I could feel his eyes on me. And when I turned to confirm what I felt, he didn’t bother to look away. This wasn’t just a passing glance at my ass; it was one of those looks that felt dirty. I was more than pissed. His stare lit a fiery rage inside me that could have burned down the store I was in.
I am fortunate to rarely feel the direct repercussions of men’s lingering and greedy looks, but I had just left the yoga studio and was wearing yoga pants—something I don’t often do. I am not confident wearing them anywhere but in my house or in the studio, but I finally felt comfortable enough to run into the store after class to pick up a few things. That was when Creepy McFuckface checked out my ass.
This is not a humble brag for my ass. It’s an okay ass, but I don’t like it being looked at. My ass reveals my hips and my curves. I often try to minimize both in the clothing I wear. Not that clothing invites people to look at you, but I am doing the opposite with mine.
I am a non-conforming, gender fluid person. I was assigned female at birth because of my genitalia. My life’s experiences have been based on the fact that I use female pronouns and, if forced to choose, place an X in the box next to the Female option. The way I see the world and the way it sees and treats me has been based on being female. But because I feel equally male, I have viewed the world and people’s judgment of me through another lens. And when people look at me, I want them to see my masculine side first.
Much like it can be hard to say why we feel like the gender we are, it is hard for me to tell you why I feel both male and female, why I feel an internal sliding scale of two genders. I am both because I feel I am both.
I wear “men’s” clothing and have a “men’s” haircut. I do stereotypical “male” chores and projects around the house. None of these things are what define being a man, but my clothing, my style, and my roles are presentations of my masculinity.
It is hard for me to appreciate my feminine side though, or at least the pieces that can be seen as female. I hate the way my hips and breasts trump my masculinity, as if my soft parts take away or lessen my male identity. As if males cannot be soft too. Parents, please tell your boys they can be soft. Remind your girls they are not their curves.
I am a dedicated yogi but feared the tight, form-fitting clothing that goes with the practice. I resisted the yoga gear because it felt too female—it felt like it would take away from my masculinity and the visual representation of my nonbinary identity. Even though I know clothes do not have a gender and any gender can wear whatever the fuck they want, I struggled with the idea of wearing “female” clothing.
My sexuality is another filter that gives me a unique perspective. I am queer. I love women. I love their smell, their curves, and their softness. I am sexually attracted to and visually stimulated by women. Being queer changes the way I see men too—at least the straight cisgender men. I see how men look at the women they are interested in. I understand their lust; I can feel it just as I can feel my own lust for a woman.
But there is a big difference between me and them: I am very respectful of and aware that the way a woman makes me feel is not her responsibility, nor does it entitle me to possess or expect anything of her. No matter what your gender or sexual orientation, no person is your trophy or thing to control. Yes, I like women; but I am not a slobbering dick.
So when I realized someone was checking me out, I wanted to punch McFuckface for stripping away a piece of my identity when he was hyper-focused on my ass. He was a sick reminder that women have to deal with these stares all of the time, ones I am normally not subject to. But what hurt the most was that my masculine side was not being seen. I felt completely frustrated and misunderstood.
I wanted to punch him for the way he could have looked at my partner, my friends, and my daughters. His greedy and shameless leering can strip away the confidence, autonomy, and self-worth of the women I know and love. I wanted to punch him for all the women I don’t know who he has made feel miserable and shamed under his ugly wanting.
As a human, I am disgusted by the way many men treat women. Yes, I know, not all men, but more than enough of them are pigs. From financial inequality and lack of respect to demeaning comments and sexual intimidation and assault, I often want to cut off a man’s dick, hand it to him and ask how he feels now that he has to walk around with a gaping hole of vulnerability between his legs.
When I was standing in the dairy section of the grocery store, I was fucking livid, but I was also reminded of the privilege I have as a queer, gender fluid person. I get to tell women-loving men that if they want to get close to the thing they crave, they need to respect it first. Because if you do it right, with a longing that is void of any expectations and with the knowledge that a woman has to be comfortable before she truly loves you or lets you in, then you will absolutely get to play in what you crave.
Women are gifts, not prizes. You don’t win a woman; you are given the pieces she wants you to have.