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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Topics Tuesday-Masculinity and Women

Some possible questions for todays topic:

1) Can women by the nature of masculinity be masculine? (not the social construct "masculine")
2) Does the construct of masculinity harm women whom it is applied to?
3) Does the construct of masculinity unfeminize and "other" the female body of those whom the masculine label is applied to?
4) Can and does the construct of masculinity being applied to women push some women towards transition?
5) What is masculine/masculinity to you and why?

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21 comments:

  1. Masculinity is the absence of Femininity-Performance. Masculinity like maleness simply means "human". This is why females who don't perform femininity are so frequently "passed" as male even when they have large breasts and other female attributes. Male is default for human. Female is "othered".
    The construct of masculinity invisiblizes females to whom it is applied.

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  2. These questions make no sense unless everyone has the same shared meaning for words like masculine and woman.

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  3. 1) Can women by the nature of masculinity be masculine? (not the social construct "masculine")

    No, not even physically. Biological women vary a lot. Even a woman with a hormonal imbalance still has that imbalance because of how her female anatomy is functioning. Ovaries producing excess T are still not testicles.

    2) Does the construct of masculinity harm women whom it is applied to?

    The hostility and violence directed towards girls and women who are considered "masculine" is certainly harmful. It's also pretty damned insulting, and yes, harmful, for women to be told that the traits they naturally possess are somehow "male" or "masculine."

    3) Does the construct of masculinity unfeminize and "other" the female body of those whom the masculine label is applied to?

    In the eyes of some people, yes.

    4) Can and does the construct of masculinity being applied to women push some women towards transition?

    Hell yes.

    5) What is masculine/masculinity to you and why?

    In a perfect world, "masculinity" would simply refer to the physical traits of biological males. In this imperfect, sexist world, it means everything that has ever been traditionally associated with males and not females. Because this is what most people understand by "masculinity," I use that word in this sense, too, with the disclaimer that I think the whole idea is artificial.

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  4. 1.) No, I don't think so. A lot of very positive traits have been associated with masculinity but these traits are not unique to either sex. A woman is female, hence, feminine even if she has small breasts, a mastectomy, short hair, no hair, wears a suit, has gone through menopause, etc. In my eyes Butches are especially feminine - in the truest sense. They are nothing like transmen. The barbarism of trans surgery & neo-genitals are extremely misogynistic. Butches know that hair and clothes don't make the woman and they don't care what men make of their looks (not that we Femmes do either.. but men like and fetishize Femmes, sadly.) 

    2.) definitely hurts women, hinders us from being strong - tough - powerful - heard!

    3.) Yes!! Definitely! Don't fit the patriarchal definition of female? Don't like it? Then you're really just a transman in denial, didn't you know? ugh.. gender rigidity has led directly to the formation of the trans bandwagon. reminds me of the Stepford Wives, repackaged. 

    4.) I believe it is a leading cause, if not even the leading cause. When women can't relate to stereotypical female traits and images, when they don't fit into that Stepford box.. When instead of having people telling them they're wonderful and beautiful as they are, when everywhere they look they see unconventional women harassed, mocked, brutalized, raped.. OF COURSE they're going to feel dysphoric. Of course they're going to want out of it desperately, at some point. But that point has to be moved past, to be seen for what it is.


    5.) Masculinity, to me, is tainted with patriarchy and misogyny. So many of the men I've ever known have been aggressive, conceited, self-absorbed, dismissive of women. there are kind men in my life too, but men have been conditioned to see women as the "other". Sometimes even the kindest men can be blind to their own misogyny on occasion. In the period of the time in which we live I would define "masculinity" as misogyny itself.

    6.) Sorry this comment is so long! But these are my thoughts. Thanks for the very thought provoking topic!

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  5. 1) No women are not capable of being masculine because they will always have a stronger feminine side.
    2)Yes because only men can be masculine.
    3)Attempting to be masculine only makes a female seem like a confused chick who needs a man in her life but refuses to since she probably has had sexual abuse.
    4)All lesbians and butches have been sexually asulted in childhood and that has messed up their love map. Transitioning is an escape of the reality that nobody will ever accept a butch
    5)Masculinity is something all men posess and all women lack.

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  6. I am a very feminine outside (dress, long hair, sexy boobs) woman but feel male inside (the so called values: balls, courage, initiative, energy). I am not a trans and i don't want to transition...I love the mix: this mix is my identity :)

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  7. I tend to agree with Gallusmag, except that some kinds of masculinity are obviously not natural but constructed - John Wayne style.

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  8. [Anonymous @ December 28, 2010 11:22 PM said...]

