I think the “women are mysterious” thing can also come from:
1) Women actually being quite clear, but not telling men what they want to hear. ”She said she doesn’t want to talk to me? So many mixed messages and confusing signals!”
2) Women not having cheat codes. ”I tried being nice, and she didn’t have sex with me. I tried being an asshole, and she didn’t have sex with me. Come on, there’s got to be some kind of solution to this puzzle!”
3) Women not being a hive mind. ”First a woman told me that she likes guys with big muscles. Then the very next day a woman told me she thinks muscles aren’t attractive at all. Make up your mind, women!”
4) An individual woman doing something confusing, and instead of asking “why is she doing this now?” men ask “why do women always do this?”
The number of “get me out of here” tactics women have developed and shared to help each other escape from overly-insistent-to-borderline-predatory dudes in public places should probably be enough evidence of the existence of rape culture all on its own.
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works.
The feminist movement is generally periodized into the so-called first, second and third waves of feminism. In the United States, the first wave is characterized by the suffragette movement; the second wave is characterized by the formation of the National Organization for Women, abortion rights politics, and the fight for the Equal Rights Amendments. Suddenly, during the third wave of feminism, women of colour make an appearance to transform feminism into a multicultural movement.
This periodization situates white middle-class women as the central historical agents to which women of colour attach themselves. However, if we were to recognize the agency of indigenous women in an account of feminist history, we might begin with 1492 when Native women collectively resisted colonization. This would allow us to see that there are multiple feminist histories emerging from multiple communities of colour which intersect at points and diverge in others. This would not negate the contributions made by white feminists, but would de-center them from our historicizing and analysis.
Indigenous feminism thus centers anti-colonial practice within its organizing. This is critical today when you have mainstream feminist groups supporting, for example, the US bombing of Afghanistan with the claim that this bombing will free women from the Taliban (apparently bombing women somehow liberates them).
Up until last year, I — as an intersex person — did ask that dyadic trans people use the terms AMAB/AFAB instead of CAMAB/CAFAB, on the argument that dyadic trans people are coercively socialized as their birth assigned gender but not coercively assigned at birth per se. The reasons for my change in position are as follows:
- First, I realized that AMAB and AFAB push trans people right back into the problem they were trying to solve when they coined CAMAB and CAFAB as replacements for the terms MTF and FTM. The stripped-down terms once again tie trans people to their birth assignment rather than their actual gender. In fact, AMAB and AFAB are even worse than MTF and FTM in terms of tacitly equating trans people with cis people of the same birth assignment.
- Second, I realized that intersex people as a whole were failing to acknowledge that dyadic trans people were doing us a big fucking favor in even considering giving up a big piece of their terminology at our request. Instead, more and more of us were simply deciding that we were somehow entitled to exclusive use of the terms we wanted, either by rewriting history to claim that trans people had “appropriated” from intersex people or by playing Oppression Olympics.
- Third, I realized that intersex people involved in these arguments were starting to blatantly move the goalposts by demanding that trans people change their terminology again by giving up “assigned” as well as “coercive”. Frankly, I see no reason to believe that this demand is being made in any sort of good faith; if trans people comply, they’re just going to get the “at birth” part pulled out from under them as well.
- Finally, I realized that the entire reason many intersex people were picking fights over this issue in the first place was not that they wanted dyadic privilege to be acknowledged, but because they thought of themselves as “normal” and trans people as mentally ill and/or perverts. That’s why they were acting like Apple Computer patent lawyers and going absolutely berserk at anything even vaguely resembling the “look and feel” of their claimed territory.
In light of those points, I found that I could not in good conscience continue to support any effort to seek the redefinition of CAMAB and CAFAB as exclusively intersex terms, regardless of any per se definitions. Any term which fails to emphasize the fact that trans people’s birth assignment is nonconsensual and forced misgenders trans people by grouping them with cis people on the other side of the gender spectrum, which makes both AMAB/AFAB and DMAB/DFAB actively harmful to trans people.
