Change Your World-NOT your Body

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Topics Tuesday: Unconventional Femininity and Healthy Self Esteem

Todays topic comes from this comment: "We could discuss what might help girls, especially the ones who are not conventionally feminine, remain true to themselves and grow up with their self-esteem intact despite the constant barrage of sexist BS they face from the cradle onwards".

Some possible questions for today's discussion:


So what are your suggestions for creating an atmosphere and/or space/s that would be conducive to helping females feel good about themselves despite all the female hatred/sexualization so present everywhere today? 

How do you feel about the male medical machine's labeling unconventional females as "gender incongruent" when they do not subscribe to "normal" female roles?

If you were/are unconventionally female, how has it affected your self esteem? And if anything, what have you done to feel good about yourself as a unconventional female?

These are just a few questions to get the discussion rolling, feel free to spend your two cents however you like with regards to the topic.

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23 comments:

  1. PART 1

    Good topic, in fact I did a similar one in my blog recently (the one about "Gorean lifestyle"), but this is more direct and helpful.

    "So what are your suggestions for creating an atmosphere and/or space/s that would be conducive to helping females feel good about themselves despite all the female hatred/sexualization so present everywhere today? "

    Tough question. I think an important point is that being female or male is not much unlike being brown-haired or blue-eyed, you can't choose how you are born, nor being male or female should affect life all that much. The more barriers are put between boys and girls in the early years especially, the more pain will be bled by the ones trying to climb this fake barrier (people we would call today "gender nonconformists).
    I'd say an important, if not fundamental distinction should be made between being male or female and being "masculine/feminine". The current consensus is that males are "masculine", females are "feminine" and the ones who don't conform are more female/male in regards to their birth sex. This is untrue, a male is still a male even if he's David Bowie, Prince, Divine, RuPaul, etc. (and vice-versa for women, though I can't recall as many important names as "masculine" females are not "hot" in showbusiness). And, letting women accept themselves and their "masculinity" without feeling "damaged/weird/broken" can't really happen until males will be able to accept their "femininity" without feeling "broken" and "less male". There is a HUUUGE pink elephant, even in the "dominant male" room: they can be alphas and the most respected class of humans, as long as they are not "feminine" (nellies, sissies, fags, and so on...). Not even a bit. Until women and the "feminine" unjustly associated with them will be revalued for everyone, male or female, equality won't happen.

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  2. PART 2
    "How do you feel about the male medical machine's labeling unconventional females as "gender incongruent" when they do not subscribe to "normal" female roles?"

    After what happened in my life I don't trust the Western medical school of thought much, and I think the reasons should be obvious. They are very good at curing a broken arm, because they understand how "physical systems" work, but they can't heal a "mind" because it's outside of the "physical systems" realm. Any medic/psychiatrist who claims otherwise should see how "depression" is now being "cured" through chemicals (they might work in some cases, but they don't for most and even when they work, they must be assumed in larger doses sometimes forever). "Medical transition" is the lovechild of this school of thought and it shows: there's no respect for other cultures and how they viewed "gender nonconformist people", there is no respect for the body as a whole (this can most extremely seen when they cut sexual organs and especially sexual glands, which the whole body needs, and hormones injections from outside can't totally make up for what has been lost), there is almost no respect for different ways of being male/female, there are only great $$$ to be made out of people in pain.
    Until there will be a mass uproar about this method, I doubt things can change.

    "If you were/are unconventionally female, how has it affected your self esteem? And if anything, what have you done to feel good about yourself as a unconventional female?"

    I had always felt good as an "unconventional female" until puberty arrived: the extreme dysphoria it brought caused be to identify as "male inside". What I have done for myself was simply to strip myself bare until I removed all masks which I used to protect my ego. This caused me great pain but in the end it was the only way I could keep living meaningfully.
    As for myself and myself only, I regard being female in the same category of being "brown-haired", who cares? I was born with a vagina and female internal organs, thus I'm female. That's the definition I use for myself. Due to society and the meanings it imposes on those biological facts, I have grown in ways I simply couldn't have experienced if I was born male, so in the end being born female does inevitably bring a baggage. But it's not a bad thing.
    Today I "passed" even wearing a Hello Kitty spoof handmade hat (a lady called me "boy" repeatedly): in those cases, all I can do is correct them with the hope that my "different femaleness" might get recognized as a fact instead of something wrong or some kind of "maleness".

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  3. When I was in CVS the other day to buy toothpaste (for those outside the US, that's a monster drugstore chain), I took a wrong turn and wound up in the toy section. It was nauseating -- girls' and boy's toys are just as segregated as they were c. 1971, possibly more so. On the girls' side, a sea of pink and purple. On the boys' side, every color under the sun except pink and purple. For the girls, Barbies and princess crap, full stop. For the boys, a huge range of possibilities. Sends a pretty powerful message about who belongs where. Just mixing it up a bit would be a huge relief, I'm sure, to girls everywhere, and probably a few boys, too. Put the dolls' houses right next to the robots, and mix the toy kitchen utensils in with the laser guns, and make them some other color besides pink and purple.

