Man or Woman?

Just saw a puzzling person on the subway coming home. At first glance it was an older Turkish woman in a headscarf, gazing down at the floor as many do, especially when they are alone.

Something was irritating about this person, but what? A glance at the hands were jarring - they were big, broad, male hands. Okay, maybe she worked as a washer-woman or something.... Then I saw that the hands were clenched in a lap with the panted knees far apart - most women sit with their knees together (for obvious reasons) even if they are wearing pants, because they get so used to keeping peepers from looking up their skirts.

The person was wearing a short, feminine jacket, but the shirt underneath had a man's cuff on it. Really strange. The person got off with me at my stop, I dropped behind to observe some more.

The pants were male cut, but the sports shoes (which did not fit to the elegant fabric of the pants) were smallish. The gait was, however, quite a swagger, the way I would expect a man to walk. There was a knot underneath the scarf, Turkish women often have long hair which they knot high. At the top of the elevator the person needed to wait for a bus, and shoved both hands deep into the pants pockets, with the shoulders thrown back.

Was this a woman playing with gender performance? A man wanting to see how the world looks at you when you wear a scarf? A Turkish transvestite? Why do I care anyway? Okay, I am teaching a gender course this semester. But still I found it very irritating, not to be able to identify the gender of this person exactly, with so many conflicting clues.

Maybe Günter Wallraff is working on a new book.... if so, he'd better get a dress and learn to walk like a woman. (More hints and a wonderful animation)

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