Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sara and Julian Discuss Trans/Feminist Issues, part 1: Gender and Race Privilege, Childhood Experience, Structural Political Location, and the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

This image of mostly thin and young people is from here. Note who takes up the most space! Note the pink line going up between the legs of the woman on the far left indicating that she, maybe, is "not open to communicating". Yeah, about that. And the big white guy's "manhood" is riding a little high, isn't it, if that's what his cupped hands are supposed to be protecting?
[For Part 2, please see *here*.]

This isn't exactly "part 1" of a conversation Sara and I are having. We began it *here on this A.R.P. blogpost dated November 1, 2010, called "Transgender, Transsexuals, Radical Feminism: Part 4", in the comments section*.

So please refer back to that conversation for the origins of what follows below. Thanks! :)

I've tried to make the conversation understandable in terms of "who says what". Generally, Sara's comments are in italics and mine are not. But there are a few exceptions and those are noted with some (hopefully!) clarifying information.

Before we get going here, I want to expressly thank Sara for being willing to engage with me here on my blog on these issues. THANK YOU, SARA!!!!

Hi again, Sara. Here are my responses to your latest comments.

Sara wrote: "In other words, trans women are just like black women,

    JR wrote: Some trans women are Black women. They're not "like" Black women."

    Sara responded: I meant positioned hierarchically like black women vis-a-vis white women. Black women being oppressed by race. Trans women being oppressed by trans status.

Sara also wrote: "a different kind of childhood from mainstream white women, neither better or worse. Most were raised as weird children"

    JR responded: What does that mean? (I'm not sure I want to know.) That sounds pretty damned racist and misogynistic to me."

    Sara responded to that, writing: The first part is saying that black women have different kinds of childhood than white women, just different, neither better or worse.


I follow you now, but kind of disagree. Here's what I disagree with. I don't believe "Black women" is one group of human beings who share a kind of childhood. I accept that it is inevitable, in the U.S., that any Black or African American woman will experience racist misogyny and misogynist racism in ways that aren't systematically visited upon whites and men. But that's not at all the same thing as saying that "Black women have different kinds of childhoods than white women". Some Black women are viewed as white when among whites, or can pass sometimes, for example, or are more employable in certain job sectors because they are lighter-skinned, or speak a certain way, or have more european facial features. Halle Berry is one example of someone who has been paid more than many other Black women actors because of her skin tone and facial features being "more pleasing" to white audiences. Some Black women can never pass as white. So those are really different social experiences, as I see it and hear about it from Black women.

Light-skinned Black women and darker-skinned Black women may share the experience of knowing that darker skin means you may get treated more like dirt by whites and within African American society than if you have lighter skin. The biography of Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet, by Alexis De Veaux discusses this in some depth, in painful detail, and how Audre's mother communicated to her that dark skin = untrustworthiness or being of lesser value, and how Audre, the darkest of her sibling sisters, internalised that as a message about her own value and worth in her mother's eyes. Sidney Poitier grew up in the Bahamas in an environment in which he'd never heard of Black people being called the n word. That's quite a different kind of childhood to have than one in which you are taught "when whites use the n word, that refers to you" from as soon as you are old enough to know or feel it as the insult and form of derision it is. Also, Black means different things. Indigenous people in Australia are called Black in Australia. But they aren't of African descent. And the experiences, varied as they are, among Aboriginal Australians, isn't just like that of Audre Lorde or Sidney Poitier, if we're speaking of raced experience in white supremacist countries.

If you're saying that Black people, and in this case women, in a white male supremacist environment/culture/nation experience oppression from more oppressor groups than do white women, I'd agree with you, with all other things being similar--such as era, age, class, sexuality, ability, and so on.

Sara also wrote: The second part is saying that trans women are raised as weird children. Many are considered rejects by mainstream society long before they transition. And rarely for stuff like liking pink or wearing dresses, it can be simply for stuff like having feminine body language by default.

I think saying anyone is raised as a "weird child" is a bit insulting, to be honest. Many children--period--are considered rejects by mainstream society: most children of color,  especially if dark and raised in cultures of color; all FAAB girls; all intersex children; all overtly non-het children; all gender non-conforming children. And among all those groups, and in more than I can list, there are some who are transgender or intergender, and some who are not. The identification of only trans children as "weird" or "considered rejects" by dominant society is simply inaccurate and overgeneralised. Plenty of us who are trans/intergender didn't know what we were when we were growing up. We might have thought we were just "different" or maybe we didn't feel all that different in our earlier childhoods. There's no one experience, in childhood, of being trans or intergender, and the way some trans activists talk, there's this one kind of experience that all trans and intergender people share--of "knowing" that we weren't meant to be either girls or boys, or that our psyches didn't fit with our bodies, and so on. And I think that's a really gross stereotype about us, to be honest. A lot of us grow up thinking we're queer/lesbian/gay. And we go with that for a while because trans and intergender experience isn't even identified as what one can feel or be. And "what we are" and how we understand ourselves is a very social/interactive process, not a fixed biological one, in my view.

I know, for a fact, that some lesbian feminists and myself--a radical profeminist--would likely have identified as transgender early in our twenties if we grew up in some of the queer communities that exist now, that promote and welcome transgender experience while also denigrating and insulting radical lesbian feminist experience. The queer community I've known most intimately purges the radical non-trans lesbian feminists while embracing the liberal feminist or non-feminist transgender people. I think they'd also likely purge any radical feminist trans person too. So, for me, this is part of the larger conversation about who defines as what, and why. Are the women who would have identified as trans now, but don't, because they came into radical non-trans lesbian feminist identity first, mean they are or are not transgender? I've only recently even found out there WAS such a thing as "being intergender". I'd say I always was intergender, but I've only recently begun to identify as that. So what was I before I identified as intergender? Cis gender? I don't think so. This is very complicated stuff, and I see too many trans activists trying to pass off one way of experiencing being transgender or intergender--if and when that even gets mentioned, which it usually doesn't--as like every other trans/intergender person, and I think that's a kind of gross stereotyping and bigotry, or false unification around "what we present to the dominant society" that exists within our community that needs to be called out, interrogated, discussed, and hopefully resolved to some degree.

Part of feminine body language is learned, and part of it is innate. It can still be learned to be more "in line" with how others are...but only if you're aware of it. Balancing hips instead of shoulders while walking is considered feminine. Exaggerating this for effect is learned, but the basic way isn't for the most.

I respect your opinion, Sara, as yours. But I simply do not agree that there is such a thing as "feminine body language" that is innate. At all. If we look at female children and girls across era and culture there is no aspect of "femininity" that shows up everywhere. Not one bodily characteristic, expressive aspect, or way of being. There's not even any agreement about what "feminine body language" is, cross-culturally and across era. In most societies where there is a hierarchical gender binary, it is usually, but not always the case that there are things called "feminine" and "masculine". Again, people tend to get really sloppy about this stuff. So while I'm eager to learn more about what you experienced as a child, and what you experience now, I'm not supporting any notion of something called "innate femininity". I don't see it. To even "mark" something as "feminine" is to engage in a very social-political act. There's nothing "inborn" about ascribing meaning and value to sets of behaviors, or to clustering them into one thing called "being feminine". That's all socially done, in the view of the blog.

To take your example of balancing hips instead of shoulders while walking. That's so culturally specific as to not be terribly meaningful to me as a distinguisher. How does one learn to walk if one is going to be carrying gallons of water on one's head, for miles? How does one learn to walk if one is expected to not walk very much at all? If one's feet are pressed into shoes that wreck healthy posture? Clearly there's nothing at all natural about high heeled shoes--and clearly no humans benefit physiologically from wearing them--they fuck up body alignment and shorten the achilles tendon if worn a lot over time. And, yes, some people feel better or taller or more attractive or sexier in them. But there's nothing innate about that. And how we learn to move in our bodies hasn't been shown to be "biological sex" specific, and maybe your childhood and mine would bear that out!