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  4. Yeah, I noticed the extreme toy segregation too. I liked dinosaurs and videogames the most, so I had to check the boy section. A boy who likes My little ponies? He must shamefully check the girl section. If the two sections weren't made so segregated, there wouldn't be this "weird" non-belonging feeling for little "gender nonconforming" kids. And the "color match", oh boy (girl?), blue is not male and pink is not female. Blue is calm and pink is glam. That's all.

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  5. totally true about the boy/girl toy segregation, definitely worse than I've ever known, same with room furnishings that I see in catalogs, same with clothing... I really thought we were moving away from extreme gender polarization but the opposite seems true. so many testimonials I've read and heard from young 'transdudes' (and likely the same for male-to-females) allude to this as a reason they're sure they were born into the 'wrong bodies'- that they played with the 'wrong toys' or whatnot...
    TRANSEXUALISM IS REGRESSIVE
    NOT PROGRESSIVE
    except perhaps for the tiniest minority, granted

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  6. Teach your daughters that they can do anything by doing things yourself. Fix your own car, build your own furniture, repair your plumbing and anything else. Do these projects with your daughters and they will find fewer boundaries as they grow.

    There is some sense that gets imparted early in life that a person can't do something because they are not smart enough, because they are not male,not mechanically inclined. It's such a load of shit. And doing things yourself has nothing to do with butchness, maleness, or any other construct-it just requires tenacity and willingness to learn. Being a role model like that is the greatest gift you can give a daughter.

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  7. From the day a baby is born they either wear a blue cap or a pink one. I don't understand why pink has to be for baby girls and blue for baby boys. It is right then how they are gonna learn to be women or men. Who says that a woman can't fight in a war? Who says that a man traditionally can't be a nurse?

    I am an almost 39 year old FTM. My grandmother would try to make me play with dolls and such. She raised my sister and I from the time I was 4 until I was 11. I would always play baseball and football with my brother and our neighborhood friends. My grandma kept telling me that girls don't play football with the boys. My grandpa was just like, "Let her play football. She's a tough kid!"
    I wouldn't wear a shirt while I was outside or when I went in my grandparents pool up until I turned 8 I believe. I couldn't understand why I had to wear a shirt and my brother didn't. My grandma told me, "Because girls are supposed to wear shirts and not go out without one on". I had long hair until I was 9. I didn't like my hair at all. My grandma would say how beautiful it was and that girls should have long pretty hair like mine. Guess what I did on my way home from school on the bus? I stuck a big wad of gum in my hair. My grandma couldn't get it out so she took me to some salon and I got it cut off really short. I loved it! Why is it that people expect women to have long hair, wear make-up, wear dresses, and so on? My brother at 13 or 14 grew his hair out long and my grandma didn't say a thing to him about it but I piped up and said to my grandma,"Scott has long hair and only girls are supposed to have long hair." She went on to say that that's the style now for boys.

    Anyways, I believe I am off topic here. I was just following along the lines of the Anonymous comment at 5:47 PM.

    I always hated when someone told me that I couldn't wear this or wear that because I'm a female. At 13 I used my allowance to buy 2 packages of boys briefs, 2 packages of boxer briefs, and a package of regular boxers. I started wearing them every day and would wash them while my mom was at work. I washed my own clothes then. Then one day my mom went in my room to look for something and she found my boy's underwear. She was pissed for a little bit but got over it. She didn't take them from me but she did say, "I hope you don't have to go to the doctors and have to pull your pants down for a shot. The doctor will see your underwear." It didn't bother me any. I have worn them ever since. While living with my sister in 2001-2003 my asshole brother-In Law went through my stuff and told my sister that I wear mens underwear and my sister was like, "Yeah, so what. She always has!". They argued over me being a bad influence on the kids. My sister won the battle as always. He even would get on me for wearing a suit and tie to church. Hell, he'd get on me just for wearing dress slacks, dress shirt, and tie. He was like, "women at church wear dresses or skirts...you are disrespecting God by wearing your suits and ties". Then I reminded him that he is disrespecting not only God but all women by him watching porn. He has a serious porn addiction. My sis and him have been separated for almost 3 years now due to his cheating on her for the last 5-6 years of their 10 year marriage. He would point out my faults and say I'm not living right yet he was cheating with prostitutes and would watch porn and then hide the DVD's in a box that was supposed to have a Christian movie in it.
    We argued all the time over stupid shit like that. He knew me ever since I was 18 and knew I always had a mohawk since I was 13 or 14. He'd tell me that only punk guys get mohawks and girls aren't "Supposed" to have one.

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  8. Brandon:
    Well you showed them, huh, by becoming man?
    Sort of proves the point here.
    -(39 year old more-butch-than-not lesbian)

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  9. p.s. I like the new layout. Nice work. It's pretty.

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  10. Re Brandon:

    I am struck by the universality of the stories that those who challenge and/or feel intense opposition to gender stereotyping tell. Brandons story is almost the same as mine. I however made a difference choice. I choose to be myself in the face of intense societal pressure to conform to gender norms.
    My question is this: All women feel this pressure to conform to these gender norms at the expense of their true selves. Why then do some resist more then others. Is it because the disconnect in their heads and the messages they receive just greater for some women?

