A frivolous girl

Perspective shifts. Often when you expect it least.

That happened today. I am so used to close friends gently teasing me about being so “femme”…so girly…i’ve just got used to that being how i am: how i’m supposed to be.

Only: a new conversational front opened today with andrea. It started with the subject of an eyelash consultancy (which i have scheduled for a week’s time). It carried on by way of massage, and chats i’ve had – with other women – about make-up and related stuff. Many of the things that i’ve been enthusing about these last few months.

OK. Some of that is the Miranda effect. You know her: Miranda is the slightly dippy female love interest in Shakespeare’s “Tempest”. She’s the one who, at the end, amazed and bowled over by all the new men she’s met, comes out with the immortal line: “Oh Brave New World, that has such people in’t”.

Her dad, old grouch Prospero, comes back with the curt and world-weary observation: “tis new to thee.”

So yes: its new; i’m revelling in it.

But maybe its not exactly the femininity that i am loving, so much as the frivolity. Because that, today, was where andrea and i diverged. Lost for a suitably exasperated put-down in respect of the eyelash interest, she spluttered: “but that’s…that’s…so frivolous!”

And there, i think, she has a point. I earn for the house. I tidy, wash and do a fair bit of cooking: so i can be serious. But underneath all that is not just a girl, but a frivolous girl.

There’s a lot of us about. As one friend wrote back to me today, following a wonderful light-hearted evening earlier this week: “here’s to more nights of girlie chat and hair curling”.

I’ll second that.

I think, had i been born as i wished to live, i’d have done my serious bit…but then i’d have had fun. Serious fun.

Words that come easily now include: play, playful, teasing, mischievous, chatty and yes – even flirty at times.

So no: not just a girl after all.



9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    kath said,

    Enjoy it all! But please remember that, however much fun you’re having, none of this is essential to being a woman. I went through teenage years getting ever so worried that I wasn’t interested in clothes, make-up and “girlie” things – I’d still rather read a Greek text which, oddly, was seen as a “masculine” pursuit (rarely available in girls’ schools) even in the 1970s.

    I’m putting in that caveat not because you need it but because I remember years of suffering anguish because I couldn’t fit the female stereotype – it wasn’t till I started reading feminist texts that I realised that it’s up to me to define how I’m a woman.

    So I want to stress that if there are any women reading this who don’t like girlie things – or men who do – it’s up to you to define (or not define) your own gender.

    Jane, enjoy the eyelash consultancy and all the frivolities – but I’m afraid I’m with Prospero on this one. (Sometimes I feel obliged to dress up and even wear make-up but it’s usually a chore.)

    • 2

      janefae said,

      kath…the absolute LAST thing i would want to do is give the impression that any of the above are essential to being a woman. If you got that from my post, it didn’t come out quite the way i meant it.

      I certainly have enough difficulties of my own being faced with all manner of people, some who know me very little, setting out standards according to which i may – or may not – consider myself a woman.

      If anything, this post should support your point of view…because for me its a bit more of a revelation. I’d been looking at how i am, what i like, how i act…and describing that as “feminine”. But its not. Its just me.

      I am feminine. But if you ask what sort of feminine i am, then i’m playful feminine. That in no way rejects the validity of those who might consider themselves to be feminine/female and serious: female and plain; female and strong; and so on.

      Its a sub-category – as opposed to definition.


  2. 3

    kath said,

    Sorry not to get back earlier – work got in the way. I entirely realise that you wouldn’t want to give that impression. But every so often I do still feel affected by the strong forces to be feminine in a particular way – and, watching my daughter and her friends growing up, I realise how strongly girls are conditioned into femininity. Marketing enforces such a view more than ever. So I wanted to add my experience to this blog so that any women reading it – including trans women who may find the stereotype of conventional femininity used against them – might feel less pressured.

    But, as I think I said, I’m very happy for you to enjoy playful and frivolous femininity, so long as I can play at my own chosen pursuits (these days including fencing epée) without worrying whether or not they make me less of a woman.

