In ancient Sparta

There’s a play/movie that I like called Doubt. I have an affinity for nuns, and the play centers around nuns, so there’s that. In any case, in the film version, Meryl Streep delivers a line that often resurfaces in my head: “In ancient Sparta, important matters were decided by who shouted loudest. Fortunately, we are not in ancient Sparta.”

But we are in ancient Sparta, in a way. All too often the opportunity to have reasoned, rational discourse around gender, women’s space, women’s boundaries, women’s lives is hijacked and destroyed by those who “shout loudest.” Worse still, perhaps, is the fact that women who speak openly, who are willing to assert their positions (and who are unapologetic about those positions) are fiercely attacked — mocked, berated with misogynistic slurs, threatened with sexual violence. Those who most often engage in these tactics are male. Or, sometimes, they are employed by women who are lost (and I feel sorry for them), who believe feminism should be ABOUT everyone and everything – men, women, dogs, cats . . . (this belief, by the way, is a strategy – employed consciously and subconsciously – to dilute feminism until it becomes meaningless; if feminism is about “everything,” then it is about nothing.)

Women who refuse to cater to the desires of males are marginalized, trivialized, and (laughably), compared to “Hitler.” No. Seriously. I recently saw something where a gender-critical feminist was likened to Hitler – this is sophomoric at best.

yelling

And this is all a form of “shouting.” Mainstream feminism and the trans/queer movement are really good at shouting. They’re good at throwing around terms like “patriarchy” and “misogyny” without actually knowing what those words really mean. Because, you see, the dominant culture is really good at having opinions and feelings, but not so great at being informed, being well-read, flexing their critical thinking muscles. When you believe things and you don’t know why, when you’ve simply accepted that you should hold a belief because some dudes are telling you to, the best you’ve got to combat those who call your beliefs into question is shouting — belligerent, moronic, hostile, woman-hating shouting.

Shouting is a form of batting away the gadfly (to reference Socrates). It’s a form of attempting to silence those who make you uncomfortable. It’s a way of making women submissive, compliant, “nice” – all things that gender dogma tells us we inherently ought to be.

In my own life, I only fight the battles I feel need fighting. (And by “fight” I mean blog, converse, use my words – I’m not a fan of violence.) And I’m SURE there are people – friends, even – who disagree with me on a whole host of things from literature to Broadway musicals, but I don’t obsess over these differences because, really, who fucking cares. It’s a male thing to force people to embrace your point-of-view on ALL matters from Goethe to gender.

I know there are friends of mine who strongly disagree with my positions on women only space, and gender. And that’s totally cool. We have conversations, we disagree, we don’t call each other names, we don’t set out to harm one another, we cope and we’re still cool. Because the kind of people I surround myself with get that differences are normal and natural; they get that we can have intense debates around issues without attempting to hurt one another.

But you know what I see happening ALL THE TIME to women who are gender critical, who are radical feminists? All the time I see people (males) setting out to hurt these women in one way or another.

Recently, I saw that a woman I respect and admire, Heath Atom Russell was being openly attacked online by a transactivist. Heath has bravely spoken out about her own reality as a de-transitioned FtT. She has told the truth about her life, and because that truth doesn’t fit neatly alongside the gender dogma the dominant culture is pushing down women’s throats, she’s a target.

Heath

In this example, an MtT transactivist refers to Ms. Russell as a “thing” a “monstrocity.” This is classic male behavior – relegating a woman who will not comply to the status of a thing. See, when you make a woman a “thing” or an “it,” you strip away her humanity, you make her vulnerable (at least you intend to) to further attacks. This is what passes as activism in the trans/queer community, but this, dear readers is NOT activism. This is male violence masquerading as some type of justice league . . . or something. Males aren’t very good at tolerating women who question them. Nor are they very good at reasoned debate. They are really, really fucking good at calling women names and opening them up to violence, though. They’ve had centuries of practice!

