EXCERPT: Whipping Girl (chapter 10): Experiential Gender

FOR NON-COMMERCIAL USE ONLY.

I was prepared to post the entire text of the chapter because I thought it might be unfair to take this section out of context…but then I thought that it was unfair to post such large sections of the book. So, I don’t know. Here’s the full pdf. Please let me know if you’d like the full text.

ALL BOLD and RED EMPHASIS NOT IN ORIGINAL TEXT.

…………………………………………………………………………………….

p.222

Of course, body feelings are not the only facet of my being that has contributed to my identity as a woman. As I alluded to earlier, the changes in my social gender-how other people relate to and interact with me-were at least as dramatic as (if not more so than) the physical changes to my body. While being treated as a woman felt foreign to me at first, over time it simply became my everyday life. My identity as a woman grew out of positive experiences, such as feeling comfortable with my own female body. Yet it also arose out of negative ones, such as the regularity with which other people placed unsolicited attention upon my body, whether it was the catcalls and sexual innuendos strangers would sometimes hurl at me or the occasional comments people started to make insinuating that I could stand to lose a little weight (even though I weighed the same as I did before my transition, and nobody saw my weight as a problem back then). My identity as a woman grew out of my frustration over being called a “bitch” any time I stood up for myself, or having others make remarks about my hormone levels any time I became legitimately upset or angry about something. My identity as a woman grew out of my experiences at parties and other social occasions when I would come across a group of men talking and laughing, and witness them suddenly fall silent when I approached. My identity evolved out of a million tiny social exchanges where others made it very clear to me that my status in the world—my class, if you will-was that of a woman and not a man.

223

Not surprisingly, no aspect of my social transition has been more difficult for me to adjust to than the way I am treated by some (but certainly not all) men. Granted, this was not entirely unexpected. Before my transition, I had often asked my female friends about their experiences living as women in a male-centered world. On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes be dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be. Words cannot express how condescending and infuriating it feels to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me. Or how intimidating it feels to have strangers make lewd comments about having their way with me as I’m walking alone at night down dark city streets. And while I had numerous run-ins and arguments with strange men back when I was male-bodied, I’d never before experienced the enraged venom in their voices and fury in their faces that I sometimes do now-an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women who they believe threaten their fragile male egos. It became more and more difficult for me to see the point in identifying outside of the male/female binary when I was so regularly being targeted for discrimination and harassment because I was a woman, when I so frequently had to stand up for myself as a woman in order to make sure that other people did not get away with it.

…………………………………………………………….

ALL BOLD and RED EMPHASIS NOT IN ORIGINAL TEXT.

Advertisements

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

17 responses to “EXCERPT: Whipping Girl (chapter 10): Experiential Gender

  1. but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be. Words cannot express how condescending and infuriating it feels to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me. Or how intimidating it feels to have strangers make lewd comments about having their way with me as I’m walking alone at night down dark city streets. And while I had numerous run-ins and arguments with strange men back when I was male-bodied, I’d never before experienced the enraged venom in their voices and fury in their faces that I sometimes do now-an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women

    How can someone who recognizes this, DISMISS (and ERASE!) FAAB experiences of GIRLHOOD?? How can she possibly think that having been treated this way YOUR ENTIRE LIFE, having known NOTHING ELSE, is *THE SAME* as CHOOSING to be a member of the sex class?? How can she say, with a straight fucking face, that having been FORCIBLY conditioned as a girl, treated AS a female, as LESS THAN MALE, even PRIOR to BIRTH, does not SHAPE the consciousness, the energy, of FAABs as a class?

    Self-focus that intense that is pretty remarkable, isn’t it?

  2. Self-focus that intense that is pretty remarkable, isn’t it?

    It sure is remarkable, UP, and it’s the complete inability of Serano (and trans-activists in general) to look beyond their own objectives, even for just a second, and consider FAB needs that blows my mind. It is entitled, narrow and dammit – it’s selfish.

    It reminds me of FCM’s post with the videos of Shelley Lubben, the ex porn actor who is now anti-pornography. FCM points out that the sex-poz crowd dismisses the personal narratives of people like Lubben, in favor of the “Yay Empowerful!” ones that suit their agenda.

