May 29 2011

Spinster aunt remembers something from the 90s

It’s true that spinsterdom has been keeping me pretty well preoccupied with matters unrelated, except in a general weltanschauung-y sense, to this patriarchy-blaming blog, but I did happen to notice that one blamer recently commented thusly:

Well, I keep reading about how not all women have breasts or uteri, and not all women have XX chromosomes, and how womanhood can be defined as “feeling like a woman”, which makes me think I have no idea what a woman is. And if I don’t know what a woman is, what do phrases like “women’s oppression” even mean? The oppression of who?

Then somebody responded with a comment about conflations and pipe dreams and Shania Twain. I didn’t know what that comment meant, but I appreciated that it was trippy. One is sometimes burdened with a sense of regret when considering that, uproarious good fun though patriarchy blaming is, it often lacks that certain psychedelic je ne sais quoi.

Who woulda thunk that here the Twain would meet?

Unfortunately I was unable to find the magazine cover to which I allude in the post, but here's Shania on the cover of Maxim (June 2003) in essentially the same capacity.

Shania Twain, though. I don’t know jack about her, except that she was on the cover, dressed in tuxedo hotpants, of a dykeygirl magazine that was for some reason a fixture in my downstairs bathroom for several years in the 90’s. One is sometimes burdened with a sense of regret when considering that, of the precious few memories one has managed to retain from the colorful, impetuous, funfeminist era when one played in an indie rock band under the moniker Spitzie West, one of them is used up by this trivial Shania Twain magazine cover detail.

Spitzie West was my stripper name.

Which leads me to my larger point:

A woman is anyone perceived by anyone else (including herself) to be a member of the sex class.

That is, woman is a made-up figment. A pastiche, if you will, of dudely fantasy. An archetype in pscyhosocial folklore invented as a means to illuminate, support, or catalyze the action-man exploits of the dude protagonist. For example, the cover photo of Shania Twain in tuxedo hotpants wasn’t meant to represent the truth about a human being, it was meant to re-tell a myth for and about heterosexual men (that woman = sex).

Hey, this’ll be fun. Let’s say some right-thinking activists from my home planet Obstreperon finally showed up and neutralized all the dudes by shifting them en masse into another dimension (Don’t worry! They wouldn’t be dead — mostly only imprisoned, probed, and used in alien experiments). Would “woman” still exist in the absence of its defining characteristic? Hell no. We’d all just be people. Strolling around alone after dark, having a couple of cocktails, wearing clothes and shit, pretty much without incident. Getting PhDs in astrophysics, directing films, being firefighters, pretty much without incident. You grasp the gist.

Photo swiped from here.


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  1. Stittsville Anonymous

    So now that there’s a definition of what a woman is, then there are a couple of follow up questions.

    1. What is, exactly, a dude? Can a dude have XX chromosomes?

    2. Is there a term that can be used to refer to humans with two X chromosomes?

  2. Frumious B

    “For example, the cover photo of Shania Twain in tuxedo hotpants wasn’t meant to represent the truth about a human being, it was meant to re-tell a myth for and about heterosexual men (that woman = sex).”

    Even in the dykeygirl magazines. Le sigh.

  3. Triste

    It was on account of that fucking song. Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJL4UGSbeFg

    Get it? It was a totally hilarious joke, man. Outrageously funny.

  4. Jill


    I never heard that song.

    But if I had, whoa baby. Comedy gold!

  5. Jill

    My point, which I managed to obscure by not stating it at all, is that there is no such thing as “woman”, therefore there is no “definition.” I realize that by defining “woman” I sort of obviated my thesis. They can’t all be weeners!

  6. Frumious B

    @Stittsville Anonymous: Why is the chromosome count relevant? Unless you are a professional geneticist, let it go, and focus on your own self-definition.

  7. stacey

    I would imagine that he definition of a “dude” would be “someone who actively participates in the patriarchal oppression of the sex and other classes.” (Dudes can, of course, include women.)

  8. Ugsome

    All the rapture talk made me think lately that if men where raptured to a place where they’d feel more comfortable–smokey, neon-lit, smelling of piss and beer–we’d all be a lot better off. Of course, the dudes would have to pole-dance for each other, but that’s no skin off my nose.

