autobiographical

Mother’s Makeup

She would not leave the house without her makeup.

Whether to work or the bank or the 7-11 to buy cigarettes, makeup was not optional. My brother and I would question her and prod her about this, being impatient as children often are. She never really gave a reason why but never wavered in her need to hide herself until the makeup was applied.

She wore frosted pink lipstick, cream blush in a peachy shade, brown or green eye shadow, mascara.  All of this on top of foundation intended to disguise her freckled complexion. There was no shortcut, it all had to be in place.

My grandmother, her mother, was demanding and judgmental about female beauty and thinness. There was no pleasing her. By the time I was old enough to be developing my own self image, I had already inferred from the two of them that everything about us all was inherently wrong and shameful.  Whether it was the thigh that was too thick, the hair that was unruly, the unfashionable or classless choice of clothing, nothing was ever good enough. I never expected to like the way I looked, and I didn’t.

My mother berated herself as a rule. One day I realized her mother’s voice spoke through her even as she spoke to herself and to me. My mother rarely spoke negatively to me of my own appearance, but when she did it was framed in terms such as “grandma would not approve.” I sometimes wondered what my great grandmother must have said to her daughter.

I threw away all my makeup years ago. I will not allow my grandmother will not speak through me.

Standard
satire

I am Binary Woman

I am Binary Woman.

I was born female and embrace the gender woman. I am privileged to be able to embrace the gender that corresponds to my sex, unlike the non-binary people among us who have their own individual personalities that do not correspond to the gender assigned to their sex. How troublesome that must be for them.

I express myself in exactly the way that is expected of me.  I love makeup, dresses, high heels, and getting my long, luxurious hair styled.  I make sure to keep my figure in a shape that will be pleasing to the male gaze, because this is the most important thing a woman can do, aside from bearing his children, caring for them, and cleaning up after them.

As a binary woman, I know my place. I do not work; that is a man’s place. My realm is the home. I cook and clean and I love it. My life is my husband and children. I have no desires other than to serve them.

When I dress myself, I do so for the pleasure of men. My comfort is not a consideration. Although my podiatrist advises me to stop, I continue to wear high heels because they make me look more sexually appealing. I do not need mobility. When a man compliments me on the street, I know I am fulfilling my role as binary woman.

If I were pregnant and the only way to save my life was to terminate the pregnancy, I would not do it. The progeny of my husband is more important than my own life. I would gladly sacrifice all I have to him, and I have. All of my interests are related to pleasing him and being pleasing and accommodating to men in general. I defer to men to show me the way because I am binary woman and I embrace my gender role.

After our second child, I noticed my body was not as youthful looking as men prefer, so I had a tummy tuck and got breast implants. Having large perky breasts and a flat stomach is very important to my gender expression. I make sure never to allow any hair to grow on my body aside from my head.  Binary women don’t have body hair.

Even when I am exhausted and hungry, I prioritize diet and exercise because a binary woman must be thin and toned or she is a failure.

I am terrible at math and driving. I’m much better at floral arranging and being a good listener. I am never aggressive or assertive. When I do become emotional, I know it is just my hysterical hormones and I look to my husband to tell  me how I really feel. If we ever disagree, I defer to him because I know I must be wrong. Binary women never question men.

I acknowledge my binary privilege because I defer to males to explain to me what it means to be a woman.

Standard
feminism

All the Changes

I think I might lack the constancy to be writing or blogging at all.  I change my mind too much.  I read old opinion pieces I wrote and think, oh god did I really write this?  Maybe I should stick to autobiographical retelling of the past.  But I’m not going to do that, because I have opinions and they want to be written.

Why do we demonize changing our minds?  Unless you are willing to change your opinions when new facts present themselves, your opinions are nothing more than religious-like faith, based on your true belief you are right about everything right now.  Nobody is right about everything so that’s a delusional position in and of itself.

Why do we call politicians who adapt their platforms “flip-floppers?”  Certainly sometimes they do it for political purposes, but if they do it because they learned something and evolved their position, isn’t that a positive?

I got banned by a couple intersectional liberal feminist Facebook pages and chastized on others for cis-sexist transantagonist TERF-i-ness.  Here’s the really funny thing about this: before I was called “TERF” (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) for saying something about female biology in relation to a post about abortion (the horror), I had never heard of Radical Feminism in any capacity.

My sort of feminism, and I have long embraced the term, was always the liberal kind, but no longer.  I believe that sex is real.  Male and female are real biological categories with different reproductive roles.