    • 4

      janefae said,

      Don’t worry, kath: I knew that you knew. This was as much for any other reader who follows, since – my sad experience of posting online – if something can be misunderstood, it will be.

      i guess this post encapsulates a copy of my recent favourite themes: how there really ARE many different ways to be female; and how there is so much pressure “out there” to normalise to some preconceived view of feminity.

      andrea, too, twould appear, has been chatting to friends about same…and finding several who might share your own slightly different take on being a woman.

      In one sense, this is not discovery for me: i have always observed the pressures you talk about: but obviously from without. Now, from the other side of the fence, i find them maybe stronger than i imagined, but – for me – quite tolerable.

      that leaves me wondering (i’ll get back to this) whether it is uniquely something that women suffer from – or whether there are similar, but different, pressures for men, too.

      My own sene is that there must be, because i was obviously so crap at being male…so very uncomfortable at it. In my interactions with other men, i always felt like a fraud…as though there was some secret password i didn’t know, or club rules no-one ever showed me. with women, it was something else…a barrier that i wished was not there.

      I couldn’t be male enough with them…but i didn’t have permission to be female, either.


  3. 5

    Louise Harris said,

    I think you’ve always liked a bit of frivolity, its just a different sort now! 😉

  4. 6

    spirifer said,

    Kath, I sympathise. I remember my teenage years as being pretty un-enjoyable because I too felt that I didn’t fit in. Not so much because I didn’t like clothes and make up – I did, and experimented with make up for hours on end. Luckily, I was a young teen around the time of the New Romantics – tonnes of back eyeliner and green lipstick, anyone?

    But where I didn’t click at all with my peers was in their interest in boys. Spotty, gawky, smelly teenage boys didn’t do anything for me at all. Still don’t! I knew my sexuality was different from as far back as I can remember, and it always responded to an older, authoritative, dominant man.

    I could never be interested in romantic stuff – love stories, Mills & Boon – “chick flicks” leave me comatose with boredom to this day.

    I did a silly quiz on Facebook recently – I came out as completely masculine! I do increasingly feel that I am a gay man in a woman’s body. I don’t do women – I like men – but I have always been drawn to gay men.

    Anyway, I digress. Jane – frivolity can be as much a part of the male experience as the female – trust me, I’m married to the most wonderfully frivolous man (at times)! As I get older, I believe less and less in universal truths, and think more and more of our individual, unique make up.

    • 7

      janefae said,

      Oh…i’d never say that men CAN’T be “frivolous”…though possibly that particular word has gotten a bit gendered over the last few years. But there are ways to “frivol” that are possibly more femme than bloky.

      Let’s just say that the point of this post, originally, was about a personal realisation that i think i always had, deep down, but has now come to the surface, that the way i am… loving clothes, make-up, a certain sort of being…is NOT what makes me female, but what defines the sort of female i am.

      Contrariwise, i’d never say someone couldn’t do frivolity…just that for each person, each gender, it tends to come out in a different way. I mean, honestly: could you ever see your other half, however frivolous he gets, doing a twirl in a long flowy skirt?

      • 8

        spirifer said,

        No – but he is constrained by what “men” should wear, and be! We girls can wear what we like. We’re so fortunate.

        My SO is very interested in acquiring a leather or latex kilt. He really does have the legs for it – other ladies – look at ’em and weep! But he’s constrained to wearing troos, cos that’s what men wear.

        He loves material – silk, nylon, velvet – the feel of them. He’s [again] constrained by his gender to being labelled a weirdo if he ever gets caught wearing women’s knickers, even though “they feel wonderful” against his bits. Isn’t that silly?

      • 9

        janefae said,

        I s’pose this is me showing the most awful ignorance, but…culturally, socially, historically…WHY are men’s knickers so horrid?

        They’re ugly. And they feel awful. One of the joys, for me, of transition, is female underwear. Not in any particularly sexy sense (though some knickers definitely ARE that), but in the sense that the underwear i get to wear now feels beautiful.

        Even the cheapo M&S knickers are so much more comfortable than anything i wore before.

        How come men don’t get to wear such nice stuff?

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