Pride (or Gay-for-a-Day)

This is a joint post with Phonaesthetica.

Hypotaxis and I recently had dinner at a Japanese place, the kind where they seat you with a table full of strangers and everything is cooked communal-style and your eyebrows get singed by the flame. (We are introverts who would never have chosen this place, but hell, we won a gift card).

Immediately, we realized we were making the straight people at the table uncomfortable. While we didn’t show our marriage certificate, or even hold hands, the mere fact of our existence made these people wish we were seated somewhere else, like, say, New Mexico. One dude flat-out refused to sit next to Hypotaxis, saying he felt “claustrophobic.”

He was definitely something-phobic.

The point is, we’re lesbians. We’re womon-loving-womon gay lady dykes, and this kind of experience, albeit rare where we live, is part and parcel of our experience. There are towns in America where Hypotaxis, looking the declarative way she does, cannot safely get out of the car at a gas station.

Which brings us to Pride. Theoretically, Pride is where we should feel safest, yes? We should be looking forward to it. Why, just today, during a Target run for paper towels and socks, we saw a whole section of Pride-dedicated merchandise – scarves, stickers, pins, shirts – and while on one hand this could be read as “Wow, we’ve come a long way, baby” – really it signifies that corporate America has gotten wise to the fact that “gay is cool.” In fact, you don’t even need to BE gay to CALL yourself gay; you just need to wear the right accoutrements, you just gotta reach down deep and find the one marginally unusual thing about your personality, throw on a $5.99 rainbow ascot and VOILA, you’re gay. Because really, if Pride was just for homos, Target would not be hocking that shit in their stores.

The truth is, lesbians and gays are a sexual minority who face real, everyday homophobia, like we did when we were just trying to eat some very tasty fried rice or fill up our car in Amarillo, Texas. Now, though, those of us who have lived long enough are experiencing homophobia – lesbophobia, mostly – from what was once our own “community.”

We have entered a point and a place in time in which lesbian-bashing, even and especially at Pride, is the new social-justice warrioring. It’s now en vogue, sanctioned, encouraged for leftists to shit on lesbians – openly, gleefully. Brilliant vlogger Magdalen Berns was attacked on the street. The San Francisco Public Library celebrated beating and assaulting women; primarily lesbians, who refuse to bend to the will of men who say they are women. If you haven’t heard the story about the lesbian assaulted in Ohio by a group of “non-binary people,” please head over to Gendertrender’s excellent post.

As we discussed the hetero-overtake of Pride (swearing that we’d never attend a Pride event again – and we won’t) we wondered at the origins of Pride becoming a strictly fomo (fake-homo) event. Yes, yes, this is “gatekeeping” – a term beloved among straight people with fetishes who get upset when dykes dare suggest that lesbianism is an actual thing and not an outfit, a whim or a cry for attention. Did the straight co-opting begin when it looked like gays might get the right to marry? Did it begin when the gay community, foolishly, decided that “gender presentation” was the same thing as homosexuality? Did it begin with the gay community’s efforts to make mainstream America see us as full human beings? Was it our fault? Did we bring this on ourselves?

Women are harassed online, lose their jobs, are SHUNNED by lefty “queers” who don’t like the fact that lesbians exist and have lived realities different from straight girls who once made out with their roommate in college, or different from men who feel best in high heels, or different from straight couples who get off on BDSM (did you know that “kink” is now inherently gay? — Trust us, it won’t be long now before Target starts selling whips and chains).

We are proud of being lesbians; we are proud of our lesbian heritage – our home is filled with art and literature made by lesbians, about lesbians, for lesbians. We are proud of what our foremothers endured so we could be a married couple, with good jobs, with friends who see us as a legitimate couple and not just “roommates.” Most gays and lesbians over thirty have a grasp on where we’ve been, as a people, and what we’ve suffered in order to live relatively socioeconomically comfortable, relatively fearless lives.

This is the reason for Pride month. And it’s a good reason. And allies, too, are good – the gay community, like all marginalized communities, needs and benefits from heterosexual allies. However, again, we’ve reached a point where lesbians are personas non gratis among “queers.” Straight folks love gay culture – our music, our haircuts, our flannel shirts – but they don’t so much love us as individuals, particularly as female individuals with opinions, perspectives and positions that maybe don’t center their interests in fashion or sexual preoccupations. Mainstream culture, eg. Target, doesn’t love women whose lives don’t center around the needs and desires of men.

They don’t love women who say “Nope.” Because queer culture is about “yes” – yes to everything and anything. Queer culture is simply an iteration of heterosexual dominance with Kool-Aid streaks in its hair, and when you, as a lesbian, say “no” to its ideology, you are shut up and shut down. Pride is now for and about everything and anything, and therefore it is about nothing at all. It is a meaningless frivolity wherein straight folks can be “gay for a day,” drink too much, and listen to dance music.

Pride is not about homosexuals and it’s definitely not about lesbians. Maybe do something else instead. Get together with other lesbians? Read a book about lesbian history? Or throw that exorbitant entry fee at a worthy cause, organization, or publication like OLOC or Lesbian Connection? Or maybe just buy a dyke some dinner? (But not at that one Japanese place.)

Back from the blogosphere dead to say something about binders

What.

Is.

Up?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the blog because, to be perfectly honest, 1) I have a fulfilling life outside of contemplating these issues (shocking, I know) and 2) I was burnt the fuck out writing on these issues.

That said. Here I am. Again.

Honestly, if I continue to post, I don’t want to post anymore about all the men who have ladybrains. I honestly don’t care about men, and am more interested in what the dumpsterfire of queer/trans ideology is doing to girls and women – because I really care about girls and women.

