Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week 6: Male-Identified Women


carly mac said...

Apparently feminism is the devil. At least thats what Jessica Gird thinks. I was under the impression that feminism is one of the only movements in the world that encourages and focuses on gender bending, personal expression, individuality, and freedom. However, Gird argues that feminism is ‘anti’ all of these things. In fact, she blames feminism for contention and disconnect in lesbian communities.

Gird states, “Slowly, yet with fierce agendas the feminist movement chipped away at butch society, forcing extreme psychosocial damage by alienating butch females from the visibility of the lesbian movement and the comfort of their established communities.  Female masculinity not only became a taboo within radical sects, butch women became a threat. Their visibility was seen as oppressive and detrimental to the feminist cause.”

She goes on to argue, “As cohorts to masculine females, the femme lesbian also becomes a threat to feminist ideals.  Often femme identified women are criticized by their oppressively viewed identity.  Many lesbian feminist see femme women as condoning the repression of patriarchal society, as women who accept their positions as lower class citizens by maintaining and seeking out gender specified relationships.”

Gird continues, “Butch life in present day lesbian society leaves much to be desired. From feminist minded women and their attempts to “convert” the butