This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 18 April 2013.
I’m typing this post up, just as Louisa Wall’s Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill has been made law by a 77-40-something vote. (I may also have been drinking a liiiiiiiiiittle bit of cider.)
And I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have to ask: what’s next?
Jami-Lee Ross made comments about our abortion laws in his speech – which is fantastic, because it says he doesn’t fear the word. But he talked about it being decriminalized – and it isn’t, really. Do we dare go there?
And as Steve Grey spelled out in his recent post here, there’s a lot m0re going on for queer/LGBT/QUILTBAG folk in NZ than just the right to marry.
Marriage equality means we’ve finally recognised in law that same-sex two-person relationships are equal to heterosexual two-person relationships. But what about poly people? What about genderqueer people who don’t want to be assigned to one of two categories? And what about the continuing violence and oppression and consequent self-harm of our young queer people?
In Parliament tonight, MPs spoke about takataapui, about transgender people no longer being forced to divorce, about intersex people. There’s a lot more issues out there, and being able to call yourself a bride (because contrary to popular fundy bigot belief, a lot of queer people do use words like wife and husband and bride and groom) is just one step on the path to really accepting allthe wonderful and diverse loving relationships that New Zealanders are involved in.
Tonight, I’m drinking celebratory cider. Tomorrow, we need to take the next steps.
I highly recommend lprent’s post on the best speeches so far at The Standard, and would add Mojo Mathers’, which seriously made me cry.
Human rights issues for queer, trans and intersex people in New Zealand
Early next year New Zealand will appear before other countries at the United Nations (UN) for its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). They will question NZ about its overall human rights performance.
The voices of community groups are a vital part of this process. The Human Rights Commission is currently holding some workshops around the country about how to use the UPR process (and reporting against UN Conventions) to profile the issues important to your communities. More details about the UPR process and these workshop dates are on the Commission’s website here:http://www.hrc.co.nz/international-human-rights-new/faqs-for-upr-1314
Using the UPR process to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex issues
The Commission has organised a follow-up meeting for people wanting to make UPR submissions on intersex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity issues.
Thursday, April 18, 6-7.30pm, Level 1, Vector House, 44 The Terrace, Wellington
This is an event run by the Human Rights Commission. Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley would like to provide support our local community to attend. Our LGBTIQ team staff members Kate and Rosie will be attending and we would love to see you there.
Full details at On a long enough timeline, everything changes
H/T somebody on Twitter.
[Content warning: transphobia, silencing, white cis women’s tears]
Note: since drafting this piece, the Observer and thus the Guardian have taken down Burchill’s piece with this editor’s note attached:
We have decided to withdraw from publication the Julie Burchill comment piece ‘Transsexuals should cut it out’. The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues within what had become a highly-charged debate. The Observer is a paper which prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views. On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers’ Editor will report on these issues at greater length.
Which is so many levels of bullshit it’s not even funny, but also straight from the “I wanted to bump pageviews by offending people, just not this much” mainstream media apology handbook.
Or as @cnlester put it,
Observer’s statement totally meaningless – Burchill’s hate-fest can’t possibly be described as “an attempt to explore contentious issues”.
At least, that’s the spin Julie Burchill is putting on the backlash against Suzanne Moore’s decision to associate the “perfect body” which women are supposed to aspire to with that of “a Brazilian transsexual”.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt as a relatively-privileged feminist blogger? Just stay the fuck away from analogies. Just don’t go there. If it’s not a system of oppression you yourself experience, don’t appropriate it to discuss your own issues.
This is why you’ll frequently see me use square brackets and “insert racial group here!” phrasing when I’m trying to explain why something is fucked up. Because to say “this is just like what happened to Maaori” or “this is just like when people attack Muslims” or “I feel the same way lesbians feel” isn’t just a giant can of actually-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-talking-about worms, it’s also just fucking pathetic.
I’m quite capable of explaining bullshit like the pay gap and workplace sexual harassment and the lack of availability of abortion in New Zealand without co-opting the struggles of other groups and pretending our issues are totally the same.
Then I stop and remind myself that the issue with Suzanne Moore’s piece is that she isn’t co-opting the struggle of trans people in Brazil. She’s erasing their struggle by using a stereotype. Hey, you may be denied basic human rights and run a massively higher risk of getting murdered than cis people, but at least you look hot, right?
