Blogs of Note
“If you live in Maryland and are inclined, the Senate Judicial Proceedings will hear testimony on this bill on Tuesday, February 26. Tell your Senator that you don’t have a gender, and demanding “equality” for a fictional class of humans at the expense of an oppressed group (hello Women) is wrong.”
The most important book I have read about use of media and public relations to manipulate public opinion is Toxic Sludge Is Good for You. If you are not familiar with this book, trust me, it is worth the read. Essentially, the book details how powerful interests manipulate the media to get you to smoke cigarettes even though they kill you, get unhealthy cosmetic surgery, and support fracking. It’s about how to Jedi Mind Trick a populace into thinking porn is awesome, women are objects, and Real Women have penises.
The Transgender Movement has done a remarkable job to convincing you that Toxic Sludge is Good for You. They’ve done an amazing job in 20 years, by coattailing on the movement for gay and lesbian rights and spinning a woman’s reticence to share private intimate space like a locker room with a man with a penis as bigoted and hateful. In…
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This is something I read several months ago, but it’s been popping up in my mind again recently.
It comes from a post on Feministing by a site editor bidding farewell. She shares some thoughts on her idea for the future of feminism:
My vision? A feminist movement that works toward a world where no one is limited or defined by their gender identity. This movement takes on a wide range of social justice issues and brings a gender lens to all of them. I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we need to continue to interrogate how gender stereotyping and gender essentialism holds us back from this goal.
Sounds great, right?
But then, in response to this comment:
I’m a bit worried that the abandonment of gendered identity may also mean the abandonment of trans people, but I couldn’t agree more that feminis-m/ting needs to take a more nuanced view of gender as a whole.
The author writes this:
Definitely not advocating for a non-gendered or gender-less world. Gender is fun, and sexy, but a lot of the biological & essentialist ideas about gender (both positive and negative) keep feminism from achieving its full potential. Maybe it’s utopian, but I want everyone to be able to freely choose and express their gender identity, and not have those choices or expressions limit or over-determine their lives.
Gender is not fun. Gender is not sexy. Gender is a patriarchy imposed repression of who people actually are.
People often say that they are being really progressive by breaking “out of the gender binary.” Somehow, having a penis and wearing a skirt and calling oneself queer is an act of smashing the patriarchy.
No, it’s not.
A man who does things that society deems “feminine” is undermining patriarchy (not necessarily with intention) by engaging in activities that society sees as beneath him (by virtue of being feminine) and calling into question the claim that men are people who do X and not Y. A man who does these things and calls himself “genderqueer” is not challenging the system. He is vigorously nodding that men are people who do one set of things and not another (and women are people who do a different set of things and don’t do another). Rather than broaden the definition of what it means to be a man, he preserves the male category (which men work so hard to do) and instead makes up a new one. That doesn’t smash the patriarchy. It doesn’t question male domination. It doesn’t present any new challenge. Society already knows how to deal with gender nonconformity, through violence, alienation, and correction (see also: transgenderism).
But what is really perplexing is that the same people who claim to be progressive by existing “outside” the gender binary simultaneously say that gender is a thing and it should exist, and even that is a great thing that it does.
Gender is inherently oppressive and restrictive. When I say inherent, I mean that there is no manifestation of gender, in no period of time, no matter how progressive, that can be conceived of as liberal and unconfining. Because gender is, by definition, a socially defined construct of what men and women are “like.”
All people have a wide variety of personality traits. Let’s say we have a person named Ginny:
Ginny is described as warm, friendly, helpful, independent, and analytical. The traits “independent” and “analytical” are viewed as “masculine” because (not “and”) they are traits associated with males and not females. The traits “warm” and “helpful” are “feminine” because they are associated with females and not males. “Femininity” and “Masculinity” are not Real things; they are beliefs society has about the ways men and women are. Theoretically speaking, a culture could have as the set of “feminine” traits aggressiveness, control, dominating, independent. Another theoretical culture could define “femininity” as helpful and understanding, but also aggressive and forceful.
A gendered society is one that says women (females) are like a certain way and men (males) are like a different way. These groups cannot overlap 100%, otherwise they are no longer categories. Having categories outside the binary doesn’t in any way challenge that. It uses the restrictive, narrow definitions of what men and women are as anchors, these alternative categories being defined in relation to the restrictive, narrowly defined categories.
Gender cannot be defined in a way that doesn’t make declarations about what people in sex-based categories are “like.” Even people “outside” the gender binary are still defining themselves in relation to attributes assigned to people in sex-based categories.
