The Development of the Male - and the learning of Female attributes. Mrs. Grant was an excellent teacher - and she had some new ideas on teaching the basic facts of life.
This is a story which indirectly mentions the SisterDom group which in previous stories encourages boys and men to learn the benefits of getting in touch with their feminine component.
Back to school for that final month or so. Oh god, it seemed to take so long. The weather was always exam-sunny and the constant pressure of getting ready for exams had gone. But at last the exams were over and we could look forward to the school’s yearly ‘Fun’ lessons. We were fifteen or sixteen years old. For many of us there would be two more years of exams before university – and at the end of each of those years would be another version of Fun-week. We were getting our first experience of the complexities and strangenesses which our teachers built into each such event.
As just one example of how unusual the school was – every month we had a Rice Day. This was a side-effect of the Boxing Day Tsumani across South-East Asia and beyond. One parent had suggested that the school feed the children rice instead of a full meal so that the children might learn how little food was available in the poor parts of the world. Our Headmaster took the idea and built a whole scheme about it including aspects of every subject in the school. Geography – where were these poor areas; History – where there reasons for their comparative poverty; Economics – what might be done about it; Physics, Chemistry, Biology – what bodily changes came with starvation; Mathematics & statistics, Art, Religion – every teacher had to find ways to teach us children of a rich nation what imbalanced fortune had granted us and how the pendulum might swing. The Head insisted that one day a month – or three a term would be devoted to this project so that worthwhile amendments could become a built-in part of the syllabus. He believed that a one-off event would have no effect on the self-centred minds of the average child – but regular input might make a difference. Three days a term might add up to some sixty days over the seven years of senior school.
There were lessons on a whole range of topics about getting ready for real life in the outside world where there would be no teachers to ask for help. There were lessons on how to take a girl out for an evening meal rather than a burger and the flicks. Actually, everyone who had left school the previous years said they were ‘kind of useful’. Not that any self-respecting teenager was going to actually say they were good or better than that.
Every year there was something different – and there was always a special project with a great prize. One year, the Year-End Project was that everyone had to spend a whole day with a camera but with the condition that only one pair of pictures could be taken every hour (one for practice and a spare) – the effort to concentrate in order to get the best portfolio was intense. But the prize was always worth it. The winner that year got a whole weekend driving the headmaster’s open-top vintage Jaguar (with him as a passenger for the first morning).
Every year was like this, interesting – but with a twist.
So, there we were, a whole yearful of irritating and over-excited teenagers – about 100 of us. This year, the staffroom lottery for ideas had been widened to include the occasional teachers from the art and hobby sessions. Mrs Grant was one of these. She was primarily an art teacher with an extra of being willing and able to help with drama and, strangely, biology. She was popular and often had an interesting slant on a problem.
I was one of those who had more to do with her than most as I was keen on art and biology and my girlfriend, Grace, was always doing the drama – so I often tagged along at the end of the day to pick her up for the ride home.
The headmaster of the school started the morning assembly for what was known as the End of Year Gang with a big smile. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we have been asked by the university and the local police if we could perform an experiment. They have been working together looking at the behaviour and attitudes of young people and why there are so many examples of date rape as well as physical and emotional abuse by young men on young women. We could have set this up for any of the Year-End groups but you are the lucky recipients. You will be part of an experiment in Re-Balancing Gender Attitudes.
“You know it happens, I know it happens. Males and Females are different – and sometimes the difference is used as a reason for discrimination, abuse and hurt. Most commonly, males use their greater physical power to pressurise and intimidate or worse; at other times, women use their differences to manipulate with equal or at least equivalent impropriety. At your particular age, the most common area for misbehaviour is regarding relationships, which we all know sometimes involves sexual activity – even if it is legally not right for you to indulge in that yet. Some of you do and all I can hope is that you soon understand that a relationship is much much more significant than mere sexual activity.
“You know that discrimination, intolerance and abuse should not happen and I know it should not happen – but it does. We all know that the pressure of alcohol, hormones and excitement is hard to fight – but we need to learn how to resist and how to say no and indeed how to say ‘this is wrong’. Most of you are not capable of that task. You do not know how to say ‘no’ and many of you are unable to hear the word ‘no. It is simplistic even if somewhat true to say that it is the girls who cannot say ‘no’ and equally unpalatable and inaccurate to say that it is the boys who cannot hear ‘no’. It may be the case in relations between them but there are others to consider – parents, relatives, friends, teachers even. I will say the inconvenient truth that there all too few who have the intelligence and empathy to say no and to hear no on behalf of other people. Happily for your future growth into actual adults - these few and a number of teachers with parental or caring skills will be encouraged to teach this skill to the rest of you.
“There are just too many examples of men behaving badly and improperly towards the girls they have grown up with – and there are too many examples of girls who find themselves pressured by both boys and their peers to give in. I have no doubt that there are too many situations where wrong things happen. I am also aware that women are capable of bullying and abusing – and I do not approve of that either.