In my youth, I was considered feminine mainly for this (body language in general), and I wasn't aware of it. And nobody would tell me what exactly gave them this 'vibe'. Maybe even they weren't aware of it, but just picked up on it subconsciously. If anything, this contributed to being excluded from mainstream male groups, all of them. Being asexual made it physically impossible to be entitled for sex (I didn't want any).

We share some experiences here, Sara. I was made fun of, ostracised, bullied, and excluded from mainstream male-boy groups for being too feminine, or, for not being masculine enough--or both. Also for playing with girls. Only when I was around eighteen or nineteen did a woman who was part of my extended family tell me that I walked too much "like a woman" and she recommended I stop doing that. I soon ended our friendship and stopped hanging out with her as I found her to be hurtfully heterosexist. And I didn't "correct" the way I walked, either. I don't think I was walking in either a feminine or masculine way, "innately". I believe I was walking the way my body felt most comfortable walking, and that society then imposed a value, a judgment, a deeply gendered and heterosexist one, on that way of walking. It has no innate "sexuality" or "gender" or "sex", in my view. All of that is layered on and imposed by oppressive heteropatriarchal societies and their foot soldiers.

And, as we're both asexual, I'd like to clarify something. Being asexual doesn't mean you or I were not entitled to be aggressors sexually. It didn't mean we were not encouraged to act out rapist behaviors. It didn't mean we weren't socially expected to "make the first move" when with girls. I'd argue we shared that socialisation, even if it didn't feel like anything we wanted to do. Entitlements and privileges don't have to be acted out for us to have them. They are given to us socially, interpersonally. And what we do with them is another thing entirely. That's how I see it, anyway. I see children-socially-identified-as-boys, as a class, being given privileges and entitlements that children-identified-as-girls don't get, as a class of human beings structurally and systemically oppressed by the boys--and by men too, or, at the very least, by male supremacist assumptions and values, even if a girl-child lives only among patriarchally-raised women, for example.

So I'm challenging you big time on this one point. You say, "Being asexual made it physically impossible to be entitled for sex (I didn't want any)."

I say in response to that the following: many boys don't want to be or feel like being aggressors against girls. Many older male-boys don't want to be sexually violating to female-girls. But those of us who are male and identified as boys as children, and as teens, are socially entitled to be aggressors nonetheless. Not wanting to be has very little to do with it. And it may have been impossible for you to act out sexually, but for many asexual kids, especially those of us who were sexually abused and assaulted in childhood, we DID act out sexually, even though we were asexual. And we acted out in some male supremacist, privileged, and entitled ways. How we "act out" has a whole lot to do with how we are socialised to behave, sexually and otherwise. I hear that for you, "being sexual" as that is commonly understood, was not an option for you. And I'm glad you were able to honor that in yourself. Most of us are not.

Most of us have sexual behaviors thrust upon us, and we are sexually active in compulsory ways, whether we desire to be or not. Most of what I've done "sexually" was not what I'd want to do now;  now, I feel personally (not socially) "entitled" to not have sex with anyone. Even now, today, I AM socially entitled to rape, to abuse, to act out in male supremacist ways. I CAN access pornography--images of raped and pimped women and men. I can voyeur. I can stare at men I think are physically attractive. I choose not to. But if I were heterosexual and seen as a male-man, I could stare at women on the street and be patted on the back for doing so, by male-men who share publicly valuing behaving in male supremacist ways, homosocially and heterosexually, regardless of what they wish to do privately. If you are socially positioned and seen and treated as a male-man, you are also socially-politically "entitled" to do whatever you want that isn't overtly criminal. And you can do the criminal stuff if it's private. That you choose not to--for any reason, including because you are asexual--doesn't mean your entitlements disappear. And it doesn't mean our socialisation to behave as oppressive male-men goes away or takes no root in us. That's how I see it, anyway. That's my experience of people raised to be males, boys, and men. [Added 1/30/2016: ...regardless of the subjective experience of our being. I'm making a distinction between 'how we are supposed to and raised to behave' (colonially, patriarchally, heterosexistly), and 'how we experience ourselves', often with distress, in relation to those expectations and entitlements.]

JR wrote: "The issue is women feeling safe, not some people being "worse". I'm not making the case that some people are better, only that some people in some situations behave oppressively and in ways that make oppressed people feel unsafe."

   Sara responds: I'm not sure what they would be basing their feeling unsafe on, except personal dating experience (which is always anecdotal). Trans women are such a small group. Let alone American trans women interested in going to 400$/ticket 1-week female-only music festivals held by people who hold anti-trans-women opinions (it's like gay people wanting to go to a Republican party to me).


LOL. Well, shockingly, there are large numbers of white class-privileged gay men who want to be Republicans! And I don't know how many transgender women want to attend the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and it is really more an issue of how male privilege and entitlements get acted out beyond that one event. As you note, that event can be and will be attended only by those with some forms of privilege--financial, partly. But some forms of able-bodiedness also. And, in conversations with non-trans lesbian women, this is what I've heard: it only takes a few experiences of someone with male privileges bullying or harassing or dominating their way into a space to make many, many, many non-trans lesbian women feel VERY uncomfortable with that person being there at all. Most lesbian women I know have stories of het men and gay men being dicks, being pricks, being male supremacist jerks. Being misogynistic. Being sexist. Being racist if white. Being classist if not poor. Being ableist if not disabled. And so on.

How many male supremacists does it take to make a group of women feel unsafe? That's not a joke question.

And speaking only for myself and my sense of safety when among male-men, I can feel unsafe in a group if one man is staring at me in creepy ways. Or if one man touches me without my permission. That can happen anywhere--at a party, at a gathering, at an event, at a concert, in a grocery store, etc. It CERTAINLY isn't limited to personal dating experience "which is always anecdotal" according to you. I want to call you out on that, btw.

Nothing about dating is *only* anecdotal: dating experience is one of many common sites of heteropatriarchal and white male supremacist values and practices being acted out oppressively. Battery and rape are epidemic among teen girls who date boys. Those aren't only "anecdotes"--they are stats and they are real human beings being negatively impacted, traumatised, violated, hurt, and oppressed by male supremacists or by male-boys who believe they ought to behave that way in order to be "real men" even if privately, when alone, they are disgusted with behaving that way. These are lived experiences of something that happens to people systemically and systematically, not individualistically or anecdotally only. They are part and parcel of what else happens to people when *not dating*--when walking or rolling down a sidewalk, when going to work, when being at home not dating anyone but witnessing one's father consume pornography and then look at his daughter as if she is a sexxx-thing for him to salivate over. [Added 1/30/2016: Donald Trump admits he'd date his daughter if she were not his daughter. I wonder how safe that makes her feel.]

Also, those I've seen and talked to online (on MWMF forums) seem to base their concept of "male energy" around traits considered masculine, like assertiveness, aggressiveness, competitiveness. Stuff those women seem to have in spades, but who complain about "former-men" having. A double-standard if I ever saw one.

So are you saying women don't have a right to name what they experience in political terms? Are you saying people of color have no right or responsibility to name and call out "white privileged behavior"? Because if that's where you're going, you'll get no support from me on that point. I believe women can and do often know when someone is behaving in a sexist/misogynistic way, in ways that are aggressive or violating or abusive WITH THE INTENT OR EFFECT OF BEING OPPRESSIVE OR DANGEROUS to those women who identify the behavior. And I see it as woefully apolitical, anti-radical, and anti-feminist to try and deny any woman or any women the right and responsibility to identify that CRAP when it is happening. Even at MWMF. Even in any bar or club. Even in any home or out-of-home workplace.