Suzanne Moore treated trans women like they were cookie-cutter male fantasies in order to inspire solidarity among cis women, and she and her good pal Julie Burchill are going to talk about being bullied?
Julie Burchill is literally going to type the words “vociferous transsexual lobby”? Yeah, there’s a powerful group whose influence on global politics needs to be critically examined.
What’s especially bitterly hilarious is how Burchill’s whole argument in defence of Moore is exactly the same silencing, bullying shit which spawned second-wave western feminism out of leftwing activism – “stop talking about your silly little issues, focus on the big picture, we need to fight the real enemy together.”
I’m pretty sure that for a lot of trans people, the “real enemy” definitely includes being used as stereotyped punchlines by mainstream feminists while the actual risks of oppression and violence they face get swept under the carpet.
Oh, and making hilarious comments about “having your cock cut off” in an article headlined “Transexuals should cut it out”? Pretending that you don’t understand the issues around the word “sh*m***”? Yeah, that’s fucking classy, Julie Burchill. And not at all belittling, bullying, or silencing.
But that’s okay. I understand the deep bonds that exist between white cis women who have Bolly for lunch together. You had a moral duty to put those trans people in their place. I guess the real tragedy is they won’t even realise you’ve told them to shut up for their own good, right?
Related reading: @auntysarah on Twitter has created a version of Burchill’s column with the transphobic bits taken out; Paris Lees has written an open letter to Suzanne Moore in response to both her and Burchill’s comments; Sianushka has sent a letter to the Observer about their printing of transphobic language
[Trigger warning: transphobia in the judicial system]
Judge Duncan Harvey has decided that a trans woman will serve her prison sentence in a men’s prison.
The bit which just highlights how repugnant this is?
Her sentence is 2 years, 1 month.
If it were under 2 years, she could serve home detention.
But Judge Harvey decided to just “reduce” her sentence:
in recognition of the difficulties she would have in serving her sentence in a men’s prison.
So he recognises that she’ll have “difficulties” (vomit) in a male prison. He’ll reduce her sentence a little bit because of that. But he just can’t reduce it that 1 extra month which would mean she could serve home detention and not face “difficulties” like, oh, violent physical assault.
Fuck you, Judge Harvey.
Props however to the Northern Advocate for gendering her correctly.
[Trigger warning: links include discussion of transphobia, mainstream Feminist silencing tactics and more than your recommended daily intake of cis/white women’s tears.]
I think if we’ve learned anything from the internet it’s that when white cis feminists on “mainstream”/large/established blogs commit massive fail, it only gets worse when they try to apologise (admittedly, a large number never get to the apologising stage, so hey, points for effort!)
Thus it is with Julie’s “apology” (yep, scare quoted it) at The Hand Mirror, where those commenters who didn’t get to show their own pantlessness in the original debacle decided to make the most of their second chance.
Let’s start with Scuba Nurse, who is totally sure they don’t allow abusive comments, and then happily conflates “abuse” with “disagreement”:
Offensive comments: As far as I know, we do allow comments as long as they do not personally attack anyone, are abusive or demeaning.
We have allowed several people making some comments I found exceptionally offensive because of my personal viewpoint on their beliefs around abortion, women’s clothing choices, racism etc etc. The trans-phobia discussions are certainly not the first time we have had differing opinions debating.
QoT’s Words of Wisdom: Commenters stating “I refuse to consider calling a specific trans woman a guy transphobic because I don’t think it is” is simultaneously personal, abusive and demeaning! Pretending that “”guy” is just a gender-neutral word!” is a matter of “differing opinions” which exists in a complete vacuum unaffected by cisgender privilege is douchey!
QoT’s Words of Wisdom: This is hardly the first fucking time transphobic shit (not to mention misogyny, rape apologism, abuse apologism or general lack of moderating) has come up on The Hand Mirror. You had your chance to figure this shit out [and as demonstrated below, you’ve got a pretty fucking clear commenting policy which should have provided you all with a damn clue]. Instead you chose personal comfort over calling out a cis woman’s massive disrespect and triggering behaviour of trans women. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
George returns! Can you smell the fail already?
Don’t beat yourself up Julie. No one made any personal swipes at anyone, no one defamed anyone…quite frankly I think it was a huge misunderstanding based on the lack of voice intonation and body language on the internet.
TURN UP NEXT TIME EVERYONE! That’s the lesson here. :) If you want a say in the kaupapa of an event, then come along and be part of it.
QoT’s Words of Wisdom: You know what, George? That nice apology I snipped out of the middle of your comment would’ve been marvellous if it weren’t bookended by the above assholery, in which you declared your version of how things occurred (guess what? The women you were an asshat to probably disagree! But gaslighting is so much easier when the thread is conveniently no longer visible …), continued to tone argument people, and finished off with a good ol’ tip of the hat to “if you don’t participate you can’t complain!”
People don’t actually have to show up to events which they find problematic and which because of you they do not feel safe at in order to express their opinions.
Julie clarifies that actually she wasn’t even apologising for the thing she should have been apologising for:
I haven’t addressed it because that wasn’t how I was thinking of it – as a stuff up involving transphobia – I was thinking of it as a stuff up of moderation. However I can see from this discussion that that was a mistake on my part – the stuff up is intrisincally related to the subject matter of the thread. Again, another useful aha moment for me, thanks.
Of course I think I’m not transphobic. I imagine Enoch Powell didn’t think he was racist either. And this has been a case where I’ve been blind to my own ignorance (of trans issues) and blind to my own prejudicies (of assuming cis as the default and not even seeing that I was choosing sides that lined up with cis versus trans until someone pointed it out).
QoT’s Words of Wisdom: Your self-education could also involve a 101 primer on ableist language, Julie! As for Enoch Powell? Probably entirely aware he was racist, actually, just probably didn’t see a problem with it. That’s how a lot of racism works.
I can tell this seems a lot like I’m having a go at Julie. That’s because I am. I really, really struggle with the notion that a person who has been part of one of the oldest, best-established feminist blogs in New Zealand, who is politically aware and internet savvy and has had the issues people have with The Hand Mirror’s moderation brought up to her on multiple occasions, is meant to be given a pass because she’s so busy, she chose to moderate while in a bad mood, she totally didn’t mean to thank people by saying she appreciated their efforts and found their contributions really useful, she thinks she totally moderates blatant transphobia but oops, maybe her definition of blatant is different to others’ because she’s so new at all this.*
Not buying it, sorry.
But the supreme award for fail simply must go to Stef.
I missed the details of this bust up (yet again) but I feel that comments that THM needs to be this that or the other thing fucking obnoxious as I do bitchy comments that it’s only a blog about cupcakes and THM doesn’t do feminism properly. Seems to me part of this (not scar’s comments) is about new bloggers trying to get a rep and followers by picking on one of the big players and THM is so mainstream yada yada that it needs to be taken down a peg or two. Seen it happen in far too many online communities to give it much more thought than that. *yawn*
QoT’s Words of Wisdom: Are you twelve fucking years old, Stef? “They just hate us ’cause we’re so cool, mm-hmm, pass the fruit-scented lip gloss, omg I’m so, like, over this whole thing, right, they’re like, so jealous, omg.” is your actual argument? With bonus passive-aggressive not-naming-names-because-they’re-only-doing-it-for-attention?
For those unable to see the original post, Stef is probably talking about Octavia and Scar. They’re either two Kiwi women with relatively newish blogs who think transphobia is fucking awful and should be called out, and aren’t afraid to go into spaces they perceive as inherently unsafe and call out blatant misgendering and privileging of cis women’s opinions and feelings, and an acknowledged moderation method based on Who Is Annoying Julie Right Now, where it is acknowledged that moderator comments thanked and privileged people who were being silencing and personal and transphobic …
… or they’re just, like, totally ~desperate~ for ~attention~ and can’t handle that The Hand Mirror didn’t invite them to the after-prom party.
I find the latter to be a completely convincing argument.
But it’s their blog, their rules!
A final point a lot of the defenders are bringing up is “HDU tell the Hand Mirror writers how to moderate their blog! They can do what they want!”
And this is a very valid point. God knows I’m a huge fan myself of telling people to fuck off and make their own blogs if they want to do [insert obnoxious behaviour].
But here’s the problem.
The Hand Mirror does not anywhere state, “This is not a safe space for trans* people and gendered language and silencing tactics will not be moderated.”
Their commenting policy does say abusive comments or links to abusive posts will be deleted – yet moderators basically encouraged people to continue posts at their own sites,which was read by at least one commenter as saying “you have to go deal with [commenter who was accused of transphobia] at his own blog where he will probably continue to be transphobic at you but we don’t care about that.”
The commenting policy does say, “Disagreement should be written in a manner that does not demean either party.” But this was clearly not interpreted by anyone at the Hand Mirorr as do not refer to a trans woman as a “tough guy”, nor do not tell trans women that they shouldn’t be offended because “guy” is a totes gender neutral term.
And the explicit stated purpose of their comment policy is:
We want this to be a safe space for women, and indeed for those who are othered in an internet (and political) culture dominated by white heterosexual men of comfortable income and right-wing politics.
Scar and other commenters aren’t actually holding The Hand Mirror to any higher standard than The Hand Mirror’s writers have already set for themselves. If The Hand Mirror team want to clarify that no, they aren’t going to police transphobic language and no, they aren’t going to firmly moderate on any other basis than “I was tired and anyway you’re a troll” then now is their chance to make that clear to everyone.
Going on what has happened, and how they have followed up? It’s pretty clear to me.
*In case I haven’t repeated this slightly key point enough? “Blatant transphobia” apparently doesn’t cover referring to trans women as “internet tough guys” and refusing to accept that others find that offensive!
Soooooooo the big ol’ SlutWalk issue. The ultimate expression of grrl power ever or massive enforcement of the dominance of cis white voices in gender-oriented progressive politics? THAT IS THE QUESTION. Nah, that’s just me being trite.
That Whole Reclaiming Thing
The aspect I probably have the least issue with is the reclaiming of “slut”, because it’s a reclamation I’ve made for years. Back in my Livejournal days I was a member of a community called sluts4choice, a group with a stated goal of fucking with the heads of antichoice scum by saying yes, we enjoy sex and yes, we can have abortions if that goes wrong and no, we aren’t going to keep our legs shut or apologise or play the moralistic but-my-contraception-failed-and-I’m-monogamous-and-my-life-was-in-danger, the distancing oh-I-support-choice-but-I’ve-never-had-a-dirty-yuck-abortion games.
And it was pretty fucking successful, and pretty damn empowering. I was a freaking virgin when I joined s4c, and for years during the beginning of my life’s quest to piss off antichoice scum online. And I was able to take that word, that entire message which was being used to control and monitor people’s (primarily women’s) sexuality and say “So. Fucking. What.”
It taught me that “slut” was one of the thermonuclear bombs in the misogynist arsenal (used primarily against white cis women in this way) because it was so fucking amorphous, so completely devoid of concrete meaning, it could be used against any of us and it worked because it was so ingrained in us to flinch, to withdraw, to immediately deny its assault on our (white cis) feminine dignity.
And when a white cis girl says nah, actually, I’m not going to be shamed into silence and I’m not going to make excuses to justify myself and qualify my defence of reproductive justice … well then antichoicers generally get paternalistic and pearl-clutchy and “I am ashamed of you, young lady” (another assault playing to our privilege because of course we should be expected to behave) … but eventually they shut up and fuck off, because there’s plenty of other “oh but I don’t believe abortion should be used irresponsibly” hacks out there to harass into incremental surrender.
These are my reasons. They don’t resonate with everyone and plenty of people choose not to reclaim slut, like other slurs – and as a lot of the critiques of SlutWalk have shown, it’s not a word that means the same thing to people who aren’t in a predominantly white, cis, middle-class Western environment so it’s not something they want or even feel they can reclaim.
That Whole Privilege Thing
SlutWalk is a protest form very specific to a certain sector/region/culture/demographic of the world, and one that generally has a lot of privilege and often dominates feminist discourse and certainly feminist media coverage.
This is a problem when it means that that privileged demographic gets more than the lion’s share of mainstream public attention, and when organisers start insisting that actually, it is a protest that does work for everyone and if you’re a marginalized person who ain’t feeling it then well you are just wrong because the nice white ladies say so. It’s a problem when /if the word “slut” becomes the be-all and end-all of sexual policing of people, primarily women, and the only way in which victims of sexual assault are ever silenced.
I don’t think these latter things have necessarily happened in the SlutWalk movement as a whole (the white cis women telling other marginalized women to shut up and get under the umbrella definitely has).
