So I’ve been seeing some stuff flying around the internets about the Pope, and how “new, improved, cooler” pope is now all-of-the-sudden saying backwards, regressive shit about gays and about how women should be brood mares for their husbands, and everyone’s all “but, but, but . . . I thought he was down.” I think it’s hilarious that people are so gob smacked about the fact that the current Pope is still peddling the same woman-hating, gay-hating rhetoric the Church as peddled since its advent.
See, the Pope is just a figurehead, a logo, an icon for a specific religious industry (Catholicism). He’s a PR ploy – the Catholic Church needed to re-brand itself as “progressive on social issues” before sneaking in their real agenda; their harder beliefs that are rooted firmly in money, power and patriarchal domination. It’s just like how every once in a while McDonald’s introduces a salad or a low-fat option – don’t be fooled, they’re still in the business of slinging franken-meat and deep fried chicken fetuses. Just because they have a salad on the menu, it doesn’t mean their business model has changed.
The “better pope” image that’s been projected by the Catholic Church is little more than bait-and-switch. Something to lure lapsed Catholics back into the big money business that is the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is an industry, an opportunistic microcosm (not so micro, really) of male domination.
Like The Who so famously said: Meet the new pope; same as the old pope.
And yet, this “cool pope” is a perfect analogy for what we see happening as women’s colleges are undone, women’s art censored, women’s spaces destroyed, feminists derided, porn and prostitution celebrated, and lesbian identity erased in the name of “progress.”
The other night, my wife and I watched an old documentary, Last Call at Maud’s (it’s good, you should watch it) and we got to talking about how spaces like Maud’s – a lesbian bar – no longer exist. We got to talking about how prophetic some of the dykes in the film sounded when they wondered where dykes would go, what would happen to lesbian culture, what would happen to our need to be “seen” as women who love women. Frankly, some of what they said – twenty plus years ago – was chilling in light of what’s happened in recent years to lesbian identity, lesbian space, and lesbians in the LGBT (honestly, it’s just “GBT”) community.
To the latter point, we’ve reached a place where media “leaders” for the LGBT community openly mock dykes on social media, and laugh at the notion of rape culture. We’ve come to a place where lesbian sexuality is co-opted by straight women and straight men, and where actual lesbians are called hateful bigots when they won’t play the queer game. Young women are groomed to despise second wave feminists (never mind the many basic rights ALL women enjoy because of fights our elder sisters tirelessly fought), feminists like Germaine Greer (who I think is marvelous, and kudos to her for not drinking the Kool-Aid or apologizing for being a feminist – an actual, women-first, feminist), and previously non-controversial figures like Eve Ensler are made out to be hateful devil women because they don’t make males the CENTER OF EVERYTHING.
Are you shocked that women like Greer and Ensler are being de-platformed, vilified, censored by the very same community that once seemed so open-minded? Are you surprised that women like me have to express our viewpoint in shadows for fear of retribution from a community that once seemed so very progressive? Does your jaw drop at the fact that the trans/queer lot would sooner demolish institutions like Smith rather than allow them to exist without males among the student body? If you’re shocked by any of this, you were probably also shocked by the revelation that Cool Pope isn’t so cool on certain social issues. Cool Pope, The Catholic Church, and the trans/queer movement all have something similar at stake – control of women, women’s bodies, women’s language – and if you think for a moment they’re going to relinquish that control, you are sorely mistaken. To quote King, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor . . .”
But! The Catholic Church, not at all unlike the trans/queer lot are well down with trans folk: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2015/02/10/vermont-catholic-bishop-affirms-trans-people-lgb-folks-not-so-much
. . . Not so much gays. Isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that just FASCINATING?
Well, no. It’s not. Of course the Catholic Church loves transgenderism – transgenderism seeks to “fix” any people who are situated outside of the neat and tidy binary men created long ago to keep ladies in their place.
But gender is a SPECTRUM, everyone knows that! – some will say. And I say, fuck your gender spectrum in the face. There’s no spectrum. That’s just another conceit to keep gender thriving (and by proxy, keep women subjugated). It’s like saying, “social smoking is okay,” “guns don’t kill people” or believing in the American myth of meritocracy. The first supports big tobacco (which kills people), the second supports the gun lobby (which kills people), and the latter supports capitalism (which also kills people). The main beneficiaries of big tobacco, the gun lobby and capitalism are, interestingly enough, the same beneficiaries of Catholicism and gender: MEN. MALES. DUDES.
Sometimes, when I was working with students, they would get going on conspiracy theories – like, say, The Illuminati. I’m not a big conspiracy theory person myself – frankly, I find them as tedious as they are preposterous – but instead of feeding into their desire to talk, in depth, about various conspiracies, I would ask them this, “Do you ever think that maybe conspiracy theories exist to detract you from the knowledge you really need? Perhaps conspiracy theories exist to train your eyes upon very unlikely scenarios in order to keep you from staring directly into the hard truth?” Some would pause to think about this, others would dismiss my skepticism as a form of ignorance.