  9. Comrade PhysioProf

    I would imagine that he definition of a “dude” would be “someone who actively participates in the patriarchal oppression of the sex and other classes.”

    Wouldn’t that be everyone who participates in society at all?

  10. Manuela

    I’m not sure if the “Genderless Baby” debate has reached your island shores, it’s going full steam in Canada and seems relevant to your post.

    The mother eventually responded with a very thoughtful public letter today: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/998960–genderless-baby-s-mother-responds-to-media-frenzy?bn=1

    Lobe-safety-warning – brace yourselves before reading the comments to any other articles on the topic. Better yet, skip the comments entirely.

  11. Diana

    I think Samuel Delany once wrote an SF novel in which he wrote about every character using male pronouns (“him” or “he”), except when anything involving sex came up, at which point anyone receiving any sexual attention was written using female pronouns (“her” or “she”) even if the character had apparently been male up to that point in the book. This made the novel extremely confusing to read, of course, until you realized that Delany was making the point that women become visible only in the context of sex, regardless of anyone’s actual gender. I think he did this in Dhalgren, but for the life of me I can’t remember.

  12. Ashley

    I’m now extremely interested in what a “dude” is. In fact, maybe this is more important than defining what a “woman” is? Maybe the whole point is that “woman” is specifically a category meant to uphold dudeliness, and that if we can deconstruct “dudes,” problem solved?

  13. Sylvie

    CPP – it’s the patriarchy that’s being blamed.

  14. AlienNumber

    You were once (or twice) a striper??

  15. AlienNumber

    *stripper. Can’t even spell that properly.

  16. Jezebella

    I cannot define “dude,” but I can assure you that any number of internet dudes will get their panties in a twist if you call them “dude” while disagreeing with them. Try it; it’s totally entertaining.

  17. Kea

    Holy $#%#^. The only thing that I (used to) know about Shania T is that she owns/owned a pretty cool, exclusive property down the road here at the Motatapu, on the Mt Aspiring Rd. Somehow I doubt she wears that attire around here in Wanaka, especially at this time of year. Not that dudes here have such a different idea of women, but they can only maintain it by looking sideways, because there are a few women here in Wanaka who do dudely stuff, like get degrees in Theoretical Physics, climbing Mt Everest and looking after the stoat traps for the pest eradication program.

  18. Nepenthe

    Does anyone else feel like the kerfuffle over the precise definitions of “woman” and “man” and who gets to be in which club is a fervent debate about what color to paint the bike shed? As if we radical feminists have given up on actually smashing the patriarchy or changing life for the vast majority of human beings and thus are reduced to bickering over what we feel like we can control.

  19. speedbudget

    Was Shania Twain married to Jesse James (I think that’s his name. The Orange County Choppers dude)? Or am I thinking of someone else?

  20. Triste

    Isn’t it just? “The best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun”? Genius, I tell you! And then in the next line she talks about forgetting she’s a lady. Because women get to have fun, but not if they’re, you know, actually women.

  21. yttik

    “My point, which I managed to obscure by not stating it at all, is that there is no such thing as “woman”, therefore there is no “definition.”

    Okay Jill, we’re in complete agreement here. “Woman” is a gender and gender is a social construct. However, there is also such a thing as “female” which is a sex, not a gender, and is characterized by several biological realities. “Females” in this culture not only have the shared experience of being perceived as women, they have a common biology. This biology is exploited by the culture and shapes who we are. We are the ones who live in fear of rape from a very young age, we live in fear of the threat of pregnancy, we deal with cramps, menstruation, and our reproductive systems are the first to suffer from disease due to environmental problems. “Female” is not a skirt or a lipstick that you can put on or take off, it is a type of body that we are born into.

    I am exasperated because it has been so difficult to communicate with you about the inherent misogyny of an Arnold movie like “Junior,” where sex is something that the patriarchy can co-opt, control, and create in a lab, and the atrocious homophobia that is all woven around such ideas, like a big flippin elephant in the middle of the room that nobody wants to talk about.