    It’s the same thing at work here. Either personal narratives/lived experiences are worth listening to, or they’re not. But people can’t just pick and choose the ones they like and throw out the ones they dont like. This is a point that needs to be driven home.

    This sentence you’ve highlighted in the chapter is the crux of it for me:


    On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes he dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be.

    It’s this phrase “on an intellectual level” that sticks out. Because what it means is that pre-transition Serano was aware that women are dismissed/harassed, because women have always articulated this (and articulated it in great detail), but Serano failed to really “get it” – like all males he did not accept our narratives as valid, or that it could possibly be as bad as we say it is (either that or he just didn’t care – which many men surely don’t).

    It was only after transitioning and experiencing it for herself that she was finally able to grasp the weight of it.

    I don’t like the way Serano uses the term “underestimated” here, because it essentially lets herself (and all males) off the hook. As if it was just a harmless mistake – “gee I didn’t realize it was really that bad after all”. But it is not a harmless mistake – there is an entire social structure in place which both allows and encourages males to discount our experiences, brush them off and minimize them, and it is misogyny in action.

    Pre-transition, it was misogyny in action for Serano to “underestimate”/discount female experience regarding harassment, and post transition it is misogyny in action for Serano to continue discounting female experience regarding the importance of girlhood and the necessity for women-only spaces.

    I don’t really know how this could be made clear to trans activists without it all turning into a shouting match of “This is misogyny!” and “No! You’re TRANSPHOBIC!” etc etc

    I think if we simply keep relating it back to trans-activists’ own words where they discuss how the reality of being a woman did not match up with what they anticipated pre-transition, it might really help with this. I am going to keep my eye out for more examples of them talking about these things.

    btw, UP – Thanks so much for posting these excerpts and pointing out the connection between Serano’s experience with harassment and FAB women’s experience of girlhood. It really helps our position if we are able to utilize trans-activist source material in order to articulate ourselves – because they can’t argue with it! Ha ha. Not that won’t try.

  3. It is my pleasure! I think I may be able to come up with a couple more from Serano’s book. At least some complaints about how traumatized she is by living as a man and being socialized as male when she really wanted to be female.

    And to anyone else who reads this, if you have other examples of this phenomenon, please help us out here!

    Again, Miska, I just love the way you’ve explained this! I want to re-quote it all!! But that would be redundant.

  4. SheilaG

    To be treated as a second class citizen from birth, is something Serano simply cannot fathom. It’s why these people always come across as infuriating self-focused oppressors. Change the body, but the life experience of being treated like men for a lifetime is quite something else.

    To not even realize that women are condescended to? Talked down to? Talked baby talk at? That this goes on from birth for girls?

    Well that really shows how out of it men really are.
    So now this selfish-narcissistic ex-man wants in to our worlds? With such ignorance of women’s life?
    I don’t think so! The deal should be, the MTFs have to pass a rigourous training program on radical feminism. They don’t get let in anywhere lesbian until they have earned this right, and it should not mean access to designated women only spaces by the way. It would have to be neutral new spaces, test it out, see how well the MTFs have learned to listen, learned to serve, and become aware of just how badly women are treated. Otherwise, like aliens, they carry germs of the patriarchy with them, germs of the mind, germs of memories of when they were the ruling class… there is good reason kings don’t join labor unions!

  5. thebeardedlady

    To be treated as a second class citizen from birth, is something Serano simply cannot fathom. It’s why these people always come across as infuriating self-focused oppressors. Change the body, but the life experience of being treated like men for a lifetime is quite something else.

    Well said, Sheila.

    Trans activists don’t listen to us. They don’t believe us when we talk about our life experiences. They don’t care about what we have suffered.

    They only care about what THEY have suffered. They only listen when we talk about THEM. They only believe us when we call ourselves ‘cis’ and apologise for being women and say, ‘of course it must have been so much worse for you’.

