I'm an aunty! It's awesome. I've wanted to be an aunty for as long as I can remember. What I have never wanted to be is a mother.

Don't get me wrong; I like babies generally - especially when they're at that larval stage where they just lie cutely in the crook of your arm like a kitten and make those faces they make until they finally gain control over their facial muscles. I'm not hugely into kids' chat - I lack patience - but I do like dancing and singing and have no shame, so we can connect on that level. 

Also, I'm not easily shocked and I think it's easier for teenagers to bring up certain things that worry them with adults who are not their parents and I want to be there for that too. So I reckon I'll be a pretty good aunty.

But people won't believe me.

So often when I hold a baby I get "you look so maternal," "you're so good with babies - doesn't it make you want one of your own?" Uh, no. I like living in a house but I don't want my own one. I like playing with cats but if I got one I'd feel guilty that it was killing birds and besides, what business does a woman who's moved house 31 times have getting one? And guess what? I like babies. They're warm and cuddly and they came out of people I love! I'll change a nappy. I'll bottle-feed. I'll get puked on, no sweat. BUT I DON'T WANT MY OWN ONE.

It probably seems like I protest too much but I kind of feel like I'm forced to defend my ability to know my own mind. Nobody tells me "actually, I'm pretty sure you'll end up living in Thailand because you've been there so many times" when I say I love being back in New Zealand.

And it's not even a question of things like money and time, or the actual pregnancy and birth, the responsibility of raising children or the myriad other things that don't appeal to me about motherhood. It's just simply that while I am cis female, I'm not gendered in a way that causes me to feel maternal. I never have been. I never will be. I'm 32! I'm pretty sure if I had a biological clock it would have kicked in by now.

Being asked why I don't want kids out of genuine curiosity is fine for me, even though I think the world might be better if more people asked themselves "why DO I want kids?" or "do I really want kids or does it just seem like the thing to do?" - given the number of children who are abused, mistreated and generally seem unwanted. And the people that say it's selfish not to have any children are clearly insane. What could be more selfish than having a child you don't want? It's not as if there aren't enough humans in the world. Oddly, I've also had defensive reactions when I answer the kids question in the negative, as if by answering the question they just asked me, I am advocating against them having children. 

It's hard not to project your own feelings onto other people - I'm sure I do it all the time - I assume that if someone does something, they are feeling the same way I would feel if I did the same thing even though I know it ain't necessarily so. Which is probably also why seeing me coo at grublets causes people to think that I've changed my mind but I don't want to have to hold back on showing love to babies in case people get the wrong idea and I think it's a shame that there's not more room in our culture for the childfree who nevertheless want to be involved in childrearing. Frankly, I can only see positives - what could be bad about another adult who is there to help? Extra love, extra hands. It's all good. Just don't imagine it means I'm trying before I buy - I'm not.

Posted
AuthorSaya Hashimoto

On two separate occasions recently, straight male friends, one of whom is a muso (ie: broke) and the other of whom is a public servant (presumably not rich, but not poverty stricken either) mentioned that when they start seeing a girl, they pay for everything in an effort to be gentlemanly and then resent it afterward. 

That struck me as somewhat insane - I mean, they know they are sowing the seeds for later dissension and it isn't because they are forced to - when I questioned further, they said generally the women they were dating offered to go Dutch or to pay next time but they didn't accept. I think it's simple-minded to equate equality and fairness but it's not like these were relationships where there was some other exchange happening (one person raising children while the other works for money, for example), it was just two similarly placed people, dating.

But then I realised women often do things they don't want to because they feel they ought to as well; A.'s family often tease her for being a martyr and putting everyone else's needs first and the number of times I saw my nana take it upon herself to feed the entire extended family when the grim set of her lips belied the fact she felt put upon is legion.

There's a word for doing things you ought in Japanese: giri.  It's similar to, but not the same as duty. I always hated the idea; it seems so awful to have someone do something for you just because they're duty-bound to rather than by choice.

