I Dare You

Dear third wave feminists, LGBQ community, LGBTQ allies, liberals, and assorted other regular people:

Do you believe that any of the following things are true? It’s a rhetorical question, because I know for a fact that some of you believe some of these things. But bear with me for a moment.

If you don’t believe a single one of these things is true, you are hereby dismissed. I am not talking to you. I am baffled by you, but I am not talking to you.

But if you believe that some of these are true, even in the darkest, most secret part of your heart, I have a dare for you. I dare you to say them to a male-born transgender activist online and in public. You can hint at them, say them sheepishly, say them apologetically, if you like. You can even just link to someone else who’s saying them, without comment. If nothing else, try saying them anonymously under a fake name.

And see what happens.

Because these are morally neutral statements, aren’t they? And you should be able to say something morally neutral and true in public, without fear of retaliation or violence.

Depending on how deeply you’ve looked into transgender activism, you may or may not already know that saying these things will get you ostracized at best and possibly sabotaged and threatened. So I don’t actually want you to do it.

But I do want you to think about what it means when a group of people has the kind of control over you required to make you utterly unwilling to speak for yourself about something you wholeheartedly believe.

Are you being bullied?

The Imaginary TERF War

A clever bit of marketing on the part of transgender activists is that the hateful little acronym they’ve come up with for feminists who care about female biology is a homonym for “turf.”

Part of the momentum for this slur comes from the implication that feminists are an angry mob with torches standing at the doorway of femaleness and denying entry to transwomen from our “turf” (which is presumably, rather than a state of being, some restroom or knitting circle that people might go into or out of at will if not prevented). So worried are we that they’ll get in, we must busily cook up definitions and draw up laws that will ensure they don’t enter.

That tired old “angry feminist” trope again.

But people are not granted or denied the state of being female by feminists or anyone else. Defending that “turf” is not something that can be attempted or accomplished or failed at. Femalehood is not a clubhouse that someone is hoarding the key to. Because femalehood is not a clubhouse at all.

I am not the gatekeeper of “female” any more than I’m the gatekeeper of “black” or “infant” or “canine.” These words just have definitions, and those definitions exist apart from the aspirations of those they describe and those they don’t describe. No battle, however gallantly and persistently fought, will make a white person black.

I am as irrelevant in determining who is female as I am in determining who is black. And as uninterested.

Because that is not something I can or have to do.

Female Erasure Available!

I’m honored to be an author for the anthology Female Erasure: What You Need To Know About Gender Politics’ War on Women, the Female Sex and Human Rights, alongside foreword writer Germaine Greer and other authors I admire like Sheila Jeffreys, Cathy Brennan, Julia Long and others. My story is written under the name of Sharon Thrace (not my real name).

Thanks again to the many of you who have written for it, pre-ordered it or donated to its cause!

You can buy the book now here.

Editor Ruth Barrett writes: “This anthology brings together voices of more than forty six contributors celebrating female embodiment while exploring deeper issues of misogyny, violence and sexism in gender identity politics today, demonstrating the intentional silencing and erasure of living female realities.

These perspectives come at a time when gender politics and profits from an emerging medical transgenderism industry for children, teens, and adults inhibits our ability to have meaningful discussions about sex, gender, changing laws that have provided sex-based protections for women and girls, and the re-framing of language that erases females as a distinct biological class.

Through researched articles, essays, first-hand experience, story telling, and verse, these voices are needed to ignite the national conversation about the politics of gender-identity as a backlash to feminist goals of liberation from gender stereotypes, oppression and sexual violence.”

In different voices, this compendium of articles shows how transgenderism is erasing the reality of what it means to be a woman. There are some marvelous essays in Female Erasure that make this book the recent go-to analysis of gender identity as “an inherently misogynist idea.” Read the writings by medical and psychological professionals who tell us about the wrongs their professions have inflicted on transitioners, including children; the accounts of women caught in the vicious cycle of transitioning and the stories of young lesbians pressured to be ABF (Anything But Female); and the narratives of wives of men who would be women, wives who learned the hard way that “women are [not] actually real to these men.” These are only a few of the meaningful essays in this anthology that address the current travesty of gender identity orthodoxy. ~ Janice G. Raymond

When Gay is Not Gay

I grew up in a redneck, rural town. From a very young age I observed an interesting but not unusual pattern of machismo in the teenage boys in my town.

