May 09 2012

Hugs, Twisty: Hey I know, let’s chuck some transgenderism chitchat at the wall and see what sticks!

I don’t know if it’s because I’m feeling pretty fresh and minty after having taken a few personal days months, or simply because I’m experiencing a nostalgic hankering for the days of yore when we so often enjoyed polite, pinkies-in-the-air discourse on the topic, but I just couldn’t let this email from an anguished blamer languish another minute in my electronic pile.


Dear Twisty,

I’m trans-critical. So I know we disagree on that but, and while I’m competently radical feminist literate, I’m more and more feeling very weird about the dominant online trans-critical approach (as opposed to, say, what I feel like is often implicit if not always explicit in radical feminist literature which is that trans-criticism, if it can exist, has to be critical of the societal implications for further or novel kinds of dominance over women as a political class) which seems to be that one must oppose transgenderism based on some kind of gross chronological lens for viewing the ontological position of women as an underclass (eg, the vagina literally physically appeared on earth first) whereas I take a deeply strategically-focused political view that the drive to exploit appears first and the setup and use of women (whether because of vaginas or not, because honestly who gives a fuck, except in the use of our biology as a political tool re reproductive rights, etc.) as an underclass comes second to that primary societal and/or psychological force to exploit. I feel that’s strategically important because it’s politicizes rather than moralizes about women’s subjugation which is necessary to, well you know, change the world.

So, I don’t even know. I know our views aren’t strictly aligned but fucking hell, I feel like I’m crazy right now. I want to know if

1. I’m not incorrect to think there is a political and strategic criticism of transgenderism to be made (in fact, I think you’ve kind of made it on your blog yourself regarding gender roles but of a somewhat paler shade than my own, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) and

2. That maybe there’s a reason the thinkers who write books have a better political understanding of the subjugation of women regarding gender roles and the biological determinist blogging nutters are the ones blabbering all over the internet (present company excluded for cheap dig at bloggers) and what I really need to do is just fully internalize that sentiment and not get so caught up in how dangerously wrong *for women and feminism* they are which is making me a crazy person?

Alternatively, I’m delusional which I’m receptive to hearing too.

Thanks for your time.



Dear wildas,

Your email has lots of big words and time is short. If I understand you correctly (which I probably don’t, since I read at about a 10th grade level), you’re saying you are tortured by the blogular culture of trans criticism, which counts among its gnarly features a lack of scholarly literaritude and a focus on the primacy of XX-based vadge ownership. Also, you want to know if you are crazy.

I regret that I cannot diagnose an internet-feminism-related descent into madness — although a suggestion that you quit reading blogs that maddenize you might not go amiss (I myself am never happier than when I am miles away from any web browser, as may be deduced from my recent 2-month hiatus) — but I’ll gladly provide my own view on trans criticism.

My own view goes like this:

As you know, a patriarchal paradigm obligates the citizenry to align precisely with either Gender A or Gender B, with the result that those who (for whatever reason) don’t align are oppressed and screwed over. It is inevitable that this binary gender system will produce a vigorous exploitative element, because the gender-binary is synonymous with patriarchy, and patriarchy is synonymous with institutionalized exploitation.

Concomittantly, because the vigorous exploitative element is so injurious, the system must also attract a vigorously outraged element (the published feminist theorists, the Savage Death Islandists, the blamers, the radical feminists, the “biological determinist blogging nutters”). If the binary gender situtation didn’t fuck almost everyone over, internet feminism wouldn’t exist.

Nobody and nothing can exist outside the paradigm.

I state the obvious as a preamble to the notion that trans-criticism as a scholarly pursuit more or less misses the mark. It will surprise nobody when I reaveal that, instead, I am all for the patriarchy-critical, because I have eyeballed the situation with a wild surmise and concluded that the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women (a.k.a. the megatheocorporatocracy, a.k.a. the Universal Cult of Domination, a.k.a. the kyriarchy) is the only reason anyone ever talks about gender at all. Or does gender at all. Or critically analyzes on blogs the differing approaches to gender at all.

By contrast, on the planet Obstreperon, where patriarchy was abolished centuries ago following the Spinster Aunt Rebellion of 3658, “male” and “female” are quaint anachronisms, recollected only dimly by the creakiest and wispiest of superannuated crones who in their innocent youth were told frightening tales by their frail grannies about anti-abortion legislation, plastic surgery, pornography, and the horrid olden days before uterusbots liberated the sex class. Since on the planet Obstreperon there is no sex-based oppression context within which to define femininity, the word has no meaning and the behavior does not exist.

You know what does exist on Obstreperon? Jetpacks!

Here on Savage Death Island (Obstreperon’s Earth outpost), femininity is defined as the performance of dude-appeasement. So I’d like to ask everyone: to what extent does femininity afflict your identity? Before this question is interpreted as baiting or argumentative, let me remind the blametariat that all women of every description, including trans women, are obliged to perform some degree of femininity or face the consequences.

As for whether bloggers as a class are less qualified to pronounce on theorietical issues than women with advanced degrees who publish scholarly works at small presses, I am moved to remark that sweeping generalizations are the enemy of truth and beauty.

Fight the power.

Hugs, Twisty

Note: This blog does not acknowledge a “trans debate.” Everyone has a right to exist on her own terms. As always, hatas and anti-trans comments will get the heave-ho.


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  1. Barefoot Doctoral

    Obstreperon reminds me of the sci-fi universe in Charles Stross’s “Glass House.” In stead of jet packs, he has magic machines that store memory/personality and sticks it into any body of your choosing (gender variable, species variable, organic/robotic variable), the same way we back up our hard drives and load our data onto different computers. As a consequence, he nicely solves the issue of trans. Trans who?

  2. Hilde Lindemann

    Yep. You have it in a nutshell. I am married to a transgendered person whose body type is associated with men but who strongly identifies with women, and I have never been able to figure out whether, on the planet Obstreperon, his dysphoria would go away. I’m not at all sure that it would, or that our embodiment, in a gender-free social world, would have no affect at all on how we understand ourselves. I don’t even see how we could know, because as you quite rightly point out, nobody and nothing can exist outside the paradigm. It all puzzles me very much.

  3. Notorious Ph.D.

    I’ve eschewed some of what I think are the more obvious performances of femininity, mainly because they seem to waste my time, which is in short supply. But what’s obvious to me might not be to someone else. And I know that there are some that I’m really uncomfortable giving up (shaving my legs is the big example that springs to mind).

    What I’m trying to say is that patriarchy is so embedded that even a feminist can’t always tell all the ways that it insinuates itself.

    I wonder if transwomen feel *more* obliged to perform femininity, and to perform it more obviously? That would seem too bad, because the very existence of transwomen and -men has the potential to be a big f-you to the prison of gender in general.

  4. Friend of Snakes

    Wherein Twist stirs shit up. Again.

    I’m coming back after the 300th post to read her “You’re making me blow my last lobe. Stop it!” addendum to her primary entry.

  5. humanbein

    Doing a gender is always doing a gender. I sniff suspiciously at the idea that one is compelled to become more masculine or feminine than they are, because this compulsion is probably fueled by the desire to increase an artificial level of sexual excitement of some kind. The quest for sexual fulfillment of any kind has always seemed like a vain illusion created by desires inflated by a patriarchal culture. I’m not interested in becoming more genderful, but more genderless. As for those who do so, I don’t judge them more harshly than I judge myself. We are all victims of a misguided culture of sexual frenzy.

  6. packrat

    “I wonder if transwomen feel *more* obliged to perform femininity, and to perform it more obviously?”

    For the most part, you are right Notorious. There are a multitude of factors that collude to compel trans people to be p-compliant; some of them naturally manifesting as a feeling of obligation to perform the prescribed gender role of their target sex.

    However, speaking from my own experience as a trans woman, I don’t believe trans women tend to perform femininity more significantly than a cis woman. I feel many believe we do because we are just inherently more visible, by nature of our bodies being drowned in testosterone for a more considerable period of time than most women. Our performance is “more obvious” because we are more obvious.
    And then there are those trans women who pass and are extremely p-compliant. Naturally, the patriarchy likes the dehumanizing spectacle of those “omg, he’s really a man!” stories, so those tend to get a huge amount of airtime.
    Additionally, lets not forget that the majority of cis women in the world are, regrettably, p-compliant. I would dare say the rates of p-compliance among trans women is not much different from that of cis women.
    These are probably the leading contributors to the public mis-perception that we perform femininity more drastically or “obviously” than cis women.

  7. Linden

    I was having this conversation with some friends of mine pretty recently, actually. I think the problem isn’t just that patriarchy requires everyone to align with Gender M or Gender F and disadvantages those who don’t. It also privileges Gender M over Gender F, so the consequences suffered by people who don’t align with Gender M or F are the same as those suffered by people who align with Gender F, even those who try to maximize their alignment.

    I stand in solidarity with those who suffer the consequences of non-gender-alignment and those who suffer the consequences of alignment with Gender F, because those consequences are the same: rape, low pay, discrimination, exploitation, harassment. I do not stand in solidarity with those who want to argue that their experience of oppression as a non-gender-aligned person is more special or worthy of consideration than that of the lifetime members of Gender F, because that implies that their experience is somehow “worse” because of former membership in Gender M, thereby putting them into a class that’s still above Gender F on a ladder of hierarchy.

    For example, I was reading an article the other day by a self-described “gender outlaw,” in which she detailed how choosing to dress like a woman causes males to yell at her out the windows of passing cars and throw things at her. This has happened to me as well, because of my unchosen lifetime membership in Club Gender F. Am I a “gender outlaw”? I think yes, if “outlaw” is defined as “not a member of Gender M, the standard by which all humans are judged.”

  8. hayduke

    Oh, thank you for this. “The Trans Debate (TM)” within radical feminism has been just about killing me. This eloquently expresses everything I would like to say but can’t seem to get out around the repeated muttered “what the fuck?”s.

  9. Catherine Martell

    Gender afflicts all our identities, whatever our biology. Femininity, particularly, afflicts not only the identities of women (cis, trans, undecided) but has at various historical points been imposed upon people of colour, gay people, and various oppressed or defeated groups of men; often as a cultural stereotype, sometimes as a punishment.

    Cis women do not, therefore, hold the copyright on being oppressed by femininity. If there were copyright on femininity, it would be held by the patriarchy, which invented and enforces it.

    For this reason, cis feminists who spout “criticisms of transgenderism” chap my hide just as surely as do men who try to define my feminism for me. The only people I’m really interested in listening to about transgenderism are actual transgendered people.

    I respect those who attempt to stop performing femininity altogether, but that’s a difficult choice to make. For many women, it threatens their job, family, relationship, and personal safety. I don’t cut out femininity entirely myself. Even if I did, I would not presume to criticise any women (cis, trans, undecided) for performing femininity because, even if they do have a choice, that choice is a lousy choice, defined entirely by the patriarchy.

    Also, because hating on other women just feels horrendous.

  10. Laura

    ” Everyone has a right to exist on her own terms.”

    For me, that is the beginning, middle, and end of my personal philosophy on transgenderism. The idea that there is any debate to be had smacks to me of seek-out-the-mutant oppression.

    As to ” to what extent does femininity afflict your identity?”: Frack if I know. I grew up in a household of unexamined conservatism on issues of sexism and genderism – that is, my parents are people with good hearts and good will, but these kinds of things simply weren’t questioned at all in Southern small-town life, in the 1960s and 1970s.

    ( I do remember that about 30 years ago there was a person my mom pointed out to me one day at Wal-Mart, who presented as a woman, but who everyone knew was a man. My mother told me that this person just expressed that she was a woman one day and announced her new name, and everyone went along with it. And my mom told me this with a complete lack of judgment about that person and the way she lived her life and was accepted by her friends and family. But it’s possible that all this was feasible because it was a very rare occurrence as far as anyone knew.)

    Anyway, I grew up as a GIRL and was happy to do so, except when being a girl held me back from doing things I wanted to do. I chafed at that but it did not put me off from wanting to look pretty and wear pretty clothes. I still, to some degree, want to look pretty and wear pretty clothes, but if you held a gun to my head I could not sort out how much of that is due to being raised from birth and having lived all of my adult years in a culture that polices gender expression, and how much it is due to whatever innately feeling like a female does to you. I will say that I am very aware of the privilege that I have that I (a) am physically female, AND (b) am sexually attracted to men, not women, AND (b) I feel like I am a female, not a male, affords me. My insides match my outsides. How lucky am I. I am aware of the problems I have not had to face, because I have not had to buck the current in these areas. And this circles back around to: Everyone has a right to exist on her own terms.

  11. gingerest

    I can’t tell if it’s just a failure of my imagination, but although I reject gender essentialism, there might be something to some sort of sex-related spectrum of differences apart from the whole business of reproduction? What happens to same-sex sexual orientation if there’s no gender underlying it? On Obstreperon, is there still recreational sex? Obviously it’s not the be-all and end-all unhealthy bullshit that it is outside of SDI, but is it gone altogether?

    I extend your “dude-appeasement” point: performance of femininity and masculinity is all total patriarchy-appeasing oppressive-system-status-quo-maintaining bullshit. To the extent that our circumstances and privilege allow us, we need to reject that shit whenever possible.

