Esther

“Just another human on my quest for happiness.”

Name?

Esther.

Where did you grow up?

Northcote, Melbourne, Victoria.

Were you brought up religiously/secularly/other?

Yes, I was brought up Catholic.

Was there turbulence throughout your childhood/adolescence?

Not from my environment, as my family provided an incredibly happy and safe space for me to grow up in. I did, however, suffer from OCD from a very young age, so there was an element of internal turbulence for sure.

Were you ever embarrassed about your development/puberty? If so why?

Yes, starting puberty felt awful. I was a tomboy, and I got made fun of when I started developing breasts. It took me over four months to tell anyone I had started my period. I did not want to identify with feminine elements; it felt awkward and strange and I knew that, because of my more boyish presentation, I would be made fun of – and I was.

Can you remember any key moments in your formative years that shaped you?

Starting skateboarding completely changed my life, opening me up to so many different kinds of people and experiences that I would not have had access to otherwise. It gave me an outlet, and allowed me to walk my own path when everything around me seemed foreign.

“I did not want to identify with feminine elements, it felt awkward and strange.” -Esther
Photo by Georgia Smedley

Your sexuality?

I’ve always been attracted to women older than me, ever since I was young. I’ve never known anything else. I wouldn’t say this was formed by anything in particular, it’s something that just always was.

When did you become aware of your gender?

Very recently, in the grand scheme of things. I didn’t understand that gender extended beyond male and female until I was 25… I’m now 28. Learning about this earlier would have been life-changing for me.

When did you become aware of your own sexuality, were there any key moments?

I remember seeing a woman walk past me on the tram, getting butterflies in my stomach, and wondering whether could I be gay. Then I told myself ‘Nah’, and forgot about it for another 10 years, ha! It wasn’t until someone helped draw it out of me that I felt comfortable admitting what I wanted or what I liked. I needed somebody else to demonstrate that it was okay to feel the way I felt.

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

Understanding that being masculine-of-centre doesn’t make me any less of a woman. Masculinity can exist as the predominant gender expression even in women. If I say I’m a woman, then it is so, regardless of how I wish to present physically.

Have you ever been embarrassed, burdened or ashamed of your sexuality? If so why?

Most outwardly by uneducated hetero dudes calling me a ‘dyke’. More subtly by other queers internalising their own homophobia.

What is the image you think you project every day?

Just another human on my quest for happiness.

How would you describe your personal experience, existing in the way you do, each day?

Invisible.

What is the image you would like to project?

Just another human on my quest for happiness.

What do you think the image other people perceive is?

I’d imagine if anyone is taking the time to notice then they just assume I’m a teenage boy.

What is your political stance on women’s reproductive rights?

Freedom is everything.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

Pro-choice.

What are your feelings about contraceptives? Their availability, cost, stigma, usage?

As above, FREEDOM IS EVERYTHING! Accessibility is important, and then what we decide to do with contraceptives is up to us and us only. Why anyone would want to get all up in another’s personal choice is beyond me.

What are your feelings on casual sex?

Safety is the number one priority, and beyond that, again, freedom is everything.

Are you in a relationship(s)?

I am relating to a person sexually and emotionally in some form.

What are your feelings on marriage?

Neutral.

What are your most positive relationships with other women?

Friendships where everyone is comfortable enough with themselves to positively influence those around them –  where there is genuine encouragement, support, and laughter (though not at the expense of each other or others).

What are your negative?

The opposite of the above, with a dash of social hierarchy based on physical appearance.

What does the word ‘woman’ mean to you?

Community, encouragement, support, and strength.

What are your feelings on monogamy?

Personally, emotional monogamy is most important to me. Sexual monogamy at appropriate times and in appropriate circumstances. I’m not here to judge; we are all complex creatures and different things work for different people at different times in their lives. The important things are balance and compromise.

On polyamory?

As above.

Do you feel your choice to participate or not participate in consensual sex is at all affected by societal influence?

I think what is or isn’t socially acceptable has a huge bearing on each individual’s behaviour, as much as we like to think it does not.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

I never give them a second glance. They don’t speak to me in any way, shape or form.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products’ portrayal in the media?

As above. If I had it my way, we’d all be rocking heavy metal moon cups. Getting your period is gnarly, you bleed for days on end, and there ain’t anything more bad-ass than that in my books.

