Hitchin’

So, I promised an account of  me and my partner’s trek down to New Orleans and here it is.

The Trip:

On July 6th we left from northern Virginia and made it all the way into South Carolina by nightfall. We had a pretty easy time of it that first day, we got a ride within 30 minutes to an hour of being dropped off at an exit.

On our second day out, we only made it into Atlanta. Hitching south on I-85 through South Carolina and Georgia is notoriously rough according to a friend of mine who’s been traveling this way for years, and boy was it ever grueling for us. We spent a large chunk of that day walking along the side of the highway in the blazing heat. After we got into Atlanta we took the city bus line to the metro and took the metro as far south as it would go. The metro put us out at the Atlanta airport and from there we walked to the highway and down a few exits. We slept beside the highway near an exit with a lot of hotels so that we could take advantage of the swimming pools and continental breakfasts.

On the third day we walked to the nearest highway exit as directed by one of the hotel employees and then from there walked down the side of the highway most of the way to Union City before a trucker pulled his eighteen wheeler over to pick us up. He took us all the way into Montgomery, Alabama. Around six or so that evening we caught our last ride of the day with a shirtless potbellied guy in his 50’s or 60’s named Larry. Larry took us all the way to Mobile where we slept in a Lowe’s display shed for the night.

The next morning we walked along the highway to the next exit where we flew a sign for New Orleans for about an hour. We got a ride with a guy driving a pickup who took us to Biloxi, Mississippi. Our final ride, who took us all the way to my friends’ front door in the Bywater, was with a young tow truck driver who was taking a car to a scrapyard.

About Hitchin’ In General:

-To my surprise, our first ride was with a woman driving alone. When you’re hitchhiking, this almost never happens. Women who are out alone feel the most threatened by the idea of strangers because they are statistically more likely to be victims and because, while we are all socialized to be wary of strangers, this socialization is most strongly directed at female assigned people. Anyways, I always think its fucking awesome when a woman driving alone picks me up, and that happened twice this trip.

-Its always better to get dropped off outside of big cities, because they’re really hard to hitch out of. A lot of people getting on the highway in and around a city are local traffic, they’re only going a short distance. Also people in cities are much more suspicious of sketchy seeming strangers, crime statistics and all.

-Hitching is a union of risk takers, both the driver and the hitchhiker are mutually suspicious of the other’s intentions, both secretly suspecting that their new acquaintance is a serial killer. Both people are taking a risk and trusting a stranger not to knife them before they get to their destination. In truth, I have never once been picked up by someone who tried to hurt me in any way, most people are incredibly kind and there’s nothing like hitchhiking to demonstrate that for you. Every time I’ve traveled this way I reach my destination with a little bit more faith in humanity.

-The two types of people I’ve been picked up by most consistently are: middle aged white men in pickups who are driving alone and immigrants. This trip we were picked up  by a Hispanic family with their four little daughters in the their van and they still made room for us even though all the seats were taken. That was fucking awesome, especially because so many people drive by without a second glance when they have plenty of space in their cars.

-People give you things constantly when you’re hitchhiking. We had people give us money multiple times in the three and a half days we were on the road. One of the two women who picked us up came back after dropping us off to bring us organic peaches and heirloom cucumbers. Larry, who drove us into Mobile bought us soda.

-Cops will fuck with you. More often than not cops don’t actually know the laws regarding hitchhiking in their area and they will frequently tell you its illegal when its actually not. We had multiple encounters with cops in our three and a half days on the road. The first was in North Carolina not too far south of Chapel Hill. He only asked us what we were doing and why and then told us to stay safe and let us be. The next cop, also in North Carolina, told us that hitchhiking was illegal in NC (which its not), but that he didn’t care as long as we didn’t do it while he was around. The third cop who fucked with us, in Montgomery, was the only one to actually run us off an exit; she also claimed that hitchhiking was illegal in Alabama, which, again isn’t true.

Remember: ALWAYS PICK UP HITCHHIKERS!!!

On Androgyny, Masculinity and Non-Binary Genders

Publishing this despite the fact that its kind of rough around the edges because its been forever and a day since I posted something. Enjoy.

————————————————————-

I’ve touched on it in a couple of posts, but androgyny or an androgynous presentation is the closest one can get to being perceived as genderless by a society that understands gender as binary. The problem here, at least for me, is that while genderlessness is more or less my current goal in terms of presentation, androgyny isn’t how I want to go about achieving that.

Androgyny is most commonly defined as “being both male and female” or having both male and female characteristics” so to be androgynous is to have a gender, be it both male and female or a mixture of two. My gender does not fall within those parameters, so androgyny isn’t really right for me. The problem here is that I have to deal with societal perceptions of my gender, which is perceived as female based on my physiology. In order to counteract this perceived “innate femaleness” of my body I have to add masculine markers, and if I can get the balance right, by adding and subtracting different attributes that are considered either markers of masculinity or femininity then they will all cancel each other out and I’ll be read as genderless. But this just seems stupid, that’s not how gender works, mixing two genders doesn’t equal no gender. and adding a second gender to the one society already sees me as having doesn’t remove the one I was originally assigned, it just adds a new and equally ill fitting gender. ugh.

Its also really frustrating just trying to maintain a state of androgyny, because as a FAAB person I can’t access anything remotely feminine or else that combined with the mere fact that I have boobs will completely outweigh anything else. This isn’t  problematic for me in the same way that I hear other FAAB people talk about it, I don’t want to wear make up or nail polish or other femme-y things. I just want to be able to wear  my goddamn t-shirts, but even t-shirts in “girly colors” are too much in the direction of female and I get automatically dumped back into the “F” category again. That’s the thing, t-shirts and jeans are unisex for the most part, but somehow not androgynous enough, because they don’t actively counteract my assigned gender with its “opposite”.

My other problem with presenting androgynously is the way that androgyny is generally achieved by a FAAB person. to create a fairly masculine presentation which is then dubbed “gender neutral” or “androgynous”. This idea of a masculine aesthetic as being gender neutral reinforces the patriarchal idea of man as the “standard” or the “default” from which female is a “deviation”. There’s a lot more room for masculinity then femininity in an androgynous presentation, even for a MAAB person, because a “masculine” body is viewed as already being somewhat androgynous or having the ability to be more ambiguous, all that is required is the addition of a little mascara or nail polish to be dubbed androgynous. It seems to me that, as it is currently conceived, androgyny is two parts masculine to one part feminine, and that a lot of the aesthetic surrounding it reinforces patriarchal ideals.

All of this is a huge part of my general internal gender chaos, because while I want to be perceived as genderless,  I would be really uncomfortable going about it in a way that is in direct contradiction with my actual gender or lack there of. Ah, the headaches.

Welcome To New Orleans

My partner and I arrived safely in New Orleans on Monday the 9th, unfortunately the place I’m staying doesn’t have internet yet (hopefully that will be rectified before too long) so any and all updates to this blog have to be made from a computer at the local public library. So, understandably, until the 24th of July (or until the friends I’m staying with get internet) updates to this blog will be irregular and infrequent at best, but I promise to write all about hitchhiking and my stay here as soon as my internet access is not limited to only an  hour at a time in a very public space.

On The Road

I’m going to be leaving tomorrow and heading down further south to stay with friends for a few weeks. I won’t be able to  post anything until I arrive at my destination, but I’ll be sure to tell you all about hitchhiking while non-binary after I get there. See y’all in a few days.