“I can hear you saying get on with it – so I will. The experiment this year is called ‘The Development of the Male’. My wish would be that every male in this room today will be learning what it is like to be the weaker person in the relationship; to take the female role and learn how things are on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately, there will be some who would or will not be able to do this or would in some way spoil the project intentionally.
“So, I have an alternative plan for those who can convince me that they should not be asked to take part. I use the word ‘ask’ carefully. This End of Year Project and the attitude and involvement of the students is always a useful component of my final report which goes with you on all your University applications.
“Anyone who wishes not to take part may come and see me as soon as we are finished here. I do not expect more than about 6 or 7 of you out of the 52 boys to demand to be excused. The more intelligent amongst you will have begun to guess what is going to happen. For the next month, you will be assisted by the girls in the project to learn as much about being female and the difficulties that your girls have had with you over the years. We want you to realise how poorly you have done and how much better you could do. There are some of you, indeed a goodly proportion of whom I am already proud and who may not need this project.
“But I am confident that nobody will come to any harm by taking part and I am absolutely sure that some will get great benefit and will move into the group of whom I am very proud. I want to be proud of every person who leaves this establishment – but some of you do need to learn some lessons about real life before you get hurt by people out there who are meaner, nastier and more unkind than anything you have done to any of your victims while at school here. Please take part – because you may know who I am talking to – and it may be YOU. And not all those who have abused their position and power and capabilities are boys – we have been looking at how to give some re-balancing lessons to the girls who need this input.
“It is extremely important that you accept that while this is about boys learning about feminine attributes this is being done as a behavioural project. For some, it may alert them to issues of Gender. But at no time do we expect Sex to be a major aspect. None of you are expected to pretend to be girls for other boys; this is not about gayness or bisexuality or any sexual ambiguity. This is about learning some useful lessons from the ‘other half’ of the human population.
“To digress for a moment – we have spoken with and included advice from the local LGBTQ group. We – and they – are very determined that while some of you may be vague or uncertain about your Sexuality this relates to the LGB codes only. Those of you – and the number is likely to be fewer but the differentness may be more significant – who have or may detect Gender uncertainty will have to learn about the T & Q codes.
“We want you to learn about some of the problems caused by men and by abusers of power in this modern world and which of these problems, with only a little effort, they could correct. We are confident that if you learn even some of these lessons, then you will do better with girls in the future, girls will enjoy being with you more, you will have a better chance of a good marriage and your marriage will have a chance of avoiding breakup and divorce.
“I know what percentage of you are either from a divorced home or from a home that has done only adequately for you. We are confident that the lessons you learn in these few short weeks will have a life-changing effect on some of you. If the next few weeks makes a real difference to even a few of you then that is a real incentive to us to do it better next time, if there is a next time. If we can make a difference to a lot of you – then wow and gosh – that is going to be fantastic. While it may take some years before we are certain of the success of this project we are confident that some of you will show real improvement in just these few weeks. That is our aim. We want to make a difference to the rest of your lives – even more than what we have done so far which was mostly teaching you how to learn.
“We have agreement from a number of the stores and suppliers around here that they will give generous discounts to participants. I want you to come up here now and collect your envelopes from the desk here. This will advise all the boys who they will be having as a mentor, and other conditions of the project. The girls will be getting similar information and suggestions as to how they can contribute to the success of the project. As a final inducement, all those who complete this End of Year Project will receive a cheque for at least £1,000. There will be bonuses at various stages and those who are adjudged to have done ‘best’ will get a final bonus as well. We can do this because we have been given a significant sum of money with a whole tangle of strings attached – but the message we got and which we are passing on is ‘learn to be kind, learn to be nice, learn to appreciate the other sex and there will be real money to be earned by each of you.
“You may wish to believe that you and your fellows do not obey the average and the usual and the statistics – but you know that in many ways you are indeed typical. And sadly, unfortunately, wrongly, there are many many cases of improper behaviour in daily life. You may believe, it may even be true, that your family is ‘better than average’ but that means amongst your closest and dearest friends that one or more of their families is damaged, dysfunctional and potentially damaging. Some families will have secrets known only to that family or to some members of that family.
“And just in case you think that bullying and hurt and abuse only happen at school or in the family while you are young – I can promise you that that is so not true. I can tell you stories which will reveal that some people bottle up vileness until they can unleash it at the most unsuspecting person who thought the abuser and abuse were real friends. A mother who hated her daughter-in-law so much that when she moved to an old people’s home, the son got a letter from the solicitor. Spider Robinson tells of a daughter who was left $20 in the father’s will as ‘the going rate’. Any lawyer, priest, doctor or counsellor or can tell similar stories. If the lessons you will be learning in the next few weeks help stop even one such act of deliberated planned nastiness – then I will be pleased – but I do want so much more than that.
