I Was a Boy When I Learned How to Run15 September, 2011
Old habits are like John McClane, they die hard. They become entrenched inside of your psyche, something you can’t shake because it’s an intimate part of you, like the memory of your first lover or the haunting snatches of a melodic refrain. I find these old habits particularly troublesome as they are often incongruous with who I am (becoming) and these slips startle me and unnerve those around me.
It’s all part of social conditioning. I was a boy when I learned how to run. So, I run like a boy. When I throw, I throw like a boy. When students ignore my authority, I sound like a boy, well, rather, I sound like a man. Years of social conditioning have ingrained in me the autonomic response to this “threat.” Had I been raised a girl, I would fall back on a different response, but I cannot say what that response would be because I never learned it and the classroom environment with forty seniors, thirty desks, and no technology is not a conducive environment for learning it. It’s not trial by fire if you are rendered into ash before the test has begun.
There are times where this social conditioning could prove advantageous. If my stalker returned, instinctually dropping into a defensive stance could save me a lot of pain. Falling into a lower octave while dealing with a recalcitrant customer service phone representative may prove the key to getting what’s needed or at least getting off the line. Despite these quirky little benefits to having a default male-mode for times of crisis, these engrained habits undermine my credibility and social status. Americans like their men male, their women female, and their stakes burnt to shit. Three expectations I can’t live up to. Ultimately, I would eschew the little perks associated with being the homogenderic ideal to have learned how to run when I was a girl.