  12. Frumious B.

    to what extent does femininity afflict your identity?

    There are not enough electrons on the internet to fully explore the extent.

  13. allhellsloose

    why does anyone, I mean this in a non gendered sense, need to wear high heels? Answer that and I will collect my five quid/dollars.

  14. allhellsloose

    Under the planet Ostreperon ‘males’ will not be obliged to stick it in 24/7, they will be free of this urge because it’s fabricated, nor will ‘f’emales’ be obliged to compulsory het sex that they are bombarded with today from such an early age.

    No one will be a sex object.

  15. allhellsloose

    “drowned in testosterone’ is thankfully going to be outlawed in future, as I’m not sure there is a scientific precedent for this. Certainly too much testosterone and or oestrogen can result in a deleterious effect on your health.

    My advice? Copy women who don’t shave where it hurts, who wear low shoes and wear comfortable clothing (like 49% of the population). Or is comfortable clothing seen as too ‘male’?

  16. Comradde PhysioProffe


    Hellz to the motherfucken YEAH!!!11!!1!

  17. Lori

    I don’t wear makeup, wear high heels, simper and smile on cue.

    I do demand service and respect.

    I do shave my legs, puck my eyebrows, and feel bad about my body and try to please the man in my life.

    He benefits from this of course. Still, he loves me most when I don’t comply. I still don’t understand this but maybe it is the fact that we are both human beings and not necessarily just a gender and it gives him room to not always be a male with all their rules and regulations that constrain and contain his life. (Yes, we know he benefits from this more than not!)

  18. Embee

    To what extent does femininity effect your identity?

    Probably more than I notice. I’ve never felt gendered, except when a male was beating me over the head (sometimes literally) with this fact.

    Or when I catch my boss checking out my ass and breasts, and going “easier” on me.

    Or when I called my mom the other day, to share with her my deep and unrelenting anxiety associated with trying to navigate the waters of single parenthood with a toddler and a “BigLaw” job that is necessary due to debts incurred by ex, whilst also trying to protect my daughter from, without excluding from her life her drug-induced psychotic father. What does any of this have to do with femininity? Nothing, which is why I was befuddled by my mother’s suggestion that “If you’d just spend ten minutes on your hair and put on some makeup in the morning, i KNOW you’d feel better. I know you don’t wear make-up, honey, but it is no trouble to put on some foundation, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner and a touch of mascara!”

    So that was the answer to my v=crushing question of how to be the best person I could under the circumstances: hair and make-up. IBTP

  19. tinfoil hattie

    Only 1,646 years until the revolution, thank dog. I was beginning to think it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime.

  20. Deb

    ‘Here on Savage Death Island (Obstreperon’s Earth outpost), femininity is defined as the performance of dude-appeasement. So I’d like to ask everyone: to what extent does femininity afflict your identity?’

    I can’t shake my internalised oppression as to my looks being linked to my value. I don’t even date/sleep with men at this point, yet the patriarchal ideals of beauty lurk within me, even though intellectually I have rejected the need to comply. I in fact do comply on an on-off basis.

    I also do not tell men to biff off even when I would very much like to, instead I am polite about it and skirt around the truth. When I discuss my feminism with dudes, it is in terms that are dude friendly and I generally take care not to say a whole lot about what I really think of their porn. Et cetera.

  21. Keira

    “I don’t believe trans women tend to perform femininity more significantly than a cis woman.”

    Yup. The whole things is a performance, however internalised it may be. The assumption that transwomen “put it on” is based on the idea that femininity doesn’t come naturally to them, but does come naturally to cis women.

    Look around in my supermarket, there is plenty of “over the top” femininity – the smiling at strangers, the make-up, the shoes, the bras, the clothes, the talking knowingly about kids or men with the check-out chick, the long, coloured, “done” hair. Its all the same shit, whatever the underlying chromosomes.

    As to the extent to which femininity affects my identity: nearly totally.

    I’m feminist literate, I’ve got supportive people around, and I’ve given up a bunch of external feminine traits – shaving, long hair, make-up, high and/or painful shoes.

    It’s the personality traits and internal goings-on that seem to stick around despite my efforts. I smile, all the fucking time. I can’t seem to stop it. I catch myself wondering about my decorative status compared to that of other women on occasion. I feel responsible for the happiness of the dude in my life, despite knowing I’m not, and despite his being aware of this trap. I avoid conflict (mostly) and I appease others, like parents, neighbours etc. And in relation to my changes in appearance, I often feel that I am letting people down with my unattractive shaved head and refusal to put goop on my face, even for a wedding.

    It seems to me that’s the pulsating, bleeding heart of femininity – feeling my place in the world is decorative, is making others comfortable.

  22. Deb

    ‘It seems to me that’s the pulsating, bleeding heart of femininity – feeling my place in the world is decorative, is making others comfortable.’

    Yes to this.

  23. Yasmin

    Jill, Can I ask what do you think of feminists such as those on the blog radfem hub who have a totally different view than yours on this topic, do you consider them bigots?

  24. Hari

    Yes, people ought to be allowed to be themselves, in whatever terms they choose (under the same democratic principle as anything else–“my rights end where others’ rights begin”, so– no self-expression as an abuser/exploiter allowed). And sometimes, specific parts of trans discourse and political action troubles me–for instance, lobbying for children who show ‘opposite gender personality traits and preferences’ to be given med/surg intervention to make their bodies compliant with their chosen personality traits. Not arguing that NO child should have this option; only that I’d rather see work going forward that aims to unhook people’s p-compliant sense that our bodies have anything to do with gender performance. I’d rather see work focused on helping people be comfortable with who they are, without enforcement of the P’s gender-constructs upon their bodies, by anyone. Especially not on children, whose bodies and identities are still very much in formation and who can scarcely understand even the physical risks and ramifications of med/surg intervention enough to give true consent to it.

    Which is to say that I’m a radical feminist who much prefers to see gender-constructs done away with altogether (along with the rest of the p’s deadly mandates). We all want to be, and freely express, who we feel we are on the inside; we all deserve respect as people, period. My trans critique is reserved solely for specific issues where gender-identity is too generally linked with sex-assignment (natural or acquired), thus supporting the p’s most destructive ideas about what it means to be a man or a womyn.

    Great to have you back, Twisty.

  25. Hari

    Correction: I mentioned “chosen personality traits”, my bad. Should have said “inherent personality traits”–which, as a mother and person generally attentive to babies/kids, I well know is closer to the truth.

  26. DancesWithCats

    In response to the question “Is comfortable clothing seen as too male?”:


    As decorative objects, why would women ever need to bend, stoop, breathe deeply, walk, run, work, stretch, or simply relax? There is no reason our clothing should make any of those things easy or even possible. Just smile and look pretty, sweetheart.

    SO MUCH RAGE. Gahhhhhhhh.

  27. Keri

    Femininity and my identity:

    Since I’m sitting here on a big fat pad after having some lady part surgery yesterday, it’s a timely question. Just having lady parts without adding any wiles to the set up still subjects you to plenty of the suckitude of daily fuckability assessment, role expectations, harassment, and other Global Accords. Expectations of femininity and my failure to comply with many of them have resulted in some serious clashes in my life. The Man will sure try to beat you back in your rightful place if you attempt living a free willed fun loving lifestyle. It’s really so exhasusting just trying to be true to yourself as a human out there in the patriarchy.

    Conversely, I am getting a pedicure today because I teach yoga and try to have not scary looking feet. Sure, i feel all patriarchy compliant but I also enjoy the glass of wine that comes with it and intend to get Mickey Mouse painted on my toes before I leave for Disney World today with my daughter (we’re celebrating her graduation from dudliocentric U but hey, she got her Bachelor’s!).

    I also really like wearing dresses because they are super easy and kind of breezy. I am also a mom and I have long hair because a ponytail works for me and all the sports I do. But men can go suck it and I have completely reject P in the V lifestyle and have a female partner. So compliant yes and no.

    I feel like feminity effects my identity every day because I am trying to live in this fucked up society where just when I might feel human for a split second, something happens to remind me, “Hey! You’re not human, you’re a woman!.”

    Dog forbid I forget my second class citizenship for any length of time. Somebody will smack me back in line. But by tomorrow I’m gonna have a big buzz with my kid on Pirates of the Carribean and I’ll try not to think about it for a little while.

  28. Linden

    I don’t think anyone’s “insides” can truly match their “outsides” in patriarchy — that’s one of the big problems with it. What does it mean to feel like a man inside, or a woman? I have no idea. I only know that as a woman, other people sometimes treat me in ways that I don’t like or would not choose. The privilege of always being seen the way you want to be seen and treated only like you want to be treated is not available to members of the sex class.

  29. KittyWrangler

    @Keri, I love that you’re seeking out Disney in order to forget gender roles. I’m not trying to be snarky, that just made me laugh.

    @Hilde Lindemann, I enjoyed everything in your comment.

    I’m working on changing the way I walk because femininity mutated it (and I don’t even wear heels). First, when I got boobs (bazooka boobs, at age 13, argh) I developed a curve in the posture of my spine that allowed me to shrink them inward because femininity precludes one from “flaunting” one’s body (i.e. existing without apology). Then due to my years in an urban area getting horribly and constantly harassed by men on the street everywhere I went I started walking hunched with my head down, looking at the ground to avoid eye contact and not moving my hips naturally. While femininity may require self-beautification, the flip side of femininity requires one to be “modest” and reject attention. Just one of a million ways femininity goes beyond the laundry list of “shave, long hair, makeup, heels.”

    I’m also working on trying not to smile so much, but not having much luck. Social anxiety plus being naturally reticent (face-to-face, not in blog comments obviously) means I spend a lot of time nodding, smiling encouragingly and laughing nervously. Of course there is no “strong silent type” for women. I am *always* expected to bring on the chit-chat.

    Mostly I am working on eliminating p-compliant judgement against other people (which is where the link between oppression as a cis-woman and real transgender acceptance comes in). I have an “eye” for fashion, hair, makeup, and make-overs. It bothers me that a very small win in the P-compliancy has gotten me hooked into the losing game of P-compliancy like a gambler at a casino high on a win but guaranteed to eventually lose; but it bothers me more that I cannot shove this judgemental thinking aside when dealing with others. As @Linden said, “I don’t think anyone’s “insides” can truly match their “outsides” in patriarchy.” Mentally critiquing the P-compliance of others gives me (and, I suspect, most other people), a feeling of superiority, expertise and control over both my own struggle to be P-compliant and over the other person, mentally, as well as erecting a dehumanizing barrier between non-cis-men who should stand in solidarity. It’s actually a similar feeling to armchair psychology. It’s pretty sick behavior, nearly everyone does it, and even recognizing it is not enough to stop it.

    Both politicizing and moralizing based on gender-compliance that the letter writer refers to appear to me to be steeped in this behavior (judgement, competition, armchair psychology and issuing prescriptives which yield a sense of control), which creates a false dichotomy. I think we’ve all seen people reject the P but continue to interact with other people in harmful ways that are relics of the P, and this seems to be one of them. As in, trying to use feminism to win at the game of Patriarchy rather than obliterate the P.

  30. allhellsloose


    News: It’s normal for women to have hair under their arms, on their legs and to have a brackish surround.

  31. buttercup

    Femininity and my identity. Much less effect than it once had. I am 51, fat, and disabled. I am no longer concerned with maintaining any level of fetchingness. Any ornament I apply is for my own enjoyment. I wear dresses and skirts because I like them and like giving the middle finger to a society that says because I am fat, old, and disabled, I cannot wear a freaking adorable dress. I seldom wear makeup, never shave, wear jewelry that pleases me, wear scents that I find appealing and wear them infrequently. No anti-perspirant. No covering the grey hair. Most of these things would have horrified me 20 years ago. I find now that my give a shit is broken. So to me, it’s more personal performance than performance of feminity. I also try to analyze why I am performing what I do. That caused me to cast off a few things that were unnecessary, like sucking my stomach in all the time or trying over and over again to wear cute shoes.

    I wish I could bottle the freedom this gives me and distribute it to other women.

  32. Hattie

    I’m too busy doing stuff to worry about how I look all the time. And anyway I’m old. And men are OK in their place, but I have trouble taking them seriously. And I don’t know whether I feel like a man or a woman. I feel like me, mostly, unless I get some funny drug.

  33. redpeachmoon

    “sweeping generalizations are the enemy of truth and beauty.”

    So glad that you are back, I’ve missed you and the discussions you stimulate.

  34. Victoria Rattlehead

    One day when I was in the shower, I was stooped over my leg uncomfortably, shaving the last few bits of hair off my leg, when a thought popped into my head: Why the fuck am I doing this? I finished up for symmetry’s sake, but that was the last day I ever shaved my legs, a little less than a year ago.