“Hurt and Abuse and Damage do occur. I know this to be true. I learn some, perhaps too many, of the inner workings of my pupils’ families during their time with me – I know that some of you are being deeply hurt by your family or even by ‘the system’. I believe this to be improper, immoral and very wrong – in so many ways. I have worked to build this project and to test it for this year in the strongest hope that it will help at least some of you break out of the cage that life has already begun to put around you. I and my colleagues truly believe and expect that some of you will learn a fantastic lesson from the next few weeks. We are about to say goodbye to each other – but I know that some of you will leave this place and that you will shine – and we may be lucky enough to say ‘we helped light that beacon’.
“I have talked much more than I often do at these occasions. I have recorded what I have said and I will put it up on my personal website. Usually I save this ‘balance of life’ stuff for the final goodbye session – but this is too important for today. So, let’s get to it, folks.”
We began to make a slow-moving chain up to the edge of the stage to collect our envelopes.
Grace pushed into line beside me. “Well, did you even hear the like of that. We’re part of an experiment. And you are going to learn about all the times you got it wrong with me – all the times you gave me macho attitude instead of listening. All the times, I thought ‘why doesn’t he understand’. So – Eliza – I’ll be your Professor Henry Higgins and you will learn your lessons.
“Garn, I’m just a poor girl sellin’ flahrs, mista, can’t yer leave me alone.” I did remember that much from the performance we had done a while back of Pygmalion.
“Oh, that’s neat so you already expect me to play the part of Professor Higgins. I think that may be within my realm of competence.”
I could see her shift gear into full-on acting and she took on Higgins’ style.
“So, young lady, I see that you demonstrate the skills and speech patterns of the gutter. And I can tell you that you will descend once more to the gutter unless I take you in hand and raise you to the heights. I tell you that I can teach you to appear as the equal of any lady in the land – provided you obey me in every way that a guttersnipe like yourself can manage.”
“Garn, yer niver.” [I knew my place.]
“Look at this product from the gutter. Crushed by every syllable she utters. I tell you all, I can make this into something to be proud of. Despite the incalculable problems of her apparent gender and her years of improper training such that she displays all the worse aspects of the male – I can work with this …….’item’ …. until you will be amazed, I shall be amazed and this product of my efforts will be amazing. Come, Eliza,” she said as she collected an envelope for each of us and then took my arm in hers and led me to a table. “That was a great start, Eliza, now keep silent and we shall decide how to progress.”
I have to admit that I giggled. It wasn’t a boyish laugh or a chuckle – it was to my shock – a giggle. And I raised my hand to my mouth to conceal it. Grace noticed and smiled back at me.
“Well, that shows that you have, at the very least, some feminine characteristics – usually it’s only girls who hide their mouths like that with the fingertips. You do it so well and so prettily. We can work with this. I will point out to you certain behaviours, gestures, even adjectives which give off a feminine aura and you will be strongly encouraged to drop the male equivalents. As a starter, you will no longer point at the porcelain – as my Dad sometimes phrases it – you will always go into a cubicle and sit.
Grace was reading the notes and instructions in our envelopes. “We will leave here in a moment and go to buy your first panties, your first skirt, your first tights and your first lipstick. That’ll be a very interesting experiment for you. As the Head said, the local shops are prepared for this and are all willing to encourage the participants.
“By the end of the week, according to this, you will have also obtained your first bra; we will have made some breastforms for you; you will have had your first session at the salon where what happens depends mostly on the length of your hair – and you’re fortunate there. You will also have bought more underwear, a leotard for exercises, your first dress and several other firsts. There is a list.
I was saying nothing as the thoroughness of the project became clear to me. Eventually I managed “How long did he say this would go on for?”
“He didn’t but the notes make it clear that the end of term should be the end and will be when the prizes are awarded – although there is a note at the very end of this letter saying that ‘depending on the decision of the project authorities and the degree of success it may be necessary to continue less formally into the summer holidays.’
“What exactly does that mean?”
“It’s simple, you are going to have to become a lady by the end of term or at least demonstrate that you have a good understanding of how we work – or else you will have to continue through the holidays. It would be fun to watch you find a job as a girl - because you wouldn’t be allowed to find a job as a boy – according to what it says here.
As Grace said this, we realized that Mrs Grant was standing beside us. “Grace, will you be mentoring Jeremy?”
“Yes, Mrs Grant, that’s what it looks like. I’ll be doing the very best I can. I’m not saying that Jeremy is among the worst of the boys in terms of being uncouth and failing to understand women – but he does have a quantity of lessons to learn. I’ve had a look at the list of lessons – and someone has put a lot of planning into this project.”
