Woman is not a feeling

I went to college in the early 90s, and I was exposed to all sorts of crazy (albeit compelling) post-modern theory. It was fun to think about, even to apply – to literature, to film, sometimes to politics. But if one had told the nineteen-year-old dyke I was that someday, in the not-so-distant-future, these ideas (best engaged in the hallowed halls of academia) would be applied in very serious ways to women’s existence, lesbian’s existence, I wouldn’t have believed it.

In fact, this is exactly what has happened in the dominant culture. We have taken post-modern theory and applied it to a subjugated class (women). We say, with straight faces, “Anyone can be a woman!” We say, without stuttering, “A man is a woman if he says so.” What we then are to infer is that “woman” is a meaningless term – a concept, a malleable notion, a bit of academic jargon that can be tried out on a poem, a work of art, a dude. And in this way, we relegate “woman” to the status of “thing” – the lived reality of women becomes a text, an application.

I don’t give a fuck how anyone identifies. Truly, I don’t.

If, for example, a man says, “I identify as a woman. I’m going to dress like a woman. Change my name. Get some surgery. Take some pills.” Okay, fine. Cool. Rock on with your bad self. But the problem is, identity doesn’t, and never will, transcend biological reality.

The M2T seems to love this very philosophical idea: “I feel like . . . therefore I am.” M2T activists insist that males (I’m talking biology) who “feel like” females (I’m talking biology) are entitled — because of a feeling, a hunch – to women-only space (MichFest), to lesbian-only space, to shelters, to clinics, to organizations, to academic institutions that have been designed to serve the interests of women.

In a world that serves the interests of men, these spaces are essential. When we redefine woman/female as “anything anyone says it is,” then these essential spaces disappear (we already see this happening) – I mean, why have special services, spaces, institutions for a permeable concept?

But “woman” and “female” are not permeable concepts. “Female” is not a bit of academic puffery. Female is not a “feeling.”

I menstruated in adolescence not because of a “sense” or a “feeling” I had, but because of the biological reality of my femaleness. I developed breasts, not of my own volition, not of a desire to develop breasts, but because of my biology.

And despite my androgyny, my “identification” with stereotypically masculine ways of presenting myself, despite often being “misgendered” as a “sir,” (an occurrence, by the way, that never devastated me) I got breast cancer in my early thirties, a type of breast cancer caused by the estrogen my body naturally produces because I am female. This is sex. This is reality. This is not a feeling.

To that end, I’d like to conclude this post with an anecdote. I realize anecdotes are inherently problematic, as they often only speak to one experience, but this one I think is germane to my point:

When I found out I had cancer, I was frightened and devastated. Furthermore, I was living far from my family and friends. So I sought out psychotherapy to help me work through the trauma of cancer, of chemo, of losing my hair (temporarily) and parts of my body (permanently). I ended up with a therapist who was a “transwoman.” I had no problem with this – he was trained in dealing with trauma, and had worked with cancer patients before. Frankly, we had a wonderful client-therapist relationship. He saw me through the most difficult, terrifying time in my life and I have nothing but warm feelings toward him.

However, there were many times when we were not on the same page. There were many times when I think I would have been better off with a female therapist. You see, for him, womanhood was a thing to be sought after, an elusive, albeit highly desired, state. For me – as a dyke with breast cancer – womanhood was something of a burden.

During one of my first visits with him, I explained how I had begged my surgeon to “take both of my breasts.” His reaction was to gasp in shock, and fold his arms around his surgically implanted breasts. In the moment, the gesture was subtle, but also profoundly telling. He had bought his breasts, coveted them, saved and planned for those orbs under his sweater. They were precious to him, and he could not fathom demanding their removal.

But you see, for me, losing my breasts did not mean losing my identity. My identity was not contingent on my breasts and my sex would remain female regardless. Sure, it was a sad thought – I’d had those bitches since girlhood, and I quite liked them – but I was thinking about my survival. I was not, as my M2t therapist was, thinking about their value with regard to my identity.

