Can you imagine what it would be like to
switch genders for a day? Years ago, I wrote a column on
the topic and I'm still getting mail. Men go into great detail
telling me what they'd do during those 24 hours and it seems
that women can be just as eager to experience life on the other
One female, a newspaper reporter, said
she actually made the switch to see what it would be like.
She shed her makeup, tucked her hair under a cap and applied a
phony mustache. Some baggy clothes then completed the
transformation and out she went. She was in for a big
shock! In a flash, she realized something was
wrong...something had changed. Then she realized what it
was. She had suddenly become invisible. Girls are so
accustomed to always being on parade that they only take notice
when nobody looks at them. As a boy, you accept being more
or less anonymous. Women stand out while men blend in.
But that reporter was unusual in being
able to pull off her transition. It isn't easy for a woman
to drop all her typically female gestures and behave like a
male. A man has an easier time pretending to be a woman
which is probably why there are so many more female
impersonators compared to male impersonators. Perhaps this
is because females are awash in female symbols. Where a
man merely pulls on jeans, a T-shirt and he's out the door, a
woman has to spend time "getting ready." So much is artifice
that to enjoy being a girl must be to enjoy getting costumed.
This came to mind one day last week when
my wife and I were at the market shopping in the frozen food
section. Trying to find some peas, my wife walked over to
an employee dressed in a heavy coat, cap and gloves. I
arrived just in time to ask:What did he say? That day, the time
spent getting ready was spent getting ready for a job stocking
freezer shelves. He turned out to be a she...much to my
And it's not just what you see.
Subjects told to sniff a shirt taken from a man or a woman could
almost always identify the previous wearer's gender.
Voices too can be easily separated. Some companies will
switch disgruntled callers from a female to a male associate and
thereby give the impression of moving up the corporate ladder.
And can somebody -- an evolutionary psychologist perhaps -- tell
me why girls swoon over a boy singer's voice but boys rarely
come unglued over a girl singer's voice?
Look At It This Way
There are dozens of books listing and
exploring uniquely male/female, mental/physical characteristics
and almost as many books saying that such differences don't
matter. But assuming you could swap genders for a day:
A) Would you, and if so
B) What are the first three
things you'd do as the new you?
I suspect that, once you give it some
thought, what you'd think about doing will surprise even you. As
for me, I'd like to see what it's like to always be right...
just like my wife.