Here's an example of why I don't think what those women are describing is a double standard. I can, on occasion--(or more than on occasion)--interrupt people when they are talking. I often feel inclined to do this. It's part of my regional-cultural heritage, and both women and men in my cultural experience do it, routinely and regularly. Now, if I'm doing that to a woman who is outside my culture, who doesn't experience "people interrupting each other" as normal and ungendered behavior, and she does perceive me to be male, and she does feel like I'm interrupting her a lot, and she does feel silenced or demeaned by me repeatedly doing that, then who is to say whether or not I'm being a male supremacist when I do that? Me or her? I'd say her. Always her. I can weigh in and explain whatever I want, but the bottom line is that if she subjectively feels silenced, then my behavior is oppressive, even if I go to people in my own culture and do exactly the same thing and they don't experience it as oppressive because they are interrupting me just as much.

So, if men MAAB people, or people with male privileges--who acquired them because they were once viewed socially as male-boys or male-men*, act out those behaviors around people who are female-girls or female-women, and, in the case you cited, those women experience that behavior as male supremacist and oppressive along gendered lines, then their subjective experience has to matter, doesn't it? It has to matter as much as the other person's experience, doesn't it? If not, we're then in the position of allowing only one group of people to name reality. And if the only group that gets to name reality is people who have had male privileges at some point in their lives, then that's patriarchy all over again. [*Added 1/30/2016: including those of us who are intersex, gender non-conforming, transgender, intergender, and agender. And, significantly, this dynamic can also play out in only FAAB spaces, among people who are and always were recognised and identified as girls-then-women. I state that based on what several lesbian feminists have described about predatory lesbians in clubs and bars--that it can be triggering of past patriarchal abuses and violations.]

If you're too submissive and shy, well you're just making a caricature of women for the patriarchy (can't be born with those traits). If you're too assertive and dominant, you're really a man. No middle ground. Dominant women don't exist either according to them.

That's not my experience of it at all. I may meet a female-woman who is "butch" and in her "butchness" she does not demonstrate to me a high level of "feminine" qualities or characteristics. First of all, male-men will be quick, often enough, to call her horrid names just because she's not behaving they way THEY think women should behave. Second, her butchness is NOT the same thing as how male-MEN act out male supremacist values and practices, because it is NOT MEN acting them out. [Added 1/30/2016: and because not being feminine enough for heterosexist het men, or for dominant misogynoirist society, is so often and wrongly assumed to be acting 'masculine' as if the absence of one must result in the manifestation of the other.] The example of me interrupting applies here, I think. Women may or may not experience each other as being "oppressive" if the other person is a woman. When the other person is a man, they may experience the seemingly "same" behavior as oppressive and it may cause them to feel unsafe or upset.

What men do can be triggering to women who have had it done traumatically by men in the past. That's social-psychological reality. I react differently, in many instances, to what male-men do than to what female-women do. And the people may be doing "the same" thing, more or less. But because it is coming from a male-man, my body registers it as different. And THAT subjective experience matters and can't be written off as "acting on a double standard". That's how I feel. Now, if men only experience women interrupting them as "women being a b word" but don't hardly notice if men interrupt them, then THAT ought to be called out as sexist, because they are making a negative judgment only about a group they structurally oppress. Position matters, Sara. If a rich white man looks at a poor white man in a certain way, that poor white man may experience that has deeply insulting and degrading. If two blocks later that same poor man encounters another poor man who looks at him similarly, he may not register it as insulting at all, because political-social-economic-sexual location and structural position matters. It is part of why we experience what we do and cannot and ought not be discounted or put down.

I don't hear non-trans lesbian feminists saying that aggression among women is great and it only sucks when men do it. I hear women critique all kinds of aggressive behaviors across gender and sexuality. BUT, it may also be the case that when those problematic behaviors are coming from someone who has been socialised to have male privilege and male supremacist entitlements (whether or not they wanted them), and are aimed at female-women, those women rightfully call it out as problematic and oppressive. And there's nothing wrong with doing so, necessarily. That's how I feel. And I'm open to discussion on this.

The people making and going to such events or women-only facilities feel entitled to enter same. They don't beg or think thrice about doing so. Why should a trans woman not feel like they have the right to access public bathrooms, or shelters when needed? They do need to pee and have their safety from DV. They don't go to say "aha, see I'm here, like you".

This is bringing in something entirely different than an event that people are invited into and can live without attending, such as MWMF. [Added 1/30/2016: Which occurred on private land and was not open to the general public.] Public restrooms and social services are entirely different spheres of political-social existence. So I'm not going to lump them in with "who gets to go to Michigan once a year". And, again, far too much attention is spent focusing on events that, disproportionately to those seeking social services, privileged people get to go to. And that the most non-privileged people generally don't go to. I want to focus more on the experiences of the less-privileged. And so I'm glad you're bringing up rest rooms, as that's something that impacts everyone who is able to leave their primary abode and enter social/public urban and suburban spaces, and many rural ones as well.

I'm going to close this post/response, and pick up those issues in a separate post/response.

Thanks for engaging with me on this stuff, Sara. I appreciate your willingness to do so. :)

45 comments:

Sara said...

"I'm going to close this post/response, and pick up those issues in a separate post/response."

Does that mean I shouldn't reply in this here post?

If you tell me to go ahead and reply, I might divide my response in smaller comments to avoid the Firefox-crashes issue, so it might take me a while to reply to the whole of it.

Julian Real said...

Hi Sara,

I'm going to put up other posts that deal with some of the rest of your prior comments, but please feel free to comment here in any ways you wish to. And good luck with being able to get them to go through!! Smaller is probably better--sometimes longer ones come through but let the sender (you) believe they were too long. It's incredibly annoying. But send in smaller bits and keep them numbered--part 1, 2, etc., like you have so I'm sure to publish everything you send.

Sara said...

Part 1

The image illustrated on top is body language, but its interpretation is very subjective, like it's real meaning.

I'm not fond of the TV show "Lie to me" about a guy who is 100% sure to always detect people lying, by body language. I trust it as much as astrology. At best its an observation about mainstream normative people who know what their body language could signal and align it with its presumed meaning so other people can correctly assume its meaning. Hence a bit too optimistic a situation to me. I think its signals are very vague at best. They might make people think I'm feminine, masculine, shy, confident – but not read what I'm thinking.

"I don't believe "Black women" is one group of human beings who share a kind of childhood."

I meant that it was different due to culture. It may not have to do with skin color, it could very much be Albanian versus Russian versus English versus French versus German. Their childhood will be different because the culture is different. Not to mention class differences, religious (or lack thereof) upbringing, fundamentalism of those beliefs, patriotism climate, etc.

As a Canadian, my upbringing is very different from US people. As a person from Quebec province, my upbringing is very different from people in other Canadian provinces and territories. As a first language French-speaker from Quebec province, my upbringing is very different from people who speak other languages in Quebec province (75% French, 10% English, 15% others), or French-speaking people in Belgium and France.

I'm saying that no childhood is the same, so there is no unified childhood experience. And not a unified male or female childhood experience either.

Sara said...

Part 2

"Indigenous people in Australia are called Black in Australia. But they aren't of African descent."

I'm not sure where Jamaicans and Haitians originated, but their culture is not the same as African by now. Afro-American has become a misnomer, by basically determining that all people who have darker skin than some threshold are of African-descent.

"I think saying anyone is raised as a "weird child" is a bit insulting, to be honest. "

I meant that they could be rejected by their family as well, for not conforming to behaviors requested of them. Much like Autistic and Asperger syndrome children are often considered "problem-children" that some parents lobby to have instutionalized or normalized at all costs (The Judge Rotenberg Center in the US is notable for its abuse, and yet the demand makes it remain open even after having been in courts for two decades about child abuse - contingent electric shock and starvation to make them obey, for example).

If trans children were considered okay, then Kenneth J Zucker would be unemployed. He uses behavioral modification to "make people not-trans", or more accurately, more gender-conforming. Stuff like removing all feminine things, prevent the color pink from being drawn/worn, encouraging stereotypically masculine things, restricting drawings to male characters, for a "feminine" boy child. Parents wouldn't give him business if they weren't distressed by their feminine boy, or very masculine girl (the threshold is different for girls, you must be extreme to be considered more than a tomboy). Their children are probably not transsexual, or “pre-transsexual”, just simply gender-nonconforming.

Sara said...

Part 3

"Many children--period--are considered rejects by mainstream society: most children of color, especially if dark and raised in cultures of color; all FAAB girls"

I'm not sure an Haitian person, raised in Haiti, would feel rejected by their own society (person of color in a culture of color). I also doubt all girls and women feel they are rejects of society. Or maybe its just all those I know, who seem to like being female and also what it entails in society, without having Stockholm syndrome or something like that. Not necessarily liking ALL that it entails...but I know of no people who think life is ONLY positive.

"all intersex children; all overtly non-het children; all gender non-conforming children"

Well that's pretty much the group I was talking about in my previous comment.

"The identification of only trans children as "weird" or "considered rejects" by dominant society is simply inaccurate and overgeneralised."

I didn't say they were the only ones. I named Autistics and Aspies above (I'm Aspie myself). There's probably many more groups who feel they are alien, and who are treated as such also.

Sara said...

Part 4

"Plenty of us who are trans/intergender didn't know what we were when we were growing up. We might have thought we were just "different" or maybe we didn't feel all that different in our earlier childhoods. There's no one experience, in childhood, of being trans or intergender, and the way some trans activists talk, there's this one kind of experience that all trans and intergender people share--of "knowing" that we weren't meant to be either girls or boys, or that our psyches didn't fit with our bodies, and so on. And I think that's a really gross stereotype about us, to be honest."

Transsexual people know, for sure. They might not know its THAT in childhood, but they know something serious is amiss, and often to do with genitals. It has little to nothing to do with how they are treated socially, gender roles or gender expression. I knew my genitals were wrong for certain, when I was 8. I didn't know why or how I knew it, I just did. I hadn't seen female genitals by then, and even now (at 28) I haven't seen more than surgical result pictures. I've never seen a FAAB vulva.

Sara said...

Part 5

"A lot of us grow up thinking we're queer/lesbian/gay. And we go with that for a while because trans and intergender experience isn't even identified as someone one can feel or be. And "what we are" and how we understand ourselves is a very social/interactive process, not a fixed biological one, in my view."

That's more in line with transgender identity. Something that has less to do with changing the body, but I can't theorize much on the causes or effects, only that they are probably different at least severely in degree (maybe not in kind), to what causes transsexual people to know their body itself is wrong.

Intergender, if your sidebar definition is accurate, is explained by agender (no identity) and bigender (both) terms in the LGBTQIA community - especially the asexual (AVEN) and online trans communities, that I know of.

I know that testosterone was poisonous to my body, and that estrogen isn't. And I know that from experience. All testosterone did was make me suicidally depressed, and full of acne for over 8 years (until I cut the testosterone from my life). It didn't give me muscles, a libido, or a masculine-looking frame. It didn't make me hairy either, or make me feel aggressive. I was asexual until I started estrogen (at 24). Now I have what I'd say is a normal-low level of libido.

Sara said...

Part 6

"I know, for a fact, that some lesbian feminists and myself--a radical profeminist--would likely have identified as transgender early in our twenties if we grew up in some of the queer communities that exist now, that promote and welcome transgender experience while also denigrating and insulting radical lesbian feminist experience."

I found out about trans stuff online at 22, where radical feminist stuff wasn't even mentioned for the most. Only Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys would get passing mention if the topic was on that or the history of the trans movement. I never got into LGBT communities, even if I knew they existed, and lived in Montreal most of my life (2 million people city).

"The queer community I've known most intimately purges the radical non-trans lesbian feminists while embracing the liberal feminist or non-feminist transgender people."

Much (but not all, for sure) writing from the radfem point of view is filled with snark and derision towards men, either through nature (inherently) or nurture (raised that way). You might pardon half the LGBT community, and a good portion of the trans community, of being wary of being considered unchangeably evil (can't change either your status at birth, or your childhood – at best you must prove, time and time again, your harmlessness and your lack of evil intent, a guilty until proven innocent).

Liberal feminists were reluctant to accept trans people at first, but not totally closed to it, unlike much of the 1970s 2nd wave feminists (who were mainstream, not fringe, then). The POV of liberal feminists seem to be mostly of unconditional acceptance of trans people, with some dissenting. The POV of radical feminists seem to be the reverse of that - most opposed to acceptance, with some dissenting (many in numbers, but a fraction of the movement).

Sara said...

Part 7

"So, for me, this is part of the larger conversation about who defines as what, and why. Are the women who would have identified as trans now, but don't, because they came into radical non-trans lesbian feminist identity first, mean they are or are not transgender?"

Technically, a butch woman, or basically anyone who has a presentation or behavior considered non-normative for their sex assigned at birth, is considered transgender. Wether they identify as such is something else.

"I've only recently even found out there WAS such a thing as "being intergender". I'd say I always was intergender, but I've only recently begun to identify as that. So what was I before I identified as intergender? Cis gender? I don't think so."

It depends if you give power to name yourself, or to society to do so. I say naming yourself retroactively isn't harmful. I could say I was always female. What does it hurt anyone? I'm not identifying that way for purposes of fraud or deceit, so no one.

Sara said...

Part 8

"This is very complicated stuff, and I see too many trans activists trying to pass off one way of experiencing being transgender or intergender--if and when that even gets mentioned, which it usually doesn't--as like every other trans/intergender person, and I think that's a kind of gross stereotyping and bigotry, or false unification around "what we present to the dominant society" that exists within our community that needs to be called out, interrogated, discussed, and hopefully resolved to some degree."

I haven't seen this that much. Transsexual people are presented as THE standard, by the medico-legal establishment, not by transsexual people themselves. The experience of being transgender is widely acknowledged as varying extremely. Even the experience of being transsexual is presented this way more and more now, supplanting the medico-legal narrative that used to be necessary to secure treatment at clinics (pretend you're uber 1950s feminine straight, or you don't get hormones or surgery).

Sara said...

Part 9

"I respect your opinion, Sara, as yours. But I simply do not agree that there is such a thing as "feminine body language" that is innate. At all. If we look at female children and girls across era and culture there is no aspect of "femininity" that shows up everywhere. Not one bodily characteristic, expressive aspect, or way of being. There's not even any agreement about what "feminine body language" is, cross-culturally and across era."

Something becomes feminine because female people, on average, do it. So yes, it will vary across culture with "what's in" and "what's out". Wearing Victorian-style dresses is not too in right now, but it was 150 years ago. It was a sign of feminity then.

As for bodily characteristics? Well, in Haiti, women are considered more feminine if they have a plump derriere. In the US, not so much. Yet it's a norm of feminity for each of those cultures, independantly. Men used to have long hair, or at worst, simulate their having long hair, using wigs.

