As a young girl I grappled with this thing of gender identification and remember one day actively attempting to change the way in which I walked. One morning as I swaggered along to the bus stop, I practiced walking in my perceived version of a 'feminine' gait and manner. Forever being referred to by old men in the street as 'son', it had never bothered me before. In Scotland old men always give you a wee nod followed with a jaunty, 'You aw right son?' or hen? Though in my case it was always 'son'. This was fine and dandy until one day, (I had recently started secondary school where my peer's began their pressure) I realised my tomboy days where over. Now I needed to 'act' like a girl. To 'act' in a 'feminine' manner. I straightened myself up (??), walked with my knees closer together, took shorter strides, head-up and shoulders back. Needless to say it felt altogether weird and in a voice pitched higher than my usual fog-horn, I approached an old man,
'You ken what the time is mister?'
'Aye, it's ten-past-nine son.'
She remembered how, as a young man, she had insisted that woman must be obedient, chaste, scented, and exquisitely apparelled. "Now I shall have to pay in my own person for those desires," she reflected; "for woman are not (judging by my own short experience of the sex) obedient, chaste, scented, and exquisitely apparelled by nature. They can only attain these graces, without which they may enjoy none of the delights of life, by the most tedious discipline.'
VIRGINIA WOOLFE, Orlando.