    “A woman is anyone perceived by anyone else (including herself) to be a member of the sex class.”

    No Jill, not quite. Those boys molested by Catholic priests were not women. Sheep are not women. Men raped in prison are not women. Little boys forced to work in brothels are not women. Women are a combination of female biological realities, lived experiences, and gender training.

  22. humanbein

    A man is anyone who aspires to perform masculinity. I see all those women who aspire to be men as pretty much as manly as they want to be. A working penis is not necessary. Men who try to reject masculinity I try to see as human beings, but, as humans, they always reveal their culturally-indoctrinated bias one way or another. They are much easier to forgive their lapses than men are when they try to force me to excuse their oppressive practices.

  23. Yas

    Dear Jill, do you mind writing about the recent sexist rule of the badminton federation forcing female athletes to wear skirts. Also if any feminist here has any ideas what we can do about. Billie Jean King runs a sports foundation, I can’t remember the web address, but will update when I find it. I am planning to write to the website to get started on an action plan, not sure if it will work but maybe if enough of us write in, who knows?

  24. TotallyDorkin

    @Speedbudget that was Sandra Bullock

    @Twisty You point out that the gender of women, or more accurately, the concept of woman, is constructed in the minds of dudes as a member of the sex class. So basically you’re saying that there’s two sets of people, the women and the dudes, where the dudes have decided that all people who are in the sex class are women. You’ve reduced the definition of women to sex class, and you’ve defined the genders in a binaristic way, so that a person is either man and not-woman or woman and not man. So unless you can define what you mean by man or sex-class, it doesn’t really feel like you’ve told us anything.

  25. Kea

    Good point, TotallyDorkin. I don’t feel I’m in the sex class and yet I am definitely a woman. I was in the sex class when young and naive, but now my carefree spinsterness shines out and dudes avoid me like the plague. I guess it could be called the Spinster Class.

  26. Nora

    I totally disagree. For some (probably most) people, I suspect that there is an innate gender (male, female, genderqueer, bigender, etc.) that they are wont to identify as. Otherwise what would explain the existence of transgender people in almost every society? Why is it that almost every female-assigned-at-birth-vagina-having person is made uncomfortable with the shitty gender role that they’re coerced into, but only *some* of them pick an identity besides “female?” Suspect.

    I’m almost inclined to reverse Twisty’s definition: can we make “the sex class” mean “anyone who identifies as or is mistaken for a woman?” It makes sense that the “sex class” designation itself is the social construct and that “female identity” is just a…small part of who someone is.

    Kind of like how “Whiteness” as a concept is a construction of racism and imperialism, but skin color and ethnicity are fairly objective. (I’m not sure if this metaphor makes my point clearer or more convoluted.)

  27. Triste

    I would contend that it’s impossible to opt out of being a member of the sex class. It seems to me that part of being a woman is living with the truth that even if you aren’t what the Patriarchy considers “sexy” (which actually means “degraded” and is generally unrelated to actual sexiness as I understand it) you are nevertheless assigned a value based on your place in the pornulation-compliance spectrum. You may be non-compliant, but there are still a whole bunch of people out there who judge your value as a person based upon that non-compliance. That is what it means to be a member of the sex class. The label doesn’t necessarily mean that you are compliant, but that you are /expected/ to be compliant and that your social value as a woman is determined by your level of compliance.

  28. Kea

    Yes, OK, Triste, I agree. It’s great being left alone, finally, but being treated like dog shit due to non-compliance isn’t so great.

  29. Sarah

    Diana, the Delany book you’re thinking of is Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand. The way language worked was that anyone, human or alien, was ‘she’ until the speaker became interested in them sexually, when they became a ‘he’ (but only to the individual speaker, not to every one else). The upshot of this was that for most of the book you didn’t know if a character was human or alien, let alone male or female, and it forced you to confront your assumptions about identity. It also made the default sentient being ‘female’.

  30. Sarah

    Gender is a social construct (as is biological sex, to a certain degree, as ideas of gender feed into ideas of biological sex), but, then, so’s money, and race, and all have very concrete, real-world consequences.