I see continued efforts to demarcate a “hard line” between trans and intersex to be horribly misguided at best, willfully malicious at worst, and utterly counterproductive regardless of motive. Trans rights and intersex rights are both fundamentally about reclaiming the right to bodily integrity by replacing involuntary treatment built around social compliance with voluntary treatment built around informed consent. We do not achieve freedom for anyone by prefacing it with institutional gatekeeping over who is entitled to autonomy and who doesn’t deserve it.
[Background context has been omitted for the sake of brevity. The full post can be read here.]
So this is what trust looks like.
Funny, my first thought was “So this is what the patriarchy looks like.”
It is. And that isn’t a bad thing.
Because as a lot of (trans exclusionary) radical feminists don’t understand, social constructs are not nonexistent. They aren’t inherently nonfunctional or inherently unreal. They aren’t nonconcrete and they aren’t divorced from having an effect on lived experiences and lived realities. Nor are they illusions. To think so is to fundamentally not understand what a social construct is.
For more examples, radical feminism is a social construct. The patriarchy is a social construct. Money is a social construct. Barter systems are a social construct. The internet is a social construct. Art is a social construct. Language is a social construct. All of these are social constructs.
So being a social construct really only tells you that something arose from society creating it. Plenty of concrete, high effect, extremely relevant and non illusionary things were created by society and arose from that. Science and the empirical method are social constructs, something terfs depend on quite a bit to hurt trans people (women the most of all).
So sex is a social construct and that doesn’t detract from it. So what does?
Well it’s a really bad social construct.
You see some socially constructed things are made really poorly. Perhaps they’re influenced by truly evil power dynamics and reify damaging power structures. Perhaps they’re arbitrary and aren’t based on very sound logic or reasoning. Perhaps they’re simply harmful in general or push inaccurate comprehensions of phenomena.
Dimorphic sex theory (which is what sex is used for as a shorthand) was created by biology (another social construct, a branch of the philosophical construct known as empirical science dedicated to describing the complex, self perpetuating, homostasis maintaining chemical systems we have labeled as life, ourselves included) to try to describe certain kinds of variation among living things that engage in reproduction that shares genes together and allows for a better survival rate (and faster evolution) by diversifying gene profiles.
It’s considered the primary alternative to asexual reproduction, most notable examples being binary fission, the method wherein bacteria create essentially clones of each other.
Although even this is a flawed understanding as many bacteria actually have methods of sharing genetic material and diversifying their profiles without being polymorphic (plasmid sharing) or with the barest minimum polymorphic aspects, for instance the + and - strains in certain algae species being the only differentiation present (and not markable as male or female based on current sex theory)
Now I know a lot of cis people haven’t gotten past the basics of biology, oversimplifications abounding, so I’ve already gone over a lot of people’s heads with this. But as you get into the heavier stuff, you find that things really don’t fit the basic oversimplifications you see in high school.
And in fact, a lot of the theoretical stuff doesn’t jibe well with sexual dimorphism at all.
In humans there are four zones of sexual “dimorphism”:
- Physical trait based
- Hormonal based
- Chromosomal based
- Gametes based
Physical trait based is the most absolutely flawed and arbitrary of the set and also happens to be the main one that terfs, conservative non feminists and general all around ignorant cis people depend on for their claims.
Physical traits vary so severely among humans that anyone who clinches onto breast development, body shape, hair presence or lack as a sign of female or male really shouldn’t even bother talking. So we’ll settle on talking about genitalia and reproductive systems, since those are the least absurd of the set of flawed bases for sexual dimorphism.
Reproductive systems also are prone to a lot of variation (enlarged clitorises, micropenises, internalized testicles, vaginal agensis, partial formation of a vulva, even full on mixture of aspects) and generally the cis people who cling to this type of sex dimorphic theory end up shitting all over intersex people and boosting the oppression they face (nonconsensual surgery, mistreatment, body policing, forced assignment based on arbitrary bullshit analysis of physical traits) by referring to these variations as “defects” and “deviations” from a “norm” (it’s actually not super normal to fully fit all the arbitrary markers of being purely male or female, variation in the reproductive system is pretty common, it’s just glossed over if no surgery is required to try to fit you into the boxes)
But there’s more flaws. Reproductive systems get modified. Human surgical knowledge has led to a lot of things being taken out of a reproductive system, often for things like cancers or injuries or functionality problem.
