Change Your World-NOT your Body

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Natural/Normal

What are some of the notions surrounding males and females that while being constructs, have been with us so long most live as though they are a natural/normal part of being female or male?

dirt
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37 comments:

  1. The worst constructs in my eyes are that there are natural born, not aquired, intellectual differences between women and men. Really, they still even teach it at universities. Like women not being able to do mental rotation. It weirds me out all the time I hear: "women cannot park a car..." or "men are not multi-tasking-able". Which actually mean: "It was the woman's fault that caused the accident in any case and not mine" or "do not disturb me while I do what I like to do". All the so-called differences and natural parts of being male and female are used as a means to discrimination. It is really, really difficult to find a positive "natural part of being a female" among those constructs, and I think it really gives the girls growing up their dysphoria. Because everything that females are assumed to be better in is often perceived as less valuable. Like language ability - and what about "talk is silver but silence is gold?".

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  2. "Like women not being able to do mental rotation."

    As far as I'm aware, what's going on is that when some specific things are measured, the average female performance is supposedly different from the average male. BUT for anyone that gets stats, that DOESN'T mean that there isn't an enormous amount of overlap. It just means that one random women is slightly more likely to be worse at the supposed artificially-constructed task that one randomly chosen man.

    But given that men and women both evolved as members of the human species, and are genetically related (where did you get half your genes from boys?) -- even if there ARE some slight statistical differences in some very specific tasks, does that mean that women wil be worse than men at parking, or map reading? Of course not -- as we all know, women work out an efficient way to read a map (given a chance and a lack of sniping from the back seat!), and so do men, but they don't necessarily do it in exactly the same way! End result equally good, just slightly different software, if you like.

    So, some days i can do the mental rotation thing, other days I align the map with the road in front of me. Both ways work, and we get where we want to be by a decent route!

    Of course, doesn't remove what I think is the socially constructed thing that men seem reluctant to ask for directions, whilst women don't mind as much!

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  3. Here's one thing that just occured to me -- the frequenct use of 'opposite', as in opposite sex/gender. Leads into those snazzy line plots with female at one end and male at the other that some trans trenders draw.

    If you're not one, you're the other, things are one dimensional, fosters the idea that if men are good at one thing, means women are bad at it, and vice versa. Just encourages the sort of binary and distant approach that characterises so much of the patriarchal nonsense about sex and gender.

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  4. Gosh I have so much to say.... so excited that the conversation is going this way. But a bit flustered, it's kind of overwhelming.

    The concept that girls lack a penis. When in reality, no one is lacking anything.

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  5. Oh My God, It seems I agree with BadDyke on something. I always thought that about women being the opposte of men. And from what Ive seen this is only applied to humans. Women and men are not opposites at all and I dont think I ever thought that way. That always confused me because my idea of an opposite always alligned with the dictionary definition.

    One of the things that annoys me about human beings in general is that we always seem to need an enemy. There always needs to be an us and them. Really I think everyone should work together for equality for all people, respect other peoples differences if they respect yours. Wishful thinking but so what?

    That people seem to think there is a perfect way of being "male" or "female". That being strong and successful constitutes perfection in men and being passive and motherly and loving is what constitutes perfection in women. There isnt a perfection. Everyone is different (thats been told to us enough but do we listen?). Noone needs a group or a person to accept them so they can be themselves. You have to truly believe in yourself to be free.

    I had a really hard time accepting myself initially because Im a Guy but Im a femme guy. But I dont care what people think of that. Because the concept of femme attached to the word guy is just another way for people to fit me in a box. I am a guy like any other. We are all different.

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  6. No, you're not a guy.

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  7. Hey, if she thinks she's a 'guy,' you have to think the same thing.

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  8. good lord you people can be so ridiculous... I am an English major, and I can tell you that there is actually no FORMAL definition of guy as meaning MALE. It is used informally to refer to men, but ALSO used informally for either gender i.e. 'could you guys help me move this table?' Stop trying so effin hard to pick people apart, it really makes you look ignorant.

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  9. "I am an English major, and I can tell you that there is actually no FORMAL definition of guy as meaning MALE." Formal definitons can go take a hike, we aren't doing maths here!

    Common usage is what matters

    'you guys' is often used to refer to a group of people of mixed sexes, but if someone says they are a guy, I would ASSUME that they are saying something more than that they're a human being (as opposed, say, to a chimpanzee or an octopus). OED gives it as man or fellow (orig US).

    In short, plural and singular usage differs, and you don't have to be an english major to know that...............

