Are you a Girl or Boy?


Working at a community event the other day in Manchester, on the wrong side of the tracks, I made a faux pas. It set my thoughts alight.

One kid, about 12, caught my attention, pony tail to the waist, piercing blue, pained eyes, with stories to tell, they spoke. This kid was beautiful. ‘Right this young lady on the bike,’ I announced. He was a boy. I was mortified. His mates heard, cottoned on and ripped into him. I wondered if that comment would affect him, if at all.

After that, I opened my eyes wider. Unless we’re dressed in certain clothes, have certain hairstyles, I’m none the wiser of boy or girl. Is it only when body parts and facial hair starts to grow that it becomes clearer, or in some cases not.

I call the kids ‘poppet,’ now, it’s safer.

The module I used to mock the most at university, Geography of Gender, or gays and lesbians, has become a fascination to me. These labels, ideals, expectations and social constructions of what we should or shouldn’t be uses a lot of my brain waves.

I do wonder sometimes as to male and female behaviour. How much of it is down to our predisposed treatment through our parents personal and social conditioning. Or how much is nature?

In my opinion, I looked and behaved like a boy, or a socially constructed one. A dirty little urchin. In my uniform, a grey or blue tracksuit, I rolled round in the mud and made Barbie do terrible things. Mum would bribe me to wear skirts and dresses. Dad would relentlessly tell me to brush my hair. I still don’t.

Things haven’t really changed. Though it’s been partners who want me to dress up or look more ‘girly,’ Mum gave up a long time ago. ‘Wear fuck me boots and a mini skirt,’ how about jog on dickhead. ‘You must be depressed because you’re not wearing dresses,’ save me.

Now and again I engage with my feminine side, I guess we call it that, and enjoy it. But it takes time and effort. Of which I have little regard. These days, in particular, I’d rather stretch for longer in the morning. Though I have my nails done now. In my mind, no matter how dishevelled you look, if your nails are done, you’re smart.

Whatever floats your boat. I love men in pink shirts.


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