Does someone stop being female if you take out their uterus? Ovaries? If an injury permanently damages the function of either one & causes their removal to become necessary? If someone’s just sick of periods and isn’t interested in giving birth and has a hysterectomy? Not female anymore? Technically yes. By the physical traits system, they would stop being female.
Similar situation with the loss of testicles through injury or surgery. Orchiectomies are had by cis people, does that person stop being male? Absolutely, based on the arbitrary sex dimorphic system that TERFs and conservatives favor. A scientist would say, “technically yes” but since you’re depending on technicalities in the first place, who are you to dismiss that yes?
It’s quite simply transphobia.
And as you can see not a very good description of bodies in general. It leads to a lot of medical problems based on assumptions of what male and female means and especially causes medical problems for trans people, whose bodies often get substantially modified.
Hormonal is based on hormone functuations and levels and is almost never used by the transphobes so I won’t even address it.
Gamete based is set by the size of gametes, if you don’t have gametes, you aren’t male or female and the transphobes have the sense to avoid that one too. So we’ll be moving on from there.
Up next. Chromosomes.
Chromosomes are generally the fallback for TERFs and conservatives when the physical traits system of sex fails. Got your uterus out? Well you have XX so still female.
Except it doesn’t work like that. XX and XY are triggers for developmental paths. Not to mention the fact that there’s a lot of other chromosomal setups beyond the two, the fact is, all they are is triggers and storage for various genes and may or may not express.
Hormonal exposure and a host of other environmental factors can change what genes trigger what paths (there’s actually a switch further down the genetic line that can override your XX or XY presence for your path as well, it does so flawlessly and often isn’t easily detected). We’ve already discussed how the paths don’t often fit perfectly the idea of what XX and XY start off anyways but you can get the complete opposite. cisgender XX males and cisgender XY females do exist and constructing them as defects merely adds to their persecution without meaningfully dealing with the descriptive flaws in sex dimorphism theory.
Then of course, you have people (like TERFs) attempting to treat chromosomes as being sociologically relevant even though the mass majority of people don’t actually know what their chromosomes are.
That’s right, karyotyping is expensive and isn’t a standard operating procedure at birth. If you don’t even know for sure what your X’s and Y’s are doing, how can that be relevant to physicality, how can that affect how you’re treated in a sociological sense and how can you possibly depend on that as a fallback for determining sex?
The crux of the wrongness of sex dimorphic theory is, however, its origins. It was created along the same lines as much of early biology’s theories were created as they connected to humans. To oppress. To crush out difference and to crush down classes that needed to be dominated.
Sex dimorphic theory arose from anti intersex bigotry, misogyny and a latent form of cissexism based more around destroying gender variation (and highly related to a latent form of homophobia as gender variation and sexual partner variation were very closely linked in a lot of places).
It is used to encourage and empower all of those bigotries and currently used to harm not just trans people but dyadic cis women, queer folks, intersex folks and quite a large number of other folks.
So sex is a bad social construct and it should be done away with and replaced. If you even come close to calling yourself a feminist, you should already know this.
Do you guys remember that one post about how men feel entitled to take up so much space and women have to deal with a lot less?
This is actually a documented thing. You always see men on the subway or tube or whatever using both armrests while women sit with their arms hunched together into their laps. That’s why I always make a point to take up at least one if not both armrests of the tube so men can be uncomfortable for once.
It’s so true, this happens to me every day on the train. Same with the walking thing, women will weave out of the way whereas men just walk straight and plow down anything in their path. I always end up playing chicken with men on the sidewalk now, because I refuse to move out of their way.
I find this really fascinating because this actually what defines so-called masculine and feminine traits and gestures. The whole limp-wrist thing? That’s someone decreasing the amount of space they take up by not extending their arm fully. Same with crossing one’s legs, how it’s considered more masculine to swing your shoulders when you walk creating a wider gait instead of your hips, how someone who holds their elbows tightly into their torso instead of letting them fall more loosely at their sides is considered feminine.