    Thankfully, even from an early age, I was never really inclined to perform femininity anyway. As a child, I liked playing with ungendered stuff like Lego, model train sets, and monkey bars. Currently, I don’t shave my pits or my pubes (I walked in on my mom dressing herself when I was really young, and my logic was “if my mother, who is completely perfect in every way, has pubes, then so shall I”), and I no longer shave my legs. I don’t wear nail polish or toe polish or makeup or even earrings for the most part. I DO, however, like to have my hair long, because I’m a metalhead who likes to headbang. \m/ Aside from moshing, I don’t really work out (I know I should, but being comfortable with my overweight body makes it sort of hard for me to want to change it).

    Wouldn’t you know men STILL find ways to beat me over the head with my gender every time I leave the apartment? Femininity afflicts my identity even when I go entirely out of my way to avoid performing it. I really think that men take some perverse joy in catcalling me when I’m in an oversized hoodie and sweatpants with sleep crust still in my eyes, like they’re knocking me down a peg by reminding me that I can’t escape my own inherent femininitude no matter how hard I try. C’est la vie.

  35. alamo

    Has anyone heard of the cotton ceiling?

    “The cotton ceiling is a theory proposed by trans porn star and activist Drew DeVeaux to explain the experiences queer trans women have with simultaneous social inclusion and sexual exclusion within the broader queer women’s communities. Basically, it means that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.”


    In other words, if “cis queer women” really believe that transwomen are women, why won’t they have sex with them? And you can’t say “I’m a lesbian, so I don’t like penises,” because that is transphobic, as it assumes that there is something inherently male about a penis. Lesbians who want to prove they are not transphobic must allow transpeople to break through their “cotton ceilings,” and to have sex with these bepenised people.

  36. qvaken

    Lately I feel guilty about my femininity performance. Being skinny, long-haired, non-haired in two of the designated places on my body, nice and smiley, the whole “she”bang. I’ve allowed my pubic hair to grow, and now I’m terrified of the thought that anyone might see it. I’ve considered letting my armpit hair grow, but that thought is too scary for me. I’m probably just being paranoid, but yes, femininity is done for a reason: fear of our almighty lord and father, the P.

  37. Mildred

    I’m going to start an anecdote with the most boring anecdote-starters “I have a friend”… she is intersex, she has a completely androgynous appearance, she is completely uninterested in all identity politics and feminism, she genuinely lives in a sort of ignorance of needing to conform, this may be, perhaps, because she is probably the most charismatic person I know, and everyone naturally takes her on her own terms despite her strange appearance. She is mainly Nigel and Nigel…ette free, and that probably removes another p-compliance force.
    She suffers no consequences that I can see, I mean that genuinely, she has attained a great education, and has a really good job. Just recently I asked her her views on feminism and she was of the belief that it is uninteresting and that she feels she faces no prejudice and finds it irrelevant.
    Perhaps… the consequences for us would be minimal too and the majority of the oppression is in our heads.

  38. quixote

    Mildred, as I was reading your comment I thought, “She must have independent means.” Then you mentioned she was lucky to have a job with higher-up co-workers and bosses who like her. No matter how charismatic she is, that’s largely luck. It takes only one — count ’em, one — backstabbing sniper to turn any job into personal hell. I hope her luck continues her whole life, but she’s being oblivious if she takes credit for it.

  39. L

    “Perhaps… the consequences for us would be minimal too and the majority of the oppression is in our heads.”

    “I hope her luck continues her whole life, but she’s being oblivious if she takes credit for it.”

    I think both of these statements are very true. Personal anecdote time: I stopped shaving my underarms and legs probably almost a year ago. I do feel self conscious of it and dress more modestly since I stopped but sometimes I still go out in shorts. People don’t comment and my friends don’t judge, but maybe I’m just lucky. Just one boy told me I should shave my legs but he still was down to fuck me (we did not). I am still fighting issues such as “feeling” too fat or obsessing over my face being too big/asymmetrical/cheeks too full (something I picked up from consuming too much Japanese beauty media).

    More importantly, sometimes I feel like my not wearing make-up and whatnot holds me back in finding employment, but there are a lot of other variables there as well so I don’t know if I can solely blame it on my appearance. If I had gainful employment not dependent upon my looks I would feel even freer to eschew beauty standards. Additionally, not wearing make up or gigantic hair or sexy clothes leaves me looking extremely young in comparison to many other people my age and am regularly assumed to be in high school, which is extremely annoying.

  40. Jezebella

    Mildred, despite the fantastic good luck of your intersexed friend, the facts tells us otherwise: oppression is NOT all in our heads. Sure, we’ve internalized some of it, but if it wasn’t external, it wouldn’t become internal. See, just for an example, the dozens of laws being enacted around the US designed to deny women our health care, our right to equal pay for equal work, and our reproductive rights. That shit is in no way *in my head*. Also, if your intersexed friend does not perform femininity, then the average person is going to default to assuming s/he’s male (the default human, right?), and therefore perhaps she goes through life being treated the way men are treated. This would explain her disinterest in feminism, for example.

    In answer to the original question, my current struggle with femininity is that I think I may have finally crossed the boundary to unfuckability. The combination of my age (44), the size of my ass, and my intellect (which has always frightened the majority of men I meet) has I think finally done the job. I’m not happy about it, not because I want the world to find me fuckable, but because I want at least one person to find me fuckable before menopause takes my libido away. So I’m kind of mourning that stage in my life and fighting the urge to try and become more fuckable by means of femininity performance.

    To whomever asked about reasons for high heels: there’s obviously no *need* for high heels, ever, but as a short person, I have in the past enjoyed being taller because people don’t take short people very seriously. Which is why I on occasion used to wear heels. I’m over that, because, eh, fuck it, it’s not really enough of a reward and tall shoes HURT, but I understand why shorter women feel (dare I say it?) empowered by being taller. Being a short woman in a professional situation surrounded by a bunch of much taller men is distinctly uncomfortable. Naturally, taller is thought of as better and more powerful because dudes, on average, are taller than women, and so obviously the tallest person is the smartest, best, brightest, etc. IBTP of course.

  41. buttercup

    Jezebella, on the defunct (and utterly hilarious) cartoon Invader Zim, the tallest were the leaders of the Irken race. No other qualifications needed. They were complete dunderheads, too.

  42. crickets

    The fucking cluster that is femininity. Is it how I dress? How I choose clothing that is “pretty” but not comfortable? Is it how I do my hair? Or that I even “do” my hair at all? Yes. Is it how I speak? In that I often end sentences with the unsure vocal uplift even if I’m not asking a question? Is it that when I try to make a point on a blog I do it in question form rather than in statements? As if I’m merely asking questions here folks, I wouldn’t dare risk sounding opinionated! Yes. Is it that when I decide to have a relationship, I have to factor that amount of work it is into my life, because for me as a woman, relationships ARE work? Because emotion work is exhausting but I’m expected to do it anyway, by everyone else and by my own self. Yes. Fucking femininity. Thing is though, while a lot of useless shit is thrown in with the pile of “feminine” to keep us busy (amount of $ and time spent on beauty alone could free up the sex class for the overdue revolution) there are other pieces of the shared human experience labeled as feminine that I’m quite a fan of: vulnerability, sense of community, empathy, etc. That frankly, those socialized to be masculine miss out on. It’s those things, that though I identify as half-straight, I’m forced to eschew men because they don’t have those so-called feminine things that I see as necessary to being a decent person. (Other rants explain why the patriarchy is cunt-blocking me) So while femininity binds us, much of what is bound up in femininity shouldn’t be vilified the way it is (Wait that sounded like an assertive statement so requisite humbling ensues) at least that’s my own opinion.

  43. smash

    How can Twisty say “let’s chuck some transgenderism chitchat at the wall and see what sticks”, while at the same time saying “this blog does not acknowledge the trans debate”?

    It will be a fairly one-sided “discussion”– no?

  44. crickets


    ummm, no. Your question is like asking to discuss sexism without addressing the debate of whether or not women’s opinions matter. If I’m understanding it correctly, the “trans debate” is cisgendered women debating amongst themselves whether trans women are actually women? whuthafuck people? The reason why open-eyed oppression happens is because of the fundamental belief that a certain class of individuals is not the autonomous competent morally sound decision making adults that “we” are (women can’t have abortions because they are not the experts of their own bodies, women who cry rape aren’t believed because they’re just regretting the totally voluntary sex they had because “we” all know “they” wanted it) as in “those” trans women who spent their entire lives redefining their gender identity and landed on womanhood don’t know what they’re talking about and aren’t real women like “we” are. Oppression is one group deciding for another group the “truth” of their reality. So yeah, I’m thinking we can address transgenderism in a myriad of ways within the guidelines of twisty’s house rules.

  45. Lidon

    “I don’t think anyone’s “insides” can truly match their “outsides” in patriarchy — that’s one of the big problems with it. What does it mean to feel like a man inside, or a woman? I have no idea.”

    EXACTLY. It only has meaning because we’ve given it meaning. If gender didn’t exist, I have no idea how I would look. Who knows?

  46. Twisty

    Quoth buttercup: “my give a shit is broken”


  47. tarian

    Performing femininity. Yup, I have landed square on the “gotcha! there is no correct answer!” tile. I’m in a dudeliocentric industry. If I attempt P-compliant appearance and mannerisms (something that I am extraordinarily bad at anyway), I’ll get shelved as the decorative-but-useless caste. If I do not attempt P-compliance, my gender gets outwardly erased (“one of the guys!”) right up until some dude starts in with the rampant sexism and rape jokes and crap and I’m back at being the humorless feminist calling that shit out. If I had a quid for every time I’ve heard “Oh, I didn’t mean *you*” after one of those sessions I’d have retired already and would be living in an isolated castle where necessary goods get airlifted in and I never have to talk to a nonfeminist again.

  48. yttik

    “Everyone has a right to exist on her own terms”

    No we don’t, we live in a patriarchy. We’re all trapped in various forms of compliance.

    I’ve spent years trying to knock down rigid gender roles and forced compliance with expectations. I’ve advocated for those who are intersexed to be left alone and not forced into surgical compliance as children before they can even consent. I’ve battled the medical establishment and it’s hormonal experiments and mistreatment of people.

    I’m not a hater, I just can’t understand the sudden contradictory ideas. Marriage for instance, I’ve spent years trying to advocate for women to have freedom from marriage, and now suddenly marriage is a human right. For women it has meant bondage and slavery, but for gays it now means freedom and equality. WTH happened? I feel the same way about transgender issues. We should all have the freedom to not perform gender, except apparently gender is so important, it actually defines your entire identity. Why?? How did we get here from there?

  49. Maria

    Crickets, exactly, thank you for that comment. There’s a paper titled ‘everyday male chauvinism’ that is pretty insightful on the topic. Living in the patriarchy is a near constant watching of boundaries. Same as in a relationship w/ a Nigel, always safeguarding your boundaries -otherwise you get saddled with all the work but none of the leisure bc you fall back on feminine habits. I have to start bulking up my resistance; it’s not enough to enjoy the day sans bra, I have to be prepared to stare down the guy who stares me up. I am having real struggles on the ‘equal partner’ front, also. I made it clear (how many times now?) that I will not take on social responsibilities for his family, ie he needs to plan, buy, ship his mom a mother’s day gift/card. He has not as of today. What am I to do in this lose lose situation? I don’t want to disrespect my/his mom, but I don’t want to be his goddamn secretary either.

  50. Jezebella

    Maria, send her a nice email telling her you appreciate her, sign your name only, and let him take the consequences for not recognizing the holiday. That’s what I would do. However, I’m kind of a passive aggressive asshole when it comes to stuff like that.

    I was thinking about this very issue and thinking that I don’t like living with other people at all, is that a personality defect? And then I realized I liked having roommates but did not like living with Nigels. It’s all about those internal and external expectations of a female romantic partner and how even if Nigel is down with me not doing that stuff, everybody ELSE will expect me to manage his social life, his feeding, his health care, etc. as though he is not a grown-ass man perfectly capable of doing it himself. When I married very young I totally took on the whole Role of Wife and felt completely unappreciated and taken advantage of, even though I had “chosen” said role. (I was 19, what the hell did I know?) Next live-in Nigel should have known better, but expected me to turn into Betty Fucking Crocker when I moved in. I was all, ‘Have you MET ME?” but it made no difference. Three hellish years of trying to make it work later, I bailed. Mom kept saying, “You need to get over this housework business” and I’d say, look, my options are be the maid, or live in filth. I’m not willing to do either. How am I supposed to “get over” it?

  51. Ruby Lou

    Maria, how come you’re even thinking about him taking care of his mom? That’s his business, not yours. He ignores her on holidays? Not your problem. By all means follow Jezebella’s suggestion and send his mom an email from you. What’s up to him is up to him.

  52. Sally

    Things that I still wonder about:

    1. Shana Twain’s “Feel like a woman” song. Really? To eat?
    Seriously, it seems like drag makes her feel like a woman.
    2. Ru Paul’s comment that everything is drag. Like you have your office drag you put on to go to an office job. Your going to a church event or funeral drag. Most of what you call an outfit pulled together, a look, a hairstyle is a sort of drag.
    3. If the dress, sexual preference, and organs doesn’t make a woman, where does that leave us when talking about identifying as a woman? If dress is an art, a drag, a decoration, why is it so important to label one girl and one boy?
    4. If we could all more easily, without concern of cost, biologically change sex, would we? What would society look like if we could? Would we become more or less concerned with sexual caste?

