Friday, November 30, 2007

Geese in the Yard

This is only a quarter of the flock. They used to hang out by the creek on the other side of the golf course, but a couple of weeks ago, they took up residence right behind my house. Meanwhile the ducks from the pond across from my front yard have moved down to the creek. I don't know if they have some sort of timeshare arrangement going on or what.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Girls, Women, and Females

It started like this:

I was reading essays on Jenny Crusie's site (it was research, I tell you--not procrastination) and discovered that she, and some other women writers, call their subconscious/Muse/subliminal swamp the "Girls in the Basement." Which reminded me of how weird it is to me when women on What Not to Wear refer to their breasts as "the Girls." (As in: badly-fitting bras make "the Girls" unhappy.) Referencing any part of myself, either mental or physical, as a "girl" makes me uncomfortable, and it occurred to me to wonder why.

The short answer is that I don't strongly identify with being a female/woman/girl. I know that I am one, of course, but I generally just think of myself as a "person." The same way that I know that I am technically part-Asian, but I rarely think of myself that way. I don't think of myself as being white, either, or even Asian-American, although that's the closest label. What I picked up from growing up in an era of equal rights and feminism was that "all people, regardless of gender or race, are equal" meant that "men and women are the same," apart from a few biological differences.

Along with that came this idea that being a woman was something to be ashamed of, that embracing femininity meant emphasizing differences between genders, where the ideal was to be the same, to achieve genderless personhood. (Did said personhood look suspiciously masculine? Why, yes, it did. But that's for another discussion.)

But I've been thinking about women and femininity a lot recently, partly because of a story I want to write and partly because I want to find out what being a woman means to me. I've been thinking especially about the stages of women's development, from adolescence through adulthood, which is where the whole issue with the word "girls" comes from.

It's not that I don't like the word--I'm far more comfortable saying "girls" than I am with "women." I'm just wondering what the word means. And I don't think it's just me that's uncomfortable with "women"; I know I've had discussion with other females my age--all of us hovering around thirty, mostly married--about the fact that we refer to each other as "girls" and that we know guys (I say "guys" instead of "men" too) who refer to their girlfriends, or even wives, as "girls." For that matter, I know a lot of older women who refer to themselves and others as girls--"Golden Girls," anyone?

So, my question is: what's a "woman," and how and when does it differ from being a "girl"? To be honest, my conception of the word "woman" has a good deal of matronliness about it. I am far more comfortable using "female" than "woman" as an all-purpose word for female adults.

I never bothered with Women's Studies courses in college because I thought it was kind of backwards at the time to study Women if the ideal was to be genderless People. So I missed all of those discussion back then. But if I'm to think meaningfully about what it means to be a woman today, I need to know what a woman is. How do you define it? What makes someone a woman or a girl to you? Are there appreciable differences between men and women to you, or does it just come down to differences in physiology?

And finally: where do you see these conceptions/definitions going in the future? What will be the same about being a woman 500 years ago vs. today vs. 500 years into the future, and what will be different?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Moods and Writing

There's something sick about the way I feel so much better when I've done some writing for the day. If I don't write for a couple of days, then I feel it building inside, this sense of unease and tension. But scrawl or type a couple hundred words of fiction and whoosh! suddenly the whole world looks right again. It's a strange sort of addiction to have, especially strange since it's not something I want to do every day, I just feel so much better when I do. (I suppose it's more like exercise then--I don't want to do it at all, and certainly not every damn day, but it's good for me.)

I don't have to write "good" words to feel better, but they do have to be story words. Blogging doesn't assuage my unease, or I'd do more of it. Although too many days of writing "bad" words or at least words that don't seem to be getting the story anywhere is just as bad as not writing at all. Well, almost.

I don't know what my point is other than to say I hadn't written anything for the past couple of weeks because I am busy and stressed with other things (and because my story brain is supposed to be stewing novel ideas--stew faster, I say!), but I spewed out a few hundred words of something last night, and all that other stressful stuff seems so much more manageable now. I have no idea what the story I started is about, or even if it's going to turn into anything at all, but I like a couple of things in it and somehow that's enough.

That's really kinda sick, you know.