I went to the Freud conference yesterday and my professional life clashed yet again with the personal.
Several times I talked to people, most of whom seemed pleased to see me, but I felt myself gush. Now I grow hot with shame. I should have kept myself to myself. I fear I become one of those crazy women whom people tolerate but behind the windows of their eyes they judge.
We wear our underwear on the inside, I hear them thinking. We keep our failures to ourselves. We put our best foot forward and we do not tell others about our criticisms of colleagues nor of our colleague’s criticisms of us.
I wear my underwear on the outside. I make sure it is clean and there are no holes, but the very fact of having underwear is another one of those things that is best kept secret.
We wear our underwear in order to keep the outer layer clean given what comes out of our bodies, the sweat and other messes.
Men have less of a problem down below, I imagine, unless of course they’ve reached that dreadful late aged stage of incontinence, but at conferences like the one I attended yesterday, most people have not yet reached this.
Yesterday, the speakers talked about the difficulties of working with Gender Identity Dysphoria, (GID) in children and adolescents. Dysphoria means distress, the distress of some of us who decide they are not their assigned gender, but its opposite. It’s a tricky one and apparently it’s on the rise.
I’ve always felt reasonably confident about my gender. A girl from the start, and still a girl, which is not to say there have not been many times when I wished I were a boy, not for the bodily show of it but for the social power. For the sense, as my fantasy has it, that the world is masculine.
As women we are always on the edge of the divide, though not as sharply on the edge as those who do not accept the gender their body assigns them at birth.
I sit in conferences like this and can feel the weight of all those other bodies behind me. I sit in the front, to see and to hear better. Goodie goodies and the elderly tend to sit in the front. I marvel at those who hide up the back or those who do not care where they sit.
To me it matters. So much matters to me. I sometimes wonder whether my internal world is not a mess of self consciousness.
My daughter tells me that she too suffers, not so much at conferences, or at lectures at her university, but on FaceBook, the younger person’s arena for self presentation.
On FaceBook some folks wear their underwear in multiple layers, to give the illusion it’s not there. Their underwear itself is part of the performance and their bodies underneath must be polished and primped in perfect proportion to the image they want to create.
It puts my daughter off. It makes her feel inadequate. She can never measure up to those pouting, beauties, both men and women, who peer out from their FaceBook pages.
I am relieved that I was not born into the FaceBook generation; that I might use FaceBook as a place to stream my political views or to share the occasional item of interest, but I do not use it as my personal platform.
My blog can be my place to open out and explore these things but every time I write I shudder inside at the thought, what will people make of it?
Among a small group of people to whom I spoke at the conference yesterday during afternoon tea , I noticed the face of a woman who had joined our group late and whose eyes suggested deep disapproval of me.
Whenever I imagine someone dislikes or disapproves of me I examine my conscience. Now wait a minute I say to myself, Isn’t it you who dislikes her?
But then I reconsider, and in this instance I know the feeling is mutual. And I cannot put my finger on the why? Perhaps it has something to do with our underwear.