I already had an “identity,” largely irrespective of my biology. I already was a fully formed human being with interests and a sense of humor and an aesthetic sensibility that had little to do with my possession of tits or a vag.

However, my biology is part of my reality. I had estrogen induced breast cancer. I have breasts. I menstruate. I see a gynecologist for reasons beyond mere pretense. As an adolescent, I was ogled by adult men and felt afraid. As a teen, I rejected the cult of makeup and had no interest in boys and was ridiculed for this – and no, that does not make me “trans,” it makes me a dyke. I appreciate my dumb luck at being born a female in the First World.

Tell Malala Yousafza that “female is a feeling.” Tell baby girls in China that female is “whatever you want it to be.” That woman is “whatever” is a male conceit and it is false. Men, despite their precious fucking feelings cannot simply colonize womanhood. Not without a fight.

You can identify as whatever-the-fuck you like, but unless you were born female, you will never be female. Embrace your fanciful identity. Enjoy your feelings. Leave women alone.

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46 thoughts on “Woman is not a feeling

  1. I wonder, what do you think of an extremely feminine boy who looks, acts, and feels very feminine, and decides to take female hormones because he feels EXTREMELY uncomfortable with his masculine body. He then looks 100% like a real “woman” after a year on hormones , but keeps his penis. What is he supposed to call himself? Is he still a boy? Would he be more woman if he had a fake vagina?

    I do agree that trans women and cis women are not the same because of biology, I just think you argument falls flat as soon as you mention “feelings”. If you feel sick you are probably sick, if you feel full you are probably full, if you feel sad you are probably sad. Your feelings are your bodies way of telling you something.

    I think people get way too caught up in the whole “either a man or a woman” thing. You yourself are androgynous because it makes you feel more like yourself, just like a trans person takes hormones to feel better.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I maintain my stance that “feelings” do not equate “biological sex.” As a feminist, I believe the very notion of “distinctly female feelings” is a dangerous and problematic for biological women. Anyone can call themselves whatever they like. Anyone can (and should) do what they need to do to make themselves feel better. Feelings don’t change biological reality.

    2. “I just think you argument falls flat as soon as you mention “feelings”. If you feel sick you are probably sick, if you feel full you are probably full, if you feel sad you are probably sad. Your feelings are your bodies way of telling you something.”

      The argument does not fall flat at all. The author does not deny the existence of feelings or that feelings don’t indicate an internal state (positive or negative). Feeling full probably means that one has had enough, or too much, to eat. If one feels full without eating, it indicates that something might be wrong, either in the digestive system or the brain.

      And feeling, for instance, that one’s genitals are somehow “wrong” indicates a conflicted internal state that we’ve decided to call dysphoria. Nobody denies that this state–where one’s body and sense of identity are at odds–exists. It does exist, and the person with these feelings is suffering. But when a male person says “I feel like I’m a woman” that is a symptom, not a cause. Symptoms are not causes of illnesses. A fever doesn’t cause a virus–a virus causes fever.

      I must say I’m gobsmacked that you would compare internal bodily/mental states such as sickness, sadness or fullness to femaleness. Your analogy is quite revealing, I think! Since, you know, a female is a PERSON whereas something like “sadness” is not a person, but an experience.

    3. WATM again? Who cares what this hypothetical boy feels or what he calls himself? How about focusing on female reality instead? This kid already has an identity just by virtue of being alive. Anything beyond that is narcissistic indulgence. Let’s move on to something important. Is he being murdered, raped, mutilated, or enslaved because of his sex? No? Ok, back to females then…

  2. Excellent. Men insisting they are women and Lesbians have defined us out of existence, renamed us with an insult (“cis”), destroyed our last female only space, and have conned way too many women into supporting men against women to not hurt their very unfemale “feelings.”

  3. Thank you for this! You summed up all my thoughts in a nicely written post, and I love that you shared some of your experiences to concretely present the ideas. Sharing on Facebook!