Insults between two males could, and often did, imply that the one doing the insulting had performed penetrative sex upon the one being insulted (or would do so in the future). These insults, much to my confusion as a kid, did not imply that the insulter was gay, but did imply that the insulted was gay. This type of insult was beyond common in my neighborhood.

Although a particular teenage boy was definitely not gay-tolerant and would have been utterly horrified to be thought of as gay, it was completely cool and indeed masculine for him to say, during a match of insults, something along the lines of “that’s not what you said when my dick was in your mouth last night.”

Indeed, I once observed a particularly fast-paced insult match in which one boy kept implying he’d ruined the other’s ass some evening prior, and after many rounds, when he slipped up and said “my ass” instead of “your ass,” the watching crowd gasped in horror and declared him the loser of the match.

How curious it seemed to me at the time that only one party of a homosexual sex act between two people should be considered gay.

At some point later, when I’d grown up, left town, and given up on wondering why macho redneck men do what they do, I came across an interesting point in some article which I’ve now lost track of: that men bond by subjugating women.

This bit of wisdom turned on a light bulb in my head. This was why men took their male coworkers and clients to Hooters. It was an opportunity to belittle women, not an opportunity to risk what I thought should have been the potentially embarrassing experience of becoming aroused in the presence of casual acquaintances.

This was why men had strippers at bachelor parties. This was why men watched porn at parties.

In this light, I understood why gang bangs and “sharing” women among friends, which I’d also heard rumor of in my small town and at college, did not trigger gay panic in male participants.

The message here is clear: the definition of sex is subjugation.

As long as you are putting someone in their place, you are performing sex in the way required and approved for men. It doesn’t matter if other men are present. It doesn’t matter if other men are who is getting put in their place.

As a logical corollary, men who have receptive sex are women.

This is a patriarchal view that does not see the participants in any sex act as equals.

“Straight men who have sex with transwomen aren’t gay,” I heard a MtF say recently, and not for the first time. The point he meant to make was that transwomen are women, which I take issue with.

But for those who define sex as subjugation, this statement turns out to be correct.

As is my ex’s apparent definition of womanhood as “sexually submissive.”

All of which forces me to concede that perhaps the claim “transwomen are women” is, at least for some, less a logical inconsistency (as I characterized it here) and more a hatred of women.

 

Feminism

I have been a feminist since before I had a word for it. Plenty of people throughout the years have shamed me and tried to stop me from holding feminist views or saying I was a feminist: religionists, conservatives, rednecks, women who wanted to distance themselves from feminism so they could continue to be thought of as attractive and sexy and fun, regular people of all stripes, and most of all, men. Society’s message is that feminists are angry, ugly, and wrong, and I’ve heard that message loud and clear.

It took me many years to gain the courage to say that I’m a feminist.

As a woman, I have the right and duty to be a feminist, and no one will stop me from it again. Least of all men (however they “identify”). Feminism is not a dirty word.

I always had the right to be a feminist and I always will have the right to be a feminist. That is true even if I had the misfortune of marrying a person who would come out as transgender and develop an ax to grind with feminists and blame his unhappiness on feminism and on me.

If your everyday vernacular has come to include a term that vilifies women/feminists specifically, I suggest revisiting your priorities. See: terf, feminazi, bitch, harpy, nag, battle axe, whore.

Men will not lead the discussion on whether or not it’s ok to be a feminist. Men will not lead the discussion on what feminists are allowed to talk about or think. No, no men, not even men who identify as something else.

I am Doing Fantastic

People often ask me how I’m doing. God bless ’em. I just wanted to check in and let you know that I’m doing fantastic.

I have weathered some darkness that I thought I’d never survive, and I survived, and somehow beautiful things even came of it.

I thought I had lost my support system, but I found out I have plenty of old friends and new friends who love me and won’t leave me and I learned that they are some of the best people I’ve ever known and I never even really understood that before.

I’ve come across some people and some things that have motivated me to an amazing degree. And there are very good things on my horizon.