    ‘Woman’ is a political category, if you are assigned female at birth (based on a cursory examination of your genitals, rather than the proven existence of a uterus or XX chromosomes) or are labelled intersex and your parents/guardians decide to raise you as female, then that has a major effect on the way you are treated by society (see, for example, the earlier post at IPTB about gynocide in India).

    Nora claims that because most women don’t ‘chose’ to live as or transition to men as a response to the shittiness of women’s lot, it means they have therefore ‘chosen’ a ‘female’ (I suspect she actually means ‘feminine’) identity. I would say that most women (in the developed world, who have time to think about these things), if they haven’t bought into the idiotic and sexist idea that women are somehow the ones with all the power, and are controlling things in the back-ground by manipulating men through sex, are simply trying to be human. The fact that I am happy with my female body doesn’t mean I’ve chosen ‘femininity’ in any way, the ‘femininity compliant’ behaviours I engage in are for the sake of not being harassed in the street every time I leave the house, not because I see a lack of face and body hair as an intrinsic part of myself.

    Putting aside the politics of ‘opting out’ of oppression by becoming one of the oppressor class (rather than, y’know, fighting oppression), most women, globally, don’t even have that option (the Sworn Virgins of Albania being an interesting exception).

    Women’s oppression, globally, is based almost entirely around reproduction, men need us to have children, and women who don’t marry and reproduce (sons) are subjected to violence, ostracised and treated as scapegoats every time the crops fail. Women in the developing world also do most of the work, their (unpaid) labour is what keeps things running.

    So the category ‘woman’ isn’t just about ‘femininity’, it’s about labour, including reproductive labour. Women aren’t just the sex-class, we’re the shit-work-class (with shit-work including ‘sex work’ in a lot of cases). This is a system that has been around for a very very long time, and suits those in power very well; whether or not the categories of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ ‘actually’ exist in any objective way is irrelevant, if society labels you as female that has a real impact on how your life will unfold (or even if you will survive infancy).

    As to ‘innate gender’, my belief is that we all exist on several continuums of behaviour and personality traits, the extreme ends of which are labelled ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, and for those who are too far in the ‘wrong’ direction, living in society as it is becomes impossible, due to harassment and ostracism, rather than any conflict between ‘innate gender’ and biological sex.

  31. Jill

    Triste May 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm “You may be non-compliant, but there are still a whole bunch of people out there who judge your value as a person based upon that non-compliance. That is what it means to be a member of the sex class.”

    This is it precisely. What you feel is irrelevant when it comes to your status in society; all women, regardless of any other factor, occupy some point on the sexbot continuum. All women are valued in terms of sex, whether it’s their fuckability or fertility. Rewards accrue depending on degree of compliance. For example, I am middle-aged, post-menopausal, most of my sex organs are amputated, I don’t feminize, and I am somewhat intelligent; I am still a member of the sex class, I merely represent a high value on the Unfuckable/Unbreedable axes. This means that when I go in to buy a car charger for my cell phone, and there’s a line — why is there always a fucking line in the cell phone charger store? — younger, more compliant women (and of course dudes) always get waited on first.

  32. Bushfire

    My point, which I managed to obscure by not stating it at all, is that there is no such thing as “woman”, therefore there is no “definition.”

    This is a concept I just cannot comprehend.


  33. Jill

    May 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm
    I totally disagree. For some (probably most) people, I suspect that there is an innate gender (male, female, genderqueer, bigender, etc.) that they are wont to identify as.

    Well, this is the 79-cent question, isn’t it? There’s really no way to know the answer, though, since there is no existence possible outside of patriarchy. All we have to go on is how people “feel” about their gender, but the extent to which individual “feelings” are a function of patriarchal influence is impossible to gauge. This is why I advocate revolution. So much real good stuff is obscured by the culture of domination.

    “skin color and ethnicity are fairly objective”

    I’m sorry to bring up Seinfeld again so soon, but remember that episode where Elaine is dating that guy and she can’t figure out whether he’s black?

