What I Wore: Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy, Pt. 7

Welcome to What I Wore, a series where I explore fashion as shelter in traditionally heteronormative and patriarchal spaces.



I don’t need to tell you the deal with straight women and Target. It’s sacred. Target’s women’s hat section in particular is a fascinating look into the psyche of a straight woman. I love to browse that section like I’m in a museum and really investigate each piece. Hmm, so that’s the bill. Wonderful. I love culture!

In the 2015 film, Carol – a film that’s been mentioned an acceptable amount of times by me, in fact, there’s not even a call for concern about the amount of times I’ve mentioned it – a straight woman sees a woman in a store and immediately becomes much less straight. Hoping to inspire the same kind of retail awakening, I decided to do a test run for my Carol Aird Halloween costume.

I mean, it could have been that I looked like I’d just gotten done with a women’s luncheon at the governor’s mansion in the middle of the day at Target’s Photo Center, but I did get a considerable amount of those once-overs straight women give that’s a combination of like “What is she wearing?” and checking you out.

Success rate: 5/5

Doctor’s Visit


I used to delight in thinking up new answers to nurses’ intake questions about my history with birth control, but at this point I’ve run out of things to say. I’m tired, too. Please let’s get this over with, and what’s with the three question follow-up as to why I don’t use birth control? This time I wanted my outfit to speak for me, and I wanted it to say: I’m gay thanks for listening.

I needed an outfit that would alert even the most persistent nurse, so I went with a mixture of things straight people associate with gay women – being outdoorsy and sporty. Camouflage pants and straight up a sport jersey. Hiking boots, a jean jacket, and a bandana with no real purpose. HEAR ME.

They did not hear me.

Success Rate: 1/5

Tire Shop


You’re probably assuming I just hang out at the tire shop. I don’t, but it would be a fair assumption. I did a little half and half last time I got new tires, because that’s definitely something you want to hope for the best with – tires.

I knew I was going to be entering an environment with the potential for condescension, and most likely with a man, so I needed an outfit that was going to absorb everything around it so that it would never be heard from again. Like a black hole.

Black in all shades, in different textures, and with different cuts. Plus an actual outer space shirt for good measure. Could have been that I was being read as an angsty teenage witch – maybe the same kind of angsty teenage witch that terrifies his home life – but the attendant had as little contact with me as he could.

Success rate: 5/5

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Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. Your doctor’s outfit was the gayest of gay. Majestically gay. Don’t know what on earth those nurses saw, but it’s their loss.


  2. This is great, the most thought I put into my outfits is “will this make people not look at or talk to me in public?”

  3. Erin, the first What I Wore: Navigating the Heteronormative Patriarchy was one of the first articles I ever read on Autostraddle and it got me fully hooked on this website. Thank you so much for continuing this blessed series. It always makes my day better.

    Also 10/10 on all outfits. You look great! I especially love the tire shop outfit.

  4. I’ve always fought an uphill battle to change forms, policies, procedures, and questions as both patient and staff at any facility I’ve worked. I’m sorry, Erin. My success rate is also 1/5. :P

  5. The best part of the Tire Shop outfit that it’s super gay and rainbowy, but maintains a #00000 level of darkness.

    Like the rainbowyness and the black hole aspect are in perfect balance to achieve maximum gay in a hetero normative space.

    …Erin, it’s a masterpiece. After you die it needs to go in a museum.

      • Like your preserved body or a wax copy?
        If you meant preserved body go for a rhinestone and enameled showcase casket.

    • true – like, it would be great if doctors didn’t assume anything at all.

      for me, doctors have ALWAYS assumed that i’m sleeping with someone in a combination that would require birth control, which is just super duper annoying. and then you tell them you don’t need any and they ask you why not – just leave it be, doctor.

      if you were a safe-sex educator who knew what from what, your question would be appropriate. but if you are a straight doctor whose idea of a patient-doctor conversation about queer sex is “well! congrats! so…dildoes, huh?” then do us both a favor and just let my business be my business.

  6. You are amazing and an inspiration. Also thank you for reminding me of the time I went to a doctor’s office with rainbow designs on my nails, and the nurse looked at them and commented that I was ready for the 4th of July while also looking slightly puzzled.? (This happened a few days before July 4, but also a few days after same-sex marriage was legalized…)

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