And then you’ve got a preponderance of this shit, where women’s ability to think about and recognize reality, where women’s refusal to submit is attributed to being “scorned.” I mean, if a woman knows a dick is male, if a woman thinks for herself, if a woman doesn’t bow down to gender worship, then SURELY it can only be because a trans person broke her heart. We ladies are motivated solely by sex and dating. I mean, I know that every opinion, every thought I’ve ever had has been the byproduct of romance.  (This, at least, is what gender-worshippers believe – ladies love hearts and flowers and gentlemen callers and shit. They LIVE for those things, don’t ya know?)

dating

So this is what we endure – we women who have decided to think for ourselves, who have decided to speak out against ideology that presents real, actual problems for women, we who refuse to conform and who don’t apologize for that – shouting. Incessant, violent, hyperbolic, misogynist shouting.  It’s scary, it’s boring, it’s thoroughly ineffective at convincing us to see issues differently – but it’s not really about persuading us to see things differently, it’s about making us shut-up and submit. Men don’t really care if you “agree” with them, they just want you to collude with them – be it by entertaining a delusion, making feminism about men, sucking their dicks, or harming other women. Men (even those who think they’re women) don’t really care if you LIKE what they’re doing, or even APPROVE of what they’re doing – they just care that you don’t ask questions, and DO what they want you to do. They don’t care if you enjoy the game, they just want you to play it. It’s not that hard to figure out.

They’ll keep shouting, the dominant culture will keep believing that the loudest voices are the ones worth listening to, and we radical feminists will keep appealing to reason (however futile it often feels) and standing with women.

Hate to break it to you, but Butch and Femme is ALSO Gender

Gender Fatigue

Much has been written on the butch/femme dynamic and whether it is incompatible with Women’s Liberation. Indeed, much has been written about “the Butch Identity” and “the Femme Identity,” including by Lesbians like Dirt and Bev Jo who are extremely gender (transgender) critical. Bev Jo suggests that the “Butch Identity” is the “true woman identity” because it does not cater to the Male Gaze, thus concluding that Butches are somehow more oppressed than Femmes (who, presumably, are Femme because they want to cater to the Male Gaze).

There is a lack of recognition, it seems, among these transgender-critical activists that Butch and Femme are also gender. And although you might arrive at a different conclusion about the relative harms or benefits of Butch and Femme as “beauty” or “cultural” practices by Women than the conclusion you would reach about a grown man deciding he’s a lady and trying to enter women-only…

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The Dregs

Let me just start with a simple conceit: women are awesome. Seriously. They endure so much shit in life, they take so much flack, and still manage to be funny and kind and generous.

Not that this comes as a shock to anyone, but I prefer the company of women. Women are infinitely more interesting to me than males, they don’t make me fear for my safety, and they don’t fuck with my boundaries. The people who have brought me the most joy, who have most improved my life have always been women, and so I think, without reservation, women are fucking awesome.

I have a particular affinity, fondness, however you want to put it, for intelligent women, for women who don’t take any shit, and who don’t base their lives around men’s feelings. And men are ALWAYS getting their feelings hurt – even those men who think they are women.  Unaccustomed to being derided, abused, name-called and harassed their whole lives (as women are), men (all men) get very upset when women don’t collude, don’t submit, don’t prioritize their delusions, don’t suck their dicks (literally and figuratively). They get whiny. They get angry. And they get awful.

Twice in my life – once as a child, once in my late teens – I was subjected to male depravity at its lowest. This is not uncommon. If women can escape childhood/young adulthood unscathed in this manner, they are lucky – and women know this.

I don’t like to discuss these events. Not on my blog. Not in my “real life.” (This is what very expensive psychotherapy in my twenties was for.) I don’t like bringing this shit up, because even to this day, I have a visceral, gut-churning reaction to the memories of what men will do.

And I have the utmost respect for women who are willing to openly, candidly, publically discuss their own history of male abuse. Most women don’t want to talk about it, because it is painful and horrific and profoundly upsetting. That shame, that sense of dread remains always as a specter, and so I am in awe of the courage of women who, despite that sickening “gut-churn,” go ahead and speak their truth.

