As a very tall woman with short hair and a chest flattened by a double mastectomy, I often get addressed as “Sir.” I find this dispiriting. It pisses me off too. I’m obviously a woman. Didn’t I, after all, go to the trouble of putting on makeup, earrings and my uncomfortable girl shoes? Oh, right, this is New York, and that just makes me look more like a transvestite.
Some women are comfortable with androgyny. I find it more difficult perhaps because of my childhood and adolescent experience of being freakishly tall. I reached my full height of 5 ft. 10 in. before I was 13, and people assumed I was older than I was and expected more mature behavior from me. If I wept, I could expect ridicule rather than sympathy.
Even as an adult, now merely tall rather than gigantic, I sometimes feel there’s a societal expectation that because I’m big, I can bear more pain and effortlessly perform greater feats of strength. It’s unseemly when I whine.
I wish I could say that external expectations have created internal fortitude. But that’s not the case. I may be even more lily-livered than my shorter-statured sisters. They after all feel they have to stand tall to be taken seriously, or so they tell me.