How many times have I stared into the mirror noting some imperfection? Sometimes, it’s my forehead, which seems to sit over my entire face imposingly. I place my palm on it, and can’t cover the entire thing. My friends call it a “hand-and-a-half” forehead. At other times I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I climb into the shower and note my lean. It’s not bad, but a far cry from the chiseled abs and proud pecs of Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell. I’m too slight, not muscular enough. I pinch a little of the skin and muscle around my biceps, poke my middle, and climb into the shower. How many times have I looked at my silly lopsided grin and wished that it was the mysterious tight-lipped grin of a noir detective, when the femme fatale walks through his office door. I’m too silly, not serious enough to be a man like that. I practice different smiles in front of the mirror to see how I look. How many times have I compared myself to the exacting societal standards of gender and not seen myself reflected back? Indeed, how many times have we all? And yet, instead of finding fault with that cultural mirror of masculinity, I find fault with myself. I have failed my gender in some way.
In a sense, we all are gender failures. None of us 100% meet that cultural checklist of what a “man” is, or what a “woman” should be. We know that we aren’t successfully embodying everything that is in the social script for those terms. Sometimes we get agitated that when we look into the mirror, we see what we “should be” instead of celebrating who we can be. This is the problem of the gender binary; of neatly dividing the world into either “male/man” traits of “female/woman” traits. Riki Wilchins points out in her essay “Queerer Bodies” that “We’re not the ones who are broken. It’s the model that’s broken. The model of western thought about bodies itself…” (Wilchins 35). She wrote her essay with the target audience of transgender, transsexual, intersex, and genderqueer people. But as we all know, we all rub up against gender norms and chafe at them from time to time. We all are gender deviant in some way or another. Perhaps we are all just a little queer.