I’ve opened my heart and mind to dramatic changes in my life, and lost my fear of pursuing them.

A deep and heartfelt thank you to those of you here who have had something to do with that.

The Pursuit of Oppression, Part 2

Recently in a Facebook group based on cute animal pictures, I witnessed the archetypal trans activist meltdown at its finest.

A random dude said something not very cool, and very much off-topic for that matter, and a bunch of other random dudes and dudettes called him out on it. So far, so good.

But one of the people who called him out was a 20-year-old MtF; we’ll call him Iridessa. Not-cool dude took a look at Iridessa’s profile photos, which were a masturbatory fest of pornified half-naked selfies with blowing hair, pouting lips, and violent chest clenching, coupled with his obvious maleness and use of female pronouns, and immediately knew just what was up.

I’ve never seen a young woman post selfies like these, by the way — she’d get eaten alive. I wonder if Iridessa is aware of the privilege he possesses in displaying himself so fearlessly, confident that this will bring him a barrage of compliments instead of the credible rape threats it would bring a woman. I also wonder if he knows that the schtick he’s building his identity upon will fail him when he’s 40. But these are questions for another post.

To get back to the story, not-cool dude then said something to the effect that Iridessa had an anxiety disorder that was alleviated by wearing women’s underwear, and that it was too bad that the “suffocating taboo” of that fact caused Iridessa to need to believe that he is a woman.

It’s too bad not-cool dude was not cool, actually, because what he said struck me as fairly insightful. I mean, let’s think about why the MtF wears women’s panties. It isn’t because of that oft-repeated trope that they need to “present” to the outer world the authentic identity they feel inside, is it? Because no one sees those panties but them. And women’s panties aren’t logistically better at holding dicks and balls in place or anything like that — quite the contrary, they’re too skimpy to do that (as I heard first-hand from my ex).

So while the rest of the world is busy wearing undergarments designed for providing coverage, mitigating the effects of gravity, making sports more comfortable, or catching the discharge expected to emanate from the particular genitals they possess — except maybe on date night, to be fair, when undergarments sometimes get less utilitarian — transgender people are choosing underwear based on mysterious motivations that no one’s allowed to question and, even while vehemently refusing to address the matter in one way or the other, pretending that those motivations don’t involve eroticism.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for eroticism. But it doesn’t make a man a woman nor does it place him in dire need of breaching the privacy of natal women in the interest of protecting himself from men, whose patriarchal interests his identity apparently prevents him from going out of his way to cater to.

But that’s all actually beside the point I’m here to make. The interesting part of this story is what happened after the comment.

Iridessa gleefully wallowed in his sense of unbearable oppression for a good dozen comments, and as if to parody himself, actually threw around the words “transmisogyny,” “die in a fire,” and “shitlord.” A further dozen posts, some from himself and others from his throng of adoring supporters, continued the oppression-fest even as a few bystanders sheepishly said, “Can we get back to the animal pictures?”

Eventually even one of Iridessa’s supporters said something to the effect of, “The haters aren’t worth it, let’s just let it drop,” to which Iridessa responded “No!” before continuing a point-by-point monologue on the many ways in which he, a middle-class, sex-obsessed white man barely out of high school, who I’d wager still gets money from his parents, is the most oppressed person to ever walk the earth.

(You who can become annoyed by this and then click away from it or put away the Internet for a while, cast not the first stone at those of us who lived with it.)

And I think about the times I’ve seen someone say something racist in social media, and the times I’ve seen a person of color respond. She usually doesn’t feel safe being aggressive or calling names or bringing up the legacy of slavery — even though she’d have every right to — and she usually isn’t showered with compliments for her response. At worst she’s called angry and at best others cower in embarrassment and wait for it to blow over. And God forbid she make her point repeatedly over the course of a couple dozen posts. Even president Obama was advised not to make his More Perfect Union speech because of the fear he’d get branded an “angry black man” who couldn’t move past the unattractive spectacle of victimhood.

What is this new sort of oppression, that gets its sufferers so many accolades? That finds credibility in calling a straight white man a gay minority woman, and grants him all the oppression that entails, even as the attribution gets him applause instead of ostracizing? What is this oppression that can be turned back at will, but instead is prized, cherished and savored?