Dear Trans Women: Part 2, by Judith Bell

I am humbled by Judith Bell’s incredible way with words in this piece and the one that preceded it. Again, I wish every trans woman would read the series, which will apparently have four installments.

Some highlights:

“Many aspects of male socialization are terrible burdens… Male socialization can be traumatic, or even scarring.”

“Male socialization does not guarantee success. There are many disenfranchised males in the world who are increasingly bitter about not receiving the boon that their maleness promised them… But just because you experienced disenfranchisement and disappointment does not mean that you don’t have male privilege. In fact, your feelings of not ‘getting what you were promised’ is a symptom of your male privilege.”

“In contrast, female socialization makes no promises. It does not encourage you to try for your dreams. It stunts, it crushes, it warps you, because in society’s eyes, in men’s eyes, you cannot have dreams because you are the dream.”

“You have chosen your alliance with femininity. The opportunity costs you experience because of that are not systematic female oppression.”

“That choice was not made for you by your parents and your doctor, as intersex people experience.

That choice was not made for you by society, as female people experience.

You made that choice by yourself. A real, uncoerced choice.

Male privilege gave you that choice.”

Dear Trans Women: Part 1, by Judith Bell

I’ve often wanted to do a post on discrimination versus systemic oppression, but Judith Bell nails it in this amazing post. If trans women only read one post in its entirety by a gender-critical feminist, I hope it’s this one.

Highlights:

“I, a woman, can speak with unwavering authority on the topics of sex as it pertains to women, gender as it pertains to women, womanhood, the female experience, and feminism. I can speak with authority on my own oppression. I can speak with authority on the patriarchy and its abuses. More importantly, you cannot.”

“You cannot be a woman, because femaleness is a bodily experience. Conversely, femininity is a cultural experience.”

“Women are expected to do free domestic labor, free sexual labor, free reproductive labor, and free emotional labor as a matter of course…”

Woman Defined as Fuckable Object, Part 2

I once took a history class in which the professor convinced me beyond all doubt that we inherited an enormous amount of our cultural legacy from the ancient Romans. Highways, water systems, coins, mass entertainment, the legal system, the calendar, and the list goes on and on.

A book I’m reading for sociolinguistics cites research on “sexual categorization in ancient Rome” that illuminated yet another area in which our society inherits its attitudes.

The modern LGBT community loves to cite the ancient Romans as evidence of casual and accepted homosexuality, but this is very much a mischaracterization of the situation.

Rome had no conception of homosexuality at all, and no, this is not because homosexuality, as we conceive it today, was so common as to be unremarkable. Rome had no conception of heterosexuality either. Rome’s sexual categorization was divided into “active” and “passive” participants.

Sex was defined as penetrating an orifice with a penis. Sex was something men did to (not with) other people. Lesbianism was inconceivable — without a penis, women could not “do” anyone.

Instead of heterosexuality and homosexuality, the Romans had 9 sexual orientations which encoded the sex of each participant and the orifice being penetrated.

All of the “active” roles were normalized for males. As long as males were penetrating, even if they were penetrating males, they were doing sex in the accepted and non-deviant way. “Passive” was the deviant role for men.

All of the “passive” roles were normalized for women.

There were no equal relationships in Rome, same sex or otherwise. Instead, men kept people around for fucking, of whatever sex happened to be available. Sex, of any sort, was a display of dominance and male supremacy, not a sign of sexual preference. To call it “rape culture” would be an massive understatement.

In fact, “the labels for a vaginally penetrated woman, femina and puella, mean simply ‘woman’ and ‘girl’.”

I want you to think about that for a moment.

The word for woman, and indeed even girl, was a synonym for her position when having one of her orifices penetrated.

We know, today, that women are thought of as fuckholes, but in Rome, that idea wasn’t even in the closet. Can you imagine if day-to-day life consisted of hearing statements like, “There were ten men and ten fuckholes shopping at the market today,” because that’s just how half the population is named?

