Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Cross-Dressing Professor

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Cross-Dressing Professor

Meet the cross-dresser professor: he's married, he's straight, and he no longer fits into his tennis skirt. We introduce you to Professor Michael Gilbert, a tenured professor who teaches philosophy and gender studies at York University, and ask: is it really all fun and games when you live as the opposite gender?

Comments (46)

I liked the interview with Professor Gilbert. I'm a woman who wears men-styled clothing for outdoor work, but I find it hard to imagine most men being comfortable in women-styled clothes. If it makes Mickey feel good to dress as a woman, more power to him.

As an aside, much of women-styled clothing is miserably uncomfortable, and my only to him question would be: Why wear panty hose and high heels????

Posted by: Meribeth | Apr 22, 07 10:31 AM

Without a doubt we are conditioned by everyone/everything in our society to act in accordance with the role assigned to our gender. As Carol pointed out it is not a problem for women to wear men's clothing. Why? It is my experience that it is empowering. In the reverse, however, there is no empowering component for a man to dress as a woman. The cross-dressing man only realizes how disempowering it is to be a woman. Great segment.

Posted by: Isabelle | Apr 22, 07 10:39 AM . . . .

POV, Critique, Opinion: Feminist Mormon Housewives

Defining Woman

By: Quimby - June 5, 2007

I think most of us are familiar with the sex/gender divide. For those who aren’t, briefly, it’s the idea that we’re all born with a biological sex (eg male or female), and we’re all born with (and/or socialised into) a gender (eg boy or girl), and the two don’t always match. This is where transsexualism comes into play - a biological man may feel like he’s actually a woman, and vice versa.

The idea fascinates me, and I’ve known enough transexual individuals to believe that gender is a very complex thing indeed. I have no problem referring to a biological man who presents herself to the world as a woman with the feminine pronouns “her” and “she”. For all intents and purposes I would consider her a woman. If she was in the restroom with me I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.

At the same time, though, we’re taught that being Man and Woman is an eternal and essential part of who we are. So what does that mean?

What does it mean to be a woman? I think we can pretty quickly dismiss the “sex” part of the sex/gender divide - breasts, ovaries, fertility, etc. Lots of women don’t have those things. I think we can also dismiss the XX chromosone pairing. There are women who have a Y chromosone who are still considered biological women. But if we confine our discussion to gender, are there any truly “male” or “female” traits?

If being a woman is an essential and eternal part of who we are, what part is essential and eternal to defining woman?

(The same question could be asked about men, and I hope men will chime in with their experiences, but since this is a feminist blog and we’re mostly women, I used the female experience.)

See 34 comments.

Gender Blender

Blurring the lines with Kendra Kuliga and the D.C. Kings

"What is a drag king?" muses Kendra Kuliga. "You could say male impersonator, but that's so the tip of the iceberg. I've seen drag kings go between being a woman and being a guy all in the same performance. I'm both a male and a female while I'm performing."

As her well-known alter ego Ken Las Vegas, Kuliga has been blending the masculine and feminine on stages from D.C.'s own Chaos nightclub to venues across the nation and the Atlantic Ocean. As one of the organizing forces behind the D.C. Kings, she's helped shape Washington into one of the hottest spots in the internationally burgeoning drag king scene.


It's an appropriate ethos for a performance art that's based around mutual support and family-like bonding. While a prominent member of the D.C. Kings and one of the most recognizable drag kings in town, Kuliga is adamant that D.C. Kings is a group effort that wouldn't work if it were boiled down to just one person.

That's why this weekend at the Great Big International Drag King Show at D.C.'s 9:30 Club you won't see drag kings competing for a crown -- you'll be seeing a collection of performers doing what they love, entertaining a crowd. In this case, they'll be entertaining as part of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition annual Conference on Gender.

Kuliga lauds the work that GenderPAC is doing on behalf of everyone who blurs and blends the gender lines society expects, issues of particular importance to GLBT persons, but also to straight men and women who don't conform to traditional roles.

"These are very real people, and they need the respect that they deserve," she says. "G-PAC's got their back."

The daughter of a Brazilian mother whose family was part of the famed Gracie school of jujitsu, Kuliga has had her fair share of exposure to how masculinity and femininity play out in day-to-day lives. The recently-thirty photographer and artist -- and former Metro Weekly employee -- uses those roles and expectations to create a character different than her, but still her own.

METRO WEEKLY: So how does it feel being thirty?

KENDRA KULIGA: I had a rough time turning thirty. I don't feel like that. I feel like a kid, you know? I'm not ready to cash in my chips and be a grown up. I think thirty-one might be easier. But being thirty, I own myself much more than I ever have in how I feel about myself and my body. Women in their thirties are much more okay with themselves than women in their twenties, because you just kind of get over it -- it doesn't matter if I'm thin, it doesn't matter what I do, it's not going to affect the way people treat you at the end of the day. But it's not easy. I'm still working through it.

MW: Were you unhappy with your body and appearance in your twenties? . . .

Gender bender study breakthrough

Roger Highfield describes a mouse study that presents new twist on the quest to understand the difference between males and females

Scientists have found a way to turn female mice into aggressive, pelvic-thrusting masculine lotharios in an experiment that challenges established dogma.

For years, scientists have searched in vain for the bits of the brain that underpin the dramatic differences between males and females.

The female mouse (right) attempting to mount the male - Gender bender breakthrough
The female mouse (right) attempting to mount the male

Now biologist say that all these efforts may have been in vain because such differences may not arise in the brain at all, thanks to a study that could may help provide profound new insights into the differences between the sexes.

The work comes up with the startling suggestion that both male and female brains contain the circuits for male and female behaviour but the ones that are actually used depend on signals from the body, which may turn one circuit on and the other one off.

The focus of sex specific behaviour in many species - though not humans - now shifts to a small sensory organ found in the noses of of most backboned creatures, except higher primates and birds.

The new work of the Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute team, published in the journal Nature, indicates that defects in this organ, known as the vomeronasal organ, lead female mice to act like males, solicting them, mounting them and thrusting them while abandoning nesting and nursing.

"These results are flabbergasting," says Prof Catherine Dulac. "Nobody had imagined that a simple mutation like this could induce females to behave so thoroughly like males."

It is as dramatic as showing a man could be made to behave like a woman at the flick of a switch, though the results do not apply directly to humans, which lack a vomeronasal organ. . . .

Japanese turn to cosmetics for 'pretty, manly' look

TOKYO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Yoshitomo Sango treats his complexion to a face scrub, toner and face cream every morning before strolling to a nearby salon to get his hair done.

By the time the 23-year-old is ready for breakfast, his skin is soft and shimmery, his hair trimmed, pomaded and bobby-pinned into an elaborate pompadour.

The daily regimen takes an hour and costs more than 10,000 yen ($84), but Sango says it's essential to maintain his style.

Sango may spend more cash on his looks than most, but he is far from unusual among Japanese men his age.

In a society that in many ways remains sharply defined by traditional gender roles and expectations, fashion-conscious young men are one-upping their metrosexual counterparts in the West -- it is not only acceptable for them to obsess over their hair, face and clothes, it's sexy too.

Japan's latest heartthrobs are a far cry from the American masculine ideal of stoic, stubble-cheeked muscle men. Slender, smooth-faced and androgynous stars such as singer-actor Takuya Kimura, or Kimutaku as he's affectionately known, routinely top popularity polls among women, and men in Japan are taking note. . . .