Thursday, June 07, 2007

It will all make perfect sense shortly, part -5.frog, SQUAWK!

(a nod to this other post here, the title)

So, now, pluck'd from its context where i'm sure it makes a fuck of a lot more sense really (yes, same damn thread), we have this explanation of the sex/gender thing, from erm another perspective:

This again is why it’s important to distinguish between “male” and “man.” A man who is subordinated for being not manly enough is not a male woman and we should say so. He’s still a man and still male. He is actually participating in the deconstruction of manhood and masculinity, to the degree that he continues to acknowledge he is part of the category “male.” If he is recognized as a woman, then patriarchy has had its way. It has subordinated the unmasculine and made the unmasculine “women” just as it subordinates female persons and makes us women. For that to change, we have to *be* women/female and man/male and reject gender.


I'm going to just allow some space so that those of y'all who can and want to parse that out as is, can. Feel free to share your findings.


Okay. but, me, i read that three times and i'm still getting this awful feeling of vertigo. But, I want to engage it; so, I'm just gonna make it a little easier on my eyes.

Thees egeeen is vhy it’s impurtunt tu deestingooish betveee “mele-a” und “mun.” A mun vhu is sooburdeeneted fur beeeng nut munly inuoogh is nut a mele-a vumun und ve-a shuoold sey su. He-a’s steell a mun und steell mele-a. He-a is ectooelly perteecipeting in zee decunstroocshun ooff munhuud und mescooleenity, tu zee degree-a thet he-a cunteenooes tu ecknooledge-a he-a is pert ooff zee cetegury “mele-a.” Iff he-a is recugneezed es a vumun, zeen petreeerchy hes hed its vey. Bork bork bork! It hes sooburdeeneted zee unmescooleene-a und mede-a zee unmescooleene-a “vumee” joost es it sooburdeenetes femele-a persuns und mekes us vumee. Fur thet tu chunge-a, ve-a hefe-a tu *be-a* vumee/femele-a und mun/mele-a und reject gender. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp!

Ah. That's much better. Still not totally sure I agree, but i can see her point, sort of, especially that last bit.


Alon Levy said...

Actually, the quote is perfectly cogent... as long as you recognize it doesn't apply to transgendered people at all.

KH said...

Having a good idea of what some nitwit is trying to say isn't the same thing a her being perfectly cogent.

antiprincess said...

oh, wait, I get it - "don't transition. if you transition, the terrorists win!"

god, belle, why do you hate america?


Holly said...

I was going to say exactly what alon said. I totally agree with this quote -- if you just read it literally, and ignore the fact that the author probably thought it describe dtrans women, it actually makes perfect sense and is a good point.

Taking the author out of it (often a great idea, words at face value) it's actually about femme men, right? Of course you shouldn't call a femme guy a woman just because he is femme. That's just a pretty standard-issue kind of locker-room bullying, and we all probably agree it's really misogynist and degrades femme men by placing them at the level of women, who are already subordinated, etc. Same drill as in that discussion with male-branch and quoque, really.

It follows that of course femme guys shouldn't be forced to transition as if they were all trans, either. But it is a HUGE stretch to claim that this kind of pressure actually exists for femme men -- I dare anyone to come up with concrete examples. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is running around actually encouraging people to transition MTF. It's all scare tactics and hurdles you're forced to jump over and prove yourself, and dire warnings and "you can only do this if you're really really really really sure." I have to say, this is much more the case when going in a trans-feminine direction (MTF) than a trans-masculine direction (FTM). I've seen people take pressure or presumptions for being butch and female... heck, ironically I've had people assume that about me too (that I'm trans because I must be transitioning in the other direction.) I've never seen anyone, even in the most trans-positive circles, do the same to feminine guys. It's somehow too awful and stigmatized. And I'd argue this is also part and parcel of misogyny... it's way more grave and serious to undo the sacred princely crown of male assignment and privilege. It's punished more, restricted more. So that makes the comparison pretty ludicrous.