A genderless society is one where nobody makes any inferences about a person on the basis of their genitals/physiological sex. There is no association between mannerisms and style of dress, and there is no association between style of dress or mannerisms with genitals/physiological sex.
And for some reason, people “outside the gender binary” or those demanding to be recognized as a member of a different category, really, really don’t like the idea of that. Neither, coincidentally, does patriarchy. Failing to make a distinction between a man and a woman is a severe offense, both to transgender people and to sexist society.
I really don’t know how to begin this post. I don’t know how to introduce it or create some eloquent lead in. All I can say is:
Exhibit A: Trans efforts to completely erase femalehood from existence. A determined means of preventing any sort of meaningful analysis of the oppression and abuse of women from taking place.
Trans activists are now stating that calling female genital mutilation, an act of violence against females, is cissexist. In reference to female children having their clitorises removed and their vaginas sewn shut, twanzactivists scream “WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEE?”
To all you twanz men out there (no, you will never, ever, ever, ever be women, ladies, girls, or whatever other terms you want to appropriate from females, AKA, human beings (no really, we’re actually fucking human beings) with real, actual nature-made and male-controlled vaginas):
Fuck you, monsters.
Also, if you are reading this, press ctrl+shift+W for free lipstick and bubblegum.
To all you trans/patriarchy obedient funfems:
Open your goddamn eyes and look at what you’re saying.
To trans women (that is, females, AKA, human beings (no really)): My heart breaks for you.
To my feminist sisters:
Get a load of this shit.
What is FEMALE genital mutilation?
FEMALE genital mutilation refers to procedures involving mutilation of external FEMALE genitals, namely the clitoris and labia. It is most often practiced on young FEMALE children, from infancy up to about age 15. The most common procedures are a partial or (usually) a complete removal of the clitoris, often with excision of the labia minora. Another form of FEMALE genital mutilation is infibulation, where the vaginal opening is sewn or cauterized shut. See the WHO factsheet for more information.
Why is FEMALE genital mutilation done?
Trans theorists cannot tell you that. In erasing the femaleness of female genital mutilation, they erase WHY females have their genitals destroyed.
This is just one of the many ways in which trans activists harm women. They reduce the oppression of women down to bullet points of independent, compartmentalized problems that are solved one by one, checking off each box as we go. Feminism becomes simplified down to the same level of mindlessness pervasive in MRAs who complain about how all the workplace deaths are misandry while ignoring the whole bit about women’s exclusion (by men) from those jobs.
By reducing “female genital mutilation” to “vulva mutilation,” they ignore WHY the practice continues. Mutilation of women’s’ genitals becomes just another check box, another item to cross off the list. No analysis is possible of how it originated, why it occurs, or how it is caused by, causes, and is related to other dynamics of women’s oppression.
FEMALE genital mutilation occurs because of the rules and roles society has set up for people born female. No, not people born ~iDeNtiFyInG~ as females, but infants born with vaginas. You see, infants are not born in a socially-free vacuum. They are born into societies. Those infants born with vaginas (referred to by societies as females, girls, and sometimes women when they are respected enough) are expected to act and be certain ways. Depending on the society, they must be quiet, polite, deferring, friendly, nurturing, dainty, vain, innocent. One of the demands for females in society is to be virgins, sexually innocent, and chaste. Women’s sexuality is regulated in a number of ways, and one of the most forceful comes in the form of genital mutilation to remove their sexual pleasure or prevent males from sexual access to their bodies.
Female genital mutilation would not take place if society didn’t put females into socially consequential categories based on sex, and the female sex-based category was not beaten upon constantly and forced into submission to the “male” category. But societies DO categorize on the basis of sex, and these categories ARE socially consequential in nature, and the female category IS oppressed by the male category and by society on a broader level.
Females do not have their genitals mutilated because they have vulvas.
Females do not have their genitals mutilated because they ~iDeNtIfY~ as females.
Females have their genitals mutilated because the societies have decided that people born with vaginas are just human enough to be fucked by and impregnated by men, but not human enough to have sexual autonomy.
There’s no disputing the fact that transgender people, like other gender nonconforming groups, are mistreated and the targets of high levels of discrimination, prejudice, and violence, although the discrimination shown towards them looks more like homophobia and degradation of femininity (misogyny) than it does some unique construct of “transphobia.”
Nevertheless, there is something here that cannot be ignored, a finding that is perplexing under the assumption that transgenderism is really, deep down, a progressive movement for gender equality. It seems to be the case that transgenderism has widespread support in places one would least expect it. Some of the most patriarchal, sexist institutions and spaces are the most endorsing of transsexualism.