So today, a local Pride group shared a Buzzfeed article celebrating the wonders of chest binding. (I’m not linking to the video, but you can give it a Google if you’re so inclined.)

Now, some of the subjects (all female) in the video claimed that chest binding made them feel better about their physical appearance. Okay. I can accept that. We all have different tastes in re: outward presentation. Like, I pretty exclusively wear old band t-shirts these days and am really digging this new pair of skater shoes I recently purchased: welcome to the 90s — again!

But I digress . . .

The whole video is set to very tender muzak while subjects wax nostalgic about their old college chest binders and swap stories about nearly dying of heat stroke from wearing them. It’s totes adorbs.

Except it’s not.

What troubled me was the number of female people – whether “genderqueer” or “trans” – in the video who said things like “binding makes me feel safer when I am outside.” Or the woman who says, “If I didn’t have my binder, I couldn’t function . . . Couldn’t go out. Couldn’t talk to family.” Or the woman who says that her binder minimizes her “Fear of getting assaulted.” And there is zero – surprise, surprise – analysis offered as to why perhaps a female human being, with breasts and all, might feel frightened to have her female body recognized in public. There’s no critique at all of the toxic sludge of misogyny that women wade through daily – the kind of sludge that makes women, you know, AFRAID TO GO OUTSIDE FOR COFFEE.

Instead, the solution to this mysterious problem (recognized by some of us as pervasive misogyny) is to “present as male.” And you can present as male by purchasing a device that is, actually, materially horribly bad for you and your body.

There is, of course, no discussion around the dangers of binding.

Yet how we love to mock the Victorians and their fainting couches used principally by women wearing the fashionable, oxygen depriving corsets of the day (gender). How we love to look back with scorn on the barbaric practices of Chinese footbinding (gender). And yet, how we fail so completely to acknowledge that binders, that elective double mastectomies (“top surgery”), and castration (“bottom surgery”) are essentially the same ludicrous form of cosmetic brutality as the practices relegated to the annals of not-quite-antiquity.

Might I say a few words, specifically, about breasts? Female human beings have them. They may be small, they may be large, they may be lopsided. Part of going through female puberty (I know, I know, this is all terribly triggering! Men with ladybrains may wish to retire to a fainting couch at this point in my post) is developing breasts. That process is painful on both the literal and figurative level – and it’s often terrifying simply because patriarchal norms make quick work of mystifying the female body to such a degree that many pubescent girls don’t have a solid understanding of WHAT THE FUCK IS EVEN HAPPENING. (Seriously, I was eleven, and I thought I had cancer – no one told me they HURT — and this was the 1980s.)

For most girls – damn near all, really – the appearance of breasts is the beginning of transforming from “child/human being” to “thing/object. “ Men start looking at you. Rather, they look at your breasts. And they’re allowed. It’s encouraged. Even if you’re just, you know, riding your bike to the corner store for a slushie, men will look at your body – even if it freaks you out, even if it terrifies you – and that is their birthright. You have boobs, so you are fair game.

Even the most heterosexual, cleavage-embracing, big breasted women I know did not, in their youth, delight supremely at the arrival of breasts – because they’re a fucking complicated thing: physically and psychologically.

And men – men feel entitled to look at them. Whenever they want.

I don’t wear clothes that emphasize my breasts, but even I – androgynous dyke that I am – have sat in meetings with male colleagues at well-respected institutions where the men are considered tremendously well educated and socially progressive and have had men STARE AT MY CHEST. (We’ve assured them it’s okay because “they can’t help it.”)

And you know what? It’s dysphoric as hell. It’s a fucked up feeling to have strange men or male friends or male co-workers fixed pointedly on a part of YOUR body. It’s a fucked up, scary feeling to be a twelve-year-old girl getting ogled by boys and men you don’t know and don’t like in a world where men rape with impunity. It’s a real fucked up, scary feeling to be seen as a sexual object before you, yourself have even had a chance to understand your own sexuality. And it’s super depressing and fucked up to feel alienated by a part of your own body, to feel that a part of you is actually there for men to covet and consume.

That’s some real cis-motherfuckin-privilege right there.

The fact that in transland, in queerspeak, these realities are never discussed is evidence of how anti-woman the trans/queer movement actually is. Instead of discussing what it’s like to be a girl in a patriarchy, we offer “fixes” to girls who are acutely aware of how fucked up it feels to be female. And it’s not our femaleness, our female bodies that really need to be fixed: it’s the culture, stupid.

A society that truly supports women and girls does not tell girls and women to “fix themselves” by “becoming men.” A society that is truly for girls and women does not encourage its rightfully freaked out daughters to suffocate themselves with binders lest their female body parts be recognized for what they are. A society that nurtures women and girls does not tell women and girls that if they long to exist outside the stereotypes, or don’t identify with gendered commodities, they are secretly men. A society that cares about women and girls does not pathologize and medicalize and capitalize on our fears about being female in a culture that wantonly, unapologetically hates us.

Binders are but one part of our misogynistic, patriarchal society’s way of diagnosing and “treating” the new hysteria.

Rather than encouraging girls and women to look outward AT the problems (men), we have told them to look inward, to scrutinize and navel gaze and obsess and figure out what the fuck is wrong with US – when, in fact, there is nothing wrong with US at all.

It’s you, we tell girls who are reticent to embrace gender stereotypes.

It’s you, we tell girls and women who are frightened by males in their space.

It’s you, we tell lesbians who are made to feel freakish about their sexuality.

It’s you, we tell adolescent girls who are troubled by the appearance of their healthy, natural, 100% normal breasts.

Fix yourself, we say. And we repackage it as “choice” (because capitalists love their fucking choice), and we repackage it as modernity, and we say it is liberating and edgy, but really it’s just conformity. It’s just a way of reifying the same old fucked up woman-hating systems that have always been, and always will be, in place to relegate female human beings to second-class status.

The message from the culture is this: Don’t like being a girl? (And really, under patriarchy, who the hell does?) Then be a fucking man. Or at least, present as one as much as possible so you don’t, you know, get raped or harassed when you’re out buying a bagel.

So progressive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

4thWaveNow

Max Robinson is a 20-year-old lesbian who recently detransitioned after 4 years of hormone replacement therapy. She underwent a double mastectomy at age 17, performed by plastic surgeon Curtis Crane in San Francisco. Max reports that her gender therapist at the time, Dr Shawn V. Giammatei, wrote letters verifying the immediate medical necessity of these treatments.

Max currently works to provide direct support to developmentally disabled adults living in group homes; she detransitioned on the job in December 2015. Her novel Laika, which tells the story of the little stray dog who was sent outside Earth’s atmosphere in a Soviet satellite, is available digitally or in print here. In addition, Max and her partner collaborate on many graphic art and creative writing projects.

 Max, like many young lesbians of her generation, was led down the path to FTM “transition” as a teen, effectively short circuiting her…

View original post 5,374 more words

You should be ashamed

 

Last night, like many other Americans, I watched the Democratic Debate. I watched it with, more or less, the same low expectations I have when I watch the Republican Debates (which, for whatever reason, I do).

But what stood out to me, last night, was not necessarily the theater of the debate (and let’s face it, most debates are little more than performance art), but that a question, delivered by Andrea Mitchell to Bernie Sanders, seemed designed to humiliate Hillary Clinton.

Here’s the question, posed to Senator Sanders, Let me ask you a question. You called Bill Clinton’s past transgressions, quote, “totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable.” Senator, do you regret saying that?

This was not a policy question. This was not a question in re: Hillary Clinton’s past actions. This wasn’t even a question for Senator Sanders. Rather, this was a question posed entirely to embarrass Clinton, to shame her, to remind us all of the time her husband (not she) engaged in some quintessentially male, utterly reprehensible behavior. And what we are, as the viewers, to infer is that she (and not her husband) is responsible for that “transgression.”

Politicians’ lives are laid bare. That’s part of the deal. Part of the political game has become to amass dirt on your opponents and use it for your own gain. That’s the way it works. (One has to be something of a masochist to even want to enter politics – I mean, none of us are fucking saints. There’s always something to be had.) But I was struck by how truly fucked up, how deliberately humiliating, the question was. And while Sanders responded to the question perfectly, Clinton had to stand there, a tight, seemingly indifferent smile on her face, while this man commented on her husband’s inability to keep his dick in his pants. I saw this, too, during a Republican Debate, when Trump told Fiorina he thought she was a “beautiful woman” – she, too, had to stand there, pretending not to be humiliated, while some belligerent, repulsive mogul “evaluated” her on her looks.

And while these women, knowingly vulnerable to public scrutiny, have practiced their poker faces, questions about their spouses’ unfaithfulness to a marriage, comments on their physical appearance are not part and parcel of “politics as usual,” but an active, deliberate effort to annihilate a woman’s credibility vis-à-vis shaming them into obscurity.

Aren’t you ashamed to be seen in public because you’re over fifty?
Aren’t you ashamed to stand on this stage when your husband is a known philanderer?

 Never mind your professional, political, academic accomplishments. You, as a woman, should be ashamed: for aging, for the decisions made by men in your life, for the thoughts and feelings you have had that don’t align neatly with what the male majority is telling you to think and feel and be.

And I think it matters that Andrea Mitchell, a woman, asked this grossly irrelevant question. I don’t know if Mitchell herself formulated the question, but it matters that she had to ask it and not the male moderator. Because I think it matters that we look at how women participate in these cheap “shaming” tactics, how women have internalized misogyny and, in turn, unleash that on other women.

There’s a lot of discussion in popular culture around the notion of “shaming” – “slut shaming,” “body shaming,” etc. Most of this talk, however, exists to encourage women to remain consumers and active participants in systems and industries that benefit men, but ultimately do women harm: make porn, keep prostitution legal and thriving, keep busy buying shit you don’t need, and buying into ideologies that work against your best interests . . . oh, and don’t stoooop believin’ that female is a feelin’ — in a man’s head!

Thanks to the gains made by liberal feminism, I can . . . uh . . . feel empowered by porn or my holiday weight gain (seriously, I got super friendly with the couch and went to town on some cookies and ham in the month of December) or I can empower myself by saying I’m “genderqueer” or something . . . And no one can SHAME ME for any of this because right now, all this shit is super cool.

Here are some things that women, according to the zeitgeist, CAN AND SHOULD be shamed for:

  • Knowing penis is male
  • Knowing gender is a construct
  • Being a lesbian who doesn’t want to date men
  • Having feelings that are “not feminist enough.”

I want to talk about the fourth variety of shaming for a moment, because it’s just as pernicious as the myriad other ways women are actually shamed, but almost never discussed. We reserve this fourth type of shaming for women who call “bullshit,” who feel their own feelings, who understand that their stories won’t always fit cleanly within the rigid parameters we’ve set up for “Feminist narratives,” but decide to tell those stories anyway.