So it is against this inherited cultural legacy of undisguised male sexual domination:

Because of course that’s what we are. Men have always thought it and apparently can’t let it go so easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Being Hated

Today I’m having trouble with the fact that someone who once loved me now harbors an actual seething hatred for me.

The loss of the relationship with that person is tough enough but it’s also a loss of faith in humanity. If someone can vow to marry you, spend 15 years with you, share their deepest secrets with you and you with them, and say they’ll never, ever leave you, and they’ll never, ever stop being your friend no matter what happens, and then throw it all out the window after just a few months, what does love even mean? Are there any decent humans in the world? Is there even any hope? How can one recognize love, if that was not it? Or is love just too weak to weather keeping such promises?

I’m sure he’d say that I hate him as well. And I’m sure he actually believes that delusion, despite all evidence to the contrary (including this blog). But even if it were true it would not be a good excuse for hating me. It would not have been a good enough excuse for me to hate him. My love was not conditional upon him not being hateful. My love was not conditional upon anything.

My love was not a trade to be revoked upon cessation of proper behavior.

My love stayed through my mistreatment and through my divorce.

My love persisted even when it was futile.

I didn’t call him a tranny, but he called me a TERF. I didn’t lie about him, but he lied about me. I didn’t stalk him, but he stalked me. I didn’t try to separate him from his friends, but he tried to separate me from my friends. I didn’t abuse him — good lord, I spent my every waking moment taking care of him as if he were infirm — but he decided to invent the lie that I did.

When I asked him to stop, he went on social media and told a crowd of hateful people that wanted my head that I was telling him to “shut up” (not my words at all, but those were nice and inflammatory for his purposes). He laughed and gloated about it. He let people say “Want me to go get her for you?” He let people say that I was an unhappy bitch who couldn’t move on, even though he knew that I had moved on and had not bothered him and that he wouldn’t have even known what I was doing or thinking if he hadn’t looked for me.

While I was here, alone, writing love letters to him, he was finding a thrill in asking dozens of strangers and friends to talk shit about me, to hate me, to call me a slur, to sabotage me, to abandon me.

Me. That person who took the full brunt of his identity crisis while everyone else in his life had the easy job of complimenting him on his dress. Me, who worked and kept the household running and came home every night to crying, to self esteem crises, to suicide talk, to screaming, to sleepless nights. Who kept holding him through all that and telling him it was going to be ok. Who didn’t care how he dressed. Who defended him on his blog. Who asked his friends to use his pronouns. Who bought him clothes. Who attended support groups and couples counseling with him. Who paid for his Starbucks and his manicures. Who got him to ask for anti-depressents. Who kept trying to talk while he shut down and refused. Who endured the sexual rejection and still downed enough wine to have sex with him when he couldn’t be bothered to woo me because I missed him like a piece of my soul and wanted desperately to connect with him again while becoming increasingly aware that he was slipping away from me forever.

While he not only took all this for granted but apparently found something to hate in it all.

But as my life partner, that was my job.

And it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for me to try and try and eventually fail at what every friend I’d ever spoken to said they wouldn’t have even tried, not even for a second. It wasn’t enough to hold our marriage together, and I’ve learned to understand that.

But it wasn’t even enough to stop him from an irrational, seething hatred of me. To refuse to ever be in the room with me again. To revel in saying and hearing the nastiest of insults about me. To try to destroy me and threaten my very life. To be crueler to me, by far, than any ex has ever been to me.

My blog is my witness, as I have bared my soul here. He has taken on hate language but I have not. I haven’t called him a tranny, fetishist or abuser. I’ve never used the words MtT, pretendbian, speshul snowflake, PIW, or even handmaiden. I haven’t attacked anyone or disparaged their looks. I’ve been respectful. I’ve never even said I’m angry. My crime was leaving, quietly, after he said “I’m moving on,” and breaking contact with him per his own wishes, and grieving quietly with feminists, as a feminist.