Beyond Gender

“Mirror, Mirror on the wall,
Who’s the fairest of them all?”

I often use the phrase “beyond gender.”  I originally did it to be funny.  I hoped as I grew older to inhabit a genderless world. I would be the equal of all human beings.

I would no longer be Snow White or the Evil Queen.  I would be both.

snow-white-mirror mirror

The women in my family are spectacularly pretty for a short time and then lose their looks completely.

What’s a mirror?  It’s not who we are.

Since we’ve been plain for so long, aging is easy.

I had an early menopause.  Such prettiness as I had faded into gray hair, wrinkles, and weight gain.

There were advantages.  I no longer had to rush out of meetings because my sticky period had started.  I no longer had to use tampons.   All those boxes and boxes and boxes of tampons!  Thousands of tampons!   Tens of thousands of tampons!

All that bleeding.  Gone.  Dried up.  Years of too-frequent periods.  Stopped.  No hot flashes.  No transition.

My friends would say they hadn’t reached menopause yet.

I would say, Thank God I have!

Why are we so proud of menstruating?


I have always been  in favor of zero population growth.

With climate change spitting in our faces, we hope Z. P. G. will again be proselytized.

W. C. Drupsteen, 1885, snow white

Illustration by W. C. Drupsteen, 1885

In middle age, you can take extra good care of your looks or let them go.  At a certain age I desisted from the “blonding” process.  Friends who blonded their hair had  insisted it would give me an advantage.  I’m not sure what they had in mind, but it didn’t keep me young.  Certainly I had little concern about wrinkles, but apparently there were things I could do to prevent them.  If only I still bought Elizabeth Arden or Clinique and went on a diet…well, I’d look better!

My emphasis is on health, bicycling, and eating lots of vegetables.

With age, I rather hoped my relationships with men would be on a par with my friendships with women.

I hadn’t counted on the invisibility factor.

The other day I found myself at the grocery store striding up to the counter with my two items.  Just as I was about to put them down, a man rushed past me with his three items.

“Sorry,” he said.


Were they emergency items?  Wine, cake, and a carton of chocolate milk?

Was I invisible?

Why did he cut in front of me?

When I was young and briefly pretty, they were falling over themselves to let me go first in line.  I guess it wasn’t a courtesy thing.  It was sex.

Are people ruder now?  Or is it to do with aging?

Most say I have avoided this extreme rudeness by not going to the store at peak times.

I don’t expect etiquette, but I do expect manners, yes.

7 thoughts on “Beyond Gender

  1. I have been so angry about the gender gap this week that I am almost beyond words. I expect you saw that the lawyer defending the men who raped the medical student in Delhi offered as a defence the notion that she was to blame because by being on a bus at that time of night she was advertising herself as a whore.


  2. Tampons! As expensive as they were, you would think they were made of gold. I am very happy not have to buy them anymore.

    I do notice the invisibility thing. My response is to consider men invisible. It works for me.


  3. Alex, I missed that, but it’s very sad.

    Belle, you got temporarily censored apparently because you mentioned “tampon.” Naturally I approved this comment! Tampons were horribly expensive, weren’t they? Sometimes (this is gross, so you can close your eyes) I WOULD GO THROUGH TWO IN AN HOUR.

    It is odd who’s invisible and who’s not. I’m sure people with gray hair were invisible to me until I was 30. Now I just want people to take home ec or something and learn a few manners! But probably they’re cutting in front of everyone. We WOULD never have done that in our day. We had to respect the invisible!


  4. Oh I hear you! I’ll be fifty this year and I really need to go cold turkey and stop colouring my hair – I’m sick of the expense, sitting in the hairdressers for two hours and then having to do it all over again two months later. I like your emphasis on fresh air and exercise rather than cosmetics and dieting.


  5. It’s fun to go cold turkey! A lot of women I know stop the hairdresser visits at 50. Of course you never know…maybe at 60 I’ll go on a blonde-my-hair binge again!


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