Amazingly, that one little statement I made there about reproductive biology makes me a “TERF.”  It apparently means I hate transwomen and want to erase them from the universe.

That is really an incredible leap to make, isn’t it? If I think that there are important differences between being a female and being a male, and between being raised as a girl and being raised as a boy, that means I’m a bigot.

Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean I want to murder transpeople.

My current thoughts regarding gender are as follows***:

Gender is not Sex.

Sex is the reality of bodies.  People are male, female, and some are intersex.  The majority of humans are male and female.  Female bodies are presumed to be capable of reproduction.  Some are not, but when you are born a female, the things you are taught to believe about yourself and the world will be based in the assumption you can give birth.  When you are born male, there is no possibility you will ever give birth and it is assumed you can impregnate females.

Gender is the role assigned to humans based on sex (or in the case of intersex, assigned sex).  Some people say all sex is assigned, but I don’t buy that.  The great majority of humans are male or female and never question their sex or feel incorrectly categorized.  Only in intersex cases is sex assigned.  Woman is the role assigned to adult human females.  Man is the role assigned to adult human males.

Gender roles vary from culture to culture.  Woman and man have distinct assigned roles from clothing to personality to strengths and weaknesses to favorite colors.  Gender roles evolve and expand and contract.  There is nothing about having a male or female body that makes a person like pink or blue.

If a man wants to wear makeup he is breaking his gender role.  He is not conforming to the role assigned to him by society and he will be punished for it.  If a woman does not want to be a mother and she’d rather be a truck driver, she is not conforming to the role society assigned to her and she will be punished for it.  This is wrong.  Men should be able to like pink and care for children and women should be able to never get married and eschew high heels.

If a male child likes pink ponies, that does not mean he is a girl.

Nobody who believes that gender is an innate identity is willing to describe it.  We are told that if a person feels like they are a woman, they are.  End of story.  But nobody will say what that feels like.  If a male person feels like the social construct woman and he wants to be seen as a woman that is his life and I support that.  The world is difficult to navigate for all of us and we have to do what we need to in each of our lives.  Nobody needs my permission anyway, but that’s how I feel about it.

I wish we lived in a world where there were no gender roles.  Nobody should be abused or discriminated against for who they are.

Nor do I think that transwomen are evil men pretending to be women for sexual kicks, like a lot of radical feminists believe. I’m sure there are some men doing exactly that, because men.  But I don’t think it’s fair to extend that to every transwoman.  Every group has it’s bad apples.  I would not want to be assumed to be the same as a lot of women just because we share the same sex and gender.

My body matters to me.  My experience of being a woman is through my female body.  Breasts, uterus, vagina, curvy shape, there is nothing androgynous about me.  At the same time, I don’t care for makeup, being subservient, dependent, maternal, demure, delicate, etc.  I don’t want to be a man though, I want to be a different kind of woman.  I think that’s what gets so many of us who feel a dubious about every boy who likes pink ponies being considered “transgender”.  Are we really giving up on abolishing gender roles?  Are we really giving in to the idea that if you don’t want to do “woman things” you are not a woman?  I guess so.  I mean, that’s what has happened.

My experience of life is deeply tied to being female.  My body is not “parts” and “plumbing”.  When I see the female reproductive system referred to as “plumbing” on feminist pages, I bristle.  When I read an article posted by a mainstream feminist page that purports that “menstruation isn’t inherently female.” I feel like Alice in Wonderland.  When I am told that it is “cis-sexist” to talk about reproductive rights as a War on Women, I know I am not one of them anymore.

Also, just a note about sexuality.  Nobody is obligated to be sexually attracted to anybody.  I, a heterosexual woman, am only attracted to male-bodied men.  Nobody has the right to tell me who to be sexually attracted to.  Nobody has the right to tell a lesbian she should allow a penis in her vagina just because the penis is attached to someone who identifies as a woman.  I can’t even believe this is something I had to say.

My feminism does not include encouraging and fostering an environment where people with penises can coerce and abuse women.

My feminism does not include silencing women for having a different opinion.  I disagree with every single thing Sarah Palin has ever said or done, but she should be allowed to speak. Though I disagree that there’s nothing inherently female about menstruating, I want that person to be allowed to say that.

My feminism does not include pretending sex isn’t real.  It is real.