Were you always aware of what your body could do sexually & mechanically?

It takes time, and we’re forever learning.

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not at all.

If not, what would you have done to make it so?

Not been part of the Catholic education system.

“FREEDOM IS EVERYTHING!” -Esther
Photo by Georgia Smedley

Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?

Walking on quiet streets late at night.

Where is somewhere you can exist without fear?

Portland.

Do women treat you differently than men?

Heterosexual people treat me differently than queer people.
Queer men are nicer to me than other queer women.
Heterosexual women are nicer to me than other heterosexual men.
These are all blanket statements of course; how someone treats me is highly dependent on the person.

In what ways does being a woman make you vulnerable or exposed?

For obvious physical reasons, engaging in sexual activity is very exposing as a woman. When I presented as more feminine, I hated knowing that people I didn’t know could use me as a sexual tool in their own minds just by looking at me.

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Absolutely yes.

How do you define feminism?

Providing the strength and support for one another that society does not provide.

What do you think are positive ways the world views women?

I’ve yet to see women in mainstream media praised and supported solely for their talents or abilities without any backhanded commentary based on how they look. I can’t think of anything positive to say here.

What are negative?

Too many to list. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

Do you think the world’s perception of women limits or benefits them?

Limits.

What is your relationship to sex?

It is dynamic and ever-changing.

How do you define sex?

A core expression of the soul.

What does a sexual relationship mean to you?

Taking time to understand and honor each other’s desires without judgement. Being comfortable and feeling safe enough to express what you want without fear.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

It depends on the person and how open they are.

Have you found a balance of fulfillment with your partners?

Still learning.

Do you feel that YOUR desires are marginalized in the bedroom or are less important, if so why do you think that is?

Not at all, the great thing about being queer is that it’s about far more than just in out in out.

Are you fearful of being openly sexual for fear of judgement?

Around most people, yes.

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

I’ve been made to feel embarrassed, guilty and/or less worthy, though probably not consciously on the other person’s behalf.

Have you ever been physically or verbally threatened because of your appearance?

Yes.

I’ve yet to see women in mainstream media praised and supported solely for their talents or abilities alone without any backhanded commentary based on how they look.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?
This changes depending on my mood or the situation. I like to think about gay men having sex all the time.

Is sex empowering for you?

At times it has been.

Is sex embarrassing for you to discuss?

Not with the right people.

Is there anyone in your world you undermine your principles for?

If it was in a fun roleplay kind of way, then yeah, sure.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind/stand up for yourself?

When I am surrounded by other like-minded individuals.

What do you seek through sex?

Gender expression and release.

How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of women?

I like seeing things like Orange is the New Black being successful in mainstream media, things that actually portray women as having all different kinds of personalities and character traits. It’s wonderful.

Are you satisfied with the women you see depicted in film, television & advertising?

No. Not at all. It is a very narrow depiction of what it means to be a woman.

How do you maintain a sense of self?

By spending a lot of time by myself and by travelling to far-away places alone.

What is something you deeply love about yourself?

My adventurous spirit.

Who are/what are your biggest motivators?

Helping other women succeed, and the idea of never having to think twice about adding guacamole.

Do you have people you look up to?

I love to see other masculine women who are older than me being successful and happy. It makes me feel like it’s possible for me too.

Do you ever feel overlooked in the workplace because of your gender?

In the past, absolutely yes. Right now, not at all.

“I love to see other masculine women who are older than me being successful and happy.” -Esther
Photo by Georgia Smedley

Because of your appearance?

In the past, absolutely yes. Right now, not at all.

Do you find entering the work force as a woman has any bearing on how people will treat you?

Yes.

Have you ever experienced sexism or sexual harassment within a workplace?

A very low level of it.

How have you dealt with conflict?

By running away and bitching about it when I get home.

Have you ever been verbally abused or threatened because of your gender?

Yes.

If so, how did those in your life respond when you told them about it?

By ignoring it.

What are you feelings on motherhood?

It doesn’t appeal to me.

What are you biggest fears?

Entrapment and loneliness.

Your biggest regrets?

Wasting my time drinking too much as a young person.

Your greatest accomplishments?

Overcoming OCD entirely on my own.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Nope :)