One of the reasons many women, and I am in this camp, don’t openly discuss their histories of abuse is for fear of how it will be received by the listener or reader. One must worry that others will scrutinize the event, will make erroneous inferences, will (as the culture most always does) place the blame squarely on the female victim, and excuse the perpetrator. By keeping the details of my history amid a small, trusted group, I don’t have to worry about this happening.

However, the women who are not like me, who are transparent with regard to their histories of male abuse, are so very important. These voices empower women. These voices make female victims feel less alone in the world. These women name the problem of male aggression and abuse. And if there is any justice (there isn’t) for women who have been abused (our numbers are legion), it is in the willingness of these other women to tell the truth, and tell it openly.

So why am I bringing this up? I’m bringing this up because, tragically, we still live in a world where it is “open season” on women who tell the truth about their own lives. I’m bringing this up because it is still acceptable for men to harass women about their rape, and I cannot tell you how this sickens me.

I have before on this blog mentioned Cathy Brennan, an activist whose work and words I admire. I think she is remarkably brave to so openly speak her mind, and she is a tireless advocate for women. Men, especially men who think they are women, tend to dislike her – she doesn’t cater to the will of men, she doesn’t prioritize men’s feelings, so she is perceived as a threat. (All women who act accordingly are perceived as a threat.)

Because she is willing to put her politics, her activism “out there,” she is, of course, subjected to all manner of personal attacks – from the laughably bizarre to the terrifying. And virtually all of the attacks come from a single source: men. Whether they’re in a three-piece suit or ladyface, men have no qualms about publically threatening her. And this is why so many of us (and there are many, many of us who are in agreement with Cathy Brennan’s positions) choose to remain anonymous.

With men, there are no boundaries. With men, if you disagree with them, they will threaten you. They will threaten your children. They will call you a cunt. They will mock your rape.

The following screenshots were taken from Ms. Brennan’s Facebook page. Here, a man (who thinks he’s a woman), takes the time to scroll through her posts in order to find an in-road to make the following comments:

scr1scr2

This makes me angry. Word-failingly angry. It wouldn’t matter what woman’s page this man was posting these comments to, it would always make me angry. Because men are perpetrators of rape, they do not grasp the depth and breadth of the harm that befalls women who are subject to it. Because men are perpetrators of rape, they do not understand (nor do they care to) the profundity, the permanence of that particular violence. I have known women who were destroyed by the act. And I know that all women subjected to it are forever changed. Forever.

As human beings (FYI – women are human beings), we are allowed to disagree. We are allowed to hold varying perspectives. We are allowed to think for ourselves. Women are allowed to think in the best interest of other women. Women are allowed to tell men to “step the fuck off.” Men may not like this. Men may disagree. And that’s fine. Men are allowed to disagree with women. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

But vehement disagreement and poring over a woman’s PERSONAL Facebook page, expressly to harass her in the most foul way possible, is crossing a fucking line. Maybe there’s something fucking wrong with  your politics, your ideology, your precious fucking gender religion, when the BEST you can do in your efforts to confront a woman who disagrees with you is to harass her over her rape. Maybe, the next time one of you males – and god there are many of you – who are psychotically obsessed with Cathy Brennan, feels the need to scroll and scroll through backlogs of her Facebook page in order to taunt her about being raped, perhaps instead you should call a shrink and have your fucking head checked.

What many of these transactivists (men) don’t seem to realize, is that 1) women are allowed to hold their own opinions, even when it hurts your feelings/inconveniences you 2) women are human beings with human limitations.

That guy who posted the above comment? He thinks he’s a woman. But you know what? A woman would never mock another woman about her rape, because women know how male abuse fucks us up. These guys can feel ‘til the fucking cows come home, but repeatedly they reveal themselves for the violent, male aggressors that they are – the sort of dudebros who think it’s clever to make sick, misogynist jokes at the expense of a woman’s tragedy. They pull this shit time and time again, and yet they expect us to embrace them wholly as women, to acknowledge them as female, not to question it all, to allow them in our spaces, to consider them “one of the girls.”

Would you want a guy who says to a rape survivor “if you weren’t such a flirt you wouldn’t have been raped” at your women’s festival? What about in your bathroom? Or in your local lesbian organization? This is male behavior, folks. This is revoltingly perverse and hostile, but it is quintessentially male.