Milton Diamond's theory of sex identity says that someone will identify like peers of the sex they feel they belong to. They will generally self-normalize, based on their sense of who they are the most like, in terms of something I couldn't even name – but rarely having to do with clothes or manners. For example, if everyone dressed androgynously, I could still recognize my membership in the category female, without being told so (it would just happen later than it does for children now). Both parents and children are insecure about being viewed (or their children being viewed) as the other sex, starting at a certain age. That's why toddler and small child clothes are all so dichotomous (all pink and glittery, or all blue and with 0 frills), just go see a store for small children and see the colors. Now go see an adult women clothes store, and notice it's not so pink anymore – people then got secondary sex characteristics vouching for their sex.

Sara said...

Part 9

"I respect your opinion, Sara, as yours. But I simply do not agree that there is such a thing as "feminine body language" that is innate. At all. If we look at female children and girls across era and culture there is no aspect of "femininity" that shows up everywhere. Not one bodily characteristic, expressive aspect, or way of being. There's not even any agreement about what "feminine body language" is, cross-culturally and across era."

Something becomes feminine because female people, on average, do it. So yes, it will vary across culture with "what's in" and "what's out". Wearing Victorian-style dresses is not too in right now, but it was 150 years ago. It was a sign of feminity then.

As for bodily characteristics? Well, in Haiti, women are considered more feminine if they have a plump derriere. In the US, not so much. Yet it's a norm of feminity for each of those cultures, independantly. Men used to have long hair, or at worst, simulate their having long hair, using wigs.

Sara said...

Part 10

Milton Diamond's theory of sex identity says that someone will identify like peers of the sex they feel they belong to. They will generally self-normalize, based on their sense of who they are the most like, in terms of something I couldn't even name – but rarely having to do with clothes or manners. For example, if everyone dressed androgynously, I could still recognize my membership in the category female, without being told so (it would just happen later than it does for children now). Both parents and children are insecure about being viewed (or their children being viewed) as the other sex, starting at a certain age. That's why toddler and small child clothes are all so dichotomous (all pink and glittery, or all blue and with 0 frills), just go see a store for small children and see the colors. Now go see an adult women clothes store, and notice it's not so pink anymore – people then got secondary sex characteristics vouching for their sex.

Sara said...

Part 11

“In most societies where there is a hierarchical gender binary, it is usually, but not always the case that there are things called "feminine" and "masculine". Again, people tend to get really sloppy about this stuff. “

I think it's more intra-hierarchical than inter-hierarchical. That is, women have a hierarchy, men have a hierarchy. Those at the top of both hierarchies are considered the most attractive. Ordinary men are considered the least attractive.

I think there might be men vs women hierarchies in certain countries, maybe most, but I think Canada and the liberal non-religious US have mostly stabilized it to be more or less equivalent (even if not ideal). As in, having advantages and disadvantages on both sides that end up having value that's not completely out of whack with each other – though there are still many things to fix, there happens to be some on the men's side, too.

Sara said...

Part 12

“So while I'm eager to learn more about what you experienced as a child, and what you experience now, I'm not supporting any notion of something called "innate femininity". I don't see it. To even "mark" something as "feminine" is to engage in a very social-political act. There's nothing "inborn" about ascribing meaning and value to sets of behaviors, or to clustering them into one thing called "being feminine". That's all socially done, in the view of the blog. “

It has to do with behaviors women already do, and an ideal that society as a whole (meaning men and women) set as 'better'. Same for masculine and men. Except that once something becomes acceptable for women, it becomes no way to prove one's masculinity, it becomes neutral. If the social climate had changed to set skirts, dresses and heels as unisex, the way it set shirts, pants and suits as unisex, people would have less ways to prove their membership into either sex (which makes people insecure). People in general don't wear gender-norm clothing just to be accepted as normal, they do so to be accepted as their sex, too.

Sara said...

Part 13

“To take your example of balancing hips instead of shoulders while walking. That's so culturally specific as to not be terribly meaningful to me as a distinguisher. “

People generally attribute it to physiology. I'm pretty sure they're off, since I have small hips AND small shoulders. I shoudn't be physically tempted to walk in way A or way B.

“How does one learn to walk if one is going to be carrying gallons of water on one's head, for miles? “

I don't know. I haven't done this. I can only speak of stuff that is something I'll live through or have lived through. My culture then.

“Clearly there's nothing at all natural about high heeled shoes--and clearly no humans benefit physiologically from wearing them--the fuck up body alignment and shorten the achilles tendon if worn a lot over time. And, yes, some people feel better or taller or more attractive or sexier in them. But there's nothing innate about that. “

High heels change the posture. The attraction to a “more sexy” posture (by men watching and women having) might be innate, but that's probably it. High heels are over 450 years old, so it's not a passing fade or fashion. Their looks might change with fashion, but the fact that they're high heels no.

Sara said...

Part 14

“And how we learn to move in our bodies hasn't been shown to be "biological sex" specific, and maybe your childhood and mine would bear that out! “

I consider myself female, and only accidentally declared male. So I'm not a good example of a male adopting female body-moving. To me biological sex is more than just genitals or gonads.

“We share some experiences here, Sara. I was made fun of, ostracized, bullied, and excluded from mainstream male-boy groups for being too feminine, or, for not being masculine enough--or both. Also for playing with girls. “

I didn't play with anyone past a certain age, no friends. I was considered not masculine enough, but not too feminine, save for body language. I consciously avoided anything that could be construed as feminine, because I didn't want anyone to know I felt like a girl.

Sara said...

Part 15

“Only when I was around eighteen or nineteen did a woman who was part of my extended family tell me that I walked too much "like a woman" and she recommended I stop doing that. I soon ended our friendship and stopped hanging out with her as I found her to be hurtfully heterosexist. And I didn't "correct" the way I walked, either. I don't think I was walking in either a feminine or masculine way, "innately". I believe I was walking the way my body felt most comfortable walking, and that society then imposed a value, a judgment, a deeply gendered and heterosexist one, on that way of walking. It has no innate "sexuality" or "gender" or "sex", in my view. All of that is layered on and imposed by oppressive heteropatriarchal societies and their foot soldiers. “

You might have unconsciously chosen this way over the other when young, and kept it cause it worked, much like me.

“And, as we're both asexual, I'd like to clarify something. Being asexual doesn't mean you or I were not entitled to be aggressors sexually. It didn't mean we were not encouraged to act out rapist behaviors. “

I'm not asexual anymore. I was until I started to take estrogen, ironically. Entitled meaning “having the right to”? Or feeling like someone owes it to you? I couldn't be an aggressor sexually....because I wasn't aggressive, and wasn't sexual, and didn't want or seek relationships (and thus didn't have relationships). I certainly didn't feel someone owed it to me to let me be aggressive, or to let me act out rapist behaviors, whatever this might mean.

Sara said...

Part 16

“It didn't mean we weren't socially expected to "make the first move" when with girls. “

Yeah, but being asexual and not wanting relationships sort of got around that. I didn't make a move, no one made one on me. Problem solved.

“I'd argue we shared that socialisation, even if it didn't feel like anything we wanted to do. Entitlements and privileges don't have to be acted out for us to have them. “

Well, passive privileges still need to 'affect me' for it to have any impact. I'm expected to be good at sports? Well I wasn't. What's this expectation good for in my case? If I was expected to be good at something, and actually WAS good at this, then it might matter – I could have an unfair advantage against others because I'm encouraged. But only if I'm interested.

Women who don't want to be stay-at-home moms don't have an advantage in child-rearing. They COULD have an advantage, but if it never comes up, its moot. And a guy who wants an easy 9-5 job has no advantage in being expected to get promoted. He doesn't want the extra responsibilities and can get by with less cash.

Sara said...