  4. Reblogged this on oopster74 and commented:

    Yes, there are biological differences, no one is debating that, but no ones body is 100% male or 100% female, we are an analogue rather than a digital. How can I tell you that I’m female? I dunno, just tell you how I feel, and you’ll might feel similar or not to that. I don’t see how someone being trans can hurt other people, unless they are directly hurting other people. Someone being a vegetarian doesn’t affect me as a carnivore, unless they wanted to stop me eating meat, (I could eat meat substitute but that’s not the point).

    Live and let live, and if it aint broke, it doesn’t need fixing

      1. But, you’re forgetting trans men in your thinking. Being trans is not a way to piss you off, to access those things you mentioned. The process of transition from start to finish is a multi-year thing, and not done on a whim. Seriously, think about what you’re saying and ask if it’s logical or makes any sense.

    1. Guess what oopster? You’re not a woman. Woman is not a feeling. Please re-read the excellent blog post above, by Augustuscarmichael, called “Woman is Not a Feeling.”

      1. Who are you to say what I am or what I’m not? I don’t need, want or ask for your validation of me. I don’t care what you think of me. I read that blog post, and it was the usual bullshit I’ve come to expect from TERF’s. You want to be treated right, and yeah, you should be, but you don’t care how anyone else is treated. I care how EVERYONE in society is treated. I don’t judge books by their covers.

    2. “Who are you to say what I am or what I’m not?”

      I’m a woman. Female.

      “I don’t need, want or ask for your validation of me. I don’t care what you think of me.”

      Yes, you need constant validation. That’s what “TERF” means: a woman who does not validate men who think woman is a feeling or an idea. Real females do not need validation because they already know they are female. You care very much what all of us think of you. That’s why you’ll try anything to make us shut up.

      1. Yeah, you being “a woman. Female”, does not give you the right to tell other people what they are or are not.

        TERF stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist”, or we could say bigot if that makes you feel any better.

        I already know what I am, and that is female, a woman. I already know what you are, a bigot. I’m not trying to shut you up, I’m attempting debate, trying in a vain effort to change your views. You are using stereotypes in an effort to silence (or shut me up) and people like me, you know, people who aren’t bigots.

    3. You can tell yourself you are female all the livelong day–and I’m sure that you do!

      Being a TERF means knowing that a man who thinks he’s a woman is a narcissistic, misogynistic cult member with an identity fetish. The “exclusionary” part is redundant.

    4. When you and yours stop abstracting women. When you stop this ultimate objectification of women’s lives. When you stop claiming that female bodies are meaningless. When you stop crying that females oppress males simply by being female. When you stop behaving like the disgusting man you are who cannot stand the thought of women discussing their lives without a male present, keeping an eye on things and insinuating himself into the conversation with the purpose of positioning himself as an authority on womanhood so that his own needs can become central and so that his delusions will go unchallenged in an atmosphere where real women are afraid of being labelled as bigots and the worst oppressors the world has ever seen. When you back the fuck off and let women discuss, without interruption, something which is of great concern to us: reality. Material reality. Not masturbatory queer theories.

      1. And I’m doing all that? Really? And you’re calling me a disgusting man based on what? The fact that I’m open and honest about being trans, so you use some old worn out stereotype that is utter bullshit against me, and then you say I’m delusional?

        You’re theory falls flat of course when you factor in ftm’s into the picture. Even if I was all those thing you claim (and bravo for deducing all that from the little you actually know of – you now know I can be sarcastic), then are ftm’s also doing those things?

        I call out bigots when they do or so bigoted things, so wear your cap as it fits just right.

      2. Thank you Moragg99. I am hurt by Trans people when they invade my personal and private areas where I expect to be able to comfortably exist safely without the presences of men, like a female locker room or a women’s dorm. I am hurt by Trans people when they attempt to tell me tha having a uterus and being the bearer of children does not define me as a woman. That I should be further oppressed and marginalized by this patriarchical, sick, mysoginist, culture of plastic surgery and the promotion of the idea that non-feminine looking women are not women, and feminine looking men are not men.