    If we could choose to be the more powerful, higher caste thing, would we? I’m talking about being functional, leaving out disabilities, but what society values as higher caste. I certainly would not chose to suffer physically with age, being a big supporter of the Advil. I’d rather be spry forever.

    Because there is a pretty high bar now in terms of cost and all. I wonder if I could’ve chosen very young, whether I would have chosen to be a man because, in many ways, it’s easier. Certainly, by the TV adventures I had when I was young, being the girl was lame and much along the lines of the taking her down a peg thing. We didn’t have Xena when I was a tot.

    Would I have chosen other physical and mental characteristics? Certainly I think. Particularly when you see preschool kids shaming one another for “being a girl” or inappropriate. Also – it does seem fun to me to try things with hair for some reason. I also liked fringes on my clothes. But I probably would have chosen different this and that. How much of it would be delight and how much of it would be around social power and not being rejected so much I cannot say.

    I’m born a woman, and I can say it has been annoying to not be treated like a regular person. That’s at best. Truly, I’m in a super male dominated profession and about a couple a weeks ago an interviewer looking for me in a conference room thought he’d walked in the wrong room because a woman was sitting there. I find it hard to get employment in the hottest of tech fields because I’m not twenty, beyond entry level, and a woman. It baffles Biff. At times, at my age where this shit isn’t so whimsical funny when the rent is due, I wonder if I had had the choice young, whether I would have chosen to just be a “regular free person” and not have to fight that crap so much. I don’t know if I would have now. and would I have been such a male feminist? I like to think I would not have been an asshole, but when you have privilege, it’s easy to fall in and think it’s the natural order.

    However, I can only imagine what it could be like to feel there had been a biological mistake and I must undergo physical sexual reassignment.

  53. Noel

    “…my options are be the maid, or live in filth. I’m not willing to do either. How am I supposed to “get over” it?” – Jezebella

    This is an enormous, brain-busting, heartbreaking, soul-killing issue for me as well.

    My current partner (once romantic/sexual, now platonic/asexual) will not clean unless I ask him, remind him or scream at him, which I end up doing an awful lot out of desperate frustration.

    (Naively thought this would change once we weren’t fucking anymore. How silly…after all, I’m still a woman, and as such tasked with making sure we don’t drown in trash, dirty dishes, dust, dog shit/piss, bugs and vermin. Whether by my actual physical effort or his, the responsibility for getting all of this done still ultimately falls on me)

    I swear to you, we’ve been having the exact same ‘conversation’ about cleaning for almost 5 years. Very, very little has changed, and it doesn’t matter how ‘nicely’ or ‘respectfully’ I ask or approach the subject (fuck how horrible, degrading, disrespectful and otherwise not-nice it is to have to beg another adult to clean up after himself/not let the house go to complete shit, right?).

    What little has changed, I have had to fight tooth and nail for. I’m talking knock-down, drag-out fights lasting hours on end where I have cried my eyes and heart out to the point of laryngitis, migraines and crushing depression and anxiety, begging,pleading for him to please grow the fuck up and not force me and my son to live in a trash heap because he can’t be bothered to do chores.

    Seriously, *anyone* would be screaming by now. The man got straight A’s all through grade school/high school, graduated from college with honors, works a full-time, well-paid job at which he performs flawlessly and is constantly praised for being a stellar employee, keeps a grip on his finances, has immaculate credit, yet somehow cannot manage to clean the kitchen before there isn’t a single clean plate or utensil left in the cupboards, clean the counters before they are covered in 8 inches of grime, dust, vacuum, take out the trash (instead of just tying up the bag and leaving it next to the front door, stinking up the entire apartment), remember not to leave piles of paper/clothes/his shoes everywhere, turn the lights off, TURN THE STOVE OFF (our door was broken down by the fire department a few months ago when he forgot to turn off the burner before we left for a family day out. Guess who’s security deposit that’s coming out of?) or clean up after his precious dogs who have a tendency to destroy every inch of carpet they touch with their feces, urine and vomit (and why they are NEVER allowed in my room).

    My ‘choice’? To keep playing the only adult in the house capable of maintaining a clean/live-able living space, or to live in squalor (and I mean squalor, the kind that would have social services breaking down our door). There is no other option, because he will not change no matter what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say, and without his income (and aforementioned credit) me and my kid would starve.

    Have I mentioned that I’m trying to raise a relatively patriarchally benign boy-kid during all of this?

    How the fuck am I supposed to manage that, with a lazy mama’s boy on one side (him) and a maniacal macho dickface on the other (my ex-husband, who has primary custody)?


  54. iamlegs

    Wow, this post is practically carte blanche for I-statements! Gotta take the opportunity!

    I used to not shave anything, and got a lot of shit for it. At the same time, I enjoyed how it was such an easy act of rebellion (the white privelege, it is helpful). It also balanced out the rest of my body, because I’m super-hairly all over. It made no sense that the bottom half of my body was smoother than the top.

    I started shaving my pits when I stopped using deoderant, part of a greater program to eliminate chemicals from my life. Hair-free pits is the best way I’ve found to control odor. Going vegetarian and alcohol free helps too. It’s not voluntary, being alcohol-free, but I’m gluten intolerant, and drinking anything means feeling like someone’s stabbing my stomach for the next three days. But hey, I smell better now!

    Eliminating chemicals meant getting rid of nail polish and makeup even for personal amusement, which made me sad, as I adore personal adornment. This is a whole other subject. I love dressing up, fashion, playing with one’s appearance, costumes, playing with identity through appearance. I wish it weren’t so poisoned by p-compliance. I used to think I could subvert patriarchy through appearance. I’m older and wiser now, but I still think that changing culture requires challenging one person at a time, over and over again, and appearance can be an effect medium for that process.
    Recently I’ve allowed my hair to grow and wear it more femininely, because I am now in the business of getting people to think about the world in a new way, and I have found that if I say radical things while looking nice and ordinary, aka p-compliant, more people hear me than when I look too radical. This makes me sad, though, I’d love to try some of the cool shaved head things people are doing these days.

    Another thing that makes me sad is the voice in my head that says, ‘you’re getting too old for that look’. I try to combat it by looking at the way some fabuluous older women in the world comport themselves.
    You know though, models are so important. When you see a grey-haired woman in her 50s rocking a divinely sculpted hairstyle of less than half-an-inch, it’s inspiring. We all can inspire each other more!

  55. Jezebella

    I feel your pain, believe me. Been there (minus the kid to feed). Fake a back injury & use his fancy salary to hire a housekeeper to do his share of the work? This is a problematic solution, though.

  56. Twisty

    yttik, I believe you will find that I am on record, going back years, as poo-pooing marriage as any kind (see Noel’s comment above, as just one example why). I, too, am in disbelief that it is considered a badge of liberation, when in fact it is the very DNA of patriarchy, entrapping members of the sex class in impossible financial and emotional situations. But you know how it is, you can’t have special laws applying to just the straight people, leaving the homos out to be further oppressed. And privilege does accrue to married couples in certain cases, like health insurance, ownership of the kids, and that melodramatic scenario wherein it’s time to pull the plug on the brain-dead partner, yadda yadda.

    Patriarchy likewise compels misogyny with the gender-as-identity dealio; it is an un-ideal situation, but those who are caught most inextricably in the femininity net — whether cis or trans — must not be marginalized by feminism. I asked the question “how does femininity inform your identity?” not to gather data on leg-shaving (although certainly depilation is among the world’s most riveting subjects), but to suggest this: there’s no way not to do femininity. You can stop shaving, yeah, but you can’t stop being objectified or invisible or depressed or marginalized and all that, and THAT is what gets internalized as identity. Femininity — that is, making public statements, through dress and demeanor, about one’s willingness to appease the oppressor — is a behavior, but it is a compulsory behavior.

    I agree that the “freedom not to perform gender” is the goal of feminist revolution, but until the happy day when patriarchy is dismantled and gender is rendered meaningless, trans women performing femininity, like marriage for gay folks, is a necessary emergency measure.

  57. Swanhilde

    Noel, that sounds awful! But I’ve seen variations on it a hundred times, and I haven’t even lived with a dude yet!

    A few years ago, my mother joined a singles activity group for people over fifty. Most of the people in the group were freshly divorced or widowed.

    The difference between what the men generally wanted, and what the women generally wanted, was stunning.

    Most of the women enjoyed their recent liberation and joined the group to make new friends to go out with socially–camping, on trips, out to dinner, etc. After three husbands, my mother will never again consent to live with a man. She has a boyfriend and he wants them to live together, and Mom absolutely will not have it.

    The guys wanted to get married again. Without women in their houses, their quality of domestic life had gone to crap. These grown men never learned how to properly iron their clothes. How to store away their sweaters as the seasons change so moths don’t eat holes in them. How to COOK–they were always eating out or making TV dinners. Their houses would be messy and have, like, no decoration–no art on the walls, no flowers outside. Just Dude electronics.

    Men really marry so that they will have a mother in the house. That’s what I think. They often don’t realize or appreciate all the things that women do to make them comfortable. From housecleaning and decoration, to making appointments at the dentist and the hairdresser.

    If I ever live with a man, he is going to have to be a confirmed neat freak. Period. The flip side of this, of course, is that I’d never be able to keep the house up to his standards, which would also be problematical.

    Regarding the question of the OP: I am very beauty compliant, and I am aware of it and it makes me ashamed. It makes me feel like a pseudo-intellectual (I’m in a Ph.D. program). I can’t call myself a radfem for a few different reasons, but I agree with almost all the positions of this blog, and reading it–and the comments–has been a very edifying experience for me. Maybe one day I will have the courage to stop performing so much femininity.

    Unfortunately, at one of the jobs I work at, my success and income is contingent upon how feminine and “attractive” men find me. One of the women I work with cut her hair short and the guys cut her tips to go along with it. Her performance hasn’t changed–just her money. I am getting out of this business this summer.

    I resent how expensive the cosmetics I wear are. The cosmetics industry is a cruel joke on women. I hate them.

    I am getting a little older and it is no longer possible for me to be easily thin–or thin “ENOUGH,” I should say. Maintaining my thinness is an absolute oppressive burden and I got neurotic and anxious about it and developed an eating disorder in grad school. I don’t know if I can blame the patriarchy entirely for that one, because aside from being working-class, I have all of the personality and background indicators typical of people with anorexia, but I can tell you that the pressure to maintain my youthful figure was definitely a contributing factor.

    The Awful Truth is that I cannot be optimally, femininely thin and still eat three meals a day. Even small meals of healthful foods. So I don’t. I know I do it to myself, I hope that you won’t be disgusted with me. I know not eating is not feminist. I’m sorry. I am actually crying a little bit as I write this. I have been skipping meals and living off of protein shakes for years.

    Something else that angers me is that I can’t even be transparent about it: “I’m dieting perpetually and it sucks.” You have to pretend that it is effortless. Effortless! IBTP!

    And HAIR! I want to cut mine off so badly! I want to get an awesome geometric art-deco bob like Cate Blanchette wore in the Indiana Jones movie. I know that when I do, it will torpedo my stock with the dudes. It will be my gift to myself when I graduate. But anyway, maintaining the stupid hair is so laborious–and I don’t even color mine or have a fancy haircut. Just blow-drying it and putting mousse in it and curling the ends is a half-hour effort every…single…day to make it look “good.”

    I can’t complain, though, compared to what WoC are expected to do to have “good-looking” hair. Did anyone see that movie “Good Hair,” with Chris Rock in it?! I was APPALLED when I learned about what black women went through for their hair. It made me kinda sad and angry. How is it possible that the way they naturally are is “not right?”

    One last thing–another reason I do the stupid beauty stuff is because I honestly believe that a lot of education is a liability for women in the P. Unbelievably, once I started my Ph.D. program, a lot of guys wouldn’t talk to me anymore. Dating got harder. They get nervous when they see my piles of books up to the ceiling too. Do you know how many times some date has blurted out at me over dinner: “Wow, you’re really smart!” WHY WOULDN’T I BE, F*CKSTICK?

    Anyway, if I look like an unintimidating creampuff, it “compensates” for all of my book-learnin!

    Yeah…even worrying about this is feminine…

    PS Something else I hate about living in the P is the contradictory attitude men have towards womens’ sexuality. I have done a lot of dating in NYC. Men want to have sex with you and will sleep with you as soon as you will let them. However, they “respect” you more if you make them wait, even if you want to have sex with them sooner. I hate that. I really hate that.

  58. Swanhilde

    Twisty, sorry that my post consisted more of “sharing” than analysis. I will be more careful of how I present my arguments in the future.

    Thanks for this blog.

    Femininity makes women feel badly about themselves, but if we don’t do it, we are punished.

    Concisely, too: femininity informs my identify by crapping all over my credible intellectual achievements and my serious work in academia, which is the basis of my healthy pride. There is no way that I can take myself seriously as an intellectual when I strap myself into a corset dress and heels. I know that I am participating in my oppression when I do this crap. And that is humiliating.