As I’ve written, to the point of mental exhaustion, on this blog, feminism has come to mean “Whatever anyone says it means” – ergo, in popular discourse, feminism means absolutely nothing whatsoever. I mean, based on the current “meaning” of feminism, making this cup of tea I’m drinking was a feminist act because I, a female person, made the fucking tea.

And, as readers of this blog well know, I do not ascribe to 1) feminism means whatever anyone says it means (actually, it’s rooted in some solid theory and that theory requires meaningful praxis) and 2) feminism is for everyone. Because at its root, it’s not “for everyone” – it’s for female human beings.

I don’t even really believe in “types” of feminism: there is one feminism – the kind that prioritizes women and girls and tries to disentangle us from the toxic fucking mess patriarchal behaviors and norms (this includes gender) have ensnared us in: mind, body, and (ahem) ladysoul. This involves class analysis. This involves working with other women. This involves some knowledge of history, of theory, of root causes, of issues. This involves paying attention, and critical thinking. This involves being able to parse reality from delusion, even when the delusion feels better. This involves being able to call bullshit on dogma that, however trendy, will hurt women and girls in the long run. This involves empathy, and listening to women, and not shaming other women who have ideas that are different from my own. Shaming is a paternalistic tactic, and as a feminist, I don’t “do” paternalism.

I’m not interested in “equality.” I’m not interested in individuals and identities. I’m not interested in telling women what they can and cannot do, and I’m certainly not interested in telling women what they can or cannot feel. See, part of what I want for women is that they can feel however the fuck they want to feel, and NOT be ashamed for that, and NOT be libeled and slandered and run out of town for that. I want women to feel all their feelings, and to know they own those feelings.

Because here’s the funny thing about “feelings,” they stem from emotion and emotion doesn’t always line up with theory, with political inclinations, with principles. Women are human beings, and human beings have instincts and inclinations and desires and drives that – for better or worse – don’t always neatly align with sterile philosophy, much less intellect. Our feelings, also, don’t always reflect reality. That’s the tricky part about feelings: they’re valid, they have meaning, but they don’t always “make sense.” This is why we can’t (or rather shouldn’t) legislate feelings, why we can’t let feelings alone guide social movements, why we sometimes (as sane, rational people) have to examine our feelings, weigh them against a larger whole. We couple our feelings with our intellect; we try to strike a balance, and for most human beings, this is an ongoing struggle.

I had some feelings last week that didn’t line up neatly with my feminist convictions. I felt sad that David Bowie died. Like, really fucking sad. Like, water came out of my eyes, and I listened to Low on repeat pretty much all day. And as many of my feminist “friends” were quick to point out: David Bowie was a rapist, so feeling sad is wrong.

 In fact, all over the internets feminists of all stripes – radical, liberal, genderfancy – were coming out of the woodwork to brow beat other women who felt sad that David Bowie was dead because he raped girls. Didn’t matter if you, like me, condemned Bowie’s actions, if you FELT SAD you were wrong. You were doing feminism wrong. And when a philosophy, even one I ascribe to, starts to mandate how one “feels,” we’re no longer merely in political territory: we’ve slipped into fanaticism, fundamentalism. And if history has shown us anything, it’s that fanaticism doesn’t bode well – especially not for women.

As someone who loves music and poetry and fiction and photography, I’ve long grappled with the fact that some of the art I admire was produced by horrible human beings: rapists, anti-semites, thieves, frauds, liars, men who battered women, women who abused their children . . . The question “how do we/should we separate the art from the artist?” is one of great interest to me.

And in a sense, I suppose I envy people who can simply say, “Now that I know that beloved piece of music was made by an asshole, I no longer feel an emotional connection to that music.” Or people who say, “Those two lines of poetry that gave me chills were written by a rabid anti-semite? Well! I am no longer moved!” But I can’t do that. And I don’t know if I’d want to do that. And while the question “should we/can we separate the art from the artist?” is a fascinating one indeed, it’s not a question whose answer – if it could be answered – has all that much meaning in the grand scheme of things.

I mean, yeah, you can stop watching re-runs of The Cosby Show now that we all know Bill Cosby is a monster (and he absolutely is), and I can stop listening to Ziggy Stardust because I know Bowie was a rapist (and he was), but as a “political act” where’s the value?

The music exists. My memories exist. My fondness for the music exists. Should I re-imagine my memories, reconfigure my feelings to fit my political ideologies? Am I committing a thought crime for having these feelings? Is this where we want to be? Where we’re accusing other women of “feeling crimes”? Is that our feminism?

Fuck that.

I’m not interested in feelings. I’m interested in facts. I’m interested in actions and ideas. I don’t want to be in anyone’s head that way. I don’t want to dictate how women may or may not feel about their lived realities – hell, the “LGBT” orgs have cornered the market on that shit. I don’t want to manipulate women into conforming to what I believe by way of “shaming” them. I don’t want to be part of a society, much less a movement, that only values “certain feelings” and makes “one feeling” compulsory. The whole impetus for this blog was being sick to the back teeth of dudes “who feel like women” telling me how I should feel about them, how I should feel about myself. And it’s still happening. And it’s fucking painful, and I’m not going to heap more of that bullshit upon my sisters.

The fact is, you can attempt to set rigid parameters on people’s feelings, but it’s a pointless, futile endeavor. And shaming – whether it’s happening on a campaign stage, or on Twitter – is a cheap and easy, albeit deeply malicious, technique used to diminish the worth of women’s perspectives.