I first started thinking about this while perusing Reddit, specifically a subreddit called TumblrInAction. It’s a subforum on Reddit for mocking social justice activists, specifically those on Tumblr. It ridicules a whole range of ideas, from otherkin and “transethnic” to more legitimate concepts, like feminism, ableism, and male privilege. On the page’s sidebar, it mentions these as tags to watch out for, along with “genderfluid” and “genderqueer.” Transgenderism is given the green light in a distinctively anti-feminist space, where white privilege is laughed at and “misandry” is said with a straight face.
Of course, this isn’t limited to just the internet.
There isn’t a lot of data on opinions of transgenderism, largely because trans acceptance is a relatively recent movement compared to POC, women, and gay rights’ movements, and much of the existing activism is intertwined with gay rights activism. Relative to its newness and size, the trans movement has taken off with surprising speed and power.
In one of the few nationwide polls on attitudes toward transgender people, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that “approximately 9-in-10 (89%) Americans agree that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans. Compare this to recent Gallup polls indicating that just 53% of the population endorses same-sex marriage, a number slightly higher than the percentage of people who are pro-choice (49%). The PRRI poll also reported that about three quarters of Americans said Congress should pass laws to protect transgender people from job discrimination, including 55% of Republicans. On a related note, you may recall how Romney handled a question about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law put in place to ensure pay equality for women. Poorly. He handled it poorly.
I found it interesting that such a high percentage of people endorsed rights for transgender people when such a low number endorsed same sex marriage. It got me thinking about the legal recognition of gender transition versus the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Gays, lesbians, and allies have been fighting for same-sex marriage for decades. It has been a hot topic for major elections and lobbies on both sides have poured millions of dollars into making their stance on the issue heard. Despite all this, less than half of states offer same-sex unions; only 9 recognize same-sex marriage.
On the other hand, all states legally recognize gender transition in some form. Forty-seven states will alter the sex listed on one’s birth certificate. Additionally, not all states require genital surgery for alteration of legal documents. From Wikipedia:
This all means that in 47 states, two males or two females can get married, provided that only one of them “wears the pants,” so to speak. Art of Transliness writes that while it is theoretically possible, it’s extremely unlikely for marriages involving transgender people to be invalidated.
On its face, it might seem bizarre that the U.S. sooner recognizes sex transition than same-sex marriage. Legal recognition of marriage is dependent on the sexes of the partners, yet sex is apparently not so sacred that it cannot be changed. The U.S. is not an anomaly in this regard; a number of countries recognize gender transition but not same-sex marriage.
In Iran, homosexuality is a criminal offense punishable by death. Wikipedia reports that cross-dressing is also illegal. On the other hand, next to Thailand, Iran does more sex change operations than any other country in the world.
There is not a lot of data on perceptions and attitudes toward transgender people, in large part because the transgender population is small and the trans activism movement is fairly new. Despite little independent activism (relative to that of other groups), public perceptions appear to show a great deal of support for transgender people, even by groups we otherwise consider to be conservative, sexist, or racist. In the U.S. and in many other countries, sex changes are legally recognized while gay marriage, which is dependent on the partners’ sexes, is not.
The major question we are faced with is the “why” question. Why is transgenderism gaining so much acceptance, despite being a relatively recent movement? If it is because society is becoming increasingly progressive, why is a sex change recognized, but a union between two people of the same sex not? In addition, why are so many sex change surgeries being performed in countries where it is otherwise to illegal to do so much as dress as the opposite sex?
The answer to this is a topic for another day, but I’ll give you a hint: It has nothing to do with progressive values.
Not five minutes after reading this wonderful blog post, I come across this “Cis Privilege Bingo” graphic:
Originally published DECEMBER 6, 2010 (edited slightly to remove tangential content).
I am going to talk briefly about what I call the “Privilege Blinders” method of discrediting other people’s arguments and opinions. It’s closely related to Oppression Olympics, where social I-dentities are vigilantly tracked for the purpose of evaluating the speaker’s perceived “qualifications” (by virtue of personal experience or I-dentity) to discuss particular topics. Both Oppression Olympics and Privilege Blinders fail to analyze the substance/content/meaning of the speaker’s words. Instead, legitimacy is determined by the speaker’s apparent location on the social hierarchy. These techniques are conversation stoppers. Which makes them very dangerous.
And yes, Privilege Blinders work just like beer goggles. When intoxicated with privilege, one cannot understand why she is sooooo Very Wrong about [insert contested socio-political issue here]. I am using the term BLINDERS in the cognitive sense; it (allegedly) prevents one…
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