  59. Cravo

    Ok, about trans-critical feminists… They are not “biological determinist nutters”, what they believe in is that gender is socially determined and that therefore we can’t just pick the gender we want to perform and get away with it. It is the patriarchal society who determines our gender, and it does that by looking at our biological sex. That’s what trans and queers just don’t get.

    So, even if a biological male “feel like a real woman inside” (whatever that means), if she can’t pass perfectly as a woman (or if she can’t avoid people from knowing her biological sex by other means) men will see her as a “faggot” and act accordingly. Even for those who do pass (and I don’t think there are many), the fear of people finding out will completely shape their lives. The same is valid for transgendered biological females. Well, we all seen what happened to Brandon Teena the moment the dudes found out he was really biologically female, right?

    Trans-criticism is not about saying fuck off to transpeople, it’s about acknowledging the social differences between trans and cis. I don’t believe anyone here disagrees fundamentally with that.

    Things got messy when transwomen started claiming that their experience is exactly the same as the experience of FAaB and using this as an excuse to invade women-only spaces. Those transwomen also insisted on being more opressed than FAaB, even saying that ciswomen have privilege over transpeople (forgetting that several trans still have the privilege of just going back to cis), i.e. competing to see whose rank is lower in patriarchy. Some are even blaming radical feminists for their opression, claiming that trans blood is on their hands. Just go over to Gender Trender to see what I’m talking about.

    These were just some things that pissed those women off. They did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but they needed to stand up. And the response they got? “Die cis scum”. Typical male supremacist bullshit.

    Trans-critical radical feminists are just fighting for their right to FAaB-only space (including FtM), like radical feminists always did – and they are receiving death threats meanwhile. These women, these radical feminist women, need our support, not our calling them “nutters”, whether we agree with their tactics or not.

    (This is not an anti-trans comment. Regarding gender, I’m with Sheila Jeffreys’ “I am a conscientious objector” – I’m for the abolition of gender, for our right to just be human – but I do understand wanting to transition. I’m just saying all of this because calling trans-critical radical feminist “nutters” really bothered me and I felt that something more fair about them had to be said.)

  60. Courtney

    “Yup. The whole things is a performance, however internalised it may be. The assumption that transwomen “put it on” is based on the idea that femininity doesn’t come naturally to them, but does come naturally to cis women.”

    Keira, THANK YOU for putting this into words. This is going into my zing repertoire.

  61. RadicalWeasel

    I’m a young biologically female person with very short hair, comfortable clothing, no makeup, visible body hair, a mustache, and I have a rare unicorn feminist-friendly male partner (platonic) who voluntarily undertakes more domestic work than I do.

    Sometimes I’m mistaken for a man, even though I am far smaller than most men and have quite delicate features and at least average-sized breasts. It’s amazing what clothing, haircut and a willingness to take up space can do. Certainly I’ve had plenty of hostile or bemused stares when people realise how, as a woman, I’m choosing to present myself. It’s made me think gender – or visible gender anyway – is a much more fragile thing than we’re lead to believe and how many people find gender ambiguity threatening.

    I know I am extremely lucky not to have suffered worse consequences than glares and negative comments, by the way. Just to make that clear.

  62. minervaK

    I steer clear of the whole trans-whatever debate for one (well, more than one, but this is the primary) reason: I can’t understand what the fuck anybody is talking about.

  63. Jezebella

    It occurs to me that perhaps wildas’ description of herself in the original post as “trans-critical” is not quite accurate. I think she – and most radfems – are gender-critical. Being critical of gender, and desiring its eradication, should not lead to being critical of trans-folks who have to live in a two-gender patriarchy. One can oppose the gender binary while also understanding that women (trans- or cis-) do what they have to do to survive.

  64. KittyWrangler

    Yes, you certainly CAN blame the Patriarchy for anorexia! I blame it thoroughly.

    “I know not eating is not feminist. I’m sorry.”
    As you say that statement here, you’re doing so many things besides not eating, and they are very feminist. I know you know all this, I don’t want to be patronizing or anything, but I’ve gotta point it out: you’re noticing how the Patriarchy affects your behavior. That’s feminist. You’re angry about it, you’re willing to vocalize that, that’s feminist. You’re looking for a way out to make things better for yourself, just because you want to. That’s feminist. You sought out the radical feminist views of Twisty Faster (that’s feminist in so many ways– building solidarity, finding community, raising her blog traffic, learning). A theme of this post seems to be that we are all complicit with femininity in some way because we live in a Patriarchy. So I guess you (and I, both) should assess the feminist things we ARE doing and feel good about them, otherwise I don’t see how we can expand our efforts if we don’t feel good about them. I know that’s cheesy and I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know but I had to say it.

  65. gingerest

    Hey, Swanhilde – please stop beating yourself up, because it’s just depleting the store of energy you need to live your everyday life, much less what you need for the endless task of resisting the big P. It is counterproductive to hate yourself for the fact you are compelled – as are we all – to perform gender and to maintain the engine of oppression. Please, try to forgive yourself first. Point your anger where it belongs – at the system as a whole, and at those who maintain it because it is entirely to their benefit. (I say things like “Patriarchy hurts us all” but obviously I don’t mean, like, Joe Francis or Dick Cheney or Ann Coulter. They aren’t part of my “us”.)
    Anyway. Once you stop punishing yourself, you might find there are ways you can resist that will make you feel better, instead of worse, about yourself.
    One of the many ways that gender essentialism sucks is that it restricts some of the best qualities of humans to half of them. I think on Obstreperon, everyone is compassionate and kind towards others and even towards themselves. Not inappropriately – the citizens of Obstreperon will be able to defend themselves and their loved ones against threats as needed, and will call themselves and others on any bullshit, because eternal vigilance – but since they’ll be living in a world where they aren’t fighting crushing oppression every day, they’ll have the energy to try to understand each other (and themselves).

  66. Swanhilde

    Thank you for your insights and kind words, Kitty and Gingerest!

    Kitty, I need to think more about the P. and eating disorders. I was highly stressed out and alienated from my friends and family (went to grad school out-of-state) and I’d also just broken up with an abusive JERK when I started over-exercising and cutting back the calories. I tend to blame it on a touch of OCD and perfectionism in my personality. Not just the P.

    But you know, there was nothing wrong with my body in the first place. It was fit and healthy and on the slim side of “normal” weight range. I was a healthy young woman! But…I wasn’t skinny anymore.

    And if it wasn’t the P., more dudes would get it.

    Skinniness mandate is such oppression. I used to do a little modeling. I know your job is to make the clothes look good, but seriously, the things people would say to me about my body when they rejected me or fitted me for the product…

    Since it is Mother’s Day: I think it’s so rude when I’m standing in line at the drug store reading the front page of the celebrity tabloids (of course I do not buy or read them) and they say: “(Celeb) got her pre-baby body back in just 16 weeks! Secrets inside!”

    I never had a baby, but I know what it takes to lose weight like that. And it isn’t pretty. Or normal. Or healthful. Or pleasant. Relentless crash-dieting, exercising on 800 kCal a day, and surgery? Really? I’ve done it (not the surgery). I’ve passed out ascending the stairs at Grand Central. IT SUCKS. Sorry if that is TMI.

    Gingerest: I will try to take your advice and GET MY BLAME ON!!! I wish we were on Obstreperon right now! I love all the thrilling hilarious lingo I get from this blog and other radfem blogs. I like Skeptifem and Rage Against the ManChine and others. IBTP is my favorite, though. It is so nice to have a space to hang out in, even if I just lurk.

  67. Aura Hazel

    As a transwonman I know kit is expected for me to do gender roles, I do my best to dissapoint, so here is a tale of what happens if you resist patriarchal bullshit while trying to transition, for a startn they slow you down by giving you appointments no closer together than 6 months, when the legal minimum is 6 sessions this slows you down somewhat. Next they none too subtly hint that by not being a damn stereotype you are failing the real life test, if you refuse makeup on principle or horror of horror do not wax before appointments they tighten the requirements. By tightening the requirements I mean to positively victorian standards.
    If this fails to coerce you you had better pray you have no disabilities, if you do they subject you to cognitive function tests, failing that they push towards getting you forced into supported accomodation. Meaning you lose your hyome, your pets, your right to decide, basically everything.

    If this attempt does not work and you show you are quite mentally capabgle of deciding for yourself they bring up the subject of work. If your disability prevents you from working basically you’re screwed unless you’re a student. Here’s where it gets even more fun, at this point they WILL lose your records, requiring you to either 1. hunt them down and file billions of complaints or 2. start all over again from square one.This process will waste another year of your life garaunteed.
    Personally all this crap did was make me more deter4mined than ever not to reinforce the roles, many of us give up and fit the roles until after we are through the clinic process then rebel against the bullshit that is roles harder than ever. A few sadly far too many, go stealth and vanish. Currently here in the uk there are about 5000 of us according to official estimates, wish more would show just a little more grit and not stealth to help others through. for the fact they don’t and for the clusterfuck that is gender clinics IBTP

  68. Ms. Lovegood

    This whole debate makes my head hurt.

    Transgenderism is relevant to fighting patriarchy, I will give it that, however why is anybody playing out gender roles, or having to move between them, for any reason in the first place? Gender is fucking stupid, excuse my English, and is a goddamned construct. I find it to be strange that trans women think that wearing women’s clothes, shaving their legs, and acting “feminine” is what being a woman is about. It’s not. Being a woman is primarily 1. being human and 2. being a human who is assigned as a part of an oppressed sex class. Yay? It’s not all skirts and glitter, everyone.

    If someone does not feel like the gender they’ve been assigned, welcome to the club. As a woman, I don’t feel like being a part of an oppressed sex class, and I know male-bodied people who feel like they do not belong in the oppressor class. Who wants to be on the receiving end of oppression or the asshole doing the oppressing? God I hope none of us do.

    I say that in personal terms, yes, most of us probably do not feel like our assigned genders, but let’s recognize politically that we are CONSIDERED a certain gender by the big P, by the CEO’s, by politicians, by medicine, sports, school, church, and every other meaningful institution that has resources, armies, and clout. If transgenderism supports women born as women in their struggle and recognizes oppression for what it is, great. If it is a mental masturbation event that makes gender some wishy washy concept, and is about men who are entitled to make everybody go through their processing of masculinity, no fucking thank you.

    “Boys” use your privilege wisely to end this shitty paradigm, and “Girls” do whatever the fuck works and keeps you sane and fighting the shitty P.

    Talking about gender in this metaphysical/metaphorical way in political terms, as opposed to personal terms, is a waste of time and is just more patriarchy when men can, em, penetrate women’s spaces because they are now “women”. Give me a break.
    Them’s my two cents.

  69. Ms. Lovegood

    I would like to add that I just realized I said “trans-debate”.

    I apologize, I’m not implying that there is a debate about trans-folks (I hope that’s the right way to say it, please correct me if not) being considered human beings. I definitely consider all humans to be humans. I do this because I expect the same as a human. I am talking strictly about politics and ideologies here (which I know are boring and not as fun as other things in this world). I also do not think I know everything under the sun, just telling it like it is from my perspective and experience. So please dearies, be gentle.

  70. Ms. Lovegood

    Sorry for all the posts, this is my final ranting for the day: Cravo! You got it. I agree, the “Die Cis Scum” masculine jibe towards radical feminists wanting their own space is fucking garbage.

    “These women, these radical feminist women, need our support, not our calling them “nutters”, whether we agree with their tactics or not.”
    Thank you. Talk about hatin’ on women and servicing the P.

  71. Twisty

    Ms Lovegood sez: “I find it to be strange that trans women think that wearing women’s clothes, shaving their legs, and acting “feminine” is what being a woman is about.”

    How do you know what trans women think? When pronouncing on this topic, speaking from your own “perspective and experience” is somewhat analogous to dudes commenting from their Unique Male Experience of feminism, which of course Savage Death Islanders find so tiresome.

    Also, if I thought politics and ideology were “boring” I’d have a shoe blog instead.

  72. DykeCrip

    Sally and Cravo: Nice heterosexism.

    “Sexual preference [for men] makes you a woman”

    “queers don’t get it”

    Fuck you both. Curl up in bed with the enemy, tell us how your Nigel is different, your Nigel gets it.

    Stockholm Syndrome is a bitch, ain’t it?

    SwanHilde : let yourself live, let yourself breathe. Feed your body and soul, and grow into the success that the P is trying to keep from you.

  73. Ms. Lovegood

    No shoez? Dangit all that’s what I come here for. :)

    Eek, I’m sorry all, I can see how my statements sound. I could go into my personal experience with transgenderism bumping up with radical feminists such as myself, but maybe I should just shut my yap and go away. Sorry if I offended anybody, take care.