I have left the liberal intersectional label behind.  I wanted to stay and discuss these issues from within, but it was not allowed.  I was shouted down.  I was blocked.  I was threatened and insulted.  So I went elsewhere.  I read new points of view. I realized I was not alone by any stretch. I changed my mind. I found out that not all transpeople agree with those intersectional liberal feminists.  Transactivists are silencing not just women, but transwomen as well.  I will never support that.

***subject to change

Standard
autobiographical

Fifteen Years

I only have one cat now. I used to have two but a few months ago, the older cat died. He was fifteen but I am still very sad. I am keenly aware that I am experiencing this mourning as one half. I still think of my two cats as one entity, two halves of a pair. So in a way, it’s almost like the cat who died is still here.  I have lost half, but not all.  When the other cat dies, I think I will be a lot sadder, and that’s a little frightening because I’m pretty sad.

Right now, my cat is rolling around on the floor looking like a beached whale. He has almost enough personality for two. I’m glad he didn’t go first because the other cat was the needy one. I think my living cat might prefer being an only cat, in all honesty. I often wish he could tell me.

Fifteen years is a long time. Fifteen years ago I was 21 and living in Massachusetts in a 3 bedroom apartment with 4 other people. It’s hard to conceive that that person was me, and I am still me. It seems like another planet, a chapter in a book. I have old journals from then, sealed up in a box that I am afraid to open. For some reason I do not want to revisit any of that past. I cringe with embarrassment just thinking about it. Feeling sad at age 36 is uncomfortable, but not impossible. At 21 I did not feel sad, I felt a sworling vortex of despair. Or so my vague memories tell me. I could read what I wrote and find out, and I will someday, but not yet.

I wonder if other people forget all the incredibly stupid, selfish, ill-conceived, dangerous things they did in their youth and that’s why people my age seem to have become incredibly judgmental and self-righteous. Sometimes I really do wonder if having children destroys the part of your brain that remembers what it is like to be young. I know those very same self-righteous judging people did the stupid, selfish, ill-conceived dangerous things, whether they remember or not. I remember.

I have this theory that every single person, self included, has at least one belief that is just 100% wrong and they have no idea about it. Think about it. When someone is wrong, they don’t know it so why would you? And whatever it is, it’s something big.

Fifteen years ago tonight. We were probably sitting around the table in our kitchen, which served as our living room since the living room was used as a bedroom. We were probably drinking, smoking pot, and playing Rummy. Or maybe tonight was the night we went to that party and he got drunk and/or lost his shit.  Maybe, fifteen years ago tonight, was the night that my best friend, whose life felt so intertwined with my own as to be indivisible, confessed he had knocked her to the ground before. And when he got home from the party where he had caused the scene, he used his knives and swords to slash up our furniture before pinning her to the wall by her throat. Lesson 1: never trust a man with a knife collection.

All this and more is all recorded in my box of journals that I kept religiously from age 15 to 25. What an age to choose to record. Maybe in another fifteen years, I will be ready to visit my past again, but then, maybe in fifteen years, I won’t want to look at today.

Standard
writing

A woman has a penis
Woman is female
Penis is female
Penis in vagina is lesbian

A man has a uterus
Man is male
Uterus is male
Abortion is a men’s issue

Bodies aren’t important
Sex is not gender
Yet to treat transgender
Surgery and hormones
Edit the body to appear the other sex

Woman is an internal feeling
Woman is not a social construct
Woman is the nature of your brain
Woman is as woman is seen
Women who do not conform do not exist

Female bodies do not matter
Female experience does not matter
Female desires do not matter
Males have named us and our name is “Cis”

Misadventures in Genderland

Aside
feminism

Men’s Rights to be the Center of All Attention Always

I follow a lot of feminist blogs, facebook pages, IG accounts and the like.  Men follow these pages too.  A small percentage of them follow because they are supportive, intellectually curious, or they totally get it and they are feminists themselves.  But unfortunately, most of the men who follow are there simply to impose themselves, to take over the conversation, and basically to prove the need for the existence of feminism.  Ironically, they don’t realize this is what they are doing.

Ironically, they have no idea that every time they make some comment about women falsely accusing men of rape or women provoking abuse and violence, or women being heartless slut bitch cunt whores, they make our point.  If you threaten women with rape and abuse in an attempt to prove that feminism is unnecessary, you may want to re-think your strategy.

These men are so blinded by their male privilege, they think it perfectly righteous to defend their need to have everything be about them at all times always.  They think that when women are talking about the harassment we face simply trying to walk down the street, that would be a good time to tell us about that time a woman was mean to them when they tried to “compliment” her.  When we talk about the things that men have done to us in our own experiences, they can’t just listen.  They simply must proclaim “NOT ALL MEN” or accuse us of exaggerating or imagining these things.