    But anyway, ethnicity is totally a construct revolving around cultural tradition, religion, distant ancestry, and team spirit. My American brother-in-law, who has Irish forebears but who has never so much as set foot in Ireland himself, identifies as Irish almost as a kind of lifestyle choice. As for skin color, I get what you’re saying, but if I were to take a photograph of the skin on my arm, and put it in Photoshop, and move the little eyedropper around on it, I’d get a buttload of different CMYK values, many of which I’d have in common with most everyone else on the planet.

  34. Comrade Svilova

    Jill hits it out of the park once again.

  35. Tigs

    You’re Mr. Lebwoski; I’m the dude!

  36. thebewilderness

    Vermont has determined that gender identity trumps born sex.

    “(a) Upon receiving from the probate division of the superior court a court order that an individual’s sexual reassignment has been completed, the state registrar shall issue a new birth certificate to show that the sex of the individual born in this state has been changed.

    (b) An affidavit by a licensed physician who has treated or evaluated the individual stating that the individual has undergone surgical, hormonal, or other treatment appropriate for that individual for the purpose of gender transition shall constitute sufficient evidence for the court to issue an order that sexual reassignment has been completed. The affidavit shall include the medical license number and signature of the physician.
    (c) A new certificate issued pursuant to subsection 1 (a) of this section shall be substituted for the original birth certificate in official records. The new certificate shall not show that a change in name or sex, or both, has been made. “

  37. K.A.

    Women and girls are oppressed on the basis of their sex, which acts as a foundation for the social constructs built upon that biologically-based oppression. Other groups may or may not be affected by the social constructs (e.g., gender) built upon the oppression of female people in particular. But it is not women’s jobs to deny their own existences, becoming subsumed by a less specific broader category of oppressed people whose oppression is related to, but not identical to, female people in particular.

    While many forms of oppression targeting non-female people is contingent upon the eradication of misogyny and sexism, the reverse is not true for female people. That is, shaming women for pointing out the differences between female oppression and other groups is actually counterproductive to the advancement of all people oppressed by patriarchal constructs.

  38. "Chad"

    Why spill so much ink on clarifying gender categories? Is it really a more perfect ontology that you are after? If one can’t decide who one is and to whom one is opposed then a program of radical political action is perhaps ill advised.

    Jill however, seems to know who she is and to whom she is opposed and those things have precious little to do either with “women” or “dudes”. The object of her blame is a system of institutions and patterns of behavior. Those things are not hindered in the slightest by a more careful examination of what it is to be a woman. The case can be made that in fact they are helped along by the definitions.

    Hence a program of destroying the unsightly power structure as one would any other power structure (by revolution). Hence a program of eliminating the practical need to make a gender distinction at all (by growing babies in vats). Though almost pathologically utopian, I applaud the insight and brutal logical consistency of this plan.

  39. S

    “Woman.” “Man.” Anyone familiar with the cog-sci concept of radial categories? Cuz that’s what I think both of those are.

    For the nerdy/curious:

  40. K.A.

    I agree with much of the post, and I understand the impetus for explaining the extent that gender bunk is a social construct, but the analysis of gender is deliberately open-ended enough to say that femaleness doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of how misogyny works, which obfuscates the nature of how it works to the detriment of female people. My point is that leaving the dominance-submission sex-class model vague enough such that anyone can appropriate other people’s experiences of oppression is, in fact, oppressive. The goal is eliminating such structures — I agree wholly there — but denying people’s lived experiences within the confines imposed upon them is misogynist.

    The post correctly points out one way gender oppresses all classes touched by patriarchy, female people included, but as a feminist, I am 100% committed to the freedom of female people as my primary goal. How genderfuckery affects males tainted by femininity somehow or another is an important point elucidating certain aspects of the nature of sexism, but will never be adopted as my definition of womanhood itself. Because it’s not.

    Let’s not forget that male and female *are* real things. “Woman” and “man,” well no, they are not, but all patriarchal institutions of oppression trace their origins to the older-than-ancient male oppression of female people. Denying this primal factor, one upon which all other oppressions hinge, is counterproductive to the laudatory goal Twisty-Jill describes.

  41. "Chad"


    No investigation of how misogyny works will end misogyny.
    It is not for lack of a proper exposition that people become misogynists.