“Well, thank you for that dear. Some of that was my contribution. I found a wonderful list of differences between boys and girls. Actually there were several of these lists and I have tried to put them together as a guide for our participants.” She chuckled, “although in my own mind, I keep thinking of them as participanties.” She laughed at her own joke.
“Is that the list at the back of the leaflet, Mrs G?”
“Yes – I would be very grateful for feedback on that list. If or rather when we publish any of our results, schedules like that will be very important.”
A Guide to some Girl v Boy Differences
- Girls think specific case first, generalization second. Boys think generalization first.
- Girls speak with many, many more modifiers, such as very, little, many, and so.
- Girls nod to encourage more conversation. Boys nod to agree, but are more vigorous in - Girls’ mouths mirror their emotions. Boys show little expression with their mouths when speaking, other than when they’re joking.
- Girls are more likely to listen to what an opponent says.
- Girls get closer during conversations. Boys interrupt more.
- Girls often speak more quietly and clearly; Boys can easily begin to be loud.
- Girls take smaller bites and use napkins.
- Girls talk about people, recent events, clothes, and activities. Boys talk about girls and upcoming plans.
- Girls can talk even about things that have recently been discussed; Boys deal with any necessary transfer of information then drift.
- Girls use a much wider range of (feminine) adjectives
- Girls use a much wider set of names for colours.
- Girls consider lack of eye contact from other girls to be a sign of deception or insecurity. Girls will let their eyes wander when listening but always make eye contact when talking.
- Girls are taught to sit upright knees together with their legs under them. Boys sprawl.
- When girls eat an informal meal they will sit sideways to a table, or even fold their arms on the table. When eating a formal meal they tend to sit upright and observe good table manners. Boys tend to eat informally at all times.
- Girls will touch their noses during a conversation to convey a meaning. A boy will touch his nose only if it itches.
- Girls tend to use their fingers more. Boys use broad gestures using their arms and hands.
- Girls frequently will touch their hair to smooth it. Boys scratch their heads.
- Girls clap with their fingers, boys with their palms.
- Girls look at their fingernails flat-handed away from them; boys curl their fingers
- Girls lift their foot behind their leg to see more easily. Boys bend.
- Girls carry their books in front of their chest;
- Girls solve problems by talking them through with friends. Boys go off on their own to think about their troubles.
- Girls seek to calm their emotions first, and then work on the problem. Men go right to the answer.
- Girls are likely to seek an answer that is acceptable to all parties. Boys will try to negotiate to their own advantage.
- Girls make peace. Boys make war.
- Girls are more likely to admit an error in judgment.
- Girls tend to create less conflict by using more moderate gestures. They tend to be less opinionated, more open to compromise.
- Girls tend to multi-task, doing something as they walk. No matter what their size, boys walk faster. Boys are in a hurry to get somewhere.
- Girls take smaller steps. Even if the girl and boy are the same size, the girl’s steps will be smaller. Girls move their hips more and their arms less when walking. Girls will slow down their pace to be able to chat.
- Girls stand back from a curb while waiting; boys stand close, one foot ahead, ready to move.
- Girls touch. Boys don’t or if they do they touch roughly and too harshly.
- Girls tease to flirt. Boys tease relentlessly.
- Girls tell situational jokes that laugh at human nature. Boys tell ethnic jokes, put-down jokes with much more unkindness.
- Girls seem to prefer magazines and short stories to books.
- Girls do have friends and groups but these friendships can be broken suddenly and almost cruelly as far as the outcast is made to feel.
- Girls are more likely to have a ‘best-friend-forever’ - sometimes these last a long time.
This is not an exclusive list. Participants should note that use or non-use of one or several characteristics does not indicate and definitely does not determine a person’s femininity or masculinity.
Grace was reading through the contents of the envelopes. I looked over her shoulder. “Well, my precious, what do you think.” I asked.
“It’s quite a thorough package. Someone has done a lot of thinking about stereotypes and how to get people to think instead of just reacting.
I said what I was thinking – “I’m not really keen on doing this – but it might be quite interesting. The head’s talk about bow few of us are typical and how many of us may be in damaging relationships and have learnt more about ‘how to damage than how to be kind’ I think I think I want to do this.”
“Does that mean you’re going to give it the full welly. I mean, it’s quite clear that you can get through it by doing the minimum – but to do it well, to learn the lessons they want us to learn – well, then, you’ve got to give it full blast. Are you willing?”
“Erm, no, maybe, yes, no, not sure – take your pick!”
“You do know that I’m going to pick ‘yes’ don’t you? Grace smirked at me. “First step, we’re going to have to have you choose your new name. It says here that the more choices you make, the more likely it is that you will get the most from the project. So, what name would you like to give yourself.”
“My first suggestion would be to use Jenny because it sounds quite like Jeremy – but there was a Jenny at nursery and I really didn’t like her – so that’s out. I’m not really sure.
“How about Remy, with the accent on the Reh – it would sound quite exotic and would be almost your real name as well.”
“No, no, no, Remy dear, girls do not say ‘yeah’. And there’re other words you will not be using for the next few weeks – no ‘stuff’ for example.”
“I’m not sure that Remy really suits. I might not decide until tomorrow.”
“Will it be alright if I call you Remy for this evening – just to see how it goes?”
We sat and talked about how we would get the most out of the project for some time.
Eventually, telling myself that I was Remy, I stood up and said, “Well, we’ve got to get started, haven’t we? The project is going to happen and we are going to have to take part. There really is no choice except do I take part and do the minimum or do I take part and do my best. You said it earlier. Let’s go and buy my first set of panties – by the end of the evening, I’ll have made my mind up about which choice to make.”
Grace smiled at me and took my hand – “That’s fair, I suppose. We can’t expect you to be willing to wear super slinky and gorgeous undies unless you’ve tried them on first.” She giggled, “I’m going to enjoy helping you choose what to wear. I think we can avoid the very basic cotton so we will be looking at the frilly and the flouncy, the sleek and the sheer, the pastel and the coloured, the decorative and the lacy. What fun. And after all these years you will be able to learn exactly what goes into a girl’s panties.”
“I can promise you, Grace my love, that I have never said ‘I want to get into your panties’ and meant ‘I want to wear your panties’ – but that seems to be where we are going, heh?
“I’m glad to hear it. For a start, you would stretch them and then I wouldn’t be able to wear them. But I can find you some panties just like what I would buy for myself when I was planning to excite and entice you. Would you like that?”
My response was a subtle smirk.
“Oh, you would. Oh this is going to be so special.”
We set off from the school towards the High Street. It didn’t take long before we reached the Arcade which was where the shopping mall was. It had been fitted inside the old shopping arcade. There were still a few specialist shops at one corner but the main spaces were taken up by the big chain stores. After the shopping, we could catch a bus to my house; Grace lived a few hundred yards further.
Grace led me into the local department store and upstairs to the underwear section. There were already some other boys and mentor pairings. Of course we recognised each other but there seemed to be some unstated agreement that nobody would stare at another boy undergoing this treatment. The assistants were being completely matter of fact about the process. They measured us first by the waist and the hips. Grace held out a chart with many more measurements required – length of arm, of back, of thigh, circumference of arm, shoulder and so many more. When the girl next to me measuring Charlie Kelly said that she would do the chest measurement next time when we were to be actually fitted for our bras, well, I blushed as red as a beetroot-coloured tomato – and our assistant chuckled. We wrote down all the measurements ‘for next time’ as Grace suggested.
Leone then commented, “I’m not trying to embarrass you with any of this – there’s a lot of boys going to be buying clothes in the next few days. It is really important that you get used to being in girl shops buying and wearing girl clothes. The sooner you get past the self-conscious stage – the easier it will be. I can tell you – and I’m going to tell all the boys I deal with that there have been one or two or three girls in each of the last few years that were actually boys underneath. It is not that unusual nowadays for boys with a feminine core to need to express their inner selves. I was amazed how little difficulty the schools made about their requirements.
“What, do you mean that there’s one of the girls in this year who is a boy. Why haven’t we been told? Shouldn’t we have been told?”
“For this year, I can tell you that the only ones I know of at the moment go to a different school. And one of them only dresses outside school at home and at weekends and in the holidays.”
“Gosh, I never thought about that.”
“Well, that’s how it is for some people. But now for you - so, dear. What sort of panties are you looking for. If you really don’t know and you’ve never had a proper chance to fondle your girlfriend’s panties to see what sort of material and so on attracts you – well take a few minutes wandering around. You’re going to need a size 10 – you’ve got quite narrow hips so that size is good for now. Off you go.”
The assistant, Leonie, and Grace smiled as I walked around the racks. There was such a dazzling variety of colour and shape. Eventually I began to choose – there was a pretty dark brown pair with white trim, a pale pink pair with red trim, and a black pair with a patterned front and a little row of bows. I took them to the till for the girls to see. “I’ve got these, will they do?”
Grace smiled. “Those look good, but there’s other things to get. I’ll help you pick your first tights and your first suspender belt and stockings. Then we pick a skirt so that you can begin to enjoy the feel of the breeze blowing around your legs. And then there is the first lipstick – so that you can have your first go with your own makeup. The girls in the makeup section will tell you what are the right colours for your skin. That is what the list says must be done today.
So even before I had been home and discussed the experiment with my mother, I was already wearing my first panties, my first tights, my first skirt, my first lipstick and my first nail polish. I think I was still so surprised by the speed of all these changes and the willingness of Grace to help and the straightforward attitude of Leonie at the shop that I was dazed into accepting my involvement in the project.
When I got home, my mother opened the door and welcomed us in. Her opening words made it clear what her views were.