I like to think (and come from a position of privilee in doing so) that kyriarchal policing of sexuality and behaviour is something we can attack at all levels simultaneously: at the level of police officers telling college women not to dress like sluts, at the level of poor women of colour working in service jobs being targets for rich white men like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at the level of sex workers being assumed to have no ability to refuse consent or treating rape as “theft of services”.
The trick with SlutWalk is to make sure that we don’t just spend all our energy and vigour on it. The trick is to not sit back afterwards and pat ourselves on the back and then [in many cases, continue to] ignore the voices of other women and other groups who need our white cis asses to get in behind them – without fucking everything up by dominating the conversation and taking over and talking about ourselves all the time, thanks.
The Criticisms I Find Kinda Hilarious
You’re just giving men what they want!
Because “men” (I’m assuming here we use the term to describe “soulless hetero cis automatons of the patriarchy who are motivated solely by the whims of their cocks”) definitely “want” to see a pack of cis women and allies walking down the street chanting Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me and refusing to accept sexual assault being ignored via victim-blaming.
You’re actually making it harder for young girls!
Because young cis girls definitely need to have it reinforced to them that the word slut is bad and evil, and they will totally have the analytical skills to deduce that this is because it’s a patriarchal weapon of oppression. And they won’t basically end up associating “slut is a bad word” with “being a slut is bad” and ending up in the same fucking mess of questioning their feelings and urges and sexuality that their older sistren are already in. It would definitely be damaging for them to see large numbers of women marching in the fucking streets saying actually, we refuse to be shamed, actually, we refuse to accept your judgement and in 100% of cases would never lead to an awakening of feminist thought. At all.
You’re just making this all about what women are wearing!
Sorry, were you paying attention? Cause, um, I’m not sure how to break this to you, it’s already about what women are wearing, because of that whole don’t dress like sluts to minimize your chances of getting raped thing, which does in fact go back just a liiiiiitle bit further than this one Toronto douchebag (sorry, good peeps of Toronto).
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT WHAT WOMEN ARE FUCKING WEARING. Now go back to your pre-101 readings and look up male fucking gaze, objecti-fucking-fication, fucking beauty standards, and basic fucking victim blaming. In the meantime I will happily collect whatever ridiculous sums people like Gail Dines get paid to talk out their asses.
NB I’ve used the qualifier “cis” a lot here. I don’t think SlutWalk is universally or automatically exclusive of trans* people but it is an issue that has been raised and I want to avoid just referring to “girls” or “women” when my points are generally more relevant to cis women.
Octavia Spitfire has been doing the hard yards putting together some facts on the extent to which women’s refuges in NZ “accommodate” trans women.
Yeah, nah, apparently.
I also share Octavia’s squeam about the IDAHO acronym. A squeam born, I have to admit, largely out of knowing that even a year ago I would’ve totally accepted that sometimes you have to sacrifice accuracy for a nifty acronym. The alternate meaning I’ve seen used, “yadda yadda Against Hate Of …” just doesn’t ring true to me, because you’re still saying IdaHO and that last syllable very strongly links to HOmophobia and I’m sure that link was one of the reasons the acronym was chosen.
After all, the top link for googling “idaho homophobia” (so as to weed out the poor Idaho tourism sites)? idahomophobia.com, which redirects to http://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org/, which has a nice friendly pink banner trumpeting “against homophobia and transphobia” which is grand just as long as you don’t look to the very top of your browser, where the page title misses one of those out. Guess which. Its origin story likewise.
That being said, blogging against homophobia and transphobia is a damn good cause and The Hand Mirror has done a roundup of the Kiwi blogosphere’s posts. And of course it’s a massive reflection of privilege that I get to quibble about acronyms; but it’s an acronym that probably speak predictable volumes to the groups it leaves out.*
*Who likewise I don’t want to presume to speak for as a hetero cis woman.
You know, I think Maia had one tiny point in amongst the letting us all know that blogging about cupcakes is Diluting The Great Feminist Message.
Posting something frivolous to a feminist group or blog does imply/assume that thing is feminist or should be treated as a feminist issue.
Where we disagree* is that she thinks that means we have to explain why that thing is explicitly feminist or refrain from posting it. And I think the very fact of a thing being discussed on a feminist blog puts it in a feminist or wider progressive context.
