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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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