“So – the deed is done, my child is going to learn some of the lessons of life that will show him how life is so different on our side of the fence, eh.”
Obviously, I went some combination of white, scarlet, pink and faint. Especially when Grace interrupted and said, “For the moment, this is your semi-daughter ‘Remy’. That’s the compromise we have until she comes up with an alternative by tomorrow morning.”
Mum’s eyes opened wide just a moment, “Hmmm, Remy, a pretty name with that sort of French pronunciation. That may do very well’”
“Yep, for the duration of this project, Remy has agreed to do her very best to learn these new lessons,” chirped Grace. “I think it’s going to go well. At least, judging by what we’ve managed so far.”
This caused the mother-unit to take a hard look at me of which the most obvious changes were of course the skirt, lipstick and nail-polish. . “I’m glad that you’re taking part in this project. I knew nothing about until this evening when the head’s email arrived. But I can understand his thinking and – for you – I can see that there is knowledge for you to gain and attitudes which you may review in the light of what you learn. I am not saying that you have any particularly unpleasant or unkind behaviours – but that, the extra insight, may help us all look at how we do things and whether everything we do is right and proper. There have been times that you are just that bit too macho and male and, perhaps without intent, you press and push and dominate inappropriately. And, we women, perhaps there’s times – oh don’t faff around – of course there are times when we get it wrong too. Perhaps - since there is a deliberate plan behind this experiment – perhaps we can nip just a few of these imbalances in the bud.”
I was watching Grace at that moment – and I saw her realize that she was also part of the experiment and that she would be expected to review, assess and re-think her own attitudes.
After a few moments, Grace commented, more carefully than usual, “You have a point there, this isn’t a one-way thing. We are all going to have to look at what we do and consider our own behaviours. Thank you for pointing that out before we have gone too far.”
“Remy, we are going to do much less this evening. We are going to talk about a great deal more issues. I’m going to make comments about things you have done, comments you have made, things I didn’t understand – all sorts of issues so that you can begin to see what the real possibilities are for you and us in working hard on this experiment.
I thought I had already been demonstrating willingness to do my share – but I could feel that this was getting a whole lot more serious. I held up my hand – “Erm, good start there, erm, I think that if we’re re-thinking this project then we need to think before we actually do any more. Is that reasonable?”
Grace answered first, “You’re not thinking of backing out of this, are you?”
“No – but do we really know what this project is about – or are we able to redefine the terms so it fits what we think, what we three think, is right, proper and reasonable.”
“I can go with that. And I recommend that we do as Remy suggests. We go no further with any effort at teaching, training or encouragement in case we decide later any of it is too pushy.”
“I’m happy with that, but I do want Remy to continue to wear her skirts and undies, and I’ve got to show him how to remove that lipstick and so on, and how to wash out tights. And I’ve got a nightie for Remy to wear tonight. I think that’s as far as we should go but I don’t feel that it would be right to undo anything of what we’ve done so far today.”
“I think we’ll leave it at that. There’s been quite enough surprises for one day. Grace, you may go upstairs to Remy’s room and show how to do those specific tasks. Remy will then get ready for bed although he, she, heesh, whatever, Remy can come downstairs in a dressing gown to sit for a while. At 9.30 – unless your mother calls for you earlier, you, Grace will go home as usual. We will meet at 8.30 tomorrow for tea and cereals as we have done so often before."
We managed to avoid the whole subject of the experiment for the next hour until 8.30 when Grace went home. We read books, watched a little television and chatted about this and that. It was strange sitting there in a nightdress. It felt different, not actually wrong but very different.
Morning came and Grace arrived through the back door just as I came into the kitchen. I was wearing the nightdress and dressing-gown as Mother had instructed.
“Oh, morning Remy. I’m so glad you haven’t got dressed yet.”
“Why do you say that, Mistress Professor Higgins?”
“Well, I realized that the measurement we took yesterday were very close to my own measurements from a few months ago – so I decided that you should get acquainted with the fact that girls share clothes, swap, lend, borrow all the time. Last week, you wouldn’t even have noticed that on four consecutive days I wore a dress or skirt or blouse belonging to Sophie, Kate, Monica, Jane and Mhairi – almost nothing of my own except undies – and those you wouldn’t have known about – eh?”
“Er, no, well, of course not.”
“Huh, I bet you’d have tried to get a glimpse if you could’ve’”
“To say ‘yes’ would be a mistake and to say ‘no’ might imply I had no interest – I’ll keep quiet.”
“Good choice, Remy. Is that still a good enough name for you?”
“I’m actually beginning to like it. But I’ll ask Mum if she likes it.”
“First mistake, as a girl, even a teenager, you’re more likely to say Mummy than Mum.”
“Oh, right, thanks.”
“Well done for not just saying ‘okay’. Anyway, I’ve brought over a bag full of clothes I don’t or can’t wear anymore. And there’s an unopened box too – you might want to ask your mum to join us – she might feel this is a bit special.”