Despite the fact that men and women are not psychologically dissimilar - that is: "variability within each sex and overlap between the sexes in psychological traits, even those traditionally associated with one or the other, is so extensive that the authors conclude it would be inaccurate to use personality types, attitudes, and psychological indicators as a vehicle for sorting men and women" among cis-gendered people, differences in the kinds of actions giri causes us to perform are strongly dictated by gender: women tend to feel they ought to look after people emotionally while men tend to feel they ought to pay for things.

Like anything, I think if one is fully aware of the mechanisms and mores underlying their behaviour and choose it nevertheless, there isn't a problem. Not taking on responsibilities one enjoys just to avoid aligning with what is traditional is shooting oneself in the foot. It's important to examine our motivations though, to make sure we're doing them because we want to - not because we feel we ought to. 

 

 

Posted
AuthorSaya Hashimoto

Being cissexual, femme and queer generally means hiding in plain sight; your sex, your gender and sometimes (or even most of the time in some cases) your choice of sex partner match heteronorms. That's why my femme gay sister says things like "someone at a work thing thought I was straight so I'm going to have to get an edgier haircut" and why I got called a fag hag even though I don't identify as one.

But having to use visual shorthand like certain haircuts or clothes to out yourself not only furthers the proliferation of archetypes but can mean behaving in a way that doesn't come naturally in order to present and be accepted as queer. In a community that should be about accepting the spectrum of human gender and sexuality, this blinkered view is disappointingly common, to say nothing of society at large. 

I think most people would agree that making assumptions based on how people look is wrong, but there are two sides to it. While it's uncomfortable having to out oneself all the time, being invisible also allows a femme queer to avoid discrimination in a way that say, an effeminate gay man could not. Looking foreign in Japan was very similar - I could get away with behaviour that a Japanese-looking Japanese person could not have, but on balance, I'd prefer that people were more aware that there's more than one way to be Japanese, and more than one way to be queer. But then I would say that. Maybe if the shoe were on the other foot, I'd change my tune (see what I did there? Two idioms in one sentence!)

I understand the resentment that someone who faces prejudice daily might feel toward someone who has the choice of whether or not to disclose their gender and sexuality but I don't think closing ranks is a particularly useful response; discrimination just begets more discrimination. What I think we really need is more awareness of the spectrum. So next time you see a pregnant redhead with long hair and a pretty dress, don't assume she got knocked up by her babydaddy...She might actually have a babymamma.

Posted
AuthorSaya Hashimoto

For as long as I can remember, I have been slightly irritated by how almost invariably when someone mentions a new baby, the first question is "is it a boy or a girl?" I've been told that it's a fairly radical view but I don't really consider babies to be of either gender and therefore tend to call them "it." Obviously gender and sex are different and the child might indeed be a male or female child but sexual ambiguity is also far more common than you'd think - 1 in 4500 babies is born with sexually ambiguous genitalia. Frustratingly, it's considered to be a defect (google it, all the top search results include some reference to the fact that it's considered problematic) but I think it's the way we think that's an issue. People with AB negative blood type only make up 0.6% of the population but you don't see anyone saying there's something wrong with them.

I'm not so radical that I don't realise that parents who go ahead with surgery right away probably just want their kid to fit in but the thing is, will they? Or are they just condemning the child to a life of confusion so everyone else can feel comfortable that everything has been boxed up nicely?

Ever thought about it?

Posted
AuthorSaya Hashimoto
Categoriesgender pols
2 CommentsPost a comment

While I don't in the least consider myself to have old-fashioned values - I like to think of myself as a thoroughly post-modern type - I do have one throwback aspect to my personality; I don't like to chase. 

It's not that I'm opposed to women pursuing men or something; I prefer not to chase men or women and I generally don't conceptualise the sexual landscape in terms of gender dichotomies anyway. I'm not sure where it stems from, major fear of rejection maybe? But I'm not convinced by that explanation either, I just think that I'm built that way - being chased makes me feel more desirable and I don't think I'm alone in feeling like this.

This is a bit of a problem here, as opposed to say, in Argentina where anecdotal evidence suggests that men are socialised to pursue potential partners more aggressively than in New Zealand but looking around I guess someone must be doing the chasing because it's not as if everyone is celibate.

What do you prefer to be, cat or mouse?

Posted
AuthorSaya Hashimoto
Categoriesgender pols