I think about this often when considering trans/queer theory – some frivolity all wrapped up in new language and circuitous logic in order to distract women from the hard truths, the knowledge they really need to dissemble patriarchy, to really liberate themselves from the various chains of oppression we’ve been shackled to. I mean, instead of thinking about systems of oppression, we can think about how special all our little quirks and peculiar desires make us. Instead of recognizing gender as an invention used to subjugate women, we can think of gender as something “fun,” something “decadent,” a mere ingredient that can be added to or subtracted from a recipe. Instead of knowing that lesbians exist, we can think of lesbians as men on the inside so patriarchy is in no way upended by women who love women. Instead of thinking about women as actual human beings, we can believe female is rather more like a “feeling” than a reality. Ahhh. Relaxing.
Oh, and also now we’re really fucking stupid. Also, now, we don’t know how to talk about our lives because language has been scrambled to the point of meaninglessness. Also, now, we can’t talk about biology anymore because it might hurt some dude’s feelings, or rupture the (false) belief of a beautiful but broken young lesbian who has been convinced that she is male.
We can’t talk about facts. Like, this week, I got my period. It’s not that remarkable, except I almost never get periods because I take estrogen blockers to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer (cis privilege, y’all). However, being that I live with another woman, and being that her period is so metal it busted right through my estrogen blockers and made me get a period, this menstruation is noteworthy. Women are amazing. Periods fucking suck, but how fucking UNICORN MAGIC is that that mere proximity to another woman can MAKE ME GET A PERIOD? That’s some serious voodoo shit. It’s also biological. And whether I like having my period or not (I do not), it exists. But we can’t talk about that, because we’re all stupid now. Because we’re all too busy playing Narcissus, staring wistfully into our little gender ponds, to see that science exists, that some things (often brutal) only happen to women and girls, that our voices are being silenced, and our institutions dismantled.
“Dykes are outlaws,” said one of the women in the film Last Call at Maud’s. She was referring, I suppose, to a particular place in time – when quite literally, we were outlaws. But what struck my wife and I both was that now, in 2015, dykes are outlaws more than ever – we have few places to gather, we have almost no space to “speak our truth,” and those of us, like myself, who don’t embody stereotypical gender norms for women are encouraged to transition, or, if we’re gender critical, are accused of being self-hating closet transmen.
As I’ve said before on this blog, I’m quite convinced that had I come of age in today’s gender-obsessed clime, I would have been convinced of the fact that I was male – because gender dogma (created by and perpetuated by men) SAYS SO.
And me, I’m fine with who I am, how I live my life, but as a feminist, I worry so for young lesbians – the teenage girl like the one I once was – the girl who liked other girls (like, liked), who would rather wear what her guy friends got to wear, who often found so-called “male interests” (except sports – zzzzz) infinitely more inviting than what girls were “supposed” to be into. Before I found feminism, THAT was fucking confusing to me because gender said that as a female person, I was supposed to do things like X and feel things like Y and think about things like Z. I didn’t yet have the intellectual tools necessary to recognize that it was all an act; the skirts and mascara and crossed legs – when I was a kid, I didn’t yet understand that all of this was a set of preferences, organized as expectations, and framed as something coded into my DNA by a world that hates women – and really, really fucking hates lesbians.
In patriarchy, lesbians are THE WORST because they are not sexually available to men. Lesbians, I would assert, are perhaps the biggest existing threat to patriarchy. So of course, even within our – ahem – “Gay community” we are also marginalized and spat upon. The gay community, not unlike the Catholic Church, exists to further the interests of men. Trans/queer politics are by men and for men, and extraordinarily regressive – they work to ensure that gender stereotypes are upheld, and if you don’t want to trans to neatly fit into the gender-mold society has prepared for you, you can be “queer” and society will placate your “queer-ness” by assuring you that you are special.
See, while Germaine Greer is being raked over the coals for not caring enough about males who think they’re women, Laverne Cox is being lauded as ONE OF THE GREATEST FEMINISTS EVER because . . . because . . . because talking or acting or something? Or while Eve Ensler is being slammed for being SO AWFUL BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T WRITE ABOUT PENIS ENOUGH, we get to read about how a man is sad that he can’t legally display, in public, the breasts he paid good money for! Or while women’s colleges are being systematically destroyed, the Huffington Post is writing some article about a deceased lesbian activist who was “probably a transman” (because lesbians can’t exist). Oh, and all of this is positioned as SUPER IMPORTANT TO FEMINISM.
Yeah. In the dominant culture, I am probably not considered a “real feminist.” I don’t think Beyonce has done much for women – nothing against her, I just don’t think she’s the feminist icon I’m supposed to think she is. And yeah, I do think it’s important that doctors understand basic biology. And no, I don’t think there is such a thing as “female brain.” And yes, I firmly believe gender is performance and not an innate part of who we are as human beings. And I believe lesbians are entitled to, without recourse, shout to the fucking rooftops that they don’t want to ever have anything romantically or sexually to do with male bodied people. And I believe females should have space away from men. And I believe the studies showing thst all-women colleges are good for women academically. And I believe in science. And I believe the pornography and prostitution industry has devastating effects on women and girls. And I think the trans/queer lot are about as far from progressive as Cool Pope.