The trans lot will keep shaming women for knowing dick is male, and the LGBT orgs will keep shaming lesbians for not wanting dick, religious organizations will shame women for wanting birth control, journalists will shame Hillary Clinton for being married to a cheater, feminists will shame other feminists for having feelings that aren’t feminist enough, and me, I’ll be drinking my tea in peace, not worried about your feelings, and enjoying some beautiful music made by a shitty person.

The Great Fishing Expedition 2016

Yep.

Mancheeze

Men are always thinking up new ways to intimidate and harm women. 2016 will be no different. We’ve come to expect this from the men’s rightsers but it also comes from transactivists, who are aligning themselves closer to MRA’s than ever before. The TransAdvocate has started a new 2016 feature called Conversations. Two men, John Stoltenberg and Cristan Williams, editor of the Transadvocate, are attempting to rewrite radical feminism, to make it more palatable for men. *yawn*

I found out about this new development on Twitter, when I came across Lucyfire’s tweet.

Cristan Williams: a man bent on rewriting radical feminism to suit himself

I find even the name of this new feature hilarious because women aren’t part of the conversation and with all the transactivists no…

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“Transparent”: Spitting on Michfest’s grave

Another great post from Phonaesthetica

phonaesthetica

Jill Soloway’s “Transparent” is a truly great TV show, primarily because its characters, the Pfeffermans, are unlikeable – selfish, lying, navel-gazing cheaters – yet totally engaging in a way I haven’t seen since “Six Feet Under.”

“Transparent” shines with clever dialogue, intricately layered story lines and an overarching awareness of the primacy and inexorability of truth, whether individual or epigenetic: The truth is patient and will find you, however long it takes.

Plus, “Transparent” portrays older female sexuality in laser-sharp focus. Not gonna lie, I didn’t enjoy watching Judith Light get diddled in the bathtub by Jeffrey Tambor, but I appreciate the message: Old women are human beings with human needs and you, the vaguely-nauseated viewer peeking through your fingers and dying for this scene to be over, need to call yourself out on your ageism.  And yes, Gaby Hoffman is strange-looking in the extreme, but it’s only because she refuses to adhere to Hollywood femininity requirements such…

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Jezebel Supports Ebony Williams’ Murderer

I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about a child who died over twenty years ago. Her name was Ebony Williams. Had she lived, she would be just a few years younger than me. However, in 1993, Ebony Williams was raped, her throat slit, her body stuffed into a cardboard box and burnt beneath a bridge.

She was raped and murdered by two men. Both were convicted, and Ebony Williams is still dead.

I don’t know how often you’re around thirteen year olds, but I’ve spent some time working with this age group. Their brains are cleaved in half – one half child, one half young adult. You can have grown up conversations with them, and you can also easily engage them in word search puzzles and sock puppets.

In form, in thought, they straddle two worlds.

Those of us who lived long enough to be an adolescent might remember this state of being. And those of us who remember, remember how much it sucks.

Adolescence sucked for me, and I was a well-cared for, white child growing up in an affluent suburb, attending a nice private school. And still, adolescence sucked.

Imagine then (or maybe you don’t need to), how much more it would suck to be adolescent and discarded – homeless, unkempt, hungry. Her teachers remember that she “always smelled badly” – evidence of neglect. Others remember that she had a “pretty smile,” which is a detail we always remember about girls who we have paid absolutely no attention to.

Honestly, I can’t even think about this child’s demise without a lump in my throat.

Ebony Williams’ case is not an isolated incident. Men often prey upon, rape, and murder girl children. Recently, major media outlets released the stomach churning audio of Subway Spokesperson Jared Fogle explaining how he would groom children in order to rape them, singling out the “girl from the broken home.” Men, not just Fogle, target girls who are already somehow marginalized, somehow wounded, knowing that these are the very girls society is most willing to dispose of, the way in 1993, two gang affiliated men, literally disposed of thirteen year old Ebony Williams.

The existence, the prevalence of such crimes in a civilized society should make our stomachs turn, should make it impossible to sleep, should fill us with rage. Frankly, to live with the knowledge of such horrific events, should render us in a perpetual state of vomiting and weeping.

So why am I writing about this? I’m writing about this because just when I thought liberal feminist media could not sink any fucking lower, Jezebel published, yesterday, a fawning interview with a child murderer and rapist, who is male, and who now “identifies” as a woman. See, we’re supposed to feel sympathy for this man because he feels he is a woman and he feels the conditions of his imprisonment are unfair and because he feels he has been treated unfairly by women who point out that he is a murderer and rapist.

(Trust me — they’ll do the same for Jared Fogle if and when he decides to come out as trans, and you’ll be a filthy transphobe if you disprove of their support of trans-Fogle.)

Let me be more precise: WOMEN are supposed to FEEL SORRY for a man who participated in the rape and murder of a female child because this man now feels like a woman.

I wonder if he “felt like a woman” when he was cleaning up after the murder of Ebony Williams. Or if he “felt like a woman” when he was smirking in the courtroom during the trial. Or did he first “feel like a woman” when he embarked on a storybook romance with the Zodiac Killer? (Google the latter, I’m not linking to any of this shit.) Or did he really, truly “feel like a woman” when Jezebel, a two-bit “feminist” website featured him as part of some “human rights” story?

In the whole of the Jezebel piece, the name of this man’s victim is not mentioned once. The details of the crime – which are horrific – are entirely obscured. Then again, the purpose of the piece is not to pay homage to Ebony Williams or the countless other girls like her whose lives were ended cruelly, brutally, at the hands of men.