    5. Oh, no! I’ve been “called out” by a trans woman! The very act of calling out another imparts authority on the caller and shame upon the callee. It’s a queer theory law: actively validate my beliefs and practices, no matter how absurd and offensive, or, by gum, I’ll call you out! 

      Anyway. Any male who dictates that the idea of Woman, a thing in his mind, is the same thing as real person living her life in a real female body in the real world, is disgusting. Therefore, it logically follows that you’re a disgusting man.

      I didn’t know that “disgusting man” is an outdated stereotype. Nobody told me! But it makes sense that you, a disgusting man, would bring me this news. After all, it’s in YOUR best interests that women expressing antipathy towards the misogynists who objectify them is made into a moral and legal crime. 

      Transgenderism is a male cult. Female trans are but one category of post-modern-queer-trans collateral damage. Radical feminists are another. Liberal feminists, your allies, are next in line. 

      1. I’d love to have a more intelligent reply, but when all I see is you spreading bullshit, then I really can’t think of anything else to say but bullshit.

        You’re a bigot, plain and simple.

        I’m not trans to objectify anyone. I’m not trans to piss you off (although right now that’s a bloody good reason). I’m not part of any cult. I discovered radical feminists approx 2 years ago – up until then all I knew of feminists was what you see and hear in the media which I knew must be outdated stereotypes. I think anything that subjugates people is wrong, but you are fucking paranoid. You say I’m acting in an authoritarian way by calling you out, yet you have no issue in doing the sane in your eyes by calling me a “disgusting man”. You’ve done nothing but issue insults at me and people like me with no proof, no facts, just speculation, rumour and gossip. I don’t subscribe to any theory of gender or sex or anything like that. I just live my life so that I’m as happy as I can be, which is bloody difficult with people like you spreading your hate and lies.

        I don’t like doing this, but don’t post again unless you have something positive to contribute to the debate / argument. Insults are never positive, which includes referring to me and other trans people in ways you know we’ll find offensive, or ways in which you are knowingly trying to offend.

    6. “I don’t like doing this, but don’t post again unless you have something positive to contribute to the debate / argument. ”

      Mr. Oopster is gonna have to put his foot down and moderate a blog which doesn’t belong to him. The disobedient woman has pushed him too far, and left him no choice: it’s time to shut her up.

      Hilarious. He trolls several feminist blogs, and when the women recognize him for the disgusting, woman-hating man he is, he leaves long messages proving what a disgusting, woman-hating, grandiose, authoritarian, abusive and deluded man he is. “Don’t make me do this,” says Mr. Oopster.

      THIS is male transgenderism in action. We see you, what you do, what you are.

      1. I actually thought this series of comments we’re on my own blog after I’d re blogged this there (I’ve been replying on my phone), which is why I asked you not to post again unless you we’re contributing something positive to the debate. I’m sorry if this has caused any problems for you Hypotaxis.

        Morag, what positive contributions have you made to the debate since replying to me? None that I can see, just criticism and name calling. Hows that going to help anyone on either side of the debate? Leave name calling where it belongs, the playground, where it’s at least got the excuse of kids being kids. We’re supposed to be adults here, so don’t you think we should all act like adults.

  5. Thanks for the sanity. It’s astonishing that yours is a controversial view. I never understood how entrenched the patriarchy was until I witnessed how quickly the word “woman” was redefined to include men with fantasies about their true inner identity — and the viciousness with which this redefinition was enforced. It’s very sad that young “feminists” have eagerly signed on. Keep talking. I have to believe that truth will win out.

  6. Reblogged this on RaFeCaMe and commented:
    “But “woman” and “female” are not permeable concepts. “Female” is not a bit of academic puffery. Female is not a “feeling.””

  7. Beautifully written piece. Although, it seems to me like they can’t embrace their fantasy (which I read as delusion) without attacking women…

    I’m also flabbergasted that everyone is talking this post modern shit all of a sudden that would have meant nothing to them a few years before… but whenever I analyse it, I just see post modernism (and post structiralism) as conveniently similar to religion and spirituality. It seems to have the same effect in a conversation as talking about ghosts…

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