  42. Treefinger

    I’m sorry to bring up the whole “trans” thing again when this post doesn’t really deal with it directly, but I feel it is an undertone here in the comments.

    yttik: “We are the ones who live in fear of rape from a very young age, we live in fear of the threat of pregnancy, we deal with cramps, menstruation, and our reproductive systems are the first to suffer from disease due to environmental problems. “Female” is not a skirt or a lipstick that you can put on or take off, it is a type of body that we are born into.”

    You know, you can entirely live your life oblivious to all this shit (well not cramps and menstruation, but then those are seen in a different light) if you have XX chromosones and simply refuse to think of yourself as female. I grew up thinking I was somehow exempt from all of this because I was a dude deep down, even though no one thought of me that way and I didn’t present male at all. I was the one who enjoyed objectifying others (cis men, though) and dominating them as far as I was concerned, because that’s what resonated with me and my feelings about my gender. It didn’t cross my mind at all (well, apart from fear of never being able to pass as male) that I was still a member of the sex class to the people around me.

    I suspect (and hell, I’ve even heard) trans women often experience the opposite. That is, they feel the fear of being raped, objectified, the shame of being something that society hates, they think they are a member of the sex class even though no one around them is actively trying to oppress them (in the way cis women are oppressed, of course homophobic and anti-femme prejudice is still experienced). They are unaware of much of the privilege they might have because they are too busy worrying about these things. Maybe this wouldn’t have been possible in an age without so many media portrayals of sex and gender roles, but when you identify as something you can see how that class is treated in such material and feel it vicariously to an extent.

    This is why people who talk about trans people and their experience of male privilege/female oppression need to think a little harder. There are two sides to both of these things: actual treatment by society at large, and psychological internalization. In any case, when trans people transition, they have essentially experienced both types (trans men have their psychological feelings confirmed by the newfound privilege they experience if they pass, trans women are now subject to most of the stuff they feared before). Sure, trans women can’t currently experience XX reproductive organ-related oppression, and trans men lack several important things that are considered a part of male privilege, but the effects of this are pretty much negligible since many XX women and XY men don’t experience every single kind of privilege or oppression associated with their sex. This is why there are plenty of politicized trans women and sexist trans dudes around. There are also obnoxious anti-feminist trans women and politicized trans men, and really the only difference between the two types of each (as with cis people) is whether they have been exposed to social justice thought before, and if they care about it.

    As for the other questions (other members of sex classes that aren’t “women”), perhaps the answer is that the sex class status is permanent (sheep might be a member of the sex class to some rapist, but they’re generally thought of as ground up meat and wool, a different kind of oppressed class. Boys might be an exploited sex class when younger, but as they grow they lose this status in the eyes of the majority and their identity as a sexual object becomes more complex). For “women”, their status is only “sexually desirable” or “sexually undeveloped/undesirable/past the sell-by date”, that is, their worth is always determined in relation to the sex class status. For women who are not XX, during the time in which they are not treated as a sex class due to their gender, their own perception of themselves as a member effectively makes up most of the shortfall.

  43. Treefinger

    “due to their gender”

    By this I mean assigned gender/chromosonal status. Talking about this crapola is hard sometimes.

  44. Triste

    K.A., I understand your point but I feel that you’re rather throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. Obviously women who are biologically female experience certain types of oppression that trans women will not – trans women don’t have to worry about forced pregnancy, for instance – but the fact is that misogyny is a beast with many faces, many of which (indeed, the large majority of which) are applied to cisgendered women and trans women alike. Transwomen are subject to impossible beauty standards, lower pay, the expectation that they will tilt their head and giggle cutely when a man says something, substandard health care, and of course the threat of rape and assault and murder. This shit is the bread and butter of Patriarchy, and trans women are right there in the thick of it.

    No one here is suggesting that the experiences of trans women are identical to that of cisgendered women. Having known many trans women (and trans men), I can say that I have never heard a single one suggest this or indeed anything of the sort. But there is sufficient overlap and common ground that we would frankly be doing the movement a disservice by refusing to include these women. It’s a bad idea to segment the movement into pieces based upon variations in experience. The experience of white women is not identical to the experience of black women, but nobody is suggesting that we should have a white feminism and a black feminism, and never the twain shall meet. The focus of feminism, rather than being caught up in identity politics, should be on oppression. In other words, the important thing isn’t who or what you are, it’s that you’ve suffered under the Patriarchy and you’re not gonna take that shit anymore!

