Today I was at a school in Cambridgeshire again, observing English lessons. At the end of a Year 8 class, we were standing waiting to leave, when a boy asked, 'Are you a boy or a girl?' I was wearing trousers, boots with a slight heel and a rollneck, and I have short hair and am not tremendously big-breasted, so I suppose it's not a totally implausible mistake to make. At any rate, I don't think he was asking it to be rude - as far as I could tell - but seemed genuinely curious. (Actually, it may be that race has something to do with it: he was of Oriental origin, and I spent a month in China last year being stared at by passers-by who couldn't tell whether I was male or female. I think it's along the same lines as Westerners' difficulty, every so often, of mistaking one Chinese person for another, and our inability to pick up on the distinguishing marks of faces that are built differently. I realise 'our' should be in inverted commas: let's not start creating artificial commuities where none exists.)
So, back to the curious boy. I told him I was a girl in a curiously neutral voice, and explained briefly that some girls have short hair. I can't say I was particularly insulted. I'd much rather be the guinea-pig for these kinds of enquiries and set the occasional child on the path to realising that not every female has to be pretty than be affronted and treat the question as rude, which I honestly don't think it is. Perhaps a boy might be insulted at being asked this, but surely that simply proves that he's latently, and however unconsciously, a misogynist?
I've been browsing through a dating website called datingdirect.com, looking for women. It's really not easy to find women that like women unless you're willing to get into the whole 'scene' and go clubbing, although luckily I've found a group in Cambridge who are rather nice. Anyway, the free membership extends to creating a profile, looking at other people's and 'winking' at them to let them know you approve. To actually contact any of them, you have to pay, the cheapest offer being just under £60 for six months. I'm 21, and that's a lot of money. But, as I'm sure is their intention, I'm being slowly tempted into spending it by the odd wink that comes my way, a couple by some really seriously attractive women. Is it worth it? Is there any chance I'd actually meet someone I really liked? Would the money be better spent on other things?
If anyone has a point of view on this - or, even better, can offer anecdotal reasoning - then please do let me know!
Love and respect.