Part 17

“That's how I see it, anyway. I see children-socially-identified-as-boys, as a class, being given privileges and entitlements that children-identified-as-girls don't get, as a class of human beings structurally and systemically oppressed by the boys--and by men too, or, at the very least, by male supremacist assumptions and values, even if a girl-child lives only among patriarchally-raised women, for example. “

I see girls also getting advantages, and hey transition wasn't such a bad deal for me, save for the whole trans discrimination thing. I feel much more advantaged as female than as male, because I don't have any use for those male privileges, but DO have a use for those female privileges. I was working dead-end jobs, didn't want promotions, didn't want a career, didn't want to be a provider, and didn't want people to be scared of me because of my sex, or be assumed to be horny 24/7. I do want to be recognized for my physical beauty some (never have pre-transition), be recognized as giving in a sexual act, not just “taking”, be able to stay at home regardless of my being childless, people not scared to give me a hug or interpreting it as sexual come on, being assumed that I COULD maybe need help to lift heavy stuff, instead of leaving me to try and break my back (regardless of my size, I was generally assumed to be strong enough, and I wasn't).

Sara said...

Part 18

“So I'm challenging you big time on this one point. You say, "Being asexual made it physically impossible to be entitled for sex (I didn't want any)."
I say in response to that the following: many boys don't want to be or feel like being aggressors against girls. Many older male-boys don't want to be sexually violating to female-girls. But those of us who are male and identified as boys as children, and as teens, are socially entitled to be aggressors nonetheless. Not wanting to be has very little to do with it. “

This doesn't make logical sense to me. I never felt someone “owed it to me”, to be the recipient of some imagined aggressive behavior, sexual or otherwise. I felt entitled to physical safety, and got it punched in me that I shouldn't be, somehow (I still feel entitled to physical safety, I feel it is a fundamental human right).

“And it may have been impossible for you to act out sexually, but for many asexual kids, especially those of us who were sexually abused and assaulted in childhood, we DID act out sexually, even though we were asexual. “

I wasn't abused sexually. I was physically assaulted, often, but never sexually. I never acted out sexually, and am not sure at all what you mean by this.

Sara said...

Part 19

“And we acted out in some male supremacist, privileged, and entitled ways. How we "act out" has a whole lot to do with how we are socialised to behave, sexually and otherwise. I hear that for you, "being sexual" as that is commonly understood, was not an option for you. And I'm glad you were able to honor that in yourself. Most of us are not. Most of us have sexual behaviors thrust upon us, and we are sexually active in compulsory ways, whether we desire to be or not. “

The only compulsion is libido, and men's right hands are universally recognized as being able to fix that (left hand for left-handers). I have no idea what you're really saying here. It's like you're saying I couldn't have done nothing sexually, that my socialization forced me to be aggressive and sexually aggressive against girls. I got news for you though – for aspies common sense and “normal socialization” seems at worst wrong, at best misguided, so I question everything I'm taught, directly or indirectly. And only apply what actually makes sense to me. I'm not agnostic because it's “in” to be agnostic, but because I questioned the dogma of organized religions as a bunch of nonsense.

Sara said...

Part 20

“Most of what I've done "sexually" was not what I'd want to do now that I feel personally (not socially) "entitled" to not have sex with anyone. Even now, today, I AM socially entitled to rape, to abuse, to act out in male supremacist ways. I CAN access pornography--images of raped and pimped women and men. I can voyeur. I can stare at men I think are physically attractive. I choose not to. “

Pornography is analyzed a bit too much. Especially in this puritanical society. As long as you consider it's a work of fiction, and don't think porn should physically happen in your life, I think you'll be fine. I'm definitely not for underaged people or people being forced physically or by circumstances, to participate in porn. I also don't think it's interesting, I prefer to imagine it via text (erotica) if at all. Some people are more visual. Porn should definitely be more ethical, but it's not morally wrong in itself – it's how its sometimes treated that is.

Like guns, people kill using guns, but it's people who felt entitled to take a life from the start. Regulating guns is a good idea. Less gunshot-crimes, less “I won't get caught if I can easily kill all witnesses”, because guns are the way of the facility, and people might not feel confident they can win a fight without it. Regulating guns is like regulating porn, it helps less people fall victim to it. Completely removing them won't work. Prohibition proved what happens when something that still exists is removed from legality.

Sara said...

Part 21

“But if I were heterosexual and seen as a male-man, I could stare at women on the street and be patted on the back for doing so, by male-men who share publicly valuing behaving in male supremacist ways, homosocially and heterosexually, regardless of what they wish to do privately. “

I doubt many US or Canadian men value homosociality between men. If they did you could hug, hold the hand or talk about anything with them, more than with women – and without being considered gay at all. It's valued in the Middle-East and in Japan, (where it takes a LOT to be considered to do something signifying gayness) not here. Here people call it “bromance” so much it's outside mainstream. Best friends with guys that are truly best friends the way women are, are few (and this is what I see as homosociality, not back-patting). Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are the most known example.

Sara said...

Part 22

“If you are socially positioned and seen and treated as a male-man, you are also socially-politically "entitled" to do whatever you want that isn't overtly criminal. And you can do the criminal stuff if it's private. That you choose not to--for any reason, including because you are asexual--doesn't mean your entitlements disappear. And it doesn't mean our socialisation to behave as oppressive male-men goes away or takes no root in us. That's how I see it, anyway. That's my experience of males, boys, and men. “

That's equally true for just about anyone. Anyone can do stuff that isn't overtly criminal without being arrested. They can do private criminal stuff if they won't get caught, only. I guess you could destroy your 20$ bills (a criminal federal offense), without getting caught. The drive to be opportunist is human, not male.

“LOL. Well, shockingly, there are large numbers of white class-privileged gay men who want to be Republicans! “

Probably not for their stance on same-sex marriage though.

Sara said...

Part 23

“As you note, that event can be and will be attended only by those with some forms of privilege--financial, partly. But some forms of able-bodiedness also. And, in conversations with non-trans lesbian women, this is what I've heard: it only takes a few experiences of someone with male privileges bullying or harassing or dominating their way into a space to make many, many, many non-trans lesbian women feel VERY uncomfortable with that person being there at all. “

I don't know. I think no one has dominion on bullying or harassing or dominating. That if a trans woman does it, it shouldn't at all feel different than a non-trans MWMF attendee doing it. Especially as the who's who is not evident (being a trans woman, even masculine-looking, won't out you amongst groups of masculine-looking non-trans women – it won't feel more threatening). About masculine looking, I'm going by accounts from their forum, I'm not making it up or stereotyping lesbian women. They're not all masculine-looking either.

Sara said...

Part 24

“Most lesbian women I know have stories of het men and gay men being dicks, being pricks, being male supremacist jerks. Being misogynistic. Being sexist. Being racist if white. Being classist if not poor. Being ableist if not disabled. And so on. “

I got accounts of people being stupid and jerks, but I don't attribute it to their unchangeable characteristics. I attribute it to that one person who did it. I can view people as unique and not necessarily the product of their characteristic's culture. To me, if someone is a jerk, they are a jerk. Not a male supremacist jerk, unless they espouse male supremacist views.

“And speaking only for myself and my sense of safety when among male-men, I can feel unsafe in a group if one man is staring at me in creepy ways. Or if one man touches me without my permission. That can happen anywhere--at a party, at a gathering, at an event, at a concert, in a grocery store, etc. “

I can feel unsage if “anyone” stares at me in creepy ways. They could be green and yellow colored aliens that it wouldn't matter. I don't attribute the creepiness to their sex, or race, or ethnicity, but to themselves.

Sara said...