So just what is a feminist issue?
Are silly boutique clothing stores which cut clothes to fit bigger-busted women a feminist issue?
Of course they fucking are because we live in a patriarchy that demands conformity to an incredibly narrow set of standards of beauty. The fit and fashionableness of clothes have implications for women’s lives from the ability to meet professional or corporate wardrobe standards to being able to feel comfortable in their bodies to presenting a challenge to those beauty standards by the merest fact of being a non-standard body shape wearing edgy, new, well-fitting or fashionable clothes in public.
Are “aesthetics” a feminist issue?
An alternative title for this post was “Because wearing lipstick can be a feminist act”. I just said it a paragraph above: beauty standards. Daring to be visible in public. Add to that gender performativity and people’s choice to challenge norms or desire to blend in to make their lives that little bit easier if they need/want to. Add to that the entire area of human attraction and romance and celebrity crushes or appreciation of the physical form and our ability to challenge those things without scrapping the notion of finding other human beings fucking hot.
Are cupcakes and knitting feminist issues?
Obviously not, I mean, duh, there’s no room for reclamation of traditionally “feminine” roles and crafts. No space for a discussion of the pressures of modern life depriving people of time to really engage with the food they eat or maintain old customs or challenge that big evil capitalist system by taking charge of the means of production even in small home-cooking cottage-industry ways. We definitely don’t want to break down orthorexic messages about “bad foods” and we definitely shouldn’t prop up our mental health and self-esteem defences against the constant criticism of patriarchy by taking pride in creating things.
But what if we don’t spell out why these things are feminist issues?
Plenty of conversations about cupcakes or clothing stores don’t actually involve posts saying “I have baked cupcakes in accordance with my personal desire to bake uninfluenced by notions of proper women’s roles, for a bake sale at my children-who-have-my-surname’s school because my male life-partner was too tired after a hard day’s respecting my reproductive choices.”
Do we seriously fucking have to?**
I am a staunch fucking warrior for the feminist cause, people. I will rant at the drop of a hat or the merest sighting of a Cosmo cover, I will march, I will campaign. But sometimes I have to take a break. Sometimes people who work even harder than me, like Sady Fucking Doyle, need to take a break, and build up our reserves of stamina and anger in order to continue the fight and not burn out.
Sometimes I just want to have a fucking glass of cider with some friends, and talk shit about baking and weddings, and it’s really fucking awesome to be able to do that in a group where I am guaranteed not to encounter casual racism or homophobia or transphobia or classism or any other gratuitous exercise of privilege. It’s really fucking awesome to know I could post on a forum about hating fucking Valentine’s Day and not run the stellarly high risk of having someone fucking bingo me with “oh but you’ll feel different when you’re in a relationship” or “oh you just need to drop your man and find one who’ll treat you right.”***
And I can imagine someone coming across Emma’s, and thinking “who can I share this with without getting a dozen “oh I had that problem but then I tried X diet” or “tee hee I’m so lucky I can just buy straight off the rack at Glassons” or “do you ever try wearing your bra as a hat?”**** responses?”
And maybe they just fucking thought hey, this group of women who I know are all in Wellington and who I can probably assume will all have some understanding of basic feminist critiques of beauty standards and the fashion industry will totally want to know that there are other patriarchy-busting resources out there for those of them with this particular problem.
But fuck, I guess they just weren’t being real feminists.
*And oh my god can you BELIEVE that we might be able to disagree without me declaring Maia has lost 10 Feminist House Points?
**Statement of the fucking obvious: some places have narrow commenting policies. Some places explicitly spell out what qualifies as on- or off-topic. The owners of those places get to make those calls and as always, it’s fucking rude for anyone to declare that those policies must be changed because all feminist conversation must follow a, b, c rules. Which is why I’m a lot less cussy elsewhere and anyone trying to rehash fucking over-cooked topics is getting no linguistic mercy.
****Also true story.
[Trigger warning: transphobia and misgendering]
I have just managed to get through the first … two minutes, maybe, of a “documentary” entitled “Real Life: Transgender Kids”. (Link to Part 1 of 6 on the ‘tube.*)
Interesting, I thought. Some insight into the effects on kids and families and communities when young kids are allowed to choose which gender they will present as despite assumptions about biological sex.