  74. Aura Hazel

    Seems we have a miscommuniocation, people are hitting a fundemental flaw in assuming how trans people think,
    for most of us transition is about one thing and one thing only. Correcting a body that feels fundementally wrong, imagine how it would feel to you if you suddenly woke up tomorrow with one of thiose things between your legs and the knowledge it doesn’t belong there.
    Then imagine you can get helped but the only system which can help you is designed with all that crap conditioning inbuilt. You still despise the roles, but have 2 choices, jump through the damn hoops or be stuck in your own personal hell for the rest of your life. Wanna swap? that’s how we feel every damn day
    Some of us are getting sick of constantly being anylised based on an oversimplified explanation of transsexuality written in a book published 40 years ago, and based upon innacurate models used by the gender clinics way back in 1972. . Hell trying to argue against such texts is rendered nigh on impossible by the huge amount of change in that time period, We don’t want this stereotype crap any more than any other human being on earth. So please stop projecting your fundementally non trans perspectives onto trans people, If you want to know about a trans persons experiences try asking us not just guessing, or reading poorly researched texts from a biased perspective that were out of date when my mother left school.

  75. Aura Hazel

    oh and Ms lovegood, I would actually like it if you stayed, it’s nice to see a person actively trying to wrap their heads round things without comparing us to every nasty hategroup and monster under the sun,

    ps.Thanks twisty for running a place where this discussion is possible ,you rock.

  76. Marcie

    @Cravo: “This is not an anti-trans comment.”

    It is, and your inability to realize this just goes to show the very privilege you deny having.
    No surprises there.

  77. Hazel Stone

    My only caveat here is to say that there are a set of specific oppressions and resulting political implications that go along with having a uterus. I think the national move towards restricting birth control and abortion shows that really clearly.

    Sometimes it seems like some trans folks are interested in curtailing that discussion because it implies that they are not “real” women. I don’t think that is appropriate. I think that’s pretty much my only serious disagreement with the trans folks and allies I’ve encountered. It is very possible that’s not a representative view, I hope not.

  78. Aura Hazel

    That makes no sense, to fight for bodily autonomy and exclude reproductive rights. All women should have control over their own body, and no jackass politician should have the right to take a womans reproductive rights. Or any other right that has been so hard won.
    Religion needs to keep it’s nose out of issues it cklearly has no place being involved in.

  79. pheeno

    “but have 2 choices, jump through the damn hoops or be stuck in your own personal hell for the rest of your life.”

    The hoops of femininity? Been doing that since the sonogram said dress that kid in PINK. Been *forced* to or face severe consequences since I got my period and boobs at age 11.(being a “tomboy” stops being acceptable once you reach proper breeding age) So if those are the 2 choices and the hoops you speak of are femininity hoops, no need to swap. Already have my own set.

    Hopefully, once more people realize we’re sharing the same damn hoops, and that the goal is the eradication of those hoops, we’ll get further into the realm of ally behavior.

    And then together we can tackle the P about telling us both that women are shit.

  80. Friend of Snakes

    Double unfair:

    First Twisty brings up a topic for discussion, but totally delimits the boundaries of said discussion.
    Then Twisty asks, “So I’d like to ask everyone: to what extent does femininity afflict your identity?”

    Naturally, in any population of U.S. or U.K. females (and unfortunately spilling worldwide to afflict other populations) the subject of patriarchy-mandated female depilation ensues.

    Astoundingly, Twisty brings the snark to all hirsute (and not-so-hiruste, even) ones who do fecking indeed have this aspect of imposed femininity/infantalization afflict their identity on a daily basis with, “I asked the question ‘how does femininity inform your identity?’ not to gather data on leg-shaving (although certainly depilation is among the world’s most riveting subjects)….” [Snip here just to emphasize the snark]

    Yeah, I know, I promised to keep a lid on it until the 300th post, but then I realized here at Comment #79 or so that Zoe Brain doesn’t post at IBTP any more, so we probably won’t be pushing 800 comments on any trans topic again.

    Within the mandated parameters, all I can say is, how come the default hereabouts was female or woman until Twisty rolled the trans grenade under the door and waited to see who came running out. Then, we’re suddenly cis this or cis that? Okay, yes, that was a rhetorical question.

    To all you young and no-so-young leg shavers, I bring good news from the realm of the almost-elderly: this too shall pass. At least if my experience is any guide. As someone who had more blond leg hair as a young woman than any man I ever saw, I watched as it gradually disappeared as I approached my dotage. Or maybe everyone is already aware of that physiological process? It was a surprise to me. Of course, that doesn’t really help your present predicament does it?

    We can leave any discussion of increased arm (WTH?) and facial hair in old crones for another time. Don’t want to push my luck.

    Since we have a global commentariat here, what condescending terms do you have in your countries equivalent to the ubiquitous. euphemistic “senior” (as a noun) that is everywhere now the norm here in the U.S.?

  81. Twisty

    “Sometimes it seems like some trans folks are interested in curtailing that discussion because it implies that they are not “real” women.”

    Then they are asshole antifeminists, no? Trans women can be as antifeminist as anybody else.

  82. Linden

    @pheeno — I second the eradication of hoops and hoop-jumping. I was just reading up on what my “cis” privilege supposedly is all about, and I have to say, I’m underwhelmed. Apparently, it’s a benefit to me that I get to be unambiguously regarded as a sex-class human under any and all circumstances (not that I could ever have a choice about it, with this rack and these hips). Even the small goodies that get tossed my way as a result of being identified as a woman have a double edge, because they also serve as signs of my inferior status under the P and my personal degree of successful conformity with its dictates. Hooray?

  83. Friend of Snakes

    In case it wasn’t clear as I was stumbling around forgetting to close my italics tags and such in my previous comment, and so neglected to see if what I was so nicely formatting made a lick of sense, when I said:

    Since we have a global commentariat here, what condescending terms do you have in your countries equivalent to the ubiquitous. euphemistic “senior” (as a noun) that is everywhere now the norm here in the U.S.?

    I was referring to “senior” and “seniors” as even more recent shorthand for the neologism “senior citizens.” As if “old people” or “crones” were somehow too scarily accurate.

  84. gingerest

    Here in Oz, I hear “elderly” and “seniors” as euphemisms, and I prefer them to the non-euphemisms, which are “crumblies” and “oldies”.
    I don’t want to be referred to as a “crone” – not only does it remind me strangely of breakfast pastry, the implication that ageing is going to confer upon me magical powers is sickly ironic given the role of old women in the big P. Since women are valuable only as long as they are sex-class-compliant, at best old women are invisible, but more typically they are hated for being an unfuckable waste of resources. The idea that old women are compensated for their absence of real power with magic – imaginary power over an imaginary world – enrages me. (I think magic, souls, angels, gods, unmeasurable energy fields, unknowable anything, past lives, and afterlives are all hooey, and they’re hooey that in a total coincidence just by accident happens to support unquestioning compliance with the status quo.)

    “Old woman” will do me fine, thank you.

  85. buttercup

    Don’t mind me, I’ll be over here giggling at what I imagine Twisty’s shoe blog woutd be like.

  86. crickets

    I’ve learned more from this comments section than I have teaching women’s studies all semester. twisty, you draw awesome folks to this here corner of the net.

  87. allhellsloose

    I like this quote from Dee Graham’s “Loving to Survive”:

    “Femininity – blue print for trying to win over the enemy, personality traits associated with subordinates and captives, the ultimate stockhom syndrom response.”

    Aura Hazel said “Correcting a body that feels fundementally wrong” and this is what women do from pre-teens onwards. Women are bombarded with images that sends the message that your shape is wrong, your height is wrong, boobs are too big, too small, too lopsided; faces that must never age; too much hair too little hair; skin too dry or too greasy; vagina not honeymoon ready; vulvas too smelly, too big, too small, butt holes too brown. Every woman has something that feels fundamentally wrong because it’s what the beauty industry and plastic surgery industry wants.

  88. Laura

    Not to minimize anybody’s distress, really, but I see a quantitative difference between “my boobs are too small” and “why do I have this penis”.

  89. Cravo

    @DykeCrip: I’m not heterosexual. When I said queers, I was talking about post-modern fun-feminist Queer Theory apologists.

    @Marcie: What I’m saying is that men see and t(h)reat ciswomen and transwomen differently, shaping their lives differently, and that we should support radical feminists fighting for FAaB-only spaces instead of calling them nutters. I really can’t see how that is privilege.

    I’m not trying to say I know what the trans experience is, just that I don’t understand how anyone can disagree that it is not the same as the cis experience and that this makes different strategies of resistance necessary. And that doesn’t mean trans can’t be allies at all: https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/from-a-transgender-ally/

  90. Keira

    Friend of Snakes, also in Oz I here a lot of people using the term “pensioners” to refer to old people, or “Nannas” for old women. This of course regardless of whether they access the old age pension or have grandchildren.

    The grandparent label also gets used to refer to old women of particular national backgrounds here in Melbourne – so Nonnas, Babushkas, etc. And, of course, Aunty or Uncle for anyone older than yourself in Chinese-Malay circles. That doesn’t just apply to old people though – at 27 I get called Aunty by my friend’s kid, as does everyone over his ripe old age of 2. (Not Aunty Keira, like in families or close circle’s of friends of my culture, jut Aunty.)

  91. Rididill

    I notice no one has responded to the ‘cotton ceiling’ posted by Alamo up there.

    Just to reiterate – lesbians not wanting to have sex with transwomen is oppression, according to this principle. Even when they still have penises. Is that really not problematic to anyone here? That forcibly breaking through lesbian’s underwear is righteous trans liberation?

    What’s the point of this trans non debate, by the way? Cos I’m pretty confused. Why bring it up if you don’t want to have a debate about it?

    The debate isn’t, and never has been, about whether transpeople are human. It’s about what happens to women, when transwomen become legally/socially/politically defined as FAB women. I mean, you can’t get around it. If transwomen are women, why won’t lesbians fuck them? Clearly, lesbians don’t actually accept them as women. If they did, they would fuck them.

    Lesbians’ right to fuck whoever they choose is diametrically opposed to ‘cotton ceiling’ trans liberation. That is why we are having a debate. Because one group’s demands come at the expense of another.

    I kinda see it as similar to the sex work advocates who are fighting for prostitution to be a job like any other. While it might seem really unfair to stand in the way of some women who want to be prostitutes, there are far reaching implications. When it’s a job like any other, it becomes an important part of GDP and part of the government’s economic development strategy. It becomes an important and legitimate government lobbying interest. And crucially, it means women can have their benefits stopped if they refuse to become a prostitute.

    Equally, while it might seem like this whole thing is really horrible and can’t we all be on the same side, there are far reaching implications. The cotton ceiling is just one, but I think I’ve said enough here.

  92. Mildred

    In answer to Twisty’s question… gender informs every single bit of my identity.
    I can’t think of a single aspect of my identity that is not coloured by my gender. Every single thing feels like just another flavour of my gender.
    mixed race woman
    hairy woman
    university educated woman
    No matter what I am or do I’m always a woman. I always come from that place. It’s impossible for me to imagine the experience of life or identity as a man. I suppose I imagine that there’d be the feeling that everything is for YOU to look at, rather than constantly having the feeling of being looked at and adjusting yourself accordingly.

  93. pheeno

    “It’s impossible for me to imagine the experience of life or identity as a man. ”

    It would be impossible for me to imagine if they ever shut the fuck up about themselves. They don’t, and I’m well aware of a man’s perspective/opinions/thoughts/feelings/desires/demands.

  94. Aura Hazel

    Allhellloose, you think transwomen don’t get that shit too? that we can’t tell the diffderence between targeted disconte4nt and having our identity denied. We get all that shit too, it makes the problem worse but it’s different. Imagine waking up tomorrow with an extra leg, or head, everybody else is normal and sees you as normal. Except not quite, they sense your wrongness and constantly feed you bullshit to convince you you are completely different to howe you are. Thuis is more than ju8st dysphoria, that ios a gross oversimplification meant to explain to foloks incapable of understanding aas they have NOTHING as a point of reference, this ios like trying to explain colour to a colourblind from birth individual, by trying to describe the colour mauve, or taupe.Whiler the person in question refuses to believe colours exist at all.

    As for gender being a social construct, try telling that shit to david reimer, or any other victims of doctor moneys gender gate 5theory. Oh that’s right you can’t as david reimer commited sui9cide after being raised as the wrong gender to prove a crackpot theory correct.
    That inhumane abberation of an experiment is the case used as a textbook example of talking therapy for transsexuals. they just ignore the suicide and the repeated requests for surgery made by this poor bastard.
    this is why forcing surgery on intersex individuals without letting them decide is cruel, it is also the reason it is equally cruel to deny trans folks help.

  95. allhellsloose

    gender has never informed ‘every bit of my identity” but certainly it has influenced it. There’s a difference here. I know who I am. However I’ve always been aware of gender conformation. I choose to ignore it on my terms. Try it. It feels as good as it sounds. It’s how I’ve lived my life (lost a nigel over it but, hey!, he wasn’t worth it).

    Aura, I wasn’t in anyway trying to compete only to share experiences.

  96. yttik

    “It would be impossible for me to imagine if they ever shut the fuck up about themselves.”

    Ha! So true, Pheeno. How could I not imagine what it’s like to be a man? They insist I hear all about it 24/7.

    I don’t understand when people say gender is identity. It doesn’t define me at all, it only defines some people’s perceptions of me. If my identity was wrapped up in other people’s perceptions of me, I’d be in sorry shape. Fortunately, I don’t give a shit.

