As far as I remember there's not a single person in my entire life who ever told me to be more manly.
Maybe it's because nobody really cares about that sort of thing around here, but there's got to be at least a few people who do, right? I think what happened was those people took one look at me and thought "you know what I'd just be wasting my time."
As for my own behavior, I have done masculinity and I have done femininity as I saw fit, and donned and doffed each like a hat -- but the one thing I always hold onto, that people call masculine, is to walk through the world freely and without fear. My best friend worries about me when I do such a thing, for in her experience, walking out alone in the dark night exposes one to robbers, rapists, fiends of all sorts --
I worry that her assessment of local peril is based on the fact that Hartford is right next door, such that the petty crimes and desperation of poverty might spill over into our lives. But it is also possible that she is speaking from her own experiences.
I do not ask too much about what she has been through, not after the little I heard. She does not volunteer any details.
For my part, a blithely adventurous attitude may be an aspect of being White. But I hear about it mostly in terms of online accounts from women who have justified fears about how strangers in their towns treat them, especially as it pertains to men. Wolf whistles among the least of it. And I wonder if these are anecdotal cases that ignore the larger picture of strangers being generally safe, or if the problem is so widespread that it even happens here, and I do know that I have suffered far less from other people than they have suffered from other people, even within my own hometown...
The most frequently-cited statistic from the annals of feminism is the idea that one in four (five?) women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime, and notwithstanding the statistic's ignorance of how this issue is also suffered by the remainder of humanity, and its curious determinism of the future -- I think it is accurate to say that everyone knows someone who has suffered sexual assault. Even if specific numbers are hard to come by.
I imagine that I have escaped such treatment because as I walk freely I have walked alone, and there are a lot of things most people get involved in that I have never been part of. And because I am White, and as Helen Keller said a hundred years ago, all the awful misfortunes you hear about are not spread evenly though a population, but fall in the greater part upon poor people.
I suppose when it comes to Feminism it is always worth remembering that Whiteness as a legal concept was set up specifically to shove poverty and misfortune onto other peoples, and that talking of women's issues in the general sense is already tricky even without going into the details of supposedly shared problems. That was where second-wave feminism ran into trouble because it had a lot of rhetoric about Women In General, which its most famous voices didn't realize was built mostly out of white suburban middle-class women's experiences in the mid 20th century. The Combahee River Collective wouldn't have had to exist if the second-wave movement hadn't been vaguely racist.
And as for me, I wonder if my hometown is a strange enough place that I could ONLY walk freely here, or if I have such an adorable face that nobody would think to do me harm wherever I go. Not something I can rely upon, I suppose. It's been quite a long time since anyone hurt me deliberately and nobody's ever threatened me with violence but some people are out for money, and some people are out for blood, and rare as they are they're still immune to my charm.
And maybe that kind of charm is based on having a pale face because, as the feminists always say, modern standards of beauty are based on whiteness right? I'm spoiled here, spoiled sweet. I have it WAY easier than most folks. TOO easy. Or maybe they have it way too hard and I shouldn't be wishing hardship on myself for the sake of moral rectitude.
I'm sure some people would see my blithe behavior and say "why are you so naïve, you're trans, lots of people are out to get you," But to that I say -- even that danger falls mostly on poor folks. The murders of trans women you hear about are most often done to poor prostitutes desperate to make a buck.
I won't find peril from people at home, and I'd like to think I would have a hard time running into it anywhere, because I know strangers are mostly live-and-let-live even if they're not always helpful enough to avoid being cold. But maybe that's not spread evenly either?
And yet I've been told time and again that poor folks tend to help each other out far more than rich folks, and it makes sense to me, because how else would they survive? How else has anyone ever survived poverty except by relying on the human instinct for pack bonding? Aristocrats are the weird ones, I tell you what. Always have been. I think they used to get trained from childhood to be cruel to the lower classes so they could uphold the rigid class order. That's probably not deliberate these days but somehow a lot of these zillionaires are still just the nastiest folks, and I wonder how that happens. Maybe because their parents never told them "No." I can see where I might have gone the same way if I hadn't ever had to deal with disappointment. I was spoiled sweet instead of rotten.
Alright, if I want to find peril I'll be a servant at someone's giant mansion. Maybe papa's favorite son likes to vivisect the kitchen staff now and then.
I assume these people are are not stupid enough to believe that telling me to Be A Man would get any results. But who knows? Maybe in a zillionaire's house I will find EVERYTHING I have been missing! Intrigue! Sneering! Slander! Skulking! Ghastly peril! Murder mysteries! Well, only one way to find out.
Or I could just go down South where people are still trying to uphold a social order based on patriarchal racism.
I guess I have to flip a coin.