The opening disclaimer, folks, … I’m seriously a bit speechless. I, ranter of mighty rants, simply cannot fucking describe this fuckwittery.
In this film we will be referring to all the children by their biological sex,
but this is not how their family and friends see them
or how they see themselves.
Which seems to beg a pretty FUCKING OBVIOUS QUESTION, “documentary”-makers.
WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT.
Oh, right. Because screw the happiness on these kids’ faces and screw their wonderfully eloquent expressions of who they are and how they wish to be identified. We must never be allowed to forget for one fucking second, even in a documentary that purports to treat these kids and their families sympathetically, that COCK means BOY and TRUCKS and VIDEO GAMES and VAGINA means GIRL and PIGTAILS and PINKPINKPINK.
These kids have the massive fucking good fortune to have parents who, sometimes eventually, have allowed them to be who the hell they want to be. Have accepted their child’s identity and run with it. But god fucking forbid that the invisible voice on the television screen let you think that that’s their decision to make. Heaven forfend that this be viewed as some kind of personal issue not slave to the whims of a narrow-minded assumption-heavy society.
Even their own fucking sum-up, somewhat unfortunately reproduced verbatim at gaynz.com, should’ve clued someone in to the fact this was a phenomenally offensive fucking idea (misgendering pronouns edited; note Josie’s mother uses correct pronouns):
One of the children followed is Josie. At the age of just six, [her] determination to be a girl was causing [her] behaviour to become erratic.
“As soon as we’d even praise her using a male pronoun she would just lose it,” says Josie’s mother, Vanessa. “She would throw herself down, she would cry hysterically, I mean the biggest tantrum you could imagine. She ripped the paper off the walls of her bedroom.”
Vanessa goes on to describe some pretty fucking awful attempted self-harm.
So of course it seemed like a fucking spiffing idea to some fucking asshole on the production team to film Josie, and talk to Josie, and be informed by Josie that she is a girl … and then tell the entire fucking world not to believe her.
Fuck you, asshole.
*Silver lining: it gives me great hope for the universe that the top-rated comment on that vid is “thumbs up if you cringe every time they use the wrong fucking pronouns”. Other comments … not so good.
I always look for ways to make righteous fury fun dull the pain of existing in a misogynist world stop myself going postal too often. Bingo cards, drinking games, with such tools do we activists spike the bullshit that infests our daily lives.
Example: when Amanda at Pickled Think links me to this abomination of “style”-page chaff, I channel my immediate instinct to scream FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU at the top of my voice into imagining just how horrendously pissed I and a select group of friends would get if we did a shot every time they mention:
- Teenage girls with boobs! ZOMG THE SEXUALISATION OF OUR YOUTH SIGN OF DOWNFALL OF MORALITY
- Men in lingerie! PROBABLY GAY AMIRITE?
- “Men dressed as women” because it’s not like we could actually ask people how they identify. And even given the massive problems of gender-defined-by-external-genitalia I’m pretty sure they’d have stopped fitting “men” at the counter if there was any cock on display.
- Old women! With gross underwear! Because they’re old! And gross! And they forget to put on underwear because they’re senile LOL!!!
- Women’s posture is worse because we’re no longer obliged to strap ourselves into horrifically uncomfortable, nay painful, undergarments in order to conform to accepted body shapes! OH BUT I’M JUST WORRIED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH!
- For a chaser, of course, don’t forget that the only alternative to 1960s girdles is LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT like a filthy fucking strumpet.
- And mastectomies! Because once you’ve lost your boobs you are Unwoman but at least you can reclaim some of your natural object-to-be-gazed-upon status with sexy knickers, right? God, do you think they pat their customers on the head for being So Brave while they’re at it?
I think the answer “pretty darn pissed” about cuts it.
I love Stuff articles, I must say. It just wouldn’t be a Stuff “article” without a … completely random tailing-off at the end with no actual conclusion or even investigation into, e.g., why more younger women may be having mastectomies. I guess that would have involved Sarah Young actually doing more than chatting to store personnel on her lunchbreak.
My conclusion? Given how much I’d hate to fill one of the few funny-anecdote niches they appear to have missed – seriously, no “And these days you get a lot more fatties thinking they’re hot”? – I think I’ll avoid ever buying knickers at Kirks ever again. The sounds you can hear are my wallet and class consciousness throwing a party.