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  10. O, and of course in the words of Gag Halfrunt:

    "Vell, Zaphod's just zis guy, you know?"

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  11. we've met 'the etch' before and she does think she's a male

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  12. For a bunch of people so bent on being able to ID how you wish, whether that's Butch, Stone, Dyke, etc etc - and look/be the way that makes YOU happy irregardless of society's gender norms, you sure do go out of your way to judge how others identify. What's it to you anyway? The world would be a better place for ALL of us, if we spent a little more energy on just doing 'US' instead of focusing on telling other people how to do 'THEM'.

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  13. If only CLOSED minds came with CLOSED mouths!

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  14. "so bent on being able to ID how you wish..and look/be the way that makes YOU happy "

    I really don't get this obsession with identifying!

    I'm be a butch dyke even if I was forced to wear dresses and six inch heels! How I act and who I love DOESN'T depend on anyone else being able to 'identify' me as such from what I'm wearing..........

    "What's it to you anyway?" O, because some of us are concerned about women who so hate their bodies they end up surgically mutilating them...........

    "on just doing 'US'" I don't have to DO myself at all. I am what I am, and I don't require 'identifying' or 'validation'.........

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  15. for me, even identifying as 'butch' seems too strict though i'm sure i meet the criteria
    why put so much emphasis on one's 'gender presentation?'
    i feel today's trans-trend is built on that sort of thing

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  16. "The world would be a better place for ALL of us, if we spent a little more energy on just doing 'US' instead of focusing on telling other people how to do 'THEM'."

    Actually the world would prob be a much better place if all these self-obsessed people decided to look beyond their own 'identity' and being obsessed with how others see you, and maybe did a little something to help real issues outside of your selfish selves!
    IDK like go volunteer and shit. I sure know that my internal issues faded once I stopped paying so much god-damn attention to myself and focused on others...
    funny when you stop obsessing on self and help others, suddenly you feel kinda better about yourself!!!
    funny how that works...

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  17. (except so many trans-types consider 'helping' other transitioners their public service...)

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  18. Anon 2:14

    You are an idiot of epic proportions. Learn some humility. You shame yourself.

    So embarrassing...

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  19. >Hey, if she thinks she's a 'guy,' you have to think the same thing.

    That is such awful sarcasm. Learn to Sarcasm.
    On all posts relating to calling me "she" and "her". Pronouns are just words and although it annoys me that you know I identify as male and call me female anyway. That is because I do not see the point in doing so bar making a statement or trying to get a rise out of me.

    >I'm be a butch dyke even if I was forced to wear dresses and six inch heels! How I act and who I love DOESN'T depend on anyone else being able to 'identify' me as such from what I'm wearing

    Then there is something inside you in regards to have you view yourself, outside the physical appearance that makes you "butch". Can you talk about this more please?
    I identify myself as male and I would be male regardless of what I wear. A lot of Mtf's who are older when they transition do not pass and they do that and fight on without outside approval. I am not an approval hound but it does make me happy when someone random sees me as male. For Example, I was in a sweet shop with my best friend and we left and the shopkeeper said out the door at us "Thanks Lads". It made me feel so good. BUT approval although nice and passing although nice does not make me who I am.

    >O, because some of us are concerned about women who so hate their bodies they end up surgically mutilating them

    What constitutes mutilation? Are breast augmentations mutilation? Is body modification such as surgically made elf ears, corset piercings. Are they mutilation? I dont hate my body but I sure as fuck want to "modify" it so I look more like I want too. Thats just what I want to do with my own body. The way you come across BadDyke, Is argumentative and judgemental, you do not come across to anyone as someone truly trying to make men like me love their bodies as females.
    What about Transguys who identify as male but dont feel the need for surgery or hormone treatment? Whta do you think of them.

    >IDK like go volunteer and shit. I sure know that my internal issues faded once I stopped paying so much god-damn attention to myself and focused on others

    I work with animal rights and welfare organisations and help with LGBT stuff in my local community and Im currently converting my feature lenght screenplay into a decent play to be preformed on stage.

    >helping other transitioners as their public service

    How about just helping anyone who needs help?

    BTW you ignored everything apart from my pronoun use in my last message

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  20. "Then there is something inside you in regards to have you view yourself"

    No. Because being butch is about how I interact with others and how I behave, not some abstract thing about how I view myself, or present myself or dress myself.

    It's a social thing, it's about how I do and want to interact with the world around me. Saying I Id as soemthing, hence the rest of the world should interact with me accordingly is putting the cart before the horse.

