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Magical gender-changing backpack? - the funcrunch files


Jul. 31st, 2014 04:33 pm Magical gender-changing backpack?

I've been getting increasingly irritated at being called "ma'am", and thinking of ways I could subtly change my presentation without resorting to clothing or mannerisms that I'd find even more uncomfortable than the misgendering. I've noticed whenever I'm out and about that men very rarely carry tote bags, which I normally do when shopping. They're much more likely to carry a backpack. I used to carry a backpack to work every day, and of course wore one to school before that, but switched to tote bags or a messenger bag depending on the load a few years ago. I thought if switching back to a backpack might possibly help people read me as male, that would be a small price to pay.

So today I dusted off my backpack, a black Eagle Creek hand-me-down from Ziggy. I dressed as usual for the weather, in a T-shirt, cargo shorts, and running shoes, all purchased from men's departments, and a faded black AIDS Walk baseball cap. I put the backpack on and glanced at myself in the hallway mirror on the way out of the apartment building. Other than the gray sideburns peeking out from under the cap and the lines on my face, I looked like a junior high school student. Sigh.

I walked the half mile or so to Trader Joes, passing knots of tourists along the way and for once hoping one might ask me for directions so that I could test my theory. No such luck. Though actually, being invisible when out in public is what I prefer, so if the backpack grants male invisibility privilege as part of its magic powers that would be super too.

I did my shopping and went to check out. The male checker made small talk about the weather. The cute long-haired surfer type guy who came to pack my backpack and supplementary tote bag (as I was sure my groceries wouldn't all fit) said little, other than acknowledging my thanks to him for doing the packing. And I was on my way, with nary a Ma'am nor Sir to be heard.

On the way back home, I realized how much easier it was to carry most of my groceries with the weight distributed on my back rather than just on my shoulders. I realized I have little reason not to use the backpack, especially as it has multiple zippered compartments which might make it easier to avoid squishing food. (My bananas survived the trip unscathed, thanks to surfer guy's expert packing.)

So, no verdict on the magical gender-changing* properties yet, but a useful change nonetheless.

* A genderqueer person I followed on Tumblr, who was designated female at birth, once posted that they had a pair of headphones that had magical powers, as whenever they wore them they got gendered as male 100% of the time.

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Comments:

From:funcrunch
Date:August 1st, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
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Well as I said I would normally be delighted if people ignored me when I'm walking down the street. I value my privacy and I suck at giving directions. I just was hoping someone might approach me yesterday so that I could test my theory.

It sucks if people would avoid me specifically because of my skin color and (apparent) gender, but I suppose that's not much of a surprise, sadly. I just hope I don't end up being more of a target for police suspicion.
From:funcrunch
Date:August 1st, 2014 06:25 pm (UTC)
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You, unlike me, are an extrovert ;-) I'm getting more comfortable talking to people when doing vegan advocacy at the farm stand, but that's a controlled situation. When I'm out and about I normally really don't like to be interrupted.
From:jymdyer
Date:August 1st, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)

Seems legit.

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Many American men hold their partner/companion's purses at arm's length to avoid the magical gender-changing rays they emanate.
From:funcrunch
Date:August 2nd, 2014 12:11 am (UTC)

Re: Seems legit.

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Funny, back when I carried a purse I don't remember ever asking a date/partner/companion to hold it for me when I went to the restroom or whatever. But then again, back then I didn't have as many companions ;-)
From:jymdyer
Date:August 2nd, 2014 01:55 am (UTC)

Re: Seems legit.

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It's a whole stereotypical scenario where a husband and wife go shopping and the wife asks the husband to hold her purse while trying on clothes. And the husband holds the purse like it's a dead rat.

When I was a kid I used to see grown-ups acting like this at the Northway Mall; now it's people my age at Ross Park Mall. Really playing up to the assigned roles and it's pretty scary.
From:funcrunch
Date:August 2nd, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)

Re: Seems legit.

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Oh yeah, I don't think I ever asked either of my two husbands to hold my fanny pack while I tried on clothes :-) And back when I carried a purse I only had boyfriends for relatively short periods of time, and never shopped with them...