    Gender really is a social construct. As a woman, if gender is going to be my identity, I would be incredibly limited as to what I could do and participate in. We’ve already been there and done that. I’d rather we stop enforcing rigid gender roles as if they are what defines people.

  97. verybod

    @Swanhilde, I was thinking about your comment about your OCD and perfectionism in response to life’s events. I like this quote from Dorothy Rowe (writing about the DSM in the Guardian), as it’s saying “Of course people react to stress, but look at the stress and not the reaction.” I imagine the stress is often P-related.

    “The people who come to the attention of psychiatrists and psychologists are feeling intense, often severe mental distress. Each of us has our own way of expressing anxiety and distress, but when under intense mental distress our typical ways become exaggerated. We become self-absorbed and behave in ways that the people around us find disturbing. Believing that when we’re anxious it’s best to keep busy can mean that our intense mental distress drives us into manic activity. A tendency to blame yourself and feel guilty can transmute into depression. A desire to keep things under control can become obsessions and compulsions. We need someone to help us to make sense of the terror that can come over us and assure us that we can survive what we are experiencing. When we keep making a mess of our life we need someone to help us face the truths about which we’ve been lying to ourselves. But when we are given a diagnosis we disappear behind that diagnosis, and the diagnosis is all the unthinking people see.”

  98. Ginjoint

    Thanks, Cravo, for your comments. Thank you.

  99. ElizaN

    “Lesbians who want to prove they are not transphobic must allow transpeople to break through their ‘cotton ceilings,’ and to have sex with these bepenised people.”

    No woman “must have sex” with anyone she doesn’t want to.

  100. shopstewardess

    I’m lucky that I don’t have to perform much gender at all: no live-in nigel, no lower-limb depilation, minimal other “feminine” externalities, not financially dependent on men. But because of my name and my inherent physicality, I am still stuck with being perceived as a woman.

    Being perceived as a woman means that the actions of others towards me are the actions of people to a woman, rather than to a person. Even as a person with a lot of other privileges, every time I interact with someone I have to factor in the idea that “this person is probably thinking of me as a woman, not a person: how does that affect what they are doing and how can I counteract that so that, as nearly as possible, they treat me as they would treat a person?” It’s a very tiring way to live one’s life. Either one ignores it and accepts the results of being treated as lesser (less work, less pay, less promotion, less recognition, being charged more, not getting the “good old boy” entry rights and discounts) or one uses up precious energy fighting it, and have less energy to put into the stuff that makes life good and productive.

    So I and my life, and what I can make of it, are defined and limited by my gender. My only consolations are that living with this knowledge is better than living in ignorance, and that people and places like this tell me I am not alone.

  101. Aura Hazel

    here’s where it gets funny, we transfolks know who we are too, and we know our bodies aren’t right, most try to suppress it by jumping into hyper masculine roles , a huge number of trans women are ex marines etc. or put ourselves in harms way to defy our nature. In these cases it may take years to happen, but in the end it will happen or the person will live a life of misery or become a suicide stat. Don’t believe me? ask the 75 year old trans woman who buried themselves for their whole life for the sake of their children, then their grandkids, then their great grandkids. . Or the 75 year old former green betret . The first 1 nearly destroyed herself withn black market mones rather than shame her family, then her partner divorced her, she’s now wheelchair bound after being sold black market mones but still chose to transition. The list of mi9sery could go on forever and for that IBTP ps. shutting the ol piehole now.

  102. Mesikämmen

    “I don’t understand when people say gender is identity. It doesn’t define me at all, it only defines some people’s perceptions of me.”

    That’s pretty much how I feel about it. I don’t base my identity on being a woman, I see myself as a person who happens to be female. But I know that’s not how other people see me, and that they tend to see me primarily as a woman and view everything I do through a “woman filter”, as opposed to a “man filter”. Which means that even if they see me and a man doing or saying the exact same thing, in the exact same way, they won’t perceive our actions in the same light. (And even before we’ve done/said anything their expectations for us will be different.) So, I guess to me, that’s how femininity affects my life. That is, it’s something that affects all my interactions with other people, but I have little control over how as it’s all in their minds. Of course I can either try to comply with their expectations or not, but I can never change their “filter”.

    And as so many people seem to have this compulsive need to consider every single aspect of life as a human being as either masculine or feminine, it’s pretty much inescapable. They make it sound as if there’s no part of anyone’s identities/personalities/abilities/anything else that isn’t part of their (innate!) gender identities. And, of course, all the people who don’t fit within the binary never serve as a reason to eradicate or even expand the concepts of masculinity and femininity, they’re just seen as feminine men or masculine women.

    I apologize for going on a bit, but I’m just going to write one more thing, to make sure this post fills my daily quota for incoherent rambling…

    Because gender essentialism tends to set me off on rants, which can lead to arguments, which can lead to rather pointless and frustrating discussions about what it means to be a woman or a man, I’ve heard quite a lot of people say that they “just feel like” a man or a woman (they’ve all been cis, so I have even less than anecdata about anyone who’s trans). That kind of statement sounds to me like it would imply some kind of deep, innate connection to one’s gender, but, whenever I’ve questioned further, it has always boiled down to how comfortably they fit in the stereotypical gender roles. Like they’ve compiled a mental list of traits/behaviours/interests etc that are either masculine or feminine coded in our culture and ticked off the “matches” (and usually ignored the ways in which they don’t match the cliches), and gone “yup, I’m sufficiently feminine/masculine”.

  103. Linden

    Non-trans women die and commit suicide under patriarchy too, Aura Hazel. When they do, it’s considered normal, not a result of oppression.

  104. Aura Hazel

    Linden, look at the stats some time, yes women commi9t suicide under the patriarchy, is the rate anywhere near 41 percent by age 20? I don’t use suicide itself to point out opression as a cause, I merely point out the insanely high rates.

  105. pheeno

    When the P tells you your identity is shit, there’s not a lot of reason to live.

    NDN’s are stark proof of that. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34 year olds. Not that any age is good, but when 10 year olds are killing themselves, you’d think people would notice a problem. After 500 years of it, you pretty much give up any hope they ever will notice. Or care.

    Really sucks when one of the hoops you have to jump through leads to the mouth of a shark.

    And the Patriarchy shark is always hungry.

  106. schnooks

    This makes me think of a piece I saw about the statistically higher (cf other age/gender sets) number of women aged over fifty-five who are alcoholic. There are exactly zero programs/public health campaigns/moral panics over this, despite this country being in the middle of a big moral panic over alcohol misuse in general, women over fifty-five are just invisible, whether they have been sliced and diced to erase the eleventy signs of aging or not, they don’t exist in the public consciousness. The GPGTFUOW state that such women are completely superfluous and can just fuck off and die.

    It’s on my mind because twice as I was hauling my aged arse out of the bottleshop with something tasty tucked under my tuckshop arms I was brought up short by the checkout kid muttering “crazy lady” under his breath. I no longer frequent this particular establishment because frankly, I suitable response eluded me, but it did bring home to me that older women, though they should in any case,fuck off and die pronto, are expected to uphold the standards of femininity to the utmost even unto to their last dying breath.

  107. Ginjoint

    Don’t believe me? ask the 75 year old trans woman who buried themselves for their whole life for the sake of their children, then their grandkids, then their great grandkids.

    Burying ourselves for the sake of others? Particularly for children? Gee, no, women wouldn’t know a damn thing about that, Aura Hazel.

    Yeah, this thread ended up pretty much where I expected it.

  108. Cyberwulf

    Burying ourselves for the sake of others? Particularly for children? Gee, no, women wouldn’t know a damn thing about that, Aura Hazel.

    Oh God, Ginjoint, you’re so right. Your experience is EXACTLY THE SAME as that of a closeted transperson. Just like my life experience is exactly the same as that of a wheelchair-bound black Vietnam vet, you fucking moron.

  109. Ginjoint

    Point: missed.

    And fuck you too, “Cyberwulf”, and your stupid goddamn screen name too.

  110. Jen

    Reading this thread, I find myself questioning whether a women-only (by which some mean a cis women-only) space really exists to protect. In all spaces, the P is fully present in the language, in our understanding of ourselves and everything else. The men’s room is the domain of men and the ladies’ room is the domain of men. Even my own mind doesn’t feel like a woman-only space.

  111. Lidon

    @Jen: Yeah, there is a lot of deprogramming to be done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take those steps in the right direction. My own mind is sure as hell a lot more “woman-only” than the rest of the external world. And I can tell you that if any Joe Schmoe was allowed to piss all over this blog, I’d be outta here in a New York minute in search of a place that provided more enlightening discussions.

    This seems to be the best we can do right now, and I’d say it’s a lot better than other stuff that’s out there. In fact, I’d say it’s damn good!

  112. quixote

    Cyberwulf, are you really saying that unless someone has the exact same problems as you, their problems don’t count? Really?

  113. Cyberwulf

    Yes, quixote, that’s exactly what I’m saying, on Planet “Who Needs to Read Words When I Can Just Imagine Them”.

    I’m saying that there just might be a difference in the destructive selflessness that’s insisted on from every woman, especially wife-mothers, and having to literally live a lie with respect to one’s gender. It’s all very well to sneer flippantly that every woman knows about having to bury herself for the sake of others, but we cis women don’t know how a transperson who is forced to closet hirself feels, and lucky us, we never will. Not unless we’re closeted lesbians, and even that’s not quite the same. That’s the cis-privilege that we all don’t want to believe we have, because oppression olympics and oh my god men in the ladies’ room.

  114. Laura

    I agree with Cyberwulf.

    My comment back there is lost in moderation limbo, and I used a word that I didn’t mean anyway, so let’s try this:

    “My boobs are too small” strikes me as qualitatively different from “why do I have this male body part”.

  115. quixote

    That’s an extraordinarily narrow world view, Cyberwulf. You’re saying people can’t empathize based on shared experience. In my world, I see lots of people living lies. Different kinds of lies, but there are common elements to doing that. This would be a whole different world if transgenders were the only people who ever lived a lie. And, no, of course, nobody ever knows exactly how another person feels about anything. That doesn’t mean we can’t extend ourselves to the most we can, and acknowledge ignorance to the extent we know we can’t.

    Don’t kid yourself about women not knowing how it feels to live a lie about themselves. Femininity is a performance. It sits more easily on some than others, but at one end of the spectrum there are some for whom it’s plenty difficult. Women performing femininity, even if badly, don’t have to deal with the extent of social ostracism that comes with being identifiably transgender. So of course there are differences, but there are also commonalities. You can explore those to try to understand others, or you can ignore them. Why would you want to not understand others when what you want is understanding for yourself?

  116. yttik

    I hate to complain, but reducing the entire female experience to “my boobs are too small” is kind of offensive.

  117. KittyWrangler

    I also agree with Cyberwulf and appreciate Aura Hazel’s commentary in this thread.

    @quixote True, cis-women also experience living a lie, committing suicide due to oppression, hatred or confusion with one’s body, etc.

    But (some) cis-men also experience many of the oppressions we talk about on this blog– the list above, poverty, molestation and so on. Still I’d be surprised if any of us commenting thought, “since they experience [x] too they must totally get what it’s like to be a cis-woman.” And our discussing our own oppressions doesn’t take away from any given man’s experience of having been, say, molested. I don’t see why the experience of being transgender wouldn’t be similarly difficult for others to truly understand. That doesn’t mean I can’t come close to understanding or that my outrage over the egregious statistics of violence, suicide and homelessness of transgender people means I have less outrage when cis-women face those same things.

  118. Laura

    I was going back to the comment here:

    May 17, 2012 at 4:32 am (UTC -6)

    You can take allhellsloose’s entire list. I still say there is a qualitative difference between all of that and finding yourself with a body part that bespeaks your masculinity when you know you are a woman.

    Feel free to disagree, of course.

  119. Lidon

    I’m not even sure what’s being argued at this point (if that’s indeed what it is) but if or when this thread goes back to feminism, let me know!

  120. Hazel Stone

    I’m pretty sure this is still about (as far as I know the only real bone of contention between transfolks and feminists) “women only spaces” and if it is inherently wrong for those to be cis-women only spaces.

  121. crickets

    It also seems like we cannot agree where the overlap between advocating for women and advocating for trans folk lies. There is an overlap. And I think the overlap is greater than the difference. Yes, there are qualitative differences (duh). But the overlap, the shared experiences of disliking the gender bianarism that results in gender ranking that perpetuates the patriarchy is profound enough that I am shocked that we’re all on different pages about that. Part of why the patriarchy (and here imagine all of it working together: patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, classism all bound up in a kyriarchy where there are those perceived to be “normal” and all the “others”) persists is because the various “minorities” get turned on each other when they debate who has it worst and who’s fight we’re going to pay attention to and the intersections get ignored. There are women who are trans. For that reason alone, all women should care about trans issues, just like the existence of women of color makes race important for feminists to understand. By bickering like this, and being exclusionist within our own circles, we let them win. And I know the root of the argument is, how do we define “our circles,” but it seems arrogant to think any one individual (or group of people) has a monopoly on the experience of being a woman. Womanhood comes in many flavors (lol, lezzie snicker) and that’s what makes it awesome.