Taking up space is not just a frequent habit of males in our culture, its actually how society thinks masculinity is supposed to be expressed.
This is my answer when people say eating disorders are personal problems and have nothing to do with sexism. Women are literally socialized to take up as little space as possible all day every day.
I have a little different perspective, being a crutch and wheelchair user. If I’m out somewhere, lets say a sidewalk, I don’t move for anyone. If I’m barreling down the sidewalk at my usual fast crutching pace, I expect you to get the fuck out of my way. Most people do because they have common courtesy or don’t wanna be smacked by crutches, but I’ve had a few problems, most with dudebro types. Or people who just stare at me like they’ve never seen a damn cripple before but that’s a different post.
Reblogging for the amaze commentary. Bolded for emphasis.
We often talk on Tumblr about making feminist spaces, but this isn’t just an abstract concept. We literally need to take up more space and claim them as feminist spaces.
Also, if anyone has a copy of the post OP mentions then I would super love to see it. Thanks!
When trans women are told that they need to stop being assertive and strong because it is a sign of male privilege - invariably by “feminists” who, of course, encourage cis women to be assertive and strong - that’s transmisogyny.
When trans women are pressured into being silent, rarely offering their opinion, and refusing leadership roles for fear of being seen as male or accused of having male privilege, that’s transmisogyny.
When trans women are afraid to analyze or discuss the role of male privilege in their life because of the way accusations of male privilege have been used as weapons to silence, shame, and misgender trans women, that’s transmisogyny.
When trans women do analyze and discuss the role of male privilege in their lives and come to different conclusions than the dominant cis feminist perspective and are told it is because they simply don’t understand privilege or are ignorant of feminism, that’s transmisogyny.
|—||Tobi Hill-Meyer, “What Transmisogyny Looks Like”|
Listen ladies, when guys are upset to be in the friendzone, most of the time it’s because they wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with you, NOT just because they wanted to stick their p in your v. They are entitled to be fucking disappointed in the same way you would be disappointed if someone you had a crush on wasn’t interested in you. Which, given some of your fucking attitudes, probably happens all the time.
LOL, it’s telling that you use the word ‘entitled’ because that’s what the friendzone is about; men feeling entitled to a woman’s time or body. That is also why it’s such a revolting and offensive concept.
Secondly, most women aren’t ‘disappointed’ when they find out a crush doesn’t like them back*. Disappointment implies expectation. Disappointment is the feeling of being sad because you thought you deserved or were owed something, but you didn’t get it. That’s why the friendzone is disgusting. That’s why it’s an insidious manifestation of rape culture. Because it’s about men pursuing women with a feeling of expectation and entitlement, and then behaving like whiny little shits when they get told no**.
The words you use are very telling. And not in a good way.
[*They might feel rejected or sad, but they get over it because in society when a man says no that’s final, but when a woman says no it’s time for negotiations to start (that last bit is paraphrased from an amazing quote here).]
[** Although to be fair women don’t even say ‘no’ outright because they know it’s safer to let men down gently. They say things like ‘I think of you more as a friend’ which is how the friendzone got its name - from the very passive version of ‘no’ that women are forced to give.]
The reason I’ve stopped saying “most men/some white people/many straight people do X oppressive activity” is because if you’re a member of those groups, I want you to sit there and think, “do I do X? am I a part of that? am I an active part of the problem?”
If I say that only most or some people in those groups participates in X, that’s letting you off the hook! that means that you’re not asked to think about your actions and choices!
And besides, even if you yourself aren’t doing X, chances are you know at least five people who do. And I want you to think about them too.
Went in with bell hooks about black womanhood, gender policing, trans women of color, desire, self-love and so much more during our intimate conversation at Ohio State University. It was organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Multicultural Center and titled, "Gender Policing & the Politics of Defining Womanhood."
Last night, upon our first meeting, I gave bell my book Redefining Realness, and she surprised me at breakfast this AM by having read the entire book. She actually read passages to the audience! It was a transformative experience for both of us, as black women from different generations and experiences to share stories, insights and thoughts.