Going places: Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux
I write to understand. But shouldn’t this be a private act only? If my ‘diary’ becomes a ‘blog’, I feel exposed: I feel I’m giving away my secrets. Also, analysis is the enemy of desire. When I think about this too much, I risk damming up the channels of pleasure and losing what the poet Blake called the ‘lineaments of gratified desire’. Hitherto I’ve always written my way out of my obsessions. Something in me now baulks at such proceeding: this obsession is too bound up with self-definition. I’ve no wish to elaborate new theories of cross-gender arousal, to plough through a groaning pile of pseudo-scientific papers, to account for the variousness of other people’s experience (especially if it brings me into argument with vested interests). Nothing I write here will have universal application. My wish is just to describe my own experience and to make sense of it if I can, using as little theory as I can get away with.
It feels like having two souls in one breast, let’s call them M and F. (I’m slightly uneasy with this polarization, since it depends on essentializing gender distinctions, but that’s how I experience it and so, to be honest about my feelings, that’s how I describe it.) F is everything that M is not, which is why F is a refuge from everyday life as well as a source of erotic excitement. M is remote from his emotions, intellectual and aloof, impatient with his ugly body; F is in touch with her emotions, socially at ease, comfortable in her attractive body, and enjoying her sexuality and the power it confers over men.
I had always hoped that a ‘cure’ lay in forming adequate external relationships which would enable me to integrate the F into the M, or even suppress the internalized F. As I grew older, this hope seemed to recede and I developed a carapace of self-sufficiency. Recently, I turned a corner. I’ve learned to start celebrating my inner femme. Now she’s all dressed up with somewhere to go –somewhere in my head, somewhere in cyberspace.
Because for me, as for so many crossdreamers, it all began with the clothes…
I’ve no illusions that crossdressing is anything but sexual for me. I’ve no interest in slouching around the house in casual female attire doing ‘ordinary’ things. For me it’s more of an event, or a performance; something I do every couple of weeks, look forward to, prepare for. It’s like taking a vacation from myself for a day or two, passing through a door into another personality; going to meet someone who is an embodiment of my ‘anima’. And she has a distinct, youthful dress style, this other: ‘sexy’ but not ‘tarty’. ‘Dressing up’ is less important than it used to be, however; now I think of it more as ‘undressing-up’, a minimal style of dress (hosiery used to figure large – these days I prefer bare legs) which facilitates my inner crossdreaming while also arousing me sexually as I feel soft materials caressing bare skin and experiment with discarding them sensually as if in anticipation of sex with a faceless man. Like wrapping and unwrapping a precious gift. But I’m also fascinated by how the clothes connect me differently to a body from which I otherwise feel alienated: when you put on a dress and high heels, your posture, your gait, how you sit, automatically change.
I know some crossdreamers dislike the term ‘auto-eroticism’, but that pretty much sums it up for me. I’m not motivated to go out ‘dressed’, have no wish to meet other crossdressers, and suspect that the ridicule I might attract from the non-TV onlooker would undermine what has become an important source of emotional and sexual release for me as a single man living alone.
I shop generally in high street stores, because my female other wants to wear fashionable clothes. I’ve tried mail order but have had more misses than hits that way. Although I can’t try the clothes on, I need to see them and feel the texture before purchase. Browsing was embarrassing at first but I soon realised no one takes much notice; if they do, they probably assume I’m buying for a partner or daughter. One exception is shoes, where my big male feet prevent me from buying the lovely shoes I see in the shops. (A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes!) Fortunately, there are specialist suppliers online. I did once venture into a transvestite outfitter in England (to buy a wig) – then I really did feel embarrassed; there was an air of quiet desperation about the other customers which made me scuttle out as fast as possible.