    I submit that those who transition are conforming to societal norms even more than stereotypical "straight" women do.
    The true resisters and challengers of patriarchy are those women who remain true to their authentic selves in the face of overwhelming pressures, and those are butch women.

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  11. Anon@11:19,

    Along with societal, you have to take into account familial as well as any early sexual abuse.

    There are no stats and strictly as an observer, there are a high percentage of trans(men) who were sexually abused as children and/or raped as a teen.

    dirt

    dirt

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  12. my first exposure to the ftm world was through a rape victim who was exclusively attracted to ftm's (for obvious reasons? (no penises)) but i'm not sure how many of these youngsters who are doing it were abused when even younger... i think at least here in nyc it's more likely done in trendiness... i was reading the village voice online recently and saw some party pictures from a group called 'original plumbing' (a term i despise) and saw someone i used to know when she was an interesting girl- it upset me so much, that's when i googled 'feminists against ftm' and found this blog

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  13. Until women and the "feminine" unjustly associated with them will be revalued for everyone, male or female, equality won't happen.

    I absolutely agree, Bluetraveler. I think that is a critical, but overlooked, aspect of feminist progress. I believe the failure to value "femininity" is contributing to the FtM crisis-- internalized misogyny and self-hate.

    In any event, my parents consciously guided me away from femininity, and it has served me well my whole life. It was the late 70's, early 80's, and I actually think people were MORE aware of genderizing and resisting extreme toy segregation THEN than they are now. It's the backlash! To be honest, I am femme. I rebelled against my parents desire for my androgyny, BUT BUT BUT, I was able to internalize the broader message that I should be MYSELF and resist social pressure. I am very, very thankful to them. And now I'm a radfem femme dyke!!

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  14. Anonymous said...

    Brandon:
    Well you showed them, huh, by becoming man?
    Sort of proves the point here.
    -(39 year old more-butch-than-not lesbian)

    December 7, 2010 7:39 PM


    I have always been male as far back as I can remember which was 3 or 4 years old. It has nothing to do with proving anyone wrong. I am who I am and always have been. My family, chosen family, and friends all accept me and never have questioned me about it as far as why I am what I am.

    Just because some people disagree that being trans is not real is not a big deal to me. I was diagnosed with GID at 19 after 4 years of therapy for my depression. I chose then not to transition but just live as a man and I did that until Sept. 30, 2007 when I talked to different doctors about HRT. I did a lot of research before deciding that going on T was the best thing for me.

    All I was trying to say in my last post was that society from the day you are born chooses how you should dress and whatnot. Baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink.

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  15. Brandon-"I have always been male as far back as I can remember which was 3 or 4 years old"...

    So have/do many many females, has ZERO to do with being male.

    dirt

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  16. Brandon
    From your original post it does seem you were very affected by the people around you letting you know your behaviors and interests were not typically 'female.'

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  17. "The true resisters and challengers of patriarchy are those women who remain true to their authentic selves in the face of overwhelming pressures, and those are butch women."

    Oh, sorry, I didn't realize my authentic self was in my boobs...now I wish I could go find them again, because some bitter-ass cranks online believe I can't be "authentic" without them. Oh my!

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  18. @8:43

    The resistance and authecity lies in the refusal to change your body to conform to society's expectations not in the specific body parts themselves. Stop being obtuse.

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  19. Hi Brandon,
    I can understand what you said about your experiences as a child. I too was denigrated for enjoying "boys" activities and the like. I also played mainly with boys, because they were the ones having more fun! I also went swimming/ran around outside shirtless, and was disappointed to find this wouldn't be "acceptable" anymore once I grew breasts. I still find my breasts annoying sometimes, because they can get in the way and hurt!

    Despite this, I have not considered transitioning. Mostly because I believe that my interests, thoughts, feelings and desires are complex and unique to me as a human, and aren't brought about simply by femaleness or maleness. Indeed, I think it would be hard to find a male or female who exhibits ALL the attributes of the gender they were assigned at birth anyway. We are all so wonderfully different and the gender binary is about as plausible as asserting that the world is flat. A person's interests, preferences, thoughts, feelings and desires are colored by a myriad of shades, not just pink and blue. Anyway, I hope you are happy regardless! :)

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  20. "The resistance and authecity lies in the refusal to change your body to conform to society's expectations not in the specific body parts themselves. Stop being obtuse."

    No, I get it. But I'm not willing to concede that you know where authenticity lies. Because you don't. And resistance is based on resistance. You can define it where you want to, but for me it's not in the body, it's in the intellect, the intent, and the action.

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  21. "But I'm not willing to concede that you know where authenticity lies. Because you don't. And resistance is based on resistance. You can define it where you want to, but for me it's not in the body, it's in the intellect, the intent, and the action."

    ...so you can have a male/female intellect? Interesting, I guess, based on everything I did in my life, my intellect must be male...and one of my male classmates, who's very nurturing, must be secretly female...

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  22. Transsexuals believe there are "male brains" and "female brains" with distinct intellectual and psychological differences.

    I don't believe that.

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