Somewhere, somewhen, this kind of pressure probably did happen. In the 70s during the heyday of conformist gender clinics in the US, or in other places where a gender-expression-conformity mindset still holds sway (Clarke Institute in Toronto, some European nationalized clinics, probably elsewhere) it's possible that a psychiatrist encouraged transition as a possibility for some male-assigned feminine people. It might be true in other cultures too, I don't really know enough about what the options are for femme boys in Thailand, for instance, where praphet song is a somewhat-legitimate (but degraded) gender category that might subsume femme-male into it, I'm not sure. But in this culture? Pretty damn unlikely, even in small circles of peers.

And like was already pointed out on the last thread, the assumption made by the author here, that trans women are feminine men who are pressured to transition due to their gender expression, completely fails to account for trans women who have androgynous or masculine gender expressions, and probably also fails to account for trans men who have less masculine gender expressions, on the flipside.

What is really being missed here is that gender identity and gender expression are as distinct as gender identity and sexual orientation. Of course we would all agree that nobody should be forced to transition to the other sex just because they're gay; and there was a time when people conflated same-sex attraction with cross-gender identity, right? And in some places today (Iran) there are people being pressured to transition as part of their oppression due to being gay. But hopefully we all get by now that these things are distinct. So too with gender expression. How masculine or feminine someone is (or butch and femme, to make a distinction with unexamined genders) has nothing to do with whether they identify as male or female. The more widely this is understood, the less people will make the mistake of generalizing that all trans people transition because of our exceptional gender expressions. Sure, for many people that is part of the puzzle, since all of these things (sexuality, gender expression, gender identity) are interwoven. But it's not the "reason people transition" as many presume.

Really, I think this is just nativist-feminism trying to pin more assumptions about why trans people do this or that on us, so that they can conveniently theorize us out of existence or into the ever-widening "enemies of feminism" group along with sex workers, anyone who participates in BDSM, anyone with a non-approved femme gender expression, etc etc. They're either unwilling or unable to understand what "identity" actually consists of. And in some ways that might be because "identity" is kind of a crappy word that has stood for too much in the last 20 years, has connotations of identity politics and choosing to identify as something, etc. Julia Serano wants to use "subconscious sex" instead, something that nativist feminists like Heart and crew would probably like to disbelieve in as well. But it takes a huge amount of privilege to disbelieve in subconscious sex, because it means you must have never had to deal with yours.

queen emily said...

even if you were to accept the argument that femme men should "stay" mean to re-configure masculinity, I got the feeling rad-fems don't really like genderqueers anyway. It's postmodern playing with gender and teh bad.. Am I right?

queen emily said...

uh stay men, not mean. haha

SnowdropExplodes said...

My reading of it is:

Hooray! Somebody willing to challenge gender from the male side.


No, no, we're right behind you, honest.

Yes, right behind you, in this castle we've built for ourselves called "Class Woman".

No, you can't come into our castle, you're going out there to be a Hero.

No, we don't care if you get torn to shreds, disembowelled, eviscerated, and trampled into the dirt. You're a Hero, that's your job.

No, if we let you into our castle, then the Bad Guys Win. Because once enough Heroes like you go out there, then eventually the Bad Guys will see we're right.

Which is all very well for the people in the castle, protected by the female support networks and so on that that represents, but for the poor sap who has to do without the support networks of traditional masculinity, being denied access to the female support networks can rather leave hir without a leg to stand on.

Deoridhe said...

What Alon said.

I've hoped for a long time that the MRAs would give up on trying to get women to be less masculine and focus on deconstructing masculinity for themselves. Embrace your inner femme, says I! And try on these fancy clothes while your at it... I'll get my camera...


KH said...

Thanks, Holly, for a really excellent comment.

Not to press a minor matter, but I’m not sure how useful it is to agree with a statement, except for what its author intends. The benign reading of Heart’s comment is an artifact of her muddled expression, & ignores the context. Even on face value, nothing benign can be extracted untainted from her attack on transsexuals. She deigns to view a feminine male with (limited, situational, & revocable) approbation only “to the degree that he continues to acknowledge he is part of the category ‘male’.” And by “acknowledge,” she doesn’t just mean that, if he remains a man, he should admit it (as well as be afforded the courtesy of being called a man by others). She means he should stay a man. Only by doing so does he subvert the patriarchy & merit toleration.