    I been thinking a lot about the use of identify. I can identify with a group in terms of finding some common ground or common experience. I can hence identify myself as perhaps a member of that group, but that DOESN'T mean that they have to agree with me, if the main thing behind that identification is the commonality that they disagree with. others things (like being makle or female), you can't identify with in the same way, in that they rest on simple facts, like having XX or XY chromosomes.

    So, starting from I ID as whatever, then getting miffed when others dare to disagree is getting the social bit all wrong. You can identify in terms of that sort of category all on your own.

    So, for me being female is a simple fact of biology, being a woman means that there is some commonality of experience with other women inasmuch as we share the experience of being raised as female in this patriarchal society. Being homosexual is another simple fact in terms of what sex I am and the sex of the people I am attracted to. Being lesbian seems to be a bit more slippery, in that you csn have females who are homosexual, yet don't see a commonality between themselves and lesbians -- fair enough, they don't have to if they don't want to, even if others think there is a commonality. But then lesbian ISN'T something you can 'become' or identify AS if you don't fit the basic criteria, such as being female and attracted towards other females -- someone else (a man say), may imagine that he can identify AS a lesbian cos they love women as well, but that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to agree with that! He can perhaps identify WITH, in that there may be some commonality of experience ). (although I doubt it), but not identify AS.

    So, it just doesn't mske sense to me for someone to ID as male when they're not, or ID as a man when the rest of us disagree with that (cos they're not male for starters, and the commonly understood category of man is that you are male). If the category 'man' was changed, so you could have female men or male men, then a female man wouldn't need to try to look male or be surgically reconstructed to APPEAR male.

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  21. BadDyke: So what do you make of the fact that different lesbians have different definitions of the term "butch"? Dirt, for instance, capitalizes the word, and she also defines it as a woman who dates femmes only. Bev Jo, on the other hand, includes butches who date other butches. Also, Dirt claims to be able to discern whether a woman is butch from their youtube videos. So what do you do with the fact that even labels with which people identify have different meanings to different people?

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  22. Thanks for the comment about butch, not that I dont understand butch. Its just it was an informative read.

    >So, it just doesn't mske sense to me for someone to ID as male when they're not, or ID as a man when the rest of us disagree with that (cos they're not male for starters, and the commonly understood category of man is that you are male).

    I dont think gender is as simple as what your assigned at birth. I think gender is much more complex than that and I do believe there is an inbuilt gender identity in all of us. With the majority of people they dont feel the need to question this and I think that shows a level of comfort. To think there are only two genders is not a revolutionary way of thinking. Just like sexuality, gender identity has many grey areas.
    Identity doesnt always have to mean what the world sees you as. You can have an inner sense of identity. As you yourself I believe have. Everyone has an inner sense of identity.

    Just because you cant comprehend why I feel I am male. Doesnt mean it is not so. I am quite happy being myself. I think my own personal happiness is more important than whether people agree with me or not. Like throughout my life, as a child and teenager. I never felt as though the word "female" described me. I always wanted to cross out the "fe" and I used to cross it out on forms when I learned to read and write.
    I wish I could accept and love myself as female. It would be a much easier life than being Transgender. But I truthfully have no idea how and I think it must be like a non Trans person trying to be happy being the "opposite" gender.

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  23. "What about Transguys who identify as male but dont feel the need for surgery or hormone treatment? Whta do you think of them."

    If someone doesn't want a male body*, then the only possible "male" thing that they could identify with is the social role. Which is, y'know, culturally constructed and part of an oppressive hierarchy.


    *Yes, I'm aware that not all non-op/no hormones trans people only go that route for monetary or health reasons, but there are plenty who genuinely like and enjoy using their birth genitals.

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  24. I agree wholeheartedly 100% with Anon @ September 2, 2011 2:14 PM - yes, the world would be a better place if we looked beyond our own "identity" and put that energy into helping others.

    These are exactly the kinds of activities that have made me the happiest. Self-obsessed navel-gazing is a sure way to be miserable. Activities that make the world a better place, like volunteering, not only get you outside yourself, they make a real difference.

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  25. Gender is a social construct so of course there will be gray areas.

    How a person behaves has more so than not their natural way of being. It is its classification of masculine (man) or feminine (woman) - which are characteristics of gender throughout history thus once again back to a social construct. So the classifications are man-made.

    For example

    Butch for many would be classified as masculine behavior by a female. The fact is its claiming that masculine characteristics are actually male characteristics that most males posses. All wrong associations.


    The Etch - what is it about the female sex that you feel is so uncomfortable? What is it about the male sex that makes you feel more at home? Maybe you can't describe it in words. I'm not trying to get you attacked either. I'm honestly just curious. Is it a disassociation with your body as well or it is also partially social? What does female mean to you that explained to you early on that you were the opposite? And with that what made you notice you were the opposite gender?

    Also if The Etch replies to my questions....don't rip this person a new asshole! I think what I said makes a person certainly vulnerable.

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  26. The one I find affects me most on a day-to-day basis in the business world is that nurturing is a female trait and lack of emotion (or, perhaps, repression of emotion) a male trait.

    The repercussions?
    - Men are looked at funny if they ask for leave to take care of sick children.
    - Women are afraid to express emotion, even in retrospect, when time and again saying how you felt about something is a powerful negotiating tactic (frequently used by men, btw)
    - Women are often overly tough as mentors, because they're worried about the 'emotional' stigma, or constantly second-guessing their natural reactions.
    - If a man makes a rational, though necessary, tough business decision he is immediately accused of being ruthless and uncaring, while women leaders are at least given the benefit of the doubt.

    And so many more...

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  27. " I do believe there is an inbuilt gender identity in all of us." I'd disagree with that for starters.

    "As you yourself I believe have. Everyone has an inner sense of identity." Which is something we develop and construct in terms of what we see around us and how others interact with us -- social and socialisation is what I'm getting at here.

    " I think it must be like a non Trans person trying to be happy being the "opposite" gender." Here comes the gender binary again!

    The whole problem is you see gender identity as somehow innate, I see it as a social construct.

    Other groups (such as butch dykes) have constructed different gender identities for themselves based on how they relate, because they saw that they DIDN'T fit the heterosexual, patriarchal gender stereotypes that were around. So we worked soemthing out for ourselves, and natural then that different butches would define butch slightly differently.

    The whole thing only becomes problematic IF you insist there is an innate sense of gender, because then you get the tension between your innate sense, and others innate sense whcih doesn't see you as doing 'butch' properly, or as doing 'transmale' properly. Then we have the unavoidable tension between those who TRY to identfy with man as done and defined by biological males, and those who try and ID as male or man when they just don't fit, because they aren't male.

    Let's face it, you think gender identity is innate (hence someone can be born female but with a male gender identity), and others on here DON'T, and think there is another reason WHY some people end up feeling that, other than it being innate. We're diametrically opposed, we're not gonna agree with you on that, so there's an end of it!

    As regards butch, it's something that the lesbian community has constructed, given that our lives and our relationships DON'T fit within the male/female heterosexist, patriarchal options that the rest of society uses. Of course, straight society gets confused, and TRIES to describe our creation in terms of what they understand, so butch dykes get labelled as 'masculine' whether they want that or not! Butch dykes aren't masculine, because masculine is the straight-jacket that males have constructed in our society.

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  28. >what is it about the female sex that you feel is so uncomfortable? What is it about the male sex that makes you feel more at home? Maybe you can't describe it in words. I'm not trying to get you attacked either. I'm honestly just curious. Is it a disassociation with your body as well or it is also partially social? What does female mean to you that explained to you early on that you were the opposite? And with that what made you notice you were the opposite gender?

    1. My anatomy does not fit with how I see myself in my head. I dont feel like my breasts are meant to be there. They feel alien to me. As do my genitals although less so because I dont have to look at them all the time. I feel more comfortable when they're bound because my shape is more like I feel it should be. One of the things that annoys me about my genitals is that I kinda have missing limb symdrome. I feel like something should be there and Im very aware that there isnt something there.

    2. Bound and dressed the way I like I am less aware but not totally unaware of my anatomy. My personality and the way I am is much more male than female and Im more comfortable being seen as male. Its a very hard question to answer. Someone asked me it once and I responded by saying "I am so jealous of your nose, youve got an awesome nose" because I am so aware of the feminine qualities of my own face. Like if I was female Id have the perfect nose. Its small and perfectly shaped. But I wanted his nose because it was the perfect male nose. Hope that explained something, lol. Doubt it funnily enough.

    3. Its different with Transpeople. For me its more to do with my physical self than how Im see socially. I might be more focused on the social if I didnt have such wonderful friends. I dont have any straight close friends, all my best friends are gay men. And they're cool with me being Trans and support me and use the name and pronouns I want. As long as they accept me I couldnt give much of a fuck what some random starnger on the street thinks. If I was comfortable with my body and I didnt pass, I wouldnt care.