“It’s your first bra, and every mum wants to help her daughter put on her very first bra – it’s a really special moment in a girl’s growing up. I can’t believe that your mum would prefer this to be done in a shop when it can be done at home.”
She went to the door and called, “Mrs Rogers, can you join us, I’ve got something special for you.”
My mum came upstairs quite quickly. “What is it, Grace? Is something wrong.”
Grace smiled, “No, nothing is wrong, but I have this for Remy and I feel sure that you would like to help her with it.” And she handed over the little box.
Mummy smiled, “Oh, that’s so sweet. When your mum helped you the first time, I was visiting the next day and she told me. And for a moment I felt so sad that I would never have the same opportunity. I would love to help Remy with her first bra. Then we can go and get her first ‘helpers’. If she’s going to be like every other girl in her position then she’ll be wanting to compare – and every girl needs a little help.”
I wasn’t quite as dim as some boys of my age – I knew what she meant by ‘helpers’ but didn’t really feel that they would be necessary for me.
Mum – Mummy came behind me and eased my dressing-gown from my shoulders. “Somehow I wish this could be real, but I’ll take this opportunity as it is.” She came round to the front and opened the box. “Darling, here is your first bra, please let me have the honour of putting it on for you.”
Her words made it very clear how important this moment was. I tried to join in with the proper level of respect. “Mother dear, I never expected this moment to come nor for it to be like this when or if it did happen. But as a dutiful child, I await your assistance.”
“Oh, Remy, that’s so sweet of you” and she folded me in her arms for a moment.
Then she stood back, “Here, darling daughter, is your first bra. It is a sign that you are becoming a woman. It is a sign that you are growing in responsibility and in the duties which come with being a woman.” She slid the straps up my arms to the shoulder, then pressed my shoulder as an indication that I should turn. Once I had done so, she joined the clasp at the back and adjusted the shoulder straps so that it was a proper fit.
I wriggled my shoulders – which made Mummy giggle. “That’s exactly what I did when I got my first bra.”
Grace came forward, “Mrs Rogers, it just so happens that …… “ and she held out her hand with what looked like a pair of uncooked chicken fillets in them.
Mummy smiled at her, “that’s convenient, and thank you again for being so thoughtful. This is a moment that can never be repeated and we need to do it with the proper amount of care and consideration.”
“Remy, darling, Grace has offered these for you and it is important that you understand how intimate a loan she is making.”
I tried to continue the formality of the situation. “Grace, my friend, you referred to me to my mother as a semi-daughter, if that is the case for the next weeks, then please as well as being my mentor and guide, please allow me to call you my semi-sister and with all that that implies, I thank you for this gift.”
Grace bounced towards me and gave me the biggest hug – and then she pulled my mother into it so we had a threeway hug – and me only in my bra and panties.
Mummy pulled away first. “Now that we have the wherewithal, I want Remy to see for herself the difference having a little figure makes. Grace, can you pass me the green blouse on the chair. Remy, you can put this on with the cream skirt - you’ll see how it fits – then we’ll add these enhancements and you’ll see how much better it fits. I am sure that you will be surprised – even if you’ve never actually considered how a girl’s clothes fit according to the shape underneath.”
I tried the blouse – and as instructed – looked in the mirror. Then Mummy added the fillets and the difference was immediate. I would never have suspected. And I said so.
“One of the secrets that we rarely share, darling. Unlike computer programs which are allegedly ‘what you see is what you get’ – with girls ‘what you see is not always what you get’.
“Huh,” I giggled, “with this summer’s experiment – what you see may most definitely not be what you expect,” and I tossed my head and flicked my hair as girlishly as I could.
“True, darling, but there’s no need to be vulgar – even if you said it so prettily.”
“To breakfast, my girls. Then we will assess what Grace has brought. We can see if the fit is right and if the colours match Remy’s tone-palette.”
That took us until nearly lunch. Mummy insisted that we go to the mall for lunch in order that I could practice eating in public and we could people watch for a time.
I was exhausted by the time we got home. Do this, Don’t do that. Sit this way. Touch up you lipstick. Try this on. Take that off. Does that fit comfortably. That is so not suitable. That looks good, have they got it in apricot….. exhausting.
But the girls had so much fun with their new toy.
I saw some of the other boys being worked on. A few were ‘going with the flow’ and some were struggling hard. I saw a girl that might yesterday have been Charlie Kelly – wearing a pretty summer dress with red poppies and straw shoes with a shallow heel. The extra clue came in her being accompanied by his sometime girlfriend Tamora Pine.
