Boots. Sharp trousers. White shirt. Gold signet ring. No makeup. Wide stances. Wandering hands. Reaching up to feel someone's bottom, groping. Handing out drinks, grinning like a bastard and saying "who's your Daddy?". Feeling up pretty girls and boys with little differentiation, when I'm feeling like this, dressed like this, behaving like this, their actual gender is irrelevant, only the fact that they beautiful and that they are on one level or another my bitches.
I've been experimenting more and more with my masculinity of late, and it's making me rather pleased with myself. That I can express this side, and feel comfortable, powerful, sexy and happy in doing so is a testament to the people around me. It also an acknowledgement of my own development. Like my switch-self, there is a queer self which encompasses masculinity as a natural bedfellow with my androgyny, my womanhood, my kink and my cultural background.
In the past I've been nervous about expressing either my femininity or my masculinity. When younger, I often felt gawkish and out of place as if I was neither one thing nor the other. I wasn't brought up as particularly feminine - a fact I am extremely grateful to my parents for. I was a tomboyish kid with the endless bruised and scraped knees of a childhood growing up on a street with no "little girls" so constantly falling out of trees or off bicycles. We got a lot of hand-me-downs and from those I was allowed to chose my own toys and clothes. I was never forced to dress in girly outfits and that together with my short hair and Tonka Truck obsession meant that I was often taken for a boy outside of school (there was a ghastly skirt and hat uniform). At school, with its clear, gender defined lines my fledgling identity was put into crisis.
I remember losing the boys as friends when I grew a little older: they were encouraged to play less and less with girls by their deeply sexist (I can see that now) parents. I became marooned on Girl Island. The games that girls played were strange and odd to me - composed of cliques, secret languages and power plays that would make the cruelest psychological dominant blanch. Each day was spent working out where you stood in a shifting social order of who was best friends with who, something I was spectacularly poor at. I still hankered after male companionship, made less and less easily accessible with the onset of puberty and my lack of conventional feminine attractiveness. I was stuck in the middle at a time and place where there was no middle ground.
A common term of abuse thrown at me was "boygirl" because I had no female friends. There was a lot of bullying, of that uncertain kind where you know you are excluded and you know people are being horrible to you but because no-one is actually calling you names or pushing you in puddles it's hard to quantify, much less tell anyone. Eventually I told someone and then spent the next few years being steadfastly ignored alternating with frustrating periods of trying to "fit in" with other girls including bouts of controlled eating patterns until finally, eventually, and with the escape velocity that comes from leaving home and going to University (thanks to a thoughtful and well prepared Grandfather who calculated the cost of the education he never had) I realised that fitting in was a dreadful, soul crushing compromise. The better plan was to work out who I was and to enjoy it.
And that's a work in progress.
I'm still finding the language of masculinity a challenge, especially when it comes to kink. Uncertain whether I am merely playing with the master's toolbox and in essence, supporting the system of "naturalised" Mf assumptions and prejudices deeply prevalent in the scene. I adopt masculine language patter and use feminine subservient terms such as "bitches", riffing off gangsters old and new, and also in part that marvellous scene in Elizabeth The Golden Age, which I really enjoyed for its presentations of the challenges of being female and being in power.
I solace myself by remembering that whilst masculinity, and the words that surround it, sits well with dominance it is only because they are both perceived as synonyms for power. In fact, masculinity is a socially constructed mode of behaviour rather than simply the biological happenstance of "being male". There is no reason that having a certain set of chromosomes should mean one is especially given to operating on a particular side in sexual games of power or control except that we train boys to be masculine (dominant) and girls to be feminine (subservient). Our upbringing and education system is practically a pink/blue caste system in which we separate everyone into girls and boys and raise them into male and female irrespective of the sorts of people they are. We are also taught that the two are unbreakable binaries: that to be feminine means you are emasculated, to be masculine is to be unfeminine.
The truth of the matter is that "masculine" and "feminine" are just models of presentation or performance consisting of many fine strands of behaviours, ways of seeing and doing. I feel at my most comfortable in jeans, tshirts and trainers. Even now, either hyper femme or very butch I feel as if I'm "dressing up". I've learnt over time to enjoy being playful with these roles rather than getting sucked into social anxieties of contrived gender impulses.
It also helps that the more I break out my boyishness the more I seem to turn those around me into blushing masses of uncertainty and excitement.