"Women and men are made, not born" -- Simone de Beauvoir, French white cisgendered feminist.
To read an essay based on that quote, go here.
[the image above is from here, an astoundingly racist, sexist, and classist and "unaware of gynocide or genocide" webpage]
What follows is a reply I was going to post to a commenter here, but decided to make a separate post because it ended up bringing up issues that I've not brought up here before.
So, hi everyone, and hi especially to Anonymous of Oct. 17th, 2009 ECD.
Note for what I'm about to say: seeking to know anyone who is part of a of diverse population that is not seen or understood as "one's own" (by oneself), including by trying to find modes of behavior that "they" have in common, or by discerning the values of one or two or twelve or seventy people in that group is called discrimination where I come from.
That said, my conclusions about "men" are based on knowledge of thousands of WHITE men I've seen or known, and on what millions upon millions of men have done in society, in the so-called great literature they've written, in the good and bad movies they've made, and in the patterns discernible in their behaviour across eras and across continents. "Sociology" is a field as reputable as any other--or as irreputable! "Anthropology", on the other hand, is so thick with white men's racist assumptions, values, and practices, that it needs a major overhaul by antiracist, antisexist folks, by people of color and by women, and especially by Indigenous people--particularly Indigenous women, before it will have much legitimacy for me personally. When the perspectives and theories in the field of "anthropology" are fully and completely centered around the experiences of Indigenous women and other women of color, I'll start reading anthropology books again--well, the books that reflect that shift in consciousness.
I have known only one American Indian man intimately. I was his boyfriend years back. He did not behave the way white men stereotypically behave, AT ALL. He was raised on a res in the Southwestern U.S. among other people of his Nation. And he told me about plenty of men on the res who behaved about as oppressively towards local women as a few white men I have known personally.
But I do believe "male supremacy" is often a term racistly used in white society to mean "white male supremacy" which can and does shape everyone of every gender and race pretty much across the globe, at this point, but not entirely so. There still are people on Earth who have little to no contact with white men and white male supremacist social-economic political practices and institutions. But Japan, to name but one non-white country, is so Westernised, so infiltrated by Euro/U.S. white male supremacist culture and economics, that however men treat women there, it cannot be said to not be influenced by those practices and values of white men that are racist and misogynistic.
The only FtM trans person I know well is among the many dear, sensitive human beings I know (across gender), and clearly fits well enough into the category you said: comes from queer/lesbian community, was feminists/is profeminist, cares deeply about all women's issues, isn't "into" hanging out with asshole cismen, sexist cismen, etc.
And of course transgendered people, like any other group of completely diverse people raised in white hetero male supremacist societies, will absorb various things, be taught various things, be valued for various things, be rewarded for various things in such ways as to be shaped and influenced to behave in ways consistent with the "standards of being" in any given white heterosexual male supremacist society. I wrote "various things" to mean "very varied ways of behaving" just so I wouldn't have to type out those extra words so many times! lol (Gee: what WILL I do with all that extra cyberspace!)
I hope we all know that those of us raised in such societies may be butch boys, butch girls, femme boys, femme girls; children, teens, and adults with the very varied experiences of having AIS; children, teens, and adults with the experience of being intersex, poor to rich, of color and not of color, disabled and non-disabled, with various levels of conscious trans awareness of things like sexism, racism, and heterosexism. For example, if you grew up with a conservative or liberal or progressive known-to-be transgendered or lesbian parent I think it's safe enough to say that you will likely have more awareness about some aspects of transgender and lesbian existence vs. in a radical home with cisgendered parents. I can't conclude what sort of awareness: some kids raised by queer parents are deeply aligned with queer issues, some are not, and some become militantly anti-queer.
Also, if one is a female-born girl raised in house where she saw her ciswoman mother yelled at and beaten up regularly by her cisman father, she may grow up identifying more strongly with one or the other parent. And some lesbian batterers are women who grew up identifying with their battering fathers.
A butch boy who identified and loved his mother strongly, so much so that he 'got it' that women are mistreated and oppressed by men, socially, may be far more sensitive to gender issues than those boys who did not identify with their mothers at all.
Many MtF trans people grew up more like sissyboys than "REAL BOYS", with the stigma of being "like a girl," and never really developed the male ego structure and or acquired the complete set of privileges that many boys do achieve, especially non-"effeminate" hetero boys.
That said, I was more or less a sissyboy and I certainly learned how to absorb and act out male privileges. I've also been extremely close to women, emotionally, my whole life. The privileges I have tended to act out most were not conscious to me as such. They were pointed out to me, often repeatedly, by women in my life.
In my experience of meeting thousands of people, I can conclude a few things:
Manhood and whiteness are states of being and behaving that carry great power and generally denied privileges. These ways of being and values and practices and behaviors are encoded and enforced into society structurally, institutionally, systemically, and socially. Also interpersonally.
Being heterosexual, if a man, makes life easier than being gay, assuming both males come from the same demographic: such as being white, upper middle class, and educated through college in what are considered to be "the better schools".
Being a disabled trans woman means one will live with more challenges and lack of understanding than a non-disabled trans woman within their same demographic group: such as being Chican@ and raised among primarily Chican@ people, or likewise if Black, American Indian, or white; also working class, raised in standard school systems not "the better ones".
Trans and genderqueer people will probably live lives of greater inner turmoil than those who are gender normative, with regard to gender issues, assuming comparable levels of mental health and endurance of trauma. And gender issues may not be what most concerns any individual trans person.
I have met very obnoxious, bigoted, willfully ignorance, highly race-privileged whites, of whatever gender, who behave in MANY of the same oppressive ways that feminist women critique about the group "men". White people, in my experience, are about as willing to own their shit as men are. And among men, I know far more who are at least measurably conscious of how gender is political and socially acted out oppressively against women and who try and not act out in male supremacist ways, but do, and when they do are poorly to moderately accountable to women in their lives, whereas among white folks, I have men relatively few I can say that about. Most white radical men I know have women intimately in their lives. Most radical white women I know do not have people of color intimately in their lives.
(And I've met WAY more white people than men in my life, by far.)
I'm wondering what your thoughts are about any or all of that.
And, I have a question I've been meaning to ask SOMEONE for AGES, and now seems like the appropriate time to ask it:
Why do you use the term "woman born woman"? It seems like it's a basic tenet of many forms of radical feminism that women are not born, they are human beings raised into a world that categorises and treats them as women when they are adults and as girls when they are children.
Women are not born women. Women are born as babies.
Another feminist tenet is to not consider "womanhood" the equivalent of "girlhood" or "infancy".
So the term "woman born woman" complete perplexes me and I cringe whenever I hear it because it sounds like a term male supremacists and gender essentialists came up with. And, of course, it ain't my business what women decide to call themselves.
I'm just curious to know why you, specifically you, use that term.
END OF POST.