And before any of you fuckwits decide to accuse me of being a “sockpuppet for Cathy Brennan” (as many have), know that I would defend any woman – public presence or no – who is being harassed by strange men. Harassment is not dissent. Harassment is the primary tool of men who want outspoken women to shut up and acquiesce. And seriously? A man who goes out of his way to make sick comments about rape? You’re not only male, you’re the fucking dregs of the species.

Bravo, boys

Breaking news: women are no longer allowed to disagree with men.

GidWatchDox

Oh, no. If we disagree, if we speak out, we’ll have our home addresses published. We’ll have our personal information hacked and put on Twitter so that violent males and their handmaidens may frighten, bully, and harass us (and our families).

If women speak up, they will be threatened into submission.

This is a time-honored male tactic: make women vulnerable, make them frightened of their vulnerability, and then make women submit – to male needs, male ideology, male ego.

This is NOT a woman’s approach to dissention. THIS is male aggression. THIS is an attempt, on behalf of a man, to open women up to threats and violence. Period.

Knowing – with our eyes, brain, and body – that a person is male is NOT an act of aggression. Knowing – based on public record – that a male IS male is NOT an act of aggression. Women who have basic, perceptive abilities are NOT criminals.

Publishing the home addresses of women who disagree with men who “feel like” women is unscrupulous, unconscionable, and violent, as the only aim in the effort is to subject the dissenter to abuse.

So here, ladies and gents, is your hero transactivist – a person who goes out of their way to hack and publicize the addresses of women, in an effort to have them stalked, harassed and, perhaps, murdered. (And, oh yes, how trans women are traumatized — no one is publishing their address.)

Bravo, boys! You’ve proven your womanhood by being violent, women-hating men.

How To Be A Good Ally To Trannies

Thought Catalog

Dallas Buyers ClubDallas Buyers Club

Like everyone else, my jaw dropped to the floor during the Oscars, when former LGBT advocate Ellen DeGeneres went on a racist, transphobic rant against Liza Minnelli, transsexuals, transvetites, transgenders, transmen, and transwomen alike. It’s really gross and disgusting that it’s 2014 and every award show is still filled with hate speech towards everyone who isn’t a white cis man.

“I hate drag queens and gay people,” joked Ellen. “I think we should round up all transsexuals and exterminate them like Russian dogs.” The crowd laughed, but I didn’t. “The only thing that looks worse than Liza Mannelli is Pharrell’s hat, and both belong in the Canadian tundra, where they are out of sight and the harsh winter can swiftly remove them from existence.” The laughter in the crowd came to a rolling boil. I sat in my chair, literally shaking.

Unfortunately, the night’s travesty didn’t end…

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A note to my detractors

Every other day, on this blog, I receive rational, impassioned arguments from dissenters who say things like “fuck you, you fucking fuck,” “burn in hell” and “die ignorant bitch.” For the most part, I flag these comments for spam. Sometimes, particularly if a woman has written it, I will let the hostile comment through. (I believe women deserve a platform, even if I disagree, even if she is calling me a “fucking fuck.”)

And at the end of the day, I get why this blog pisses some people off. I don’t say what I’m “supposed to” say. I refuse to validate the dominant culture’s position on gender. And where it pertains to gender, I adamantly reject the zeitgeist.

Since I was a teenager, I’ve advocated fiercely on behalf of women, gays and lesbians, and gender non-conforming people. To this day, I advocate on behalf of these groups. However, as a woman first, a lesbian second, I refuse to stand by and idly watch gender non-conforming males (also known as transwomen) drive their unique issues, like a gigantic steamroller, over women and our issues.

Do MtT’s face violence and discrimination? Yes.  Do MtT’s endure prejudices? Yes. Is it abhorrent that MtT’s face violence and discrimination and prejudice? Of course. Do I support the rights of MtT’s to live a full and happy life free of any manner of harassment? Naturally.

Do I see MtT’s as fellow human beings deserving of compassion and respect? Absolutely.

