My existence as a biracial female has always been curated by the opinions and perspectives of those entirely unlike me. Those perspectives that uphold whiteness, Euro- centrism, patriarchal values, and or walk around as a cisgender, heterosexual male. I continue to learn more about myself in terms of how much I have unknowingly succumbed to problematic social constructs, gender constructs, and white constructs. For so long, I have tailored my presentation to be wanted by those who have that kind of power over me in society, I think largely because it was a way for me to be closer to that patriarchal ego. I sought male approval, and most specifically, approval that has been dictated by cisgender heterosexual men. Internally, I remain confused because I am femme and feel most myself presenting as a femme female.
How much of this though is actually genuinely me and how much of it could be due constructs that have been shaped by the cis-het masculine ego? I've felt internally shattered.
When it comes to thinking about what that male ego wants, I think about all the things that conversely repulse it. Ironically, the masculine ego loves the orifice that it can find opportunity in penetrating, but is sickened by the entire nature of it. The masculine ego rejects the phenomenon of that penetrable orifice expelling any bodily fluid that has nothing to do with his own actions. Nothing to do with orgasm it has created, nothing to do with fluid of a child that he has impregnated, but instead, expelling fluid that sheds an unfertilized egg that has broken itself free. The orifice is then seen as impenetrable, and once again, that possibly of fertilization did not occur. The body is then stigmatized as repulsive and useless.
Toxic stigmas that have existed about menstruation have controlled those who have vaginas for far too long. Those of us who menstruate have felt disgusted by our own bodies. We have been told that we are disgusting. We are humiliated if we bleed through our pants. We hide tampons in our sleeves if we have to excuse ourselves to go to the bathroom. In many parts of the world, menstruation is so stigmatized and shamed that it prevents young girls from going to school. In society today, we are now faced with the trans-phobic argument that “only women menstruate.” In all reality, all of these toxic stigmas have been written and dictated by the cis- het masculine ego.
What my body does should not have to be censored for an ego that has nothing to do with my identity.
Seeking a penis is not a requirement for me to be sexy. I can exist in my femme-ness while rejecting that masculine ego. In fact, I hope to repulse it. I’ll be unapologetic.
NICKEL SILVER HARNESS AND CREATIVE DIRECTION BY JENNIFER LAU
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH ARTICE