would definitely be born a man.

But I would never choose to change my gender. Apart from the emotional upheaval to all around me, I have a fully functional female body. Why would I change that for one that is only cosmetically male? Plus I would always be a short, fat man, with wide hips and strangely small facial features.

Personally I wonder if transexual people would be happier in their own bodies if they felt less constrained by other people's expectations of their gender.

I did at one time work alongside a couple of male to female transexuals, and talked quite a lot to one of them. She said that she wanted to be free to express her feminine side. I can't see why a man can't do that, as I have always expressed my masculine side, and if he feels he can't, I think that is a sad indictment of our society.

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daftpunk · 20/07/2010 11:30

I don't think men stress over issues like we do, they seem to just get on with life....women spend half their lives moaning about how hard it is being a woman and how much easier men have it...someone on another thread said she was sick of women always being silenced...are they?...not sure they are.

And what's the difference between a transexual and a transgender..?

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Flighttattendant · 20/07/2010 11:31

It's quite interesting isn't it.

Firstly I'd think it is highly dependant on definition - ie what is 'feminine', and what is 'female'.

I do know I'm a woman, but there are times I carry a strong sense of identity with my father or another man, I suppose...so I feel like I am behaving, walking, moving like a man. Even thinking like one. But it's rarely that tangible and it isn't just gender, it's other things too - I might feel like I'm someone else entirely, a character in a film, etc
It's very transient as well.

As for stereotyping I have two motorcycles, run a large house with an enormous garden, plenty of animals, drive all the time, and am never happier than when fixing an engine. I dislike wearing frocks but I like to buy them! I only feel comfortable in jeans and riding boots which is why I wear them in the middle of summer. (issues )

I still breastfeed ds2 at 3 but it does get in the way a bit. I cannot cook. But I have long hair.

See it all depends on what you define as being female. I could have been describing a bloke just then, apart from the breastfeeding obv

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Flighttattendant · 20/07/2010 11:33

Btw the farmer asked me the other day if I wished I had been a bloke!

I think it was the subject of bikes, and of feeling a bit of an outsider, ie not really one of the girls.

I find it far easier to have a friendship with a bloke than with a woman.

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