I’ve seen the laundry list of complaints the Men’s Rights Movement has made about the horrible plight of men.  Some of the concerns are legitimate.  Most are not.  None are the fault of women or feminism, yet women and feminism are the target of all the MRM’s vitriol.

For example, they believe they are not given a fair shake in custody court.  Okay, that seems like a crappy thing.  Custody should be decided not on the basis of gender, but on the basis of the best interests of the child.  Sometimes the father is the more suitable parent.  This is a feminist position as well.  Yes, that’s right, feminism is about not making decisions on the basis of gender.  So what should be done about it?  I’m no lawyer or expert in legal matters, so I’m honestly not sure how we can change this if it is indeed a systemic problem.  But I do know one thing: feminists did not make it this way.

Child-rearing has been “women’s work” forever.  That’s the patriarchal set-up.  Women raise children and do housework, men work and make money.  Don’t like that?  Me neither.  That’s why I am a feminist.  The idea that somehow feminists created this situation is some very twisted logic indeed.

They point to the dismal statistics about how many men get custody of their children, but they miss one vital point: How many men try to get custody of their children?  My father didn’t, even though he would have been a more suitable parent than my schizophrenic drug-addicted mother.  I guess children would have put a damper on his relationship with his new younger girlfriend.  My boyfriend’s father didn’t.  He ran off and never even attempted to contact his son again.  In my life today, I know one man my age who has divorced his wife and complains about what a horrible mother she is.  Even he did not try to get custody.  Complain as he might, it’s pretty obvious he benefits from having her care for the kids while he meets new women and lives the single bachelor life.

Before we can have a meaningful statistic about how many men get custody of their children, we need to have men who actually try.  Hey, I’ve seen Teen Mom.  NONE of those dads wants custody of their kids.  The moms are lucky if the guy even wants visitation.

I’m sure there are some men who have tried to get custody and failed and I’m sure there are some judges who are prejudiced against them.  That’s our unfortunate legal situation for ya.  We have prejudiced judges making life-altering decisions.  It’s wrong for sure.  I’m not sure it’s as widespread as the MRAs think, but if it’s happening it’s wrong and we should do something about it.

That’s just one example, but I truly feel that the concerns that MRAs claim to have that are legitimate are concerns echoed by feminists.  We could be working together on those.

But I don’t honestly believe that the MRM exists to try to improve the lives of men.  No, I’ve read enough of their forums and blogs to see what they are.  They are a hate group plain and simple.  They are to women what the KKK is to black people.  They try to cover this up in language about discrimination toward men, but it’s pretty fucking obvious when you interact with them that the base argument is that they hate women and despise the idea that they are being asked to treat us like equal humans.

If they were honest with themselves, they would see that their “movement” is about trying to hang onto the privilege men have so long enjoyed.  They cannot stand that straight, white, heterosexual men aren’t the center of attention at all times everywhere always.  And they experience the loss of this privilege as discrimination.

Because when you’ve had an unfair advantage for all of human history and you see it being dismantled, I guess the reaction is to rail against that.  Nobody wants to give up their privileges, even if they are undeserved.

So they insert themselves into feminist spaces, take over conversations about women’s issues, and turn the subject back to themselves.  They are only comfortable when they are the center.  Because they don’t know any different and lack the self-reflection to see what they are doing for what it really is.  I think some of these guys believe in their cause.  I think some of them are probably decent people somewhere in there.  I think many of them are victims of the same patriarchal system feminists have been trying to dismantle for decades.

We could be working together, but their blindness to their male privilege won’t allow it.

An MRA is like a person with a stubbed toe coming into an ICU filled with people with life-threatening and debilitating injuries and screaming “BUT WHAT ABOUT MY TOE!??!?!  WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MY TOE NOW!!!”

Standard
feminism

“Resting B*tch Face”

There is no such thing.

Women aren’t obligated to smile constantly or always seem to be holding a pleasant happy thought in our heads.

When a man doesn’t smile, or he looks serious, or contemplative, or even mean or angry, we don’t call that anything. It is simply one of many emotions within the wide range of possible human emotions.  Men are not expected to maintain only pleasant thoughts and feelings at every waking moment. But because women are expected to always be warm, welcoming, happy, and accommodating, when a woman doesn’t smile we make up a derogatory term for it.

RBF: Resting B*tch Face

There is no such thing.

Standard