Part 25

“It CERTAINLY isn't limited to personal dating experience "which is always anecdotal" according to you. I want to call you out on that, btw. “

So you're saying a lesbian woman who dated 1 trans woman in her life is able to speak about all trans women? That's what I mean by anecdotal. What chances are that someone will date more than one trans woman in their life? It's already bad chances to date a single one. 5% lesbian women, 0.1% trans women, that's 50 for 1, and there's also a couple of straight trans women, reducing that number.

Sara said...

Part 26

“So are you saying women don't have a right to name what they experience in political terms? Are you saying people of color have no right or responsibility to name and call out "white privileged behavior"? Because if that's where you're going, you'll get no support from me on that point. I believe women can and do often know when someone is behaving in a sexist/misogynistic way, in ways that are aggressive or violating or abusive WITH THE INTENT OR EFFECT OF BEING OPPRESSIVE OR DANGEROUS to those women who identify the behavior. “

No, that's not it. They're accusing trans women of being assertive and aggressive and having “male energy”, regardless of their being sexist or misogynistic. Just their very presence is enough. They're also accusing other trans women of being shy and submissive and thus consciously making a caricature of womanhood, for the patriarchy. It's a catch-22. If you're a shy and submissive woman, you're an infiltrator just there to make women look bad. If you're assertive and aggressive (ie a strong woman), you're really a man showing male privilege. Again, regardless of not showing any sexism, racism, misogyny etc.

Sara said...

Part 27

“Here's an example of why I don't think what those women are describing is a double standard. I can, on occasion--(or more than on occasion)--interrupt people when they are talking. I often feel inclined to do this. It's part of my regional-cultural heritage, and both women and men in my cultural experience do it, routinely and regularly. “

Yeah well MWMF is full of non-trans women who have this ungendered assumption that assertiveness and aggressiveness is normal. Strong women value other women who are like this. But if a trans woman dares be like this, in that same environment where it's normal, suddenly it's an invasion. It's got nothing to do with the “woman from another culture”, its exactly those same women.

“So, if men MAAB people, or people with male privileges--who acquired them because they were once viewed socially as male-boys or male-men “

If women can acquire them, it's not too evident that men or trans women acquired those skills due to being once socially viewed as male. AFAIK, women are not socially viewed as male, and can acquire them, just as easily. That's its contracultural for them to do so, and not for men, is immaterial in the legitimacy of the behavior itself.

Sara said...

Part 28

“act out those behaviors around people who are female-girls or female-women, and, in the case you cited, those women experience that behavior as male supremacist and oppressive along gendered lines, then their subjective experience has to matter, doesn't it? “

No, it shouldn't matter if they do the exact same, in the exact same circumstances. That's simply hypocrisy. Allowing yourself to do something, but not others, is self-supremacist behavior. Rich people and politicians can get away with more than the ordinary citizen, and it isn't right (and not because they have status, just because it's glaring injustice and hypocrisy).

“If not, we're then in the position of allowing only one group of people to name reality. And if the only group that gets to name reality is people who have had male privileges at some point in their lives, then that's patriarchy all over again. “

If you're allowing people who have cissexual privilege to name the transsexual experience, it's also patriarchy all over again.

Sara said...

Part 29

“The example of me interrupting applies here, I think. Women may not experience each other as being "oppressive" if the other person is a woman. And when the other person is a man, they may experience the seemingly "same" behavior as oppressive and it may cause them to feel unsafe or upset. “

That's hypocrisy, plain and simple. It might depend on circumstances. I don't generally allow strangers to hug me (friends and family, and my boyfriend). But I wouldn't think a man or a woman, friend or family, is different from each other because one was LIKELY to be socialized in a certain way. I call you on the assumption that all men and women are socialized in the same way within their sex – that there is one-true-way of being socialized and perceived as male, or female.

“What men do can be triggering to women who have had it done traumatically by men in the past. “

Owning to your triggers, by telling close people when something is likely to trigger you, is a good thing. Expecting people to guess your triggers out of thin air is not too safe, for you or them.

Sara said...

Part 30

“I react differently, in many instances, to what male-men do than to what female-women do. And the people may be doing "the same" thing, more or less. But because it is coming from a male-man, my body registers it as different. And THAT subjective experience matters and can't be written off as "acting on a double standard". “

Triggers are not just a double-standard, I'll concede that, but they're not always male or female specific. They might be beard-specific. People with soprano voice specific. Sports cap specific. The best is always to work on triggers, because people will probably trigger you without even trying or wanting to. By just being there in a public place, for example.

I got physically beaten mostly by boys, often (pre-transition, not after at all), but I'm not triggered by the presence of boys or I wouldn't be able to go out, ever.

“Now, if men only experience women interrupting them as "women being a b word" but don't hardly notice if men interrupt them, then THAT ought to be called out as sexist, because they are making a negative judgment only about a group they structurally oppress. “

Besides making that judgment, I don't see how your hypothetical guy is structurally oppressing your hypothetical girl. I assume actions oppress, not the presumption that, maybe, people of that group are statistically more likely to oppress.

Sara said...

Part 31

“Position matters, Sara. If a rich white man looks at a poor white man in a certain way, that poor white man may experience that has deeply insulting and degrading. If two blocks later that same poor man encounters another poor man who looks at him similarly, he may not register it as insulting at all, because political-social-economic-sexual location and position matters. It is part of why we experience what we do and cannot and ought not be discounted or put down. “

I don't understand that example. I don't see certain groups as being worst for oppressing me, unless they're understood as being from the same subgroup I am from (I might feel that this someone should know better, being in the same position). To me its something where two people are being jerks, but one should know better, having experience being in that situation (having limited financial means, being homeless – NOT being stared at).

And I'll be harder on gay and lesbian people discriminating against trans people. Homophobia and transphobia being similar. They shouldn't reproduce their oppression on a lower group. They should know better. They're also more likely to understand my reasoning, since I can use LGB group analogy.

Sara said...

Part 32 and final

“BUT, it may also be the case that when those problematic behaviors are coming from someone who has been socialised to have male privilege and male supremacist entitlements (whether or not they wanted them), and are aimed at female-women, those women rightfully call it out as problematic and oppressive. And there's nothing wrong with doing so, necessarily. That's how I feel. And I'm open to discussion on this. “

Double-standard if I ever saw one. You assume someone was privileged in the past and it's your free pass to bring in hypocrisy. I don't know how Man A, Trans woman B and Cis woman C were raised. I don't assume they have privileges unless they show something (behavior) that others don't. If cis women or trans women do the exact same thing, it should have the exact same consequences.

“And, again, far too much attention is spent focusing on events that mostly privilege people get to go to. And that the most non-privileged people generally don't go to. We need to focus more on the experiences of the non-privileged. And so I'm glad you're bringing up rest rooms, as that's something that impacts everyone who is able to leave their primary abode and enter social/public urban and suburban spaces, and many rural ones as well. “

I'm not sure if you had a question about this?

Sara said...

I re-read myself, but this being a big text and all (including your quotes it's 12 pages of text), there might be stuff I forgot or misstated.

Julian Real said...

Hi Sara,

Thanks for letting me know more about your own cultural experiences and history.

I apologise for not knowing how to write in the language of Québecois.

You last point, the summary point, is one that leads us to the crux of the matter, for me, Sara.

Are you meaning to imply that given that fact--that everyone's childhood is different, in part by culture, language, region, religion, and race, that we cannot organise effectively to end white and male supremacy?

Would you abolish or abandon projects feminists have put in place over the last forty years, across the globe, to address and challenge and end men's very endemic and gender-specific atrocities against women?

Julian Real said...

I ask this, Sara, because it relates to the whole matter of Vancouver Rape Relief's political project, which is critical in understanding their hiring practices. I'll be posting about that soon, I hope!