(The patriarchy, allegedly, is better served if all feminine men & masculine women, transsexual or not, the millions of them, undergo GRS. The bare existence of transsexuals, allegedly, vindicates masculine supremacy, & in proportion to their numbers. And when one – presumptively feminine – man undergoes GRS, it puts pressure on all feminine men & masculine women, whether they're transsexuals or not, to undergo GRS, as well as coercing cisgendered people to conform to traditional gender norms. All of which is bizarre, or at least unsupported by evidence. Holly knows more about this than I do, but I know of no reason to think that any significant group or institution in US society currently thinks its interests lie in this direction, or that Heart understands their interests better than they do.)

Even on face value, this isn’t an anodyne call for tolerance or the deconstruction of masculinity. It’s a rear-guard argument for invidious discrimination against transsexuals, in ill-conceived sheeps’ clothing.

belledame222 said...

Y'all are totally missing the point, totally. Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp!

queen emily said...

>>>Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp!

touche, teacher, touche

belledame222 said...

Besides everything else, this is what's doing my head in:

This again is why it’s important to distinguish between “male” and “man.”

For that to change, we have to *be* women/female and man/male and reject gender.

So. We have to distinguish between "man" and "male." But, -besides- we ought to dance with the genitalia and hormones what brung us, now apparently we have to be -both-? Man -and- male, man slash male, how'm i supposed to distinguish which is which if she hooks 'em together like that, hm?

and how is that -rejecting gender-?

belledame222 said...

I mean, what i'm saying is, it's -not- cogent even on its own terms, she just makes this shit up as she goes along.

queen emily said...

I happen to agree with you on that belle, I didn't think it made much sense either. I think it's like she wants to say something about the compulsory production of masculine men and feminine women, but ends up with this muddled jumble, of places she couldn't go because of the way she tautologically defines men and masculinity and women and femininity.

belledame222 said...

Ask her about what "colonialism" means sometime, it'll be funny.

Holly said...

Yeah... I guess I did not literally mean "the author is dead, who cares about the context it was written in, supremacy of the word as written!" It was just funny to me that it makes perfect sense if you actually get that duh, yeah, femme guys are not women, should not transition, either. It points at deeper WTFeries in the misconception of the whats and whys and whos of trans people, in her school of thought.

I sure as hell don't understand the man/male, woman/female thing. If I had to guess I'd say... she thinks "sex" (male/female) is real, biological reality, and that "gender" (man/woman) is this fake, evil, oppressive social stuff that takes sex differences and turns them into gender differences, basing a whole lot of oppression on them.

That's pretty consistent with the standard cultural-feminist position on these things, and it does make a sex/gender distinction which is common to a lot of feminism. Postmodern twiglets of feminism would probably point out that what we think of as "sex" is also really laden with social interpretations and meanings that we can't entirely disentangle from gender, which is probably why people like delphyne are rattling on about "female cells" and the rest of us are making fun of that kind of thing.

But my impression is, to that crowd, "sex" is fine (and also immutable, not part of society, can't ever be changed) and "gender" is bad, therefore "trans" is also bad because it is all about messing around with gender and not acknowledging the "real reality" of primordial, pre-societal sex, which apparently has nothing to do with gender or oppression.

So the solution, as weird as it might seem, is that you should keep your hands off gender completely, and "reject" it by simply and solely acknowledging "sex" -- supposedly the natural, primordial aspects of male/female. If that were done perfectly, "man" and "male" would collapse into one thing as would "woman" and "female," plus because gender, not sex, is the root of all this evil, there would be no more oppression on the basis of this binary either, there would just be innocuous differences between male and female. I guess?

So... "to *be* women/female and man/male and reject gender" really just means, don't have any gender, only have your sex and acknowledge that your sex is "real."

Of course, this is all bullshit, no surprise, right? It sets off the bullshit detectors like crazy, because there is no such thing as sex without gender. Gender is the social interpretation of sex differences; as long as there is any kind of society, even the post-revolutionary society, there will be some kind of gender. Now, it might be a very, very innocuous and minor form of gender, in which very few expectations or hierarchies are created on the basis of sex differences. But there still will be some, because people's bodies are different, they need to be accomodated in different ways, and that's great and should happen.

