(But yeah, content warning and all that, consider yourself forewarned, mmkay?)
So she says, "It's not about the rightness or wrongness of how they think of themselves. He, I mean I guess I would be offending by saying 'he', this person born with cock and balls, this person can say 'I am a woman', and I am not saying to...them... that no, you can't call yourself that in your head. What I'm talking about is whether or not I need to regard this person as my sister. That's my perception, not his...theirs. We see things differently, and I'm not saying only one way is right. But when I speak of women, I mean something that doesn't include that person. When she speaks to say she is a woman, she doesn't get to tell me I have to agree that she is in the way that I use language. This is a person who feels... that who they are is feminine, that they are woman. That doesn't mean, however, that this person has had our experience. I was born female. The other women I talk with in our feminist group, they were born female. We were treated and regarded in a different way than anyone born with cock and balls. It's a different experience. And she...they... the person of whom I'm speaking, does not have that experience. That's all I'm saying".
I nod, because this makes sense. I have always had male privileges due to being perceived as a male person, even if that's been often massively attenuated by being perceived as a sissy femme pansy fruity effeminate male. I would walk into a new situation and eyeballs would recognize me as a male person even if the male people in my cohort did not regard me as one of them, and I myself didn't ever want to be. That much is true.
"But you hate the ways boys grow up needing to prove that they're not you", I tell her. Which is also true. She and her feminist sisters have examined how young boys growing up are methodically taught, under patriarchy, to recognize any behavior, any value judgment, any tiny little nuace, as feminine, and to push away from it. Among these things are emotional processing things, feelings, sensitivities. Why do feminists consider men to be damaged goods (and not, I might add, without good reason)? Because they distance themselves from a wide range of emotional reactions to things. They start doing this when they are in elementary school. They shut down to a certain range of feelings. And years tick by and that has an effect on how they grow up. It shapes them. It affects their awareness. It affects their sense of priorities. So many years later, if this or that male person says they embrace feminism, and is totally on board with it, that doesn't mean they aren't still largely shaped by the identity that they embraced, back when they were children, trying to measure up to being a boy, being a man, and all that means that their head is in a different space and despite their embrace of feminist politics they can't be fully trusted to think like the rest of us who do so, they're still male, and they'll behave differently and have different priorities that creep in and whatnot.
So for the second time in two consecutive blog posts, I am telling feminists: you can't have it both ways.
If someone born with the "cock and balls" configuration decides pretty early on that the people that are "we" in a relevant sense happen to be the girls, that person is going to spend year after year in situations where they're informed that this or that choice, this or that behavior, this or that priority, is one that the girls would normally make, and that boys generally don't. And they'd embrace the girl side. And that would shape us. It would shift our thinking and our awarenesses and our sensitivities. Whether we at some point announced our identities as "transgender woman" or as "nonbinary demigirl" or as "male femmes" (as I do), or as something else, we are departures from the very same toxic identity that as feminists you keep saying you want to see males move away from.
We did. We are not, of course, doing it for you. We're doing it for us. We aren't necessarily doing it quite as you'd envisioned it. But we're doing it. And we bloody well deserve a bit more respect than you're currently giving us.
Yeah. You have certain experiences as female folk designated as such and treated as such since birth. That we don't have. Fine.
That has limited trajectory as an argument. It doesn't cover all the disinclusiveness that you've promoted.
I never identified as female. I did, however, identify as radical feminist. Some of you said I couldn't. So I'm coming at this from a different angle than the transgender women but we have stuff in common: you're Othering us.
Do you counsel young people trying to sort out their gender identity? You should read my book! It's going to add a new entry to your map of possibilities when you interact with your clients!
My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.
My second book, That Guy in Our Women's Studies Class, is also being published by Sunstone Press. It's a sequel to GenderQueer. It's expected to be released in late 2021. Stay tuned for further details.
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