I also saw one of our school basketball players, all six foot three, - wow – a real example of an amazon. Vance Kennedy was about as black as you can get, he often wore neck-length dreads and often gave a tough-guy macho image. This was a true fox. Slim and slender, his height exaggerated by heels at least three inches high. He was a stunner. I gave a little wave and even as black as he was – you could see the blush. Then he grinned (only a nice girly style BIG smile ) and gave a pretty little wave back. He was with Gloria Jameson, one of his cheerleaders – the unlikely combination of a really brainy blonde – all of five foot two. She waved and smiled as well as they went into the lingerie store.
As the days passed, it became clear that the participants were easily seen in a small variety of categories. There were those - quite a number - who were not interested and had already stopped taking part. There were several who were too busy moving onto their new careers or just having what they called a good time. But there was a good-sized group who were taking part. Of the 107 members of the final year, it looked like about 27 of us 52 boys were busy at being ‘boy-girl participants’ and there were 15 ‘girl-boys’. 7 boys had been allowed to opt-out although they had some extra tasks to do to compensate. Not too surprisingly, some of us were boys and some were girls, some were therefore mentors and others were, in Mrs Grant’s words, ‘participanties’. By my calculations, for the 27 of us participanties there were 23 mentors. And I was one of them and Grace was still my mentor.
Somewhat to the surprise of both of us, Grace had been asked to become a mentor to another pantie-boy as there were not quite enough mentors for one-to-one matches. My colleague was Alexander and he was now known as Sasha (which is a Russian variation on Alexander). He was skinny but taller than me so had to work that little bit harder to be at all convincing in his costume.
We were still talking in terms of us ‘being in costume’ – none of us was pretending to be a girl. We were just ‘learning about the other sex’. That’s what we were telling ourselves. The fact that we wore bras with breastforms, that we wore stockings with high heels, that we wore makeup and nail varnish – all these were just steps to learning. That’s what we believed – even the mentors were (mostly) thinking this was the plan.
And, looking back, it was the plan (mostly). There was some official recognition that a few of the trainees might discover a facet in their personality which took them over the line, made them ‘discover their real character’. But not one of the organisers had any intention that things would go that way. Perhaps this was a bit naïve – but I have talked with most of them over the last few months and I am completely confident that there was no ulterior or ugly intent in their objectives. They wanted to help a group of their students become better people, to help the boys learn about girlish attitudes and reactions while the girls would learn about boys and how misunderstandings occurred by accident.
So – by the end of the first week, we were getting ready for our first weekend at home and being ‘girly’.
My mother was at times uncertain as to how much she endorsed the process of ‘girling me up’. But she had no doubts about encouraging everyone, me included, that there were habits that it would be good to lose and new habits it would be helpful to learn. On that basis, she went along with the project.
Part of her effort was in demanding really significantly new levels of politeness and, well, etiquette, from me both at home and when we were out. I found that I was using Please, Thank you, Excuse me, Oops, and a whole variety of new words and expressions. Not too surprisingly, swearing and a-cussing was out. Expressions of pain, hurt and even mild inconvenience had to be dealt with by ‘Bother’ and similar. Even tone of voice was noted – on one occasion I tried to be clever and used the word ‘orange’ but was told ‘you used a swearing tone of voice’ so we’ll have no more of that sly behaviour. Sly!! I found my strongest expression was ‘Oh gosh, how inconvenient’ – which made everybody smile.
Then there were the endless lessons and reminders about posture, deportment, style, attitude and demeanour.
One time, in the mall with Grace and some of her friends, Mother took me aside and said, “I want you and Sasha to watch how the boys behave to you and your group. It will be easier if you say nothing and keep in the background and I’ve told the other three to intercept as much as possible. I want you to see how these boys behave, I want you to see and notice when they do something right and proper and reasonable, and I want you to notice just as much if they do something improper. I want you to notice when they do something you used to do and especially for you to decide whether that now falls into the good, adequate, poor or bad box. But also try to enjoy yourself – you are actually doing well at this project.”
I was rather surprised to be told this – but it made me smile (as much as would be suitable in public!)
So, we spent the afternoon window-shopping and in the coffee-shop. I was getting used to going into shops and comparing clothes with little or no intention of buying. Feeling all the different materials – so much variety and the pleasure of handling silks and satins. I never realised there was so much enjoyment to be had in such a daily requirement as clothing. I loved so much of this new world. And I was very certain that when I went back to boys-world as we were calling it, I would demand at least some changes in my regular clothing. Much less of the scratch and rough, of the harsh and tough.
And I was getting to grips with the new style of watching people and of how to talk. Yesterday I had realized that I wasn’t looking at the girls to see what their figure was – that is how good their legs were or how big their breasts – instead I was looking to see if their clothes were a good fit or if the colors clashed.
How very un-boyish. How would my future unfold? I knew, somehow, already that I wasn’t the cliché of ‘a girl locked in a boy’s body’ – but was I enjoying finding out about frills and lace and satin … so different from everything I had ever worn in my life. Nice.
Truly a new and novel form of education.
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