When I say “boys are dumb” what I really mean is “boys have been raised in a patriarchal society that forces them into an incorrect and problematic view of masculinity that not only forces them to strip away valuable virtues from themselves, like patience and gentleness, but also forces them them to view and treat women in unhealthy ways that devalues women as people and makes them into objects purely for a man’s benefit”
but it’s a lot faster to say “boys are dumb”
I took testosterone for you. You started smiling at me. You trusted my heart like I was a grandson; you trusted my intelligence like I was a Real Boy who had grown up able to ask questions in class instead of spending hours after school quietly researching the answers for myself. You trusted my hands to carry your furniture in the discount store where I worked. You trusted my intentions to be stronger, my instinct to protect, my need to fuck, my right to personal space. You trusted my swagger and gait. You averted your eyes on the street. You stopped staring. Middle-aged couples smiled at my girlfriend and me.
When I was nineteen, I discovered the word “dysphoria” in a trans activist group on campus. Dysphoria explained my humiliation of being a female. It explained why I felt that I should be treated as my older brother had been. I wasn’t free to live the way I wanted to – unless I was a boy. Being a man opened all the doors I had banged my head against for eighteen years. After living as male for a year and a half, I decided to start hormones as I received copious support and encouragement when I asserted myself in this new light. Everything finally fit into place and made sense. A new name and a more visible display of masculinity was my passport into a world where I was finally an equal. In this brighter world, I was part of the majority. I didn’t have to lower my eyes in shame anymore.
“Oh, isn’t he sweet for buying her that hope chest in Goodwill?”
The waiter always gave the bill to me.
“Isn’t he a nice young man for opening the door for her?”
Kisses in the park were cute.
I got jobs the same day I walked into an establishment and declared that I was a hard worker.
I was innocent until proven guilty, worthy until breaking trust.
Men shook my hand without being gentle and looked at me face-to-face instead of giving me a full body scan. Staring at me rudely on the street now implied confrontation. My body was no longer public property.
It was expected of me to demand rights and protect my own territory – it was respectfully masculine rather than overly defensive. I was the typical American, I was the Southern Boy, I was a complete human being with flaws every other man had. I was listened to and allowed the space to gather my thoughts without being interrupted or having my train of thought hijacked by a more qualified opinion. I was the expert of my own experience. I discovered male privilege. The grass on the other side was even greener than I had imagined.
Perhaps transition wasn’t the act of rebellion I thought it was. I had been resisting my entire life as I admired cute girls and sat with my legs open because it was comfortable and begged my mother to let me shop from the men’s section. More accurately, transition was a final acquiescence. It was the only way to make my behavior normal. It was a solution historically backed by psychiatry.
It gave me such a feeling of relief to point to my condition of transsexuality and say “Look! I was born with a defect! It’s a physical, chemical, hormonal, brain problem that I can’t help.” It was treatable; there were doctors to see, medicine to take, and a community of support. My friends said they “knew it all along.” Psychologists approvingly checked off every symptom from the DSM-IV and diagnosed me with Gender Identity Disorder. My pain had a title and a treatment plan. I could speak with an authority that was only laughed at before transitioning – in the gas station, on the phone, to the waitress, to the bartender, to the landlord. I was taken seriously by perfect strangers instead of being gawked at, an extraterrestrial surrounded by familiarity. Why didn’t I transition sooner?
When I look in the mirror, I see a mise-en-abyme, a picture within a picture. I am a product of my society, a response to your criticism and encouragement, I am a hall of mirrors reflecting your uncertainties and insecurities. I see eyes that look back with questions for answers. I see the shame of being a dyke and the elation of being a boy. My transition wasn’t a a careless decision, or a mistake – it was a reaction to my society and my experience that resulted in a better quality of life and provided me with the comfort of having answers and options. Eventually awakening to the ill-fit of living as male allowed me to examine my sex from a more holistic perspective.
