September, 23 2015
How Do I Get People to Accept that I'm a Feminine Man?

Madge and Downtown Boy weigh in on the acceptability of being an openly expressed feminine man.

by Magdalene
Lifestyle
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Dear Madge,
 
I am a guy in mid 20s who possesses a feminine self that I have been proud to explore. I find it extremely comfortable, at least for me, to acknowledge and admit that femininity does not belong to one gender. In fact, it is as safe and normal to be publicly displayed for everyone. It is beautiful, but not minor.
 
The problem is my being fond of femininity is contested by my male colleagues. I am regularly questioned by them regarding why I must comply to the opposite gender, as if I betrayed their masculinity, as if I intended to hurt their pride. Though I’m fine being mocked, I also find feminine males get teased more often as opposed to masculine females. I begin to think that this is another part of exercises on patriarchy.
 
Can I pick a brain on how to deal with these types of people? How do I make them understand that being male-feminine is okay? How do I soothe their assumption about my disrespecting masculinity? How can I make it right? 


I'd be very happy to be enlightened on this. Thank you.
 


Regards,
T
 
Dear T,
 
Seriously, I admire you. I wish everyone had the same level of acceptance of themselves and comfort in expressing themselves. On the downside, of course, you get bullied or teased by people, particularly men, but also women who live in a society in which patriarchy and heteronormativity are so deeply ingrained.
 
You’re probably, right, feminine males get teased more often then masculine females, though, I don’t really have the basis to say that, other than the fact that men tend to be more aggressive in their treatment of each other. But there’s really nothing acceptable in it.  Really, this kind of people would find anything that doesn’t sync with their gender-binary world a threat.
 
Now, I’m going to keep this simple and say: keep doing what you do, and keep being you. Just be a good person, one who is productive, and kind and respectful of others. Prove your value, and give people no reason to hate you for what you do, and you’ll eventually reflect to these people how petty and small-minded they are. If they never come to their senses, then leave it, and, as that oft-played Disney song says, “Let it go.” We’re never going to please everyone and, really, we don’t have to explain ourselves to everyone we meet in our path.
 
Now I’m going to let my BFF Downtown Boy give his two cents. 
 
~ M
 
Dear Sassy Sister, 
 
I envy you much. Back in my mid-20s, I used to fill my answering machine with my “just-waking-up” deep raspy voice. Most of my friends said they were startled to hear the recorded message, thinking they must've dialed the wrong number. That was my lame attempt to toughen up my image. In reality after a good 10 minutes and a glass of water, my morning voice would naturally convert to its usual chirpy state. (Once I recorded my voice when I had a chronic sore throat!)
 
It's great that you wholeheartedly embrace your feminine side, but you are not responsible for other people's bigotry. So, don't go the extra mile to make them accept you. Why should you be extra nice to the people who don't value who you are?  
 
That said, you should focus more on your own emotions and your wellbeing. Concentrate more on the values that matter most in being an honest and respectable individual. Keep smiling and be civil to them, I know it sounds like a cliché, but often times in life being civil and truthful works like a charm.  
 
As for the people who can't accept you, prejudice stems from a lack of understanding and direct association towards a certain group of people of different race, background, sexual preference and so on. Such prejudice will remain intact if they choose to avoid making contact to those whom they have prejudice again.
 
So, as for you honey, no need to be good buddies, but don't avoid them either. These people need you more than you do them. 
 
Best, 
 
Downtown Boy
 
Got a burning question about something? Send it to [email protected] -- in English or Indonesian -- with the subject "Ask Madge" or tweet your question to @the_magdalene.