  122. Lidon


  123. Gayle

    “That doesn’t mean I can’t come close to understanding or that my outrage over the egregious statistics of violence, suicide and homelessness of transgender people means I have less outrage when cis-women face those same things.”

    That’s nice. However most people do have less outrage, a lot less outrage actually, when cis-women experience those things.

    In fact, violence against women is treated like the weather- it just happens! Suicide and homelessness aren’t seen as gendered at all.

  124. gender slayer

    “…trans women performing femininity, like marriage for gay folks, is a necessary emergency measure.”

    Wow, this is a horrible analogy.

    For one, it is not ILLEGAL for males to perform femininity, like it is for gays to get married in most states. Seeing my wife in the hospital? Having to sell the house and lose our housing so that she can get Medicaid coverage b/c we aren’t covered by the Homestead Act? That’s totally fucking different.

    And two, if getting married is “an emergency measure” for gay folks… what makes it an emergency? Oh, yeah, patriarchal laws favoring heterosexers. And how does that impinge on said gay people? By making them less equal. So the argument is that performing femininity will make transwomen more equal?

    And three, as transwomen constantly point out themselves : they are such a diverse bunch, not every single one of them is trying to “perform femininity”, and if that’s true, why not? It must not be an emergency in all cases? So then… where is the emergency really?

    And four, (what about teh menz!) if this statement is true, then it follows that transmen performing masculinity is also a necessary emergency measure. Really???? Do you really believe that?

    Hmmm…. still not buying it.

    Thanks to Cravo, Ginjoint, Lidon & Gayle for keeping this thread grounded in reality during the Trans Oppression Olympics.

    And to alamo, who raised the question of the Cotton Ceiling, which apparently nobody here wanted to address, but I will.

    I think THIS is the elephant in the room… how can one be critical of gender and admit that it’s a social construct, while being absolutely accepting that transgenderism fully embraces gender and upholds gender stereotypes?

    And if, in fact, as Twisty said, “Trans women can be as antifeminist as anybody else.” Then, where have our feminist allies been while the Cotton Ceiling protest was going on? Why were so many feminists silent over the issue of lesbians’ underwear being compared to a “cotton ceiling” that transwomen felt entitled to hold a workshop over to figure out how to “break”?

    Where CAN a feminist criticize an anti-feminist transwoman or anti-feminist transgender politics, anywhere? Because I don’t see it happening here.

  125. Dan Kowalski

    Brava! Er, “-o!” Well, hell. Brav!

  126. gender slayer

    “…trans women performing femininity, like marriage for gay folks, is a necessary emergency measure.”

    Wow, this is a horrible analogy.

    For one, it is not ILLEGAL for males to perform femininity, like it is for gays to get married in most states. Seeing my wife in the hospital? Having to sell the house and lose our housing so that she can get Medicaid coverage b/c we aren’t covered by the Homestead Act? That’s totally fucking different.

    And two, if getting married is “an emergency measure” for gay folks… what makes it an emergency? Oh, yeah, patriarchal laws favoring heterosexers. And how does that impinge on said gay people? By making them less equal. So the argument is that performing femininity will make transwomen more equal?

    And three, as transwomen constantly point out themselves : they are such a diverse bunch, not every single one of them is trying to “perform femininity”, and if that’s true, why not? It must not be an emergency in all cases? So then… where is the emergency really?

    And four, (what about teh menz!) if this statement is true, then it follows that transmen performing masculinity is also a necessary emergency measure. Really???? Do you really believe that?

    Hmmm…. still not buying it.

    Thanks to Cravo, Ginjoint, Linden & Gayle for keeping this thread grounded in reality during the Trans Oppression Olympics.

    And to alamo, who raised the question of the Cotton Ceiling, which apparently nobody here wanted to address, but I will.

    I think THIS is the elephant in the room… how can one be critical of gender and admit that it’s a social construct, while being absolutely accepting that transgenderism fully embraces gender and upholds gender stereotypes?

    And if, in fact, as Twisty said, “Trans women can be as antifeminist as anybody else.” Then, where have our feminist allies been while the Cotton Ceiling protest was going on? Why were so many feminists silent over the issue of lesbians’ underwear being compared to a “cotton ceiling” that transwomen felt entitled to hold a workshop over to figure out how to “break”?

    Where CAN a feminist criticize an anti-feminist transwoman or anti-feminist transgender politics, anywhere? Because I don’t see it happening here.

  127. Les

    Let’s imagine this same conversation, but instead of (primarily) cis women talking about the ‘trans question’, it was men talking about the ‘woman question’:

    Would you be cool with the way this was raised? Would you feel like the forum they were using was one that belonged to men or a space that was open to all?

  128. Aura Hazel

    twisty would you mind if I posted a link? I want to try and dispel the myth that all transpeople automatically oppose all womens spaces.

  129. phylliz

    There are not a few trans women who are gender abolitionists and desire, write and organize around the end of gender. Most of us have no idea what the end of gender and patriarchy would mean for our body disphoria- some think it would still exist as a purely physical ailment outside of gender (referencing the idea of a mental ”body-map”), some think that it would no longer exist as bodies would no longer be codified from the start. Most of us don’t really care if we would exist as trans or not in the post-patriarchy world because of the obvious need to destroy patriarchy. And most of us don’t really give a damn about ‘femininity’ except in terms of not-getting-killed and getting-a-job, (though i do know for some of us it is a struggle to not internalize femininity as making us more or less valuable) and don’t really see it as a part of our trans status.
    Not that any one would really bother to look around and notice, but other trans women like myself have been writing on this shit for a few years~

  130. Aura Hazel

    just my 2 cents worth on the radfem 2012 debacle, to be honest I’m sick of all the fighting too.

  131. Aura Hazel

    Also for the record most transfolks I know myself included think the cotton celing is a crock of shit wrapped up in a problematic term, wrapped up in a mess

  132. pheeno

    Ok, what the hell is the cotton ceiling? I’ve only heard the term recently, and frankly it screams male privilege.

  133. Friend of Snakes


    On March, 31st, 2012, Planned Parenthood Toronto, among other sponsors, hosted a one day conference, Pleasure and Possibilities, at the Sherbourne Health Centre, open to “people who identify as women who have sex with women.”

    One of the workshops offered was “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women.” Participation was described as limited to “all trans women and MAAB [male assigned at birth] genderqueer folks.”

    As might be imagined from the title, one of the issues to be discussed was why some (most?) lesbian women choose not to sleep with people with penises and testicles, as well as strategies to overcome this reluctance.


    Shit hits fan.

  134. Friend of Snakes

    Well dog forbid I should use the p-word and t-word. It’s put me in moderation, so I shall substitute “male-bodied.” Is that better? Alrighty then.


    On March, 31st, 2012, Planned Parenthood Toronto, among other sponsors, hosted a one day conference, Pleasure and Possibilities, at the Sherbourne Health Centre, open to “people who identify as women who have sex with women.”

    One of the workshops offered was “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women.” Participation was described as limited to “all trans women and MAAB [male assigned at birth] genderqueer folks.”

    As might be imagined from the title, one of the issues to be discussed was why some (most?) lesbian women choose not to sleep with male-bodied people and ways to “overcome” this reluctance.


    Shit hits fan.

  135. pheeno

    Yup. Male Privilege. Those women won’t fuck us, waaaaaah!! Make them!!!

  136. Lidon

    Wait, what?! A new way to manipulate and guilt lesbians into wanting dick. How touching. @ pheeno: And the mantrums ensue.

  137. Aura Hazel

    try reading the post before deciding I’m a creep please, in case it was missed my post was ranting against it and actively apologising. That theory has no support in our community. We consider the term problematic always did.

  138. Friend of Snakes

    Aura Hazel, you said: “That theory has no support in our community.”

    Oh really? When non-trans lesbian feminists began to discuss the prospect of this workshop and this outrageous, rapey-sounding point of view, the monolithic transgender response seemed quite the opposite of “no support.” Without exception, every trans comment I’ve read resorted to attacking the messengers.

    Can you point to any transgender blog where any trans woman said anything like, “Yo, that’s some seriously fucked-up, coercive-sounding, anti-woman bullshit being proposed. Saying that trans people are being victimized or oppressed by non-trans lesbians who are not interested in having sex with people with male bodies defies logic.”? Link, please.

  139. Aura Hazel

    did you actually read my blog? I did just that and apologised as best I could on behalf of others I spoke to who felt it was messed up, when I say no support I am talking from personal discussions with others in the uk trans community face to face, in persaon, because most don’t speak online anymore precisely because of stuff l;ike this., of the people I spoke to none said it wasn’t fucked up. I call bullshit when I see it, I don’t know what happenedb with some workshop in the states probably never will, and if invited I would not have attended. So please stop jumping down my throat as if I condoned it.

  140. pheeno

    That term is more than problematic. It’s a fucking rape joke disguised as cleverness.

  141. Friend of Snakes

    “did you actually read my blog?”
    I read what you linked to. It was about the UK conference, not about the term, “cotton ceiling.”
    I originally was responding to pheeno’s question.

  142. Robin

    She may have mixed up which post of hers she linked. This is the one she’s referring to:
    h ttp://unchainedaura.com/2012/06/02/the-fucking-cotton-celing-debate-again-or-put-the-whip-away-and-back-away-from-the-equine-carcass/

  143. pheeno

    Aura- it’s good that you recognize that term and the mentality behind it is atrocious, full of MP and rapey but you can’t apologize on behalf of other people. Their behavior isn’t under your control. You can call it out of course, and prevent yourself from contributing to it, but let them own their own misogyny.

    As we all know, tools of the P come in all varieties.

  144. Aura Hazel

    no somebody swapped posts and started commenting about another post I’d made, I write a lot on trans issues but also many other issues , I was just trying to adress the derail too.

  145. Danielle

    I find the new desperation of the RadFem WBW types comparable to Tea/Jebus reaction to queer progress. Seeing the number of Trans Womyn Belong Here t-shirts at MichFest seems to have had the same effect as Ellen at Penny’s or the rainbow Oreo had on the Questionable Number of Moms. I have wondered what RadFems would say to a woman who started her transition at 5 or 6, but there seems to be fear of that too. The cotton ceiling post is pretty obvious trolling, and it speaks to the quality of this blog that so few responded to it. Some feminists seem to be strangely comfortable with the tools of the master, but I’ve always looked for the commonalities in women’s lives. We’ve all been pushed around by the P, many of us have to engage in complicity to survive, but we’re not supposed to blame people for their history. Hell, I’m a bad lesbian ’cause I’ve been partnered to butches AND femmes. Sorry I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I’m new here, and I don’t lurk well when I get triggered.

  146. Kate

    Aura Hazel
    “Next they none too subtly hint that by not being a damn stereotype you are failing the real life test, if you refuse makeup on principle or horror of horror do not wax before appointments they tighten the requirements. By tightening the requirements I mean to positively victorian standards.
    If this fails to coerce you you had better pray you have no disabilities, ”

    Thanks for your take Aura Hazel it has made me change my views a little. I thought trans women were a little brainwashed taking on high heels and makeup as a performance of feminity. It seems that this is required by the medical profession so you can get medical treatment. That would make sense! That gender reassigning surgeons (usually male) would have a bunch of stereotypes about someone performing femininity before operating. Because many surgeons wives are pretty women who perform femininity and that is the default human female from their point of view. Although doctors should be treating the patient not imposing their world view.
    Is there no corner of the world free from these damn stereotypes and what is actually wrong with people being intersex. Surely a large number of humans should be allowed to be indeterminate without the culture putting male/female labels on us all.

  147. Obstreperella

    Transwomen are NOT obliged to perform femininity or face the consequences. No transwoman gets that role without fighting tooth and nail for it. Even then, it is regarded as more like vaudeville than serious performance.

  148. Actual Real Life Person

    Internalized lots of female socialization as a child. Grew up to despise a lot of “masculine” behavior and quickly identified with feminist causes. In high school, became too overwhelmed with dysphoria, retreated from society and almost killed myself before finally coming to terms with the fact that I had to transition. Refused to perform femininity in any way I was not personally comfortable with. Took four years to even get a script for HRT. Two of those were spent disproving that I was somehow schizophrenic. Ended up getting me sent to a facility for a little while before they finally gave up looking for symptoms that didn’t exist. By far the darkest years of my life, but I held up, never budged in my conviction that femininity is not what makes me a woman.

    Still don’t perform femininity in any way I’m not personally comfortable with because I’m just that down with feminism. I even agree with most radical theories on gender, I just know from personal experience that it does not work the way for trans people that most cis people think it does. Certain radfems still hate my guts because they have made up an entirely different narrative for my life, my feelings, my motivations. They demand that I justify my existence, and when I try, they stick their fingers in their ears and repeat ad nauseum. Trying to discuss my background with them has proven entirely futile and depressing, as they are not actually interested in learning from trans people.

    TERFs are bullshit.

  1. “Lesbian Erasure” as Code Talk for Trans Bashing « Women Born Transsexual

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