What is my gender? I identify with my sex after being repulsed by it my entire life. My gender is that having a cunt has affected every facet of my existence, even when I turned the tables on others’ perception of my body. My gender is having discovered that I don’t enjoy fitting in with the guys: passing as male, becoming fluent in bro-talk, and being assumed to have a penis. By making my sex invisible, I internalized misogyny. Conforming as male meant hearing the word “rape” used as a synonym for domination, humiliation, or asserting authority - and not being able to say anything without being incongruous and confusing to my male peers. They could not have imagined the memories and emotions that word conjured up for me, but I could not find the words to call them out from any other perspective than that of a female and my own personal experience. Being a man meant bragging about “getting pussy” and listening to over-dramatized fantasy versions of my co-workers’ sexual exploits. It meant laughing at the manifestation of misogyny saturating my world and profiting from it. Being a man meant much more than this, but this particular aspect was one I could not swallow through I tried for three years via a deepening subconscious hatred of my birth sex.
My gender is an effort to reach and find a new lens through which to view my reality of being female. Female and male, feminine and masculine are paradoxical, self-referential Janus-words. The inadequacies of language force me to put my existence into the phrase “I do not have a gender.” I do not play any role of gender blindly, but with awareness and a careful observation of each reaction.
Since deciding to detransition, I present my public face with the sentience of being ambiguous. When something as fundamental as one’s sex is uncertain, one’s entire identity is put into question. Many strangers get hung up on that one pivotal point, and I can always tell – they aren’t really paying attention and they dislike me for having an appearance that isn’t as user-friendly as they are accustomed to. Their eyes uncomfortably search my face, my body, my words and gestures for clues. Every motion I make is not of my own volition, but a reluctant answer to a question I would rather ignore. It is never the clear-cut answer they want. They may forget that I never asked to be examined; they must be blissfully ignorant of the fact that their expressions of discomfort are all too familiar to me. Their hands push down and hold me under their microscope. Endless eyes press down into the lens; they stare back at me everywhere I go, innumerable, unblinking, larger-than-life.
When I am alone, my essence, words, and actions cannot be divided into a gender. Solitarily, I am a nebulous, happily abstract being, but every time I step outside I must loathingly allow others to examine me unscrupulously. I have never thought of myself as a circus freak but I have received a very clear message from my parents, teachers, friends, airport security, and co-workers: “female” simply cannot be packaged as I am. I tried to become something else, something understandable, expected, and digestible. Now I choose to stare back at you with defiance and I offer no definition, explanation, or apology for who I am.
The word slut has never been about a woman’s enjoyment of sex, it’s about a woman who does what is desired of her, it’s about a woman who is willing to be enjoyed. I don’t see why anyone would ever want to reclaim a word that’s synonymous with being “used”.
Feminist silence about love reflects a collective sorrow about our powerlessness to free all men from the hold patriarchy has on their minds and hearts.
bell hooks, Communion: The Female Search for Love (via vul-va)
you know what? that’s some bullshit. feminists are screaming their throats raw about love. and because the love is ABOUT WOMEN LOVING THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER, and that love is not about CENTERING MEN, bell hooks doesn’t even hear it as love. in fact, she hears nothing at all. she hears only the “silence” of “collective sorrow” and a feminist “powerlessness”. she dares slander love by conflating heterosexuality with vast universal loving-kindness. such blasphemy! akin to grabbing a fistful of whale-poop and declaring an end to the ocean’s mysteries. how dare she! LIES!
i know a shit-ton about love. i know how much love it takes to burn down lies in my own mind and in the minds of my sisters. i know how much love it takes to stay on the battlefield and FIGHT FOR WHAT I LOVE. and you know what i love? WOMEN. i know how much love it takes to resist with every cell in my fucking body and carry that spark of resistance through the hellstorms of each moment of each day, where i am told that i am not entitled to even the ground under my feet or the breath in my lungs. where i am not even allowed TO CALL MYSELF WOMAN.
and also! also! my love is POWERFUL. my love is not some sorrowful victorian ms. havisham perma-mourn wah wah why won’t men straighten up and fly right whine! MY LOVE IS NOT ABOUT MEN.
the power of my love is in SEEING THE TRUTH OF MALE HATRED AND EVIL CLEARLY. the power of my love is THAT IT SEES AND ACTS WITH THE SKILLFUL MEANS OF RADICAL FEMINISM THAT IS FOR, ABOUT, AND BY WOMEN. only women.
