The embraceable hypocrisy of the sexist feminist

I’ve been a self-described feminist for most of my conscious life…that has produced some moments of dissonance.

What I have encountered often enough is being seen as male, and therefore not capable of being feminist.  This began when I was young, coming mostly from middle-aged women…like, ‘you can’t understand, you won’t understand, you’ll never understand’.  ‘Try me’, I used to think, finding the line of thinking both hypocritical and undermining.

A perceptive woman-friend of mine observed that if women simply had the ability to unify the way men do, to come together in a spirit of co-operation and without back-stabbing each other, they would rule the world.  A book I read recently and which I really enjoyed, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty, made a point which really resonated with me, and one which I intend to live by.  Being in solidarity with a woman, with women, is to not doubt her, to not second-guess her, to believe her assertions of discriminatory experience—that the act of solidarity at this stage is the most important of all.

I believe this.  The patriarchy will never be torn down if women-feminists and their supporters are not relentless in pushing for equality.  And relentless means querying everything, always, challenging, not letting things slide.  Exhausting.  But what is the alternative?

Men seem to have an instinctual certainty that other men, as long as it isn’t related to a woman’s love, will not backstab each other, but rather work together for a common purpose.  This makes it that much more challenging to dismantle the status quo.

I was speaking with a friend recently, a natural ally, a woman, and she referred to a male friend of hers as a ‘pussy’.  The context was a couple where the woman is by far the dominant bread winner.  I gave her a hard time about this, as I didn’t think it was appropriate language.  That it was propagating patriarchal thinking.

Boy, did that get me into hot water.  How dare I, someone who has only recently embodied the feminine experience correct a woman who has lived it her whole life?  I paraphrase, but that’s essentially what she said.  On the one hand, how quickly a biological woman can strip away a feeling of sorority with other women from a trans person is tragic. But more importantly, the kind of thinking that sits behind calling him a “pussy” for being dependent is worse than the use of the word in question, as if to say that “pussy” was somehow a derogatory term.

I was in the dog-house.  It was a real argument.  To her credit, she apologized fulsomely later.  But I can’t help but think, if our allies are so capable of saying and doing things which are just as sexist as a man might, then how fragile is our position?  As if to say, as a trans woman I have no rights, but if you are good and stay in your box, I will tolerate you in this female space.  I get it, we haven’t suffered in the same way as born women.  We tend to overlook what the suffering is that we go through.  [I discovered a few days later that the apology was a false apology].

I am tempted to say that we need our own third sex.  The third sex is all trans and intersex pople.  We are simply “other”, too complex and diverse to integrate into the binary.

It is beyond me why so many feminists don’t accept that men can be feminists too.  Isn’t feminism simply espousing equity for women?  You don’t have to be a tiger to want to save the tigers.  What’s the difference?  It is like the reader of this blog who called me ‘boy’ to put me down, despite knowing how I identify, only because she disagreed with me on this point.  

Does a man, or an ex-man being a feminist erase the very real pain and experience of women who have been marginalised their whole lives?  Does it somehow fall into the bucket of ‘now, you’re trying to take this from me too’?

I had a lovely chat with a new friend, and she expressed the anguish of women.  We were talking about how she found the term ‘cis’ offensive.  “I am a woman,” she said, “not a cis woman.  What is this?  Where did this name come from?  Why am I no longer good enough to just be a woman?  Who says I have to be ‘cis’.  I didn’t give permission to change what I am called.  Don’t forget that women lost their names in marriage, and most still do.  And now we can just be women?  We have to be renamed.”  It is a pretty powerful line of thinking.  She blamed the “transgender movement” for this label.  I don’t know.  I shall find out.  And if you know, please share.

And this is a microcosm of the bathroom debate—the idea that a new group is coming along to invade a personal and private female space.  To me, the external genitalia should decide…but in these days of gender expression, we don’t always know what’s up down there.  Just have to go on faith.  And what ass of a designer didn’t allocate more stalls to women’s rooms so there wasn’t always a queue to use it.  That is one aspect of crossing over that I don’t look forward to, it is so easy to pee standing up—clean, and quick.  And I am getting a kick out of standing at a urinal in a dress.  

There is just such an iconic photo in my mind. I inhabit it every time I go into a men’s room in a skirt to pee.

All of this leads me to believe that we all need to belong.  It is an innate human need.  To have a tribe, to feel part of a group.  We do this in every aspect of our lives.  By age, by sex, by gender, by orientation, by religion, by interest, in all aspects of our lives.  Well, being trans is a powerful one.  I don’t want to be something I’m not.  I reject masculine, male, men, masculinity.  I am not a full-blown woman.  I won’t be even after my surgery.  I wouldn’t be one even after having a uterus transplant…though this will come someday.

In other words, what does it mean to be a transgender woman, a transgender person?  I intend to figure it out.  But I also know I have a super power.  It is being trans.  What that means has to do with inhabiting a waiting room before gender.  It is not a coincidence that the dissonance we feel and also create in the world around us has led many cultures in history to regard us shamans, healers, spirits manifest.  Our existence speaks to a tear in the fabric of reality.  And my challenge is to explore it, to peak through the seam, to find it, to look behind the curtain.

I will be going to a training session on CBT* (how to perform it, not to receive it), not something I ever had any interest in, or would have willingly consented to, but I know that many men are attracted to this.  I wonder why.  Do I need to figure it out?  Probably.

*Cock and ball torture.  I believe it is a popular activity in the BDSM scene.  I have not experienced it (at least not much).  I think it is rather painful.  It is also super symbolic. Boys, are there any of you out there who are into this? No judgement, just curiosity. Please tell me what compels you to seek this out, to have your nuts abused by a woman, or a man, or anyone, if that is what excites you. We’d like to know.

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