Sara said...

"Are you meaning to imply that given that fact--that everyone's childhood is different, in part by culture, language, region, religion, and race, that we cannot organise effectively to end white and male supremacy?"

Not necessarily. It's more of a "you can't judge individuals by this standard". Make legal or social measures to ameliorate things based on averages and tendencies, but don't judge individuals through this, because you're pretty likely to be pre-misjudging someone.

Especially stuff like thinking you know about a trans person's individual history/experience just by knowing they ever got treated as male.

It's like analyzing the life of a geek by looking at the experience of a jock or a cheerleader. Sharing sex won't mean much for their experience.

2nd wave feminists made up their mind about trans women back in the 70s, without even knowing them.

Note: You posted my part 1, but not the 31 others. It was a total of 32 small posts.

Julian Real said...

"Are you meaning to imply that given that fact--that everyone's childhood is different, in part by culture, language, region, religion, and race, that we cannot organise effectively to end white and male supremacy?"

Not necessarily. It's more of a "you can't judge individuals by this standard".


What do you mean by "judge"? This radical profeminist's position is that I can "judge" (make determinations, discern, understand, predict status and stigma assignations) based on things like gender and race.

It seems to me you've done this yourself in this discussion--over our two posts so far. Am I wrong about this? You've told me that Black women and white women have different experiences. It seems to me that you are clearly identifying--in ways I may or may not agree with--that white women have a distinct experience that Black women don't have. What is that experience? What is the experience that you say Black women have that white women don't?

Are you clustering "the experiences of Black women" as one group, a politically identifiable group--based on their political structural location relative to white women (and, also, to white men, Black men, and other men and women of color)?

Make legal or social measures to ameliorate things based on averages and tendencies, but don't judge individuals through this, because you're pretty likely to be pre-misjudging someone.

Okay, I think I'm understanding you more here. Is this what you're saying? That group differences exist, but so too do individual differences exist. And to conclude that the individual members of a group--based on structural/political location, history, and culture, for example, are "all the same" is to be racist or sexist or heterosexist. Is that your point? Or are you saying something more or different than that?

Julian Real said...

Especially stuff like thinking you know about a trans person's individual history/experience just by knowing they ever got treated as male.

This is precisely my challenge to non-trans people like Noah who come to my blog and pretend there's only one experience of being trans. This is my objection to the bias and bigotry within and beyond trans community about "being trans". Such as when you state things more or less like "trans people are more vulnerable to violence than are non-trans women". Which trans people, Sara? And which non-trans women? ALL of us? Because that's surely not true.

You say trans people--ALL of us--are more suicidal over our gender experience than non-trans people. My challenge back to you is that I think the break-down is probably more complicated than that and doesn't really have to do so much with being "trans" or "not trans" only. It's more likely a cluster of experiences that may or may not include being trans, that makes our youth or us as adults be more at risk for committing suicide, for example.

It could be that people who feel especially isolated and alienated--in one's family of origin, if one has one, or beyond it among friends or more generally, socially. This isolation may be fueled by being seen and treated as inferior. Or by being systematically degraded or insulted or bullied interpersonally. Or by being invisibilised or stereotyped institutionally.

Any or all of these things could also happen because we are seen as not being appropriately gendered (but NOT trangender), such as some queer youth--genderqueer and children perceived to be non-heterosexual, butch girls and feminine boys--it could be that THAT population, specifically, shares a very high incidence of being suicidal, including attempting it or succeeding at taking their own lives.

And another group at risk may be those who aren't targeted or seen as being "lesbian" or "gay" or "not heterosexual", who are femme girls or masculine boys (as any given population defines those terms, but who are not heterosexual and may not be non-transgender/intergender, and the torment they/we carry about that puts us at risk for depression, suicidal feelings, and committing suicide because we feel so alone and unsupported and invalidated.

Julian Real said...

It's like analyzing the life of a geek by looking at the experience of a jock or a cheerleader. Sharing sex won't mean much for their experience.

I think we agree that one the interpersonal level, it is wrong to make assumptions about someone's character or likes and dislikes, or preferred ways of being based on them being part of "a group". But my point is that doesn't mean we can't fight for and don't need human rights and civil rights legislation based on socially perceived and politically/institutionally enforced physical differences, such as "race" and "gender" and "sexuality", among other differences.

2nd wave feminists made up their mind about trans women back in the 70s, without even knowing them.

And this is yet another example of you putting everyone with one label into a group and making a judgment that everyone in that group thinks and feels the same way. We don't, Sara. And I'm asking you to please cut the stigmatising and stereotyping of the group "second wave feminists". Because who are you speaking of? Surely not Andrea Dworkin and Audre Lorde and Alice Walker. In what sense were/are each of them NOT second wave feminists?

So which (probably white) women are you speaking about? And if the only names you can come up with are white, what do you think about reducing "second wave feminism" to only white people? Isn't that grossly racist of you to do? This is what I see across MRA blogs and websites, on discussion boards online, and on some trans blogs--this insistence that "second wave feminists" ALL believe one way about transgender experience and ALL came to that conclusion in the 1970s. Who do you mean? Name names, please. Cite the examples of the transphobia or anti-trans bigotry by name, not by the group "second wave feminists" please. I'm asking for that clarification and care from you on this issue.

Note: You posted my part 1, but not the 31 others. It was a total of 32 small posts.

YIKES!! I can assure you I never got 32 comments from you!!! Or 31. So, let's do this, Sara, so I can be sure to get everything. Just send me an email of everything/anything that didn't get posted as a comment here OR in part 2 which is a separate post.

Anything which is in neither post here on my blog, please send to me as one email. Not through the comments section of this blog. Okay? And I'll put that up as its own blog post. And I'll respond to those points there.

How does that sound?

Julian Real said...

Hey Sara,

I just found all those posts, and, as you can see, got them published here, above. Let me know if anything is missing. You had two versions of part 4, but I think I posted the right one of the two.

Wowza! I can't wait to read and carefully respond to each!

Thanks for taking the time to write all this out. I appreciate it!!

Sara said...

"So which (probably white) women are you speaking about? And if the only names you can come up with are white, what do you think about reducing "second wave feminism" to only white people? Isn't that grossly racist of you to do?"

Mainly Janice Raymond's "The Transsexual Empire", published in 1979, republished in 2005. There is also Germaine Greer's "The Whole Woman", published in 2003 - the chapter Pantomine Dames is very offensive to trans and intersex women alike.

And why I don't know more is because I was born in 1982, haven't been in college, or women's studies classes, and wouldn't dream of reading piles of books about people who might trigger me by insulting my very existence (like Raymond and Greer did). Especially if I'm looking for examples of such.

The climate in the feminist-trans community of the 70s could be illustrated by Sandy Stone getting fired over her being trans, by feminists.

It's probably not all 2nd wave feminists, definitely. Even just those from the 1970s either. It's a part of those who are now known as radical feminists (ie not all of those either). Who were the most vocal. It's the dirtywhiteboi type (blogger and forum member on MWMF, and who is virulently anti-trans).

Let me say that it is ironic that caring for men and pointing out contradictions within the movement gets you excommunicated (as many feminists identifying as gender-egalitarian have been), but hating men is fine for keeping the title of feminist. It's ironic because it's a movement that purports to be about equality.

Julian Real said...

I'm uncomfortable with the levels of bigotry and bias you are now expressing about second wave feminism generally, and specifically about radical feminism as "man-hating".

That's not cool with me, Sara. It's exactly what pimps put forth as "the truth" about those groups of people.

You say you won't read piles of books. I'm not asking you to. But if you're going to only read the material that reinforces your bigoted/misogynistic/anti-feminist views, who should call that out as problematic?