    I don’t believe there is any point trying to further the dialogue with trans activists. I mean, if others want to put energy into that, I will support them. But I think it’s only useful inasmuch as it gives us words and experiences with which to talk to other fab women and feminists. I hope that more and more feminists are getting hip to the ways in which trans activism is out to silence and attack them. I think we need a lot of robust and clear arguments with which to debate with other women.

    Interesting that this is exactly what trans activists DON’T want. They do not want fab women to talk amongst themselves. They want all feminist sites to focus disproportionately on trans issues. They call rad fem blogs ‘hate speech’ sites. Clearly we should keep doing everything they don’t want us to do, because that’s where the answers are.

  6. SheilaG

    Thebeardedlady says:
    “Clearly we should keep doing everything they don’t want us to do, because that’s where the answers are.”

    I believe that MTFs are out to destroy radical feminism, and the hard fought gains of lesbian nation. I believe their agenda is to change our agenda. Radical feminists want women’s lives front and center, not the lives of people who once lived as men. We don’t believe that men have any answers for women.

    The claims on our time by formerly male people is simply something we cannot give in to.

    And a lot of the nonsense Serano writes about, could pretty much describe the lives of all the butch lesbians I have ever known. Only we are women, and have had to experience constant harassment as women. We are mistaken for men all the time because, guess what, we don’t kow tow or tune out sexism. The butch lesbian fights back, refuses to be the door mat of patriarchy.

    What ‘d like to see is MTFs fighting back against men, and have them leave our lesbian radicalism to us. We know we have the answers for women, we know men succeed by derailing our conversations (sometimes literally), and we also know that if we allow these people into our spaces, there is going to come a day, when one of these penis possessing persons actually rapes a lesbian in lesbian space. So the best way to avoid male rape, is to not allow any men at all in our spaces.

    MTFs need to be battling rape, and the men who do it. They need to set up their own organizations to fight male supremacy, and I think they could do a good job of it. So why don’t they do this? Why do they keep on wanting to destroy or derail our radical feminism, which grew out of centuries of the oppression of women by men, the very men they now claim they no longer are. And yet here they go, oppressing women, invading our spaces, claiming access to our souls and political brilliance, and all because they, like most men out there, think life is all about ME ME ME. It is their ME ME ME focus that so offends me Undercover and all radical separatists out there.

  7. Amen, Sheila! Let me just repeat that:

    To be treated as a second class citizen from birth, is something Serano simply cannot fathom. It’s why these people always come across as infuriating self-focused oppressors. Change the body, but the life experience of being treated like men for a lifetime is quite something else.

    Something else indeed! It’s sooo incredible that she speaks of the scars that gender dysphoria has left her with, yet she wants everyone ELSE to believe that we have all TRANSCENDED our social conditioning. HA!

    To not even realize that women are condescended to? Talked down to? Talked baby talk at? That this goes on from birth for girls?

    SERIOUSLY!! If she “underestimated” the immediate effect it would have on her life as a woman, what the FUCK does she think the effect is on people who have been treated that way their entire lives?!?!?! People who have never known anything else!? Serano can’t imagine what that could possibly be like. It’s–wait, let me quote you again–

    all because they, like most men out there, think life is all about ME ME ME

    AMEN, sister.

  8. TBL

    MTFs need to be battling rape, and the men who do it. They need to set up their own organizations to fight male supremacy, and I think they could do a good job of it. So why don’t they do this? Why do they keep on wanting to destroy or derail our radical feminism, which grew out of centuries of the oppression of women by men, the very men they now claim they no longer are. And yet here they go, oppressing women, invading our spaces, claiming access to our souls and political brilliance, and all because they, like most men out there, think life is all about ME ME ME. It is their ME ME ME focus that so offends me Undercover and all radical separatists out there.

    Well said. I have the same question – WHY aren’t MTF activists fighting against rape, fighting against male institutions, creating resources for women? Why do they focus their energies on trying to take down feminism? It is hard not to find this quite sinister, and it is undeniably threatening to women.

  9. SheilaG

    Again, why aren’t they attacking the male porn industry? Why aren’t they going for the male dominant ideology out there?

    Why do they think they can force themselves on women, just as rapists force themselves on women?