  45. nails

    That is a damn good definition. While I am sure that gender identity is a real thing, without rigid gender roles ingrained in the culture it is inconsequential to society. It will be a meaningful, individual thing like so many other personal happenings. The dust up over this now is about who feminists feel comfortable listening to more than anything else. Defining a word like “woman” the way Jill has is more of a practical definition than a technical one. I don’t see why a technical definition is meaningful on IBTP or in feminist circles in general, nor do I see the people pushing for it making arguments with any sort of objectivity, which is what such a definition would require.

  46. Jill

    Those of you who assert that arguments concerning the definition of common terms in modern Internet feminism (“woman”, “dude”, “chad”) are irrelevant red herrings are teetering dangerously on the precipice of a Commenter Guideline infraction, specifically that of 412-D: “No comment shall argue that the subject of the essay is ‘a waste of time’ because there are ‘more important’ issues at hand; studies have determined that blog posts about your pet issues do not bring society any closer to feminist revolution than blog posts about my pet issues.”

    If you deem today’s topic to be too tangential to your own interests, please don’t waste your time reading it. Also, please don’t waste your time telling me that I’m wasting my time. God that’s annoying.

    Thank you.

    P.S. The commenter known as “Chad” should pick another screen name or be forever moderated. Thank you.

  47. yttik

    There is a problem with declaring that “woman is a made up figment” and then believing that some people are born so innately “woman” that they must join us in becoming a “pastiche, if you will, of dudely fantasy.”

  48. Lovepug

    Well, the good folks at NPR sure know what a woman is – and if you’re a woman who is over 34 you’d better get on the stick and have that baby toot sweet.


  49. "Chad"

    I’m sorry Twisty, I must have totally misunderstood the point of the essay.

    I had read the phrase “A woman is anyone perceived by anyone else (including herself) to be a member of the sex class.” to be almost perfectly circular. A woman is someone identified as same. My mistake, surely, somehow.

    Much as I will miss the subtly obnoxious screen name, and however bitter the irony of being asked to abandon it in a discussion of the propriety and applicability of arbitrary gender labels, I do notice that it is now on the list of forbidden names in the guidelines for commenters. I must have missed it when I read them the first time. As you know I try to order my life by the guidelines for commenters (more easily said than done, I’m afraid). I will pick a new name.

  50. Jezebella

    “Subtle”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  51. Comrade PhysioProf

    I knew a dude whose name really was “Chad”. He tried to convince people to call him “Chadwick”, but everyone was all like, “Fucke you, Chad. Don’t be such a fuckewadde.”

  52. AlienNumber

    “I grew up thinking I was somehow exempt from all of this because I was a dude deep down, even though no one thought of me that way and I didn’t present male at all.”

    I suspect that most human females start thinking of themselves as dudes – which is to say, full-humans – at some point growing up. I know I did it. We do it as a coping mechanism, to survive in an intensely misogynistic society. I predict that little females will continue to have these thoughts until this Patriarchy idiocy will be eradicated.

    Since we’re on the topic of race, do you remember that part in Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, in which she transcribes the inner monologue of the young girl who was surprised to learn that she didn’t have blond eyes and blond hair and pinkish skin like her doll and started to long intensely for those characteristics? Heartbreaker.

  53. Kmtberry

    My stripper name is Rex Johnson!

    You find your stripper name by using 1) the name of your childhood pet and 2) your mothers maiden name.

    I think mine is more of a porn star name, clearly .

  54. Ron Sullivan

    Anyone else here immediately think of the punchline of “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?” upon reading the OP?

