Saturday, January 14, 2006

On Becoming a Woman

"I miss Lapwing," some folks have written to me. I miss Lapwing, too, even though I was (am?) that insouciante young woman inside the skin of a much crankier middle-aged man.

Who was Lapwing and who is Lapwing? I've already explained the origins of the name and it's author (see here), and when people say they miss Lapwing they don't mean either. They mean they miss the distinctly female personality of Lapwing.

I didn't set out to create a female Lapwing. Indeed, I never came out and told anyone Lapwing was female. When some curious souls asked whether Lapwing's relationship with Cecilieaux included bed, I adopted a Sphinx-like silence.

It was men, men who wanted to know whether the author of Lapwing's e-mail and Lapwing's blog was a man or a woman, men who wrote to meet Lapwing, men who began referring to "her" while Lapwing made strenous efforts to write without using personal pronouns ... they were the ones who made Lapwing feminine. Then there were some women who believed the men or to whom Lapwing sounded female.

Truth in labelling: I belong to the male persuasion with no interest in changing. I am heterosexual.

And yet, and yet ... Lapwing seemed to be female. She was a 30-something know-it-all young woman. A bit biting at times, yet a softie in the end: a pacifist, a person concerned for children. Stop the presses: I have those qualities.

Lapwing, however, had a lighter touch than I and when she was insulted or hurt she would not let the sun go down on her wrath. She did not return rudeness in kind. Lapwing ended up, by acclamation, becoming a woman.

It was quite an experience. I never lied. I never invented things to trick people. These were my honest feelings, the honest facts (with a small genital omission).

Is there such a thing as a female personality? I used to think not. But I think now that there is. Or rather, that we assign to certain behavior the label feminine and to other the label masculine.

It was fun trying out being a woman without any messy biological work or serious legal complications.

Women can speak up gently, can embarrass, can call rowdy behavior to a stop with a figurative wagging of their finger. A woman never gets into a fight. She wins by raising her eyebrows. No one dares outright challenge a woman to go mano a mano.

There are, of course, a whole lot of troglodytes out there -- you know who you are -- who think nothing of belittling a woman in a way they'd be afraid to do so with a man. Yes, I learned that if you are a woman on the Net, at least the other women will always stick up for you. They won't pick up your cudgel and beat the brutes' brains out, as they deserve. No, they'll quietly send a little message of support.

At last, I had a sense of what women do among themselves. I experienced a little bit of the sorority, so healing, so supportive, so helpful, that binds women in a way that is not echoed in the male bond of fraternity.
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