At the heart of this piece is a “story” about how the convicted murderer was “hurt” when Laverne Cox and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project retracted previous public support for him after the gruesome nature of his crime was brought, once more, to the public’s attention: “[Cathy Brennan] publicized that Blast had been convicted for the murder of [. . .] Ebony Williams.”

The writer puts this information forth as though the story hasn’t been public record since 1993 (which it has), as though the interview subject was “mysteriously imprisoned” (which he wasn’t), as though anyone with internet access couldn’t Google the subject’s name and find countless documents detailing the crime (which they could), alongside a lengthy New York Times piece about his relationship with The Zodiac Killer.

The writer then notes that the convicted “was threatened and insulted online and received hate mail on the inside calling her a freak and woman hater . . .”

We’re supposed to feel bad about this. We’re supposed to feel sorry for this man because he was “insulted online.” And really, if we’re going to start filling online publications with “human interest” stories about people who were “insulted online,” then there will be no fucking room left for any other news.

Furthermore, we’re supposed to feel that he’s the victim of Cathy Brennan? Are you fucking serious? Laverne Cox withdrew public support for this man because despite Cox’s desire to make sad puppy dogs out of violent males who “feel like women,” even Cox couldn’t stomach the details of what this man did to Ebony Williams. Even Laverne-#Ilovemenbuthatepatriarchy-Cox didn’t want to align himself with this male person’s heinous crime.

But let’s blame Cathy Brennan. This writer’s purpose isn’t about advocating for prisoners’ rights, about critiquing the prison industrial complex, it’s about showing her allegiance to the bullshit notion that feminists (I mean the kind who advocate for and care about female human beings) are the cause of all the pain and suffering poor, poor men who feel like ladies endure. And it’s about ensuring that “thought crimes” – such as acknowledging that trans women are actually male — are more offensive to us as a society than “actual crimes” – like raping, murdering, and burning children.

The real purpose of the Jezebel piece is to vilify women who call bullshit on people like the article’s subject. If this wasn’t, in fact, the purpose then there’d be no reason to mention Cathy Brennan.

In the Jezebel piece, the murderer discusses his self-described “elation” when he found out Laverne Cox and the SRLP were going to “be” his “voice.” The world was going to hear my words, he writes.

Mind you, there was no one to be Ebony Williams’ voice, nobody to hear her words. Then again, she was just a girl.

The convicted then expresses how crestfallen he was when TERFS [. . .] started a smear campaign calling me a rapist.

 I know that I now live in a world where logic is not terribly en vogue, but when you’ve been convicted in a court of law of RAPE, it’s not a fucking “smear campaign” when someone calls you a rapist. Like, calling Jefferey Dahmer a cannibal isn’t a “smear campaign.” Calling Ted Bundy a “serial killer” isn’t besmirching his character. If you killed people and consumed their body parts, you’re a fucking cannibal. If you raped a child, you’re a fucking rapist. It’s not conjecture. It’s fact.

And if what makes one a TERF is acknowledging that it’s reprehensible, sickening, and incomprehensibly repulsive to make a folk hero of a man who raped and murdered a child then I’m happy to be a TERF.

The writer of the Jezebel article, however, wants us all to know that she is not a TERF. She tells us this by giving this criminally minded, murderous, person a platform to obsess over Cathy Brennan (how feminist! how responsible!), a woman who has absolutely nothing to do with this person’s crime or case.

The writer wants you to know that, unlike Cathy Brennan, she will happily defer to a child murderer, who is male, for insight on what makes one a feminist:

How do you think transphobia shaped the way Cathy Brennan described you – or the danger she claimed that you posed? Would you call her a feminist?

 Let’s take a moment to let this sink in. Really sink in. Here a writer for a so-called feminist publication is encouraging a violent, gang affiliated, MtT, who, by all legal accounts, participated in the rape and murder of a child, to ruminate on his feelings about a woman who, in his warped little mind, has “wronged” him. In the mind of this person, Cathy Brennan, and not his heinous actions, are the cause of his suffering.

The writer, vis-a-vis Jezebel, vis-à-vis Gawker Media, suggests that it is not the facts of the crime itself, not the fact that Ebony Williams was raped and murdered and burned, that suggest this person “poses a danger,” but Cathy Brennan who suggests this person “poses a danger.”

And, ironically (or not so ironically), in bringing Brennan up repeatedly in the course of the interview, stoking the flames of the interviewee’s irrational ire, the writer poses a danger to Brennan.

Oh, and then, the writer asks this “man who identifies as a woman” whether or not he thinks Brennan is a feminist, as if his answer should matter to the reader.

I, for one, do not care what this man, complicit in the death of Ebony Williams, thinks of another woman, thinks of feminism. I do not take my political worldview from unrepentant men who participate in brutalizing and murdering girl children. And I certainly don’t get my feminist theory from fucking Jezebel.

She is a monster, the convicted says of Cathy Brennan.

[She] is not a feminist, the murder and rapist says. I am a feminist. I am against women being harmed. I am against women being raped.

 And we are to believe he is against these things, just as we are to believe he is a woman.

Ebony Williams, sadly, wasn’t around for his change of heart. Ebony Williams didn’t encounter the womanly, feminist version of this man. In the course of her devastatingly short lifetime, I’d hazard that Ebony Williams didn’t meet many nice feminist men like the one who raped her and placed her body beneath a bridge to be burnt like so much garbage.

As for Cathy Brennan, her crime was daring to bring up Ebony Williams just as LGBT media and trans activist groups were in the process of canonizing her murderer.

