Gina de Vries

Pretty girl, foxy lady, or both?

Filed By Gina de Vries | February 03, 2009 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: pretty girls, sexuality

It's my birthday today! I am 26, officially closer to thirty than twenty. That brings up a very important question: Do I have to relinquish my femme chicken status?

I'm being mostly tongue in cheek in asking this question -- but sexuality and age and how they relate is certainly something I think about a lot. Especially because I spent so many years as a queer youth activist. As an adult, I also have a history of dating folks who are significantly older than me, and of us eroticizing that difference in our relationships. I'm talking about particular kinds of bdsm that I've done here, including but not limited to Daddy/girl play, but I'm talking about more vanilla dynamics, too.

Our culture clearly sexualizes youth and de-sexualizes aging to a wacky and disturbing extent. I want to be very clear here: I'm not trying to call that a good thing. I'm not saying that exploitation of minors, older people preying on younger people and using generational differences and cultural capital as "power over," and general cultural worship at the Altar of Youth and denigration of older peoples' sexuality at all a good thing. I've seen all that play out in our culture and queer community too many times, and it's ugly.

But there's a kind of power and beauty to being the Hot Young Thing. To really being able to own your age, and work it, and -- this has always been my favorite part, the sexiest part for me -- play innocent when you're not. Turn that whole idea of what "youngness" means on its head. "Innocence" -- and lack thereof -- is very powerful and potent for me sexually, and the idea of innocence or inexperience is very linked to age in our culture.

So I'm wondering at what point one goes from being a Hot Young Thing to The Older Woman/Man/Other? I'm officially in my late twenties -- do I go from being a Pretty Girl to Foxy Lady today? Can I be both?

Tell me your thoughts on this -- I find the whole thing fascinating.

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It seems a bit silly for a guy over 23 or 24 to be calling himself boy or worse boi. Any older than that and its a matter of who do you think you're fooling. Males have the fairly age neutral "guy" to hang our hats on. The exception is the social "boys" as in I'm goin' out with the boys.

Years ago my dad taught me never to call a grown woman, "girl" so I'm not walking in that mine field. Although, I'd say if you can work it, work it.

And pardon my manners, Happy Birthday!

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 3, 2009 11:14 PM

Happy birthday, Gina!

Age is such a complicated issue! I don't think I can reduce it to comment length.

For now, let me just say that--in addition to all the other issues everyone has in relation to age--many FtMs of my generation seem to go through a sort of age-regression. When we transition, we catapult back to the emotional age we were at when we definitively repressed our transgender-identities. Then we move forward again. The fact we often look decades younger than we are only contributes to this dynamic.

For me, "age dysphoria" and being taken for a much younger man has been as challenging as my gender transition. Likewise, maybe because I feel so young, am comfortable in the company of much younger people, and (due in part to my "starting over as a man") often have little in common with average people my age, I've mostly dated younger people since transitioning.

I love the energy, the optimism, the daring, the open-mindedness, and the "forward-lookingness" of the young people I've dated. For them, I think I've offered patience, understanding, emotional safety, and yes, "wisdom," packaged in a much younger and hipper persona than my actual years. It's been great for both sides!

Marja Erwin | February 4, 2009 1:43 PM

That can go both ways, MtF as well as FtM. Someone joked that everything before transition counts half, and in some ways that's true. Means I'm approaching my 16th with my MA already finished instead of approaching my 30th without one relationship...

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 4, 2009 8:30 PM

Marja Erwin, I thought it might be similar for MtF's but didn't want to speak for others.

Hang in there regarding a relationship. You don't need a lot of relationships, just the right relationship!

And congratulations on the MA!!!

Melanie Davis | February 4, 2009 12:13 AM

Happy birthday! I think you can have it both ways, depending on the setting. When out with the girls, you can totally be a girl. In the office, probably better to be a lady. In the bedroom, well, it depends on your particular desire.

I see your point, though. One day when I was walking through my old neighbourhood, I was chased after by a couple of rednecks who shouted: "That broad's a Lez-Bo." I thought, as I was running for my life, wow, I guess I am officially old. They called me a broad."

As far as what age is appropriate to be called or to refer to someone as a juvenile or not, that's dependant on culture. I like elderly people calling me "girl" or "miss" or "shuga," especially in a Southern drawl. It sounds cute to me even though it can be considered diminutive. If a man of my peer group did the same thing, I'd struggle with the desire to geld him. This one time, I was referred to as "Shorty" once in line at a gas station. Ironically, the verbal assailant was maybe 5'-6" and I positively towered over him at 6'-2".

This is one of those subjects that can get a lot of differing opinions because of the mixing of generations and cultures and the personal preferences, experiences, and definitions held by both the addresser and addressee. What works for one person in one context can be totally inappropriate in another because the same language carries different meaning when spoken by different people.

I don't think it happens until you're at least 45. Does it?

The shift is gradual, sometimes near imperceptible, if you know how to stave off the signs of age. At 26 (happy b'day!), and looking / feeling young, you have the option of playing either role as it suits you. You don't lose that in a day.

Take advantage of it while you can. The age issue gets more than a little heavier at 40.

Happy Birthday foxy lady!

After meeting you, I have to say - it's "foxy lady" all the way. Why?

It's the presence you have. You don't exude "girl" like you do "woman." It's a maturity thing; the sparkle in your eye and the aura of worldliness that surrounds you both speak to far more experience than a "girl" would have. Which, in my eyes at least, makes you far more interesting. :)

It was great to meet you at Creating Change, but I wish we'd had more time to hang out together. I think we could have caused a lot of trouble together. LOL

Happy birthday!

I dunno. I remember how crazy dysphoric it felt to be referred to as a "gay man" when I started blogging - I don't know why I just didn't feel like "gay man" described me at all. I probably got weirded out because I didn't have a "real" job at the time (I still don't) and felt like tat was a prerequisite to being a "man."

I'm just saying this not to validate that idea, but just to point out how deep some of this indoctrination runs. I don't know if the transition from "pretty girl" to "foxy lady" is attached to having a 9-5 as it is for men, but I sure hope it isn't!

Happy Belated Birthday!

I think the age issue becomes more of an issue once you get older. Right now you can play it both ways but it might depend on who you are with and how old they are. When I was younger I loved the wisdom and knowledge that older or more mature friends that I am older I love the energy and enthusiasm that younger people have...but my goal for myself is to be in the moment and have respect for the age I am now. It gets more difficult as the things you identify with (your looks) start to change and fade. Maiden, mother, crone....who wouldn't want to be a maiden? I do enjoy those women who can be their age and totally be comfortable in their own skin. But right now, Sugar, enjoy where you it up play innocent or is still your choice....and you have many years left to play it how you choose...