    It makes me realize that men really haven’t a clue at all. Just by Serano admitting that she never realized the depth of the condescention and talking down to women, even when she witnessed this night and day as a male, and had access to all male groups degrading women verbally?

    You can travel to any country, and see how that culture causes an entire population of people to conform to the social modes of that society. Why would this be so different from female and male socialization everywhere?

    Why are MTFs so dumb as so-called feminists? They are even dumber than straight women republicans in my opinion. To bad they can’t have dumbness operated on or drugged out of their beings. I am worried that women aren’t aware of this threat to feminist existence, that la de da lesbians are clubbing unaware of the trojan horse in the room. That’s what I worry about.

    What if feminists nationwide led a march on Camp Trans, let’s say 200,000 women, surrounding the camp, demanding that they honor women’s space. We need the numbers to confront in their own back yard, so they can see what this really feels like. Lesbians once again need to get real tough real fast, because are dealing with men in sheep’s clothing. The actions always speak louder than the words, and Serano and company doesn’t even know what feminism is.

  10. SheilaG

    “Why do they focus their energies on trying to take down feminism? It is hard not to find this quite sinister, and it is undeniably threatening to women.”

    YES TBL it is quite sinister. It is everything Mary Daly and Janice Raymond warned us about over 30 years ago!! Our lesbian intellectual greats did everything in their power to provide blueprints for women’s liberation. Now those scholar/activists are being purged from women’s studies classes, by you guessed it MTF scholars, who admit they have never read their works in their entirety.

    Believe me, I am there on location listening to their nonsense, and when I challenge it, I’m about the only lesbian in the room that does this. It really bothers me how passive women get sometimes.

    Sinester in every way, and I think we have to challenge them on why MTFs are not decoding patriarchy’s inner workings for us, why they are revealing the true tactics of men as former insiders! That’s what I’d like to know from them, but they brush this often and think they were never men! They may well “never” have been men, but they damn well were treated like men in youth, the world around them gave the male space, male career training (no female sexual harassment on their way up to the rank of Fire Captain–true story there), no female harassment as they became well paid helecopter pilots or pro-tennis players…. no, they were women all along, only the world did not treat them as women.

    The world granted them a free male money earning career pass, and now they claim “inside” they were always women. Well, outside they were men, and in this society, the world sees the outside, pays according to male appearance and male self.

    Let’s look at the career tracks, the bank accounts, the status granted to them. No wonder a Serano is so angry at being kicked out of the women’s club, because when he was a HE, people said, “Yes, sir, here’s your promotion, here’s your first class ticket in patriarchy… imagine his shock when suddenly he was transformed into a black woman in the deep south… the body changed, the privilege evaporated, but all Serano can think of is derailing feminism, wondering why the club doesn’t say come on in.

    Women have a right to question anyone with a penis and to not let the penis in the door. The raped woman, the sexually harssed women (all of us) have a right to say, “NO you can’t come in, your species is the issue, you go out and attack men’s groups, you gather your MTF gang and go picket porn stores and porn movie houses, and strip clubs. You go raise money and get laws passed to throw Johns in jail. You go save the prostitutes, and help them escape pimps. You show up and do childcare so mothers can work and you help women get higher paying jobs.

    MTFs I challenge YOU to tell what the secrets of patriarchal control and domination really are.
    Put on workshops called destroying male supremacy, put your life on the line by going up against men, and then maybe I’ll see some sincereity in your actions. But I don’t see this from your group. I don’t even see you understanding that to us, the penis=rape, the male body equals horror and disgust on the part of lesbians.

    So why do you want to hang out with lesbians? Well to put it less than delicately, you want sexual access to women. Where are you going to get that access? Not from straight women, that’s for sure.
    So now, horror of horrors you want in on Michigan because that’s where the lesbians are, that’s where the sexual colonization potential is.

    Men, the sex obsessed, the female body obsessed, the activists in MTF do have this as a hidden or not so hidden agenda, but they’ll never admit this.

    Just like they couldn’t see the condescention and baby talk when they were formerly men.

