This morning I was thinking about a purse, do I need one or roll without one? Winter I’m good as coats have pockets. Summer may be another issue. Then my mind wandered to a Tampax tampon commercial from a few years back where this high school student needs to go to the bathroom but thanks to the new compact tampon she can just slip it in her tiny pocket of her pants and not need to take her purse because then the cute boy will not know she’s having her period. Now just to be clear no he wouldn’t! Purses are the bottomless pit iron curtain fog of war of gender, we have no clue what is going on in those things. Basically of all the boys in high school 1 in 50 may have had a clue what a girl taking her purse to the bathroom could have meant, and I mean could.
Even now as a bigender person with 25 years of crossdressing under my belts the idea that a woman takes her purse for the sanitary products does not enter my mind. Not wanting your phone or wallet to go missing or need of touching up your makeup are all much more likely to cross my mind. But really it would be women take purses to the bathroom because they are women and have purses. As a crossdresser I have had very little need for a purse and when I have tried a shoulder bag I have just found it frustrating. As a man I have a few really good messenger bags that are utility to the max for work, school, farmers markets and the such. I have even tried to carry a smaller one as a purse and it just doesn’t quite do it for me. Now that I’m learning how to be the woman that I also am; I’m finding myself needing to know what is contained in those mysterious bags of holding. It also makes me wonder what other secrets of Venus I’m going to need to learn. I mean sure I’ll need to learn the alchemy of makeup, but that seems more fun. Perhaps even why women go the bathroom in pairs?
On the flip side I wonder what secrets of masculinity a female has literally no clue of? What is the masculine equivalent of the purse in terms of the deep pit of just not knowing how important of a prop it is for one to perform their gender roles effectively. In this way I mean in the Erving Goffman “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” sort of way, a book with two transvestites on the cover being arrested (it was 1956 transvestite is accepted as was being arrested for it). To really boil down the thesis of the book in C Wright Mills fashion, the whole world is a stage and we are all assigned different roles to play by society. You are different at work, at home, with friends, or alone. The gender role we are assigned to play was cast by being born male or female. Now I’m male and was raised as a boy and lived as a man so I never needed to learn those roles that females learned through being girls and then living as women. And now I not only need to learn the role of woman but all the secrets that others have learned to method act it in everyday life.
Why does any of this matter? I mean we are just being us. Well the reason it matters is because others need to know what role we are playing so they can perform their role to complete the scene. Ever have someone in a store confuse you with someone who works there? That’s why knowing the others role is important. But we are allowed certain flexibility as to how well we play those roles. So when you’re in a store and the staff member is wearing a tag that says “in training” you understand to cut them some slack. Or when you’re a tourist, for instance when I’m in Montreal my elementary school french allows me to read a fair amount and not get lost but beyond that I’m limited. But I’m a tourist so it’s ok. Now if I moved to Montreal while it’s a bilingual city and you really don’t need much french to live I would need to learn more french and learn the local way of being. How to cross the street or driving habits and other mundane things. To this point in my life as a crossdresser I have been a tourist in womanhood. I have been playing the part not being the part and as such have been given leeway when my clothing choices are wrong, when I act in stereotypical feminine ways, or when I simply look too masculine. Now that I have decided to stop renting a hotel room in womantown and am buying a house there for when I’m there living when I’m not in mantown I will have to adjust and become a resident and learn the local ways of being a resident. Sure I’ll have some time while I have a “in training” name tag on, but as the days go past it will be more expected that I am the role of woman and not just playing at it.
Which I suppose brings me back to the first question; will I take my purse to the bathroom?