Do I see MtT’s as women? No.

And here’s where we have a fundamental problem. As a “butch dyke,” I’m all for expressing one’s gender however one prefers. I do know what it’s like to be “set upon” for not conforming to gender norms. I do know what it’s like to be misgendered. And I do know what it’s like to wish I was someone else.

There was a time in my life when I was quite convinced it would be easier to be male, and that option – at least, medically – was on the table. (Thank the gods no one was encouraging me toward it.)

But then again, there was also a time, when I was ten, that I wished I was Amelia Earhart.

And later still there was that time when I thought I didn’t have cancer because I didn’t feel like I had it.

The thing is, our bodily realities suck. We never look the way we think we’re supposed to. Nothing is ever “quite right.” We’re “too fat” or “too thin.” We’re “too masculine” or “too feminine.”

None of this, of course, is grounded in any hard reality – rather it is a result of the messages society has so subtly delivered — we measure ourselves against illusions, and live our lives actively seeking to usurp our true selves.

Why we do this is still a mystery to me.

My point is that if you’re a male who feels compelled to take advantage of medical advancements and try out “being a lady,” if you’re a male who feels better presenting as a “woman,” that’s cool. I’m down with that. We’re all trying to figure our shit out.

However, if you’re going to take your pills, wear your makeup and then lay claim to women’s spaces, to womanhood itself, we’ve got a problem. I do not believe – and no amount of hostility will make me believe – that womanhood is something one “opts into.” I do not believe in “ladybrain” and I do not believe in “ladysoul.”

I do believe that gender is a social construct, and that some men have (understandably) conflated that construct with biology. I do believe our medical, psychological and pharmaceutical institutions have colluded with this belief for their own financial gain. I do believe many men have – perhaps unknowingly – fetishized women’s second-class status.

I know this position makes many people unhappy. I know this runs against the grain of what popular culture is selling us. I know this posits that gender and sex are not, in fact, one and the same – but they’re not.

The women’s movement, the shambles that’s left, needs to be about women. I can guarantee women, even the Rad Fems transactivists so despise, would support a true trans movement, one that didn’t insist on trampling over women, one that didn’t want to codify gender, one that respected women’s spaces.

Because we are not the same. My experience as a female is a far cry from that of a middle-aged man who started taking estrogen at 45 and had his dick inverted at fifty.

And that’s okay. We can be different. Different is good. But a boundary is being crossed when society is telling me I must accept a man as a female “because he says so.” Because my femaleness doesn’t work that way – I’m not a woman because I “feel” a particular way. I’m a female because I came out of my mother’s womb as a biological female and was from that moment forward subjected to all the bullshit (biological and otherwise) that comes with being born female. There is no “feeling” or “mental state” associated with it. Period. End of story.

And if you disagree with that last statement, then, yes, you are a misogynist.

So send me your angry comments about how I hate trans people, about how I should “die” for disagreeing with you.  Surely, it won’t be anything I haven’t heard before – I’m female, after all.

As a gender non-conforming woman, I will speak out against anyone who attempts to legalize gender stereotypes; as a feminist, I will speak out against anyone who threatens women; as a feminist, I will speak out against anyone who tells women how to name their reality; as a feminist, I will speak out against anyone who attempts to invade women’s spaces – be it a bathroom or a music festival.

Other than that, we’re cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrating female oppression, or, Does it matter whether Harriet Capon was trans?

glosswatch

This morning @FeministPics tweeted a newspaper report on the fascinating story of Harriet Capon, who spent two years presenting as a boy. When asked to explain herself, Capon claimed her motivations were economic:

I am one of a family of six. My mother, I regret to say, is in very precarious health, and about two years ago I started thinking seriously about how I could add to the household income to the best advantage. Of course everyone knows that a man can make more money than a woman in industrial employment. I cogitated for a long time, and finally I decided to become a ‘man’.

All of this took place a century ago. There was no Equal Pay Act, no anti-sexual harassment legislation, no maternity leave, none of the safety nets for which feminists have fought long and hard. Capon’s assumption – that if one wanted to make money in…

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