    I am on a rant of rants sisters! I am so angry that MTFs are destroying the feminism I gave my entire life for! I am furious beyond fury, and I don’t want those trojan horses to get one little hoof in Michigan, and I’d like to see a major feminist “backlash” against them. We need to push back very hard. We need to protect butch lesbians so they don’t get victimized by transition mania. So much to do. But at least we can get these ideas out on the Internet, Dirt is a great warning system. We need more warning and more challenge not less.

  11. Pingback: Lots of links … « fab matters

  12. regarding the propensity of male-bodied “penis people” to rape, i love (hate) how the MTF complain about not being allowed into female WASHROOMS, and act as if its WOMENS TRANSPHOBIA thats the real problem for them, while avoiding the obvious. which is that the MTFs dont feel safe using the mens room, because they are afraid of being raped. by the men. in fact, access to womens restrooms seems to be the defining issue for them, and proof positive of womens “cis-privilege” but the entire scenario begins, ends, and revolves entirely around the fact that MEN RAPE. and this is the best example they can come up with, of born-women oppressing them. (?)

    and men in dresses are men. ergo, transwomen are potential rapists. and we dont want to use the toilet with them. this is MTF’s exact problem with men, and using the toilet with men. and they are simultanously saying “its a problem”, and “its not problematic at all”.

  13. Tell it, FCM!! I love it.

    Either men raping IS a problem, or it isn’t. But if it *is* a problem, it’s a problem no matter which bathroom, boardroom, or backalley you find yourself in.

    Make up your mind, trans women!

  14. NotSo

    Re the toilet thing:

    So say we go there. Let’s imagine for a brief-yet-painful minute that all Female Washrooms EVERYWHERE have now been designated as MTF-friendly.

    Is it so outlandish to think that this would increase rapes by three thousand percent because STRAIGHT MEN, disgusting, immoral, entitled straight men, start dressing as women just to gain access to female washrooms and therefore, females?

    And then guess what: it’ll be yet another headache that women have to sort out because it is now a WOMAN’s issue (just like being raped is always a woman’s issue and never a man’s).

    I’d like to see a solution for this coming from the MTF’s BEFORE that happens, as proof that they actually give a flying fuck at a black hole about actual feminist issues.

  15. NotSo

    Also – I’ve been leaving comments around this blog recently like so much deer scat without so much as a by-your-leave. Apologies for intruding on what seems, now, to be a rather private space.

    I’m a newly converting rad-fem and have been lurking and lurking until I couldn’t stand it and blurted out a whole bunch of stuff.

    So I’m in my twenties, female/woman, and I got here through Undercover Punk’s blog. And am still wondering if radical feminism is some kind of ‘cult’ (not actually, but you know what I mean right – something seems too good to be true and then it turns out it is).

    I have an actual blog and online identity but am afraid of being judged when I comment on other people’s blogs therefore, this safe, anonymous NotSo. I hope you don’t mind if I stay NotSo for now until I can screw my courage to the sticking place.

    Okay enough about that. Just one more comment on the above post.

    http://www.annelawrence.com/twr/brain-sex_critique.html

    Because it was really bothering me at the back of my mind. “What if trans women really do have biological basis for their transience – I mean, transparency – no actually I really mean, transfuckery?”

    But they don’t. Witness an epic conclusion:

    “The brain-sex theory was never helpful in explaining clinical observations; now it has become irrelevant to explaining neuroanatomical observations. It is time to abandon the brain-sex theory of transsexualism and to adopt a more plausible and clinically relevant theory in its place.”

    This is pretty much all they’ve got, and now they don’t.

    Okay I’m all caught up, will now move past 2009 heh heh 🙂

    • I have an actual blog and online identity but am afraid of being judged when I comment on other people’s blogs therefore, this safe, anonymous NotSo. I hope you don’t mind if I stay NotSo for now until I can screw my courage to the sticking place.

      Totally understood. Thank you for your comments and please CARRY ON in the way that you are most comfortable with.

  16. Yes! Your posts were part of the inspiration, thank you! I just couldn’t go another second without reading this absurdity for myself. Then once I did start reading it myself it was a case of, “Oh hell no, this stuff can’t continue to go on as OK just because most people haven’t bothered to read it.” Information wants to be free! And critiqued by feminists!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s