Plus, even in a world like that, people would still want to express themselves in various ways, some of which might, astonishingly, have to do with differences and unique qualities of their bodies. In the absence of political and social hierarchies it might not be possible to call expression "art" or "identity" (which is why some marxist and radical feminist thought posits that there will be no "art") but still, what kind of post-revolutionary utopia would it be without individual expression? Anyway, that's all science-fiction utopia, not the world we live in right now. The funny thing is, it's impossible for nativist-feminist types to conceive of the idea that yes, even in a post-gender world, some people would still want to change their bodies, change their mode of dress. It just wouldn't mean as much, which is great because trans people wouldn't be getting stomped on and disenfranchised and killed all the time. But it's not like trans people would disappear. Of course, if you tell them this, then they start insisting that you're essentializing trans into something biological/natural -- and they can't have any of that, because they see it as a purely social phenomenon. And come on. There aren't very many PURELY social phenomenon, any more than there are purely biological ones.

Deoridhe said...

Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp!

I dunno, Belle. Where are we going to find a duck and a rubber hose at this time of night?

Sabrina Star said...

As someone said to me once, not long ago, when someone volunteers YOU to be a martyr for THEIR revolution, they're being an asshole.

Mandos said...

This was one of the biggest accusations against in the foremath to my bannage. "Why dost thou not go forth among ye olde menz and lead them back from their wickede wegen? Thereafter shall we know ye as ye olde championne of ye olde womenz."

belledame222 said...

Wicked wagon? What?

when someone volunteers YOU to be a martyr for THEIR revolution, they're being an asshole.

Well put.

Mandos said...

I was trying to be Germanic and Chaucerian, knowing very little about English in the Chaucerian period. "Wicked ways."

Andreas said...

This was one of the biggest accusations against in the foremath to my bannage. "Why dost thou not go forth among ye olde menz and lead them back from their wickede wegen? Thereafter shall we know ye as ye olde championne of ye olde womenz."

Right right right.

There's this peculiar conception by radfems that the ideal way to end patriarchy is for men, of their own volition and without entering radfem space to discuss radfem ideas with the actual people who hold them, to go out into the world and confront men about patriarchal ideals. And that these men should not refer back to radfems to determine what they should actually do; rather, once unburdened by patriarchy (and this unburdening shall happen spontaneously upon the realization that radfems are correct) that radfem ethics shall emerge ex nihilo out of the depths of the stunted male conscience and immediately take root in the minds of other men, at which point the revolution will come.

Um. What?


Mandos said...

Well, it's based on the idea that the roots of women's oppression are intuitively obvious to men---else how could it be so easy to uphold something that takes so much effort and energy---and hence the seeds of its end lie independently among men, if there merely choose to be humans rather than monstrosities.

Consequently, lucky used to repeatedly accuse me of having Secret Knowledge with which I was tormenting the radfems by asking questions. Kind of like a da Vinci Code writ large.

If course, if men are NOT doing that, then it must be that men are monstrosities, since men know what they are doing...

The only duped people are straight women, who are too dumb to see what men are deliberately and knowingly conning them into. Except those few from whose eyes the scales have fallen.

belledame222 said...

Well, you take a look at the sort of men accepted as a good ally by this sort of radical feminist--the loathsome Rich, for instance, or Stan Goff, or Robert Jensen...

Andreas said...

Consequently, lucky used to repeatedly accuse me of having Secret Knowledge with which I was tormenting the radfems by asking questions. Kind of like a da Vinci Code writ large.Wait.

I was part of the big ceremony in '93. You know, the one at the Astrodome, where the 43rd degree Patriarch granted every adult male in America the Order of the Golden Phallus. I mean, that's where my secret knowledge comes from.

Did you miss that? Is that your problem?

-- ACS

Alon Levy said...

The lenition of g into y happened in Old English, and the loss of the -en plural suffix happened between Old and Middle English. So I'm pretty sure that by Chaucer's time, the word for ways was just ways (pronounced like Modern English "wise").

Mandos said...

I wasn't in America (by which I assume you mean the USA) at the time, andreas, so I did indeed miss the conferment of the Order.

Thanks Alon, my phonology is the weakest part of my linguistics, assuming you don't count sociolinguistics to be linguistics (for the most part, I don't).