Because this, apparently, is what we do now: if someone who identifies as “trans” has to face consequences for an unethical or illegal action, we make saints of them. If said “trans” person is a “trans woman” we automatically interpret their deserved consequence as “persecution.” In this way, trans women – even the ones who straight up murder people – benefit from male privilege. I mean, this gratuitous display of moral and ethical exemption has never been extended to women and girls.

Also, if “feminist publications” wish to extend their sincerest sympathies to people in prison, there are lots and lots of women in prison as a result of abusive spouses and boyfriends, lots of young women behind bars as a result of long histories of sexual abuse, lots of women serving out grim sentences because they were trafficked by men. There are lots of girls who, unlike Ebony Williams, survived adolescence and ended up incarcerated because they were societal throwaways.

But Jezebel isn’t interested in “being the voice” of those women.

So fuck Jezebel, and fuck their parent company, Gawker Media.

For my small part, I’ll be encouraging those I know to stop reading and sharing articles from these sites. I’ll tell anyone who will listen that Jezebel doesn’t care about girls like Ebony Williams, that Jezebel has a vested interest in encouraging violent males to target women who disagree with their brand of “feminism.” And I’d encourage any well-intentioned feminist reader of this blog to do the same.

The Advocate: Anti-Hate, Pro-Stupidity

(TW: Another blog about Greer/long/not nice.)

The human brain’s default setting is stupid.

We like our politics, pop culture, and discourse around anything of import to be stupid to suit our stupid fucking brains. Really, for some, it’s not that they’re incapable of being stupid, it’s just that stupid feels better: critical thinking, self awareness, studying history, reading books – these can each be uncomfortable, downright painful experiences.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Gee, it’s really mean of her to say people are stupid,” then you’re fucking stupid, too.

The reason I’m talking about stupidity, and the publicly verifiable fact that most people are stupid, is that when I saw The Advocate op-ed about Germaine Greer, all I could think was, “Holy fuck this writer is stupid and every single person who agreed with the conceit of this article is stupid, too.”

I mean, let’s not mince words. The article I’m about to address is fucking stupid as fuck. It’s so goddamned stupid that I contracted second hand stupid just by reading it.

However, the sentiments the article expressed are as odious and harmful as they are stupid, so that’s why I’m bothering to write about it at all.

I gave up on the “gay community” and publications that grow out of “the community” a long time ago. What passes as LGBT activism and media these days is little more than a collective jerk off among gay men, men who feel like women, and straight women who want to participate. Current “L”GBT media is outrageously hostile toward women — lesbians, in particular. Shit, as of late, it’s begun to embrace and promote pedophilia as evidenced by a recent article in Baltimore OUTLoud.

So, as a woman who cares deeply about women and girls, as someone who is ENTHUSIASTICALLY AND PROUDLY OPPOSED to adults having sex with minors, and as a dyke, I see nothing for me in what now passes for gay activism and journalism. The current LGBT movement is yet another boy’s club that sometimes admits women who are willing to proselytize.

The Advocate is supposed to be some authority on issues impacting gays, some sort of gold standard in homo-journalism. People defer to The Advocate, but as I asserted above, it’s nothing more than some collective stroke off competition.

Anyway. Today, they published a marvelously stupid article by some fucking idiot about Germain Greer. The title of the article was “Greer’s Feminine Mistake” – which is, I guess, a clever play on The Feminine Mystique, which Greer did not write, a fact the writer is probably unaware of. And really, most of these writers who are freaking the fuck out about Greer had almost certainly never heard of her, had never read her, have no freaking clue about her contributions to feminist theory, much less existence – until she hurt men’s feelings when she acknowledged reality.

The writer begins her op-ed with the following line: There’s this feminist named Germaine Greer . . .

Maybe the writer is trying to be dismissive, as in, “There’s this president named Barack Obama” or “There’s this County Clerk named Kim Davis . . .” or “There’s this gay publication called The Advocate . . .” Or maybe she’s intimating that she had no idea who Greer was until Greer insulted Bruce Jenner. It’s hard to tell.

She follows this bit of sarcasm? ignorance? by writing, Greer is one of those TERFS . . . who are strident “feminists” who hate trans women.

 Here, the writer does what so many leftists, so many liberal feminists do when they talk about women whose feminism does not center men: they make it seem as though the individual’s political and philosophical perspective is rooted in the hatred of trans people. Whether or not they believe – or even think about – what they’re saying is another matter.

All feminists who do not center male persons must be contextualized as women who HATE male persons. This rhetoric is important: no one is pro-hate. Just as I believe humans are, by default, stupid, I also believe that humans are, by default, good. (Yes – there are outliers. There are people who ARE “pro-hate” and there are people who ARE evil. These, I would assert, are the lunatic fringe exceptions to the “stupid-but-good” human rule.) It’s like those “Mean People Suck” bumper stickers I saw around in the late nineties (I think? Or was it the 00’s?) – yeah. Mean people suck. Did anyone ever feel otherwise?

The problem is that because people are so fucking stupid, if you equate feminist critique of gender with “hate” or “hate speech,” every well intentioned dumbass will thoughtlessly agree gender critical feminists are bad because gender critique is hate and hate is bad, okay?

 No one stops to think “how” gender critique is “hate” – they just accept that it is “hate” because that’s what’s been repeated on a rhetorical loop: Trans women are women; gender critique is hate – that’s what men are selling these days. That’s how consumerism works: the product doesn’t have to be sound or good for us or particularly useful, we’re told by men to make the purchase, and so we do.

We’re that fucking stupid.

Truth is more complicated.

Greer never said she “hated” trans people. She simply asserted what we all know to be true: trans women are not female. Oh, and she also said, in a roundabout way, Bruce Jenner is, like the rest of his family, an attention seeking celebrity who is also not female.