    I realize you're likely being sarcastic here... at least, I certainly hope you are. It is not acceptable in any way to suggest that all lesbians have been sexually molested. I do not 'attempt' being masculine or feminine (I am both), nor do I need a man in my life to aid my 'confusion'. Kindly avoid making me want to vomit, thanks...

    [Anonymous @ December 29, 2010 9:26 AM said...]

    Much respect!

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  9. "I am a very feminine outside (dress, long hair, sexy boobs) woman but feel male inside (the so called values: balls, courage, initiative, energy). I am not a trans and i don't want to transition...I love the mix: this mix is my identity :)"

    You know what else you are? A sexist, and an extreme one at that.

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  10. I was with this FTM the other night. A post top surgery, ten years on T transguy. Male voice, no bald pattern, facial hair enough to grow a beard. ID changed to guys ID.

    And although he was thin, dressed as a guy, if I had to allocate him to one category of masculinity or feminity, I would allocate him to feminity and to the female type called "butch" because despite his transition, :
    *his hips are female hips (and you can spot it easily in a bar, from the back, you think it is a woman with a short haircut)
    *and his shoulders and upper body are not muscular enough to pass as male.

    So it was weird because I felt like I was in front of a butch who desperately has masculinised her body against all odds...

    It was a date and I say no, not another time, because I date male, I date women but no way, I will date someone who does not fit gender category.
    The sad thing is if he were still a butch (ie if he was not on T or has removed his boobs...), I would have considered dating "her" ;)

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  11. The whole concept of masculinity and feminity is bogus, because men consider themselves human. So if you don't act like a simpering idiot or a doormat, people often mistake strong women for men. This happens to me all the time, because I don't smile at men. And I don't wear make-up or dresses, and I'm a very outspoken person. I take charge and don't "wait" for things to happen. This is mistaken as male. What is considered feminine is really slave like servile behavior, and men expect women to act like this.
    Feminine women are expected to wear high heels and display lots of flesh, which in most towns is a really dangerous thing. Men appropriate all the they want to in terms of human personality, and expect women to be childish, self-involved, "act" dumb, male pleasing and simpering, and that's pretty much how most straight women seem to me. It's one reason I don't like to see straight women interacting with men, because they go into this simpering malepleasing behavior that is truly sickening to behold. Who tells what women should act like? Men, right. So I don't think anything they have to say about women means anything in terms of women's full humaness or potential or authenticity.

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  12. GallusMag and Axewomon -- damned right.

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  13. I think the way "Barbie women" ("feminine") walk and talk is so unnatural. It can't be something natural, because in nature those kind of beings would have been devoured by lions or wolves or even wolverines. Try to run away from a lion with high heels.

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  14. [Axewomon said...]

    Happiness is just plain 'feminine' in general, as well. I tend to be a pretty cheerful person these days, and the difference between me being flagged as a gay man or a hetero woman is which clothes I'm wearing.

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  15. "Happiness is just plain 'feminine' in general, as well."

    Hence the "SMILE" commands girls start hearing from strange men as soon as they're old enough to be considered sexually attractive.

    Another delightful aspect of growing up female -- hostile strangers policing your mood and facial expression.

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  16. OMG the "smile" thing. Men should go to jail for that.
    :)

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  17. yeah, men telling women to smile is extremely offensive
    i wonder if these transmen, being 'male inside' all this time have always engaged in annoying behaviors like that
    (i'm sure not)
    (i remember hearing an episode of 'this american life' which had a story on transmen- i think more than one of the ones featured mentioned 'having to learn how to behave like a man' (as in keeping extended eye-contact with women)- if they had always been 'men' inside, wouldn't they have been doing these things all along?)

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  18. [if they had always been 'men' inside, wouldn't they have been doing these things all along?]

    Afraid it doesn't work that way. That is more a matter of gender vs brain sex, and all of that kind of behavior is learned, experienced, and made habitual by the input into your environment -- whether consciously or subconsciously. You wouldn't see aboriginal tribes where women instinctively act the same as women from the US, for instance. 15-20 years or so of the opposite input can still leave a lot to catch up on.

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  19. when i was a teenager this behavior was called being a 'poseur'
    'gender vs. brain sex?'
    what a larf
    you are what you are, period
    (or no period for you trannies)

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  20. I am not responding to your 5 questions in particular, but...

    I just want to say that through reading this blog I have decided to avoid referring to Butch women as "masculine," "boyish," "manly" etc. Any word that is usually compares Butches (or any women) to men is out for me.

    I think we perpetuate the myth that Butch women are somehow not women, or are men, or copies of men, or wanna be men, when we call Butch women masculine.

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  21. Anon@11:22 -- it would be great if more people could find other words.

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