  55. Ottawa Gardener

    As much as I love (and do not want to harm) my male relatives and friends, I also love your idea of an alternative near-future-scape. Anyhow, I am using this post to interject a loosely related story. When I was in my prefememist early twenties, I was opening a bank account. The young man asked me what my status was, ie, Miss, Mrs or Ms. This irked me so much I said, quite seriously, that I wanted to be known as Mr. The young man looked puzzled. I look in no way ambigiously gendered so he was probably wondering if I was a nut case. Then he said that I couldn’t do that. I asked why but he gave me no satisfactory answer. I said that my money, and ultimately the bank’s shareholders making money off my money, didn’t care what gender I was. Also, I was happy to receive male to Mr. Ottawa Gardener. Again, he said that, that was not allowed. I checked Ms. but was thinking of taking my paltry money elsewhere if I hadn’t been stopped by the thought that other banks would also care about my gender.

  56. Ottawa Gardener

    Just noticed the accidental slip of male where it should read mail. Can I laugh? Also, my stripper name is Wrinkles Warledge which I think proves that I will never be a stripper.

  57. Jezebella

    What is with the stripper name/drag name meme? Nothing personal to those who are playing the game, but it grosses me out that *everybody* is supposed to have a “stripper name.”

  58. Ottawa Gardener

    Jezebella: Yes, I intially had that reaction but then my mind let me know what mine would be and it was too silly not to mention. Sorry. I agree it’s gross.

  59. speedbudget

    Ottawa Gardener, your mother’s maiden name is Warledge? That is all kinds of a cool name.

  60. buttercup

    I thought it was first pet plus street you lived on as a child, in which case mine was Othello Franklin.

  61. Bushfire

    Caramel Woodycrest.

  62. Lurker Lyn

    @ Ottawa Gardener

    I get “Whiskers Oddy”

  63. JDM

    “Lobo Clements”

    It is, apparently, impossible to find anything listenable on the internet by Spitzie West.

  64. Jill

    “It is, apparently, impossible to find anything listenable on the internet by Spitzie West.”

    I think there are a couple of cuts on iTunes, from a movie soundtrack we were on. Search “Johnny Magnet.” Oh wait, you said “listenable”. Never mind.

  65. slade

    I already have my reservation on the Unisex Planet for my next go-around.

  66. JDM

    That was an dumb choice of words on my part! Thanks, found some of it. I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t cliche and doesn’t sound like horseshit. I’ll stick with “it’s good.”

  67. Mandy Shambles

    We are so freeeeeee!!!!

    “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!”

    Let’s go girls! Come on.

    I’m going out tonight-I’m feelin’ alright
    Gonna let it all hang out
    Wanna make some noise-really raise my voice
    Yeah, I wanna scream and shout
    No inhibitions-make no conditions
    Get a little outta line
    I ain’t gonna act politically correct
    I only wanna have a good time

    The best thing about being a woman
    Is the prerogative to have a little fun

    Oh, oh, oh, go totally crazy-forget I’m a lady
    Men’s shirts-short skirts
    Oh, oh, oh, really go wild-yeah, doin’ it in style
    Oh, oh, oh, get in the action-feel the attraction
    Color my hair-do what I dare
    Oh, oh, oh, I wanna be free-yeah, to feel the way I feel
    Man! I feel like a woman!

    The girls need a break-tonight we’re gonna take
    The chance to get out on the town
    We don’t need romance-we only wanna dance
    We’re gonna let our hair hang down

    The best thing about being a woman
    Is the prerogative to have a little fun

    Repeat chorus, ie short skirts,doin’ it in style, colour my hair blah blah.

    The best thing about being a woman
    Is the prerogative to have a little fun (fun, fun)

    Repeat chorus, ie short skirts,doin’ it in style, color my hair blah blah.

    I get totally crazy
    Can you feel it
    Come, come, come on baby
    I feel like a woman

  68. Shopstewardess

    How sad is it that I know that the Shania Twain video linked by Triste is a role-reversal riposte to Robert Palmer’s repellent Addicted to Love?


  69. AoT

    “What is with the stripper name/drag name meme?”

    It’s a scam that can be used to get identifying details to access various accounts. Note that in every case it uses questions remarkably similar to the security questions you find when signing up for accounts online. First pet, mothers maiden name, street you grew up on, etc. I use made up answers for all those questions in any important situations, ie a bank account.

  70. Jezebella

    Oh-ho-hoh! Now that makes some kind of sense.

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