These are pretty plain, uncomplicated, easily verifiable observations. These observations might tug at the cozy delusion-blanket that swaddles our sluggish lump of gray matter, but that bit of discomfort isn’t hate – it’s reality, it’s life.

The truth often sucks, but for society, what sucks worse – in the long term, at least – is pretending the truth doesn’t exist.

Speaking truth to another human being is not, in and of itself, a hateful act.

Hell, the hardest, harshest truths I’ve had to hear in my life have often come from the lips of those I love most.

Women are conditioned not to speak the truth, particularly not to speak truth to power. Much of what went so hard with society during the – now derided – women’s liberation movement of the 60s and 70s was that women were speaking painful truths about their own lives, truths that shattered patriarchal notions of what a woman should feel, should be, should say.

The writer of The Advocate article goes on to express outrage about Greer’s comment regarding trans women’s appearance and behavior. A lot of people have zeroed in on this moment from the interview. Again, in my estimation, Greer was simply giving voice to what we all know – even if we pretend we don’t. Obviously, as a not-so-conventional looking gal myself, I’m no fan of condemning a group based on looks alone, but I don’t think Greer was engaging in condemnation, she was plainly observing. And remember, as Phonaesthetica and I observed in our post a few days back, Greer was being dragged and baited into this conversation after making it perfectly clear she had no interest in the topic.

Feigning incredulity, the writer asks, What even does a feminist look like? She answers her own question with something about Dworkin looking like a “stereotype of a feminist” and Jane Fonda being pretty. Then she makes some weird segue into the “glamour” embodied by Laverne Cox, and deprecates herself as looking like an “eighth-grade art teacher” – which I guess is a bad thing? My takeaway from this part of the article was something along the lines of “if Germaine Greer, an old, yucky, Second Wave feminist, observes that many trans women don’t look like female human beings, it is bad and mean and looks-ist, but if I say that trans women are pretty and I, myself, am dumpy, like an art teacher, it is funny and good.”

She also says that she knew this dude who was a biker and then transitioned and is now a “dyke on a bike” – despite the fact that a man cannot be a “dyke” and also WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? Seriously, what do any of these ruminations have to do with feminism? She lapses into this clunky stream-of-consciousness prose about all the trans women she knows and what they look like as though this somehow proves that Greer is hateful, as though to suggest the way one appears is, in and of itself, a feminist act – and she does this a mere two sentences after chiding Greer for being “un-feminist” for mentioning that people don’t all look alike.

She also addresses Greer’s comment about behavior, There’s a right way for women to behave? Well, I think that undoes about 200 years of Western feminist thought. – Funny. I didn’t hear Greer say anything about a “right way for women to behave.” She did, however, allude to the behavior of men who think they’re women.

Also, “Undoes 200 years of Western feminist thought”? Really? What would Wollstonecraft say about this? Wait. This writer probably doesn’t know who Wollstonecraft is because the woman didn’t live long enough to make an unpopular comment about Bruce Jenner.

And I find it very difficult to believe this writer, and those of her ilk, give a flying fuck about “200 years of Western feminist thought” when they’ve made their disdain for the last thirty years of feminist thought so abundantly clear. Seems to me the only feminist thought that matters is feminist thought of the past ten years, you know, the kind that men have manufactured . . .

What follows the “trans women are pretty and I am ugly” symposium is this:

Greer also once said, “No so-called sex change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant.” Clearly this woman has never met a baby-crazy trans woman walking around the house with a pillow under her shirt.

 Okay. Perhaps I’m being ignorant here or, um, stupid, but do adult human beings engage in this behavior? I mean, adult human beings who aren’t struggling with major mental illness? Is this supposed to illicit sympathy in the reader? Because for me, it evokes profound concern for the adult so unhinged that they would “walk around the house with a pillow” under their shirt to simulate pregnancy. I mean, yeah. When I was a little kid I, and other little girls I knew, sometimes did this — it was child’s play; we enacted – as children – an experience we were conditioned to believe was our destiny. However, of the great many women I know who have struggled painfully with fertility not one has ever, at least to my knowledge, spent any amount of time with a pillow under her shirt. See, for women, female reproduction is not an act, an artifice. Nor do I think sticking a pillow under your shirt in any way expresses an understanding of what it’s like to have a uterus and ovaries, nor does it express a genuine desire to have them. What it does demonstrate is a need – perhaps fetishistic, perhaps not – to seem like a woman. And isn’t this what the Greer “debacle” is all about? That a woman refuses to play a game of pretend when reality is at stake?

And doesn’t it make sense that a male defined, highly commodified, branded “feminism” used mostly to hock pornography, music, clothes, and prostitution would have a vested interest in making women like Greer, women who’ve seen some shit, women who are not set to their human “stupid default,” women who can actually see and articulate that there are real issues, real struggles faced by women and girls that don’t involve a person’s right to participate in a slut walk, or to “change genders,” rendered insignificant? Greer’s feminism isn’t sexy, isn’t salable, isn’t stupid.

The writer concludes on a “free speech” note, I guess, arguing: I think we need to let people hear Greer out so we can all collectively look at her and say, “Well, that was a bunch of crazy BS. Oh, isn’t I Am Cait on?”

And thus, she proves my point. We’d rather not listen to the “crazy old woman” who has meaningful, important, and complex thoughts to share about the problems facing female human beings. Instead, we’d be better off to watch a privileged, wealthy, white Republican in an expensive dress drink chardonnay with his “gal pals.” Not hateful feminism. Just stupid.