I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game.
On the one hand, I respect the right of Caitlyn/Bruce to identify as any damned thing they please. But I don’t respect much of the pro-trans argumentation that I’ve seen where it does exactly what this piece calls out…attempts to redefine “feminine” to the point of post-modern absurdity.
We hear about cultural appropriation and how bad it is. Gender-culture appropriation, however, I guess that gets a pass. Sort of like with drag. It’s camp, see? Not gender blackface. And strangely, I’m okay with that, sorta kinda, but not with blackface. See the disconnect? How does that work, exactly? Maybe someone can transplain that to me.
A point of comparison: we’re horrified when when one party’s position in racial discourse amounts to “we don’t hate, we just want Americans. Assimilate already, and everything is cool.” Why? Because it says black is cool as long as it’s basically white. You know, dark white. Just do white things, mkay? But the wiggers need to pull their britches up, too. Because white can’t be pale black. Ask Rachel Dolezal, whatever race she identifies as.
Hell, one of the crucial points of feminism of any stripe that I’m aware of is the importance of language, and that half of throwing the boot of patriarchy from the female neck is to stop meeting the patriarchy on its own rhetorical turf. Sun Tzu might accidentally have been a man, but he was right when he said to pick the battleground, not to let the opponent do it. When did men get to set the terms of discourse?
In this case, when they decided they were born women and they know what any of the experience growing up as one is actually like, that’s when. They remember what it was like getting their first period, right? Or the mortification/shame of having early/late boobs too big or small? Or the host of actual girl-only experiences as lived in our physiologically binary world, regardless of the psychology underneath it all, normative or otherwise?
I am surprised the article didn’t talk about the physical/mental effects of the differences in puberty. Identity be damned. Hers is different from his. The hormones say so.
I’m surprised the article didn’t mention trans women concerns about recent medical revelations that just about everything we thought we knew about women’s heart health is wrong because it turns out there are significant differences between men’s cardiovascular health and women’s. Life saving, or life-ending, differences.
I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the trepidation trans women must feel faced with breast cancer and the constant bombardment of doubt…early testing? Over-testing? Am I being gamed on my health for corporate profit? What about pink-washing? How, exactly, do trans women cope with PCOS and endometriosis?
I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the difficulty trans women face with ticking hormone bombs that urge birthing a new generation and the effect that may or may not have on the general born-woman psyche.
I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the difficulty trans women face when dealing with menopause.
I mean, surely absolutely none of these things are defining experiences for a woman. But what would I know? I’m a dude born dude with a touch of radfembro. I denounce 4chan and Sad Puppies. They can all eat a bag of dicks as far as I’m concerned, even if that’s rude, but it’s not cool to suggest they suck a bag of cunts. Now I feel Cyanide & Happiness unclean.
WMAW says much that’s important, and much that merits honest debate and discussion among all people with skin in the game (and that includes men, too). It just stopped way short, imho. Even if it is a year old, and arguments deep in the silos may have become more nuanced, the public face of the debate hasn’t changed much other than that NC has forced a real false binary on us now: hypocritical reactionary anti-penis-with-dress pedophiliaphobia and the please govern from our feels crowd.
Oh, and spare me the transphobic label. It’s as meaningless as anti-Semite now, which, as you’ve probably heard, basically means people Zionists don’t like. I still maintain everyone has the unalienable right to identify as what-the-fuck-ever. And that there is no right to harassment or assault, and certainly not on the basis of subjective assessments of “weirdness.” Nobody has been appointed as the Weirdness Police. It’s simple approach. It’s clean. It doesn’t care how you dress as long as you don’t smell bad. It doesn’t care if you have a penis, because I really don’t want to know. It doesn’t care what you do with your penis/not-penis. I don’t want to hear about it any more than you want to hear about mine.
At the end of the day, especially cheapened as it has been by Caitlyn and her well-intentioned supporters, I don’t even think this is about femininity. It’s about femme. It’s about effete. It’s about toxic masculinity and that man’s attempt to shrug it off. And that’s okay.
I don’t even want to get into teen gender identity. For fuck’s sake, we can’t even get adequate sex ed in schools thanks to puritanical Title IX bullshit and teen’s brains aren’t even fully formed yet. Sorry kids, feel/appear/even be (to an adolescent extent) straight, be bi-curious, be gay, be what you want to be, but your brainmeats are going to keep growing to fill in gaps, your cognitive processes are going to continue to ripen, your hormones are going to keep tweaking everything, and your lived experiences are your lived experiences. You can’t have someone else’s.
Just by the way, since every moment in public is an opportunity to network, please note that I identify as a PhD in anything that doesn’t require licensure, a polyglot with a unique proficiency in tortured English prose, and a wealthy person in a working class body. Mainly, I identify as an idea guy with good ideas, but I’m honestly a little execution and implementation challenged. Hook me up with some useful leads, would you?
This has been your moment of #mansplanation.