    4. I dont know I cant think that far back. I remember feelings of exclusion in school and with friends because I was a girl at the time. "this is a boys only fort". That kinda thing. I did have a friend early on who just accepted that I said I was a boy and told other kids that was the case till a teacher corrected him but that is all I can really remember. My family life was actually quite odd, I was raised by my very matriarchal Grandmother and my Grandad was the passive one. The woman in my family are the rulers of the roost. Thats why I dont see me as wanting to join the Patriarchy. There was none of that in my family life. When I moved back in with my Mother, me being the eldest. She had two other children, who'se fathers both left and they were both girls so I lived in an entirelly female household and my Grandmother had four girls and theres a serious female majority in my entire family.

    And I dont mind explaining. If it helps you in whatever way. Im also fairly damn open about everything.

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  29. I dress the way I like, I try not to base what I wear and who I am on evident social clues. You know like "I musnt wear pink" or "I must not gesture with my hands".

    Really, ill be who I want and I dont care if some randomer on the street sees me and thinks "hmm pink earring! must be girl".

    I wear a pink earring in my left ear because I like it. It also glows in the dark. Ive also got a pink Pokemon tattoo. Im a girly enough guy, Im not the weight lifting macho guy like some older Transmen are.

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  30. Shaving your armpits and legs: women's desperate reaction to beard envy.

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  31. 10:57, Beard Envy? I don't want a beard. I was raised in a family where women didn't shave their legs. But Good point though women are "supposed" to be hairless when we are so far from that!



    Thanks, The Etch.

    You were open and honest. It just paints a picture. I think sometimes people get so caught up with what they have to say that they stop listening to what others are trying to say.

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  32. I think honesty might chnage some peoples minds. Probably not but sure, Ill give it a go.

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  33. maybe you're a 'girly' 'guy' now, the etch
    but what about after you're on testosterone?
    aren't you the one who said you're desperate to take it?

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  34. The Etch:
    "One of the things that annoys me about my genitals is that I kinda have missing limb symdrome. I feel like something should be there and Im very aware that there isnt something there."
    I want to say... maybe it would help you to know that there isn't something "not there". There is no missing limb. If you inhabit a female-born body of which the anatomy is still intact, you've got at least as much as a male-born person has. Male genitals are analogous to the female ones, all embryos start with a female template. If you want to feel that you are a guy and are happier that way, then you should just get rid of that "missing limb" idea, because there is nothing missing. You have all the parts too. The idea that female bodies are lacking something is just another way to discriminate and invalidate.

    By the way, growing up in an all-female household doesn't necessarily free you from the clutches of patriarchy. The evil trick that patriarchy plays on many of us is that females hear from their childhood that they "are less important, less valuable, less capable, and expecially despicable and disgusting when it comes to their sexuality". A female that grew up with this propaganda and hasn't encountered something like Dirt's blog, or some other lecture on feminism, will probably tell her daughters the same old sh*t, because she BELIEVES in it. Now I am not trying to say your mother and grandmother did, please don't be offended. I am talking in more general terms. But it is just as likely for a girl - or boy - growing up with a single mom to be a believer in patriarchy, and/or (gender-)dysphoric, as it is for someone who was born into a traditional family.

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  35. >>maybe you're a 'girly' 'guy' now, the etch
    but what about after you're on testosterone?
    aren't you the one who said you're desperate to take it?<<

    My personality and dress sense are affeminate. If T gives me the changes Id like to make me more like I feel then Im cool with that.

    >>The idea that female bodies are lacking something is just another way to discriminate and invalidate.<<

    Im sorry if you took what I said that way. It isnt what I meant. Female genitals arnt missing somthing, theyre complete as female genitals. BUT because I am a guy I feel like Im missing something. Thats just the way I feel but Im not invalidating females.

    >>By the way, growing up in an all-female household doesn't necessarily free you from the clutches of patriarchy.<<

    I know that noone is immune to patriarchy but within my family is was the men who were seen as weaker. Thats what I was trying to say. I hope my view of my own masculinity is not tainted by societys views of what men should be like.

    Oh and sorry again if you felt bad about the missing limb thing. I was personal feeling not a misunderstanding of biology.

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  36. lesbianplusfeministSeptember 5, 2011 at 5:27 AM

    "My personality and the way I am is much more male than female and Im more comfortable being seen as male."

    The influence of patriarchy rears it ugly head yet again. There is no such thing as a male (or female) personality.

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  37. "My personality and the way I am is much more male than female"

    Here we go again! I don't believe in there being male and female personalities, just that society wants us to believe there are!

    Ditto, 'the way I am'.

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