my love is not some consolation prize. loving women is not forlorn or maudlin or sentimental. loving women is robust and raw and terrifying and cleansing. my loving myself and my sisters is vajraradix diamond-sighted radical truth-speaking! my love is diamond-radical vajraradix pure! my love is not about grasping at what is not there!
my love is so profound that it brings the light of truth. and that truth is that the times are so dark that the only way is to turn away from men and burn alive with love for my sisters.
my love is not about rescuing men. my love is about WOMEN.
sisters! do not accept that you are second best! do not accept that you have no power! if you love then you are ever-powerful! if you love then you are already free!!!!
this, is the revolution. the non-grasping love that banishes the darkness of evil. the non-grasping love that consumes you alive. so that you burn as a human pyre, a bright column of living flame in this dark age.
sisters! LET’S BURN TOGETHER AND LIGHT THIS WORLD ON FIRE!
-burn them all to the ground
- sacred museums telling the actual history of slavery not glorifying the lives of slave owners
-genetic testing/ ancestry mapping sites for Black Americans
I really like the second two choices. Truth telling FTW! Also, people gotta know where they came from, so everyone can move forward.
But y’know, obviously the first choice is the easiest.
At a lecture I was giving in a large West Coast university in the Spring of 2008, the female students talked extensively about how much they preferred to have a completely waxed pubic area as it made them feel “clean,” “hot” and “well groomed.” As they excitedly insisted that they themselves chose to have a Brazilian wax, one student let slip that her boyfriend had complained when she decided to give up on waxing. Then there was silence. I asked the student to say more about her boyfriend’s preferences and how she felt about his criticism. As she started to speak other students joined in, only now the conversation took a very different turn. The excitement in the room gave way to a subdued discussion on how some boyfriends had even refused to have sex with non-waxed girlfriends as they “looked gross.” One student told the group how her boyfriend bought her a waxing kit for Valentine’s Day, while yet another sent out an email to his friends joking about his girlfriend’s “hairy beaver.” No, she did not break up with him, she got waxed instead.
Two weeks after the waxing discussion, I was at an East Coast Ivy League school where some female students became increasingly angry. They accused me of denying them free choice in their embracing of our hypersexualized porn culture, and being the next generation’s elite women, this idea was especially repugnant because they saw no limits or constraints on them as women. Literally two minutes later, one of the students made a joke about the “trick” that many of them employ as a way to avoid hookup sex. What is this trick? These women purposely don’t shave or wax as they are getting ready to go out that night so they will feel too embarrassed to participate in hookup sex. As she spoke, I watched as others nodded their heads in agreement. When I asked why they couldn’t just say no to sex, they informed me that once you have a few drinks in you, and are at a party or a bar, it is too hard to say no. I was speechless, not least because they had just been arguing that I had denied them agency in my discussion of porn culture, and yet they saw no contradiction in telling me that they didn’t have the agency to say no to sex. The next day I flew to Utah to give a lecture in a small college, which although not a religious college, had a good percentage of Mormons and Catholics. I told them about the lecture the previous night and asked them if they knew what the trick was. It turns out that trick is everywhere, including Utah.
I tell this story because, on many levels, it neatly captures how the porn culture is affecting young women’s lives. The reality is that women don’t need to look at porn to be profoundly affected by it because images, representations, and messages of porn are now delivered to women via pop culture. Women today are still not major consumers of hard-core porn; they are, however, whether they know it or not, internalizing porn ideology, an ideology that often masquerades as advice on how to be hot, rebellious, and cool in order to attract (and hopefully keep) a man. An excellent example is genital waxing, which first became popular in porn (not least because it makes the women look pre-pubescent) and then filtered down into women’s media such as Cosmopolitan, a magazine that regularly features stories and tips on what “grooming” methods women should adopt to attract a man. Sex and the City, that hugely successful show with an almost cult following, also used waxing as a storyline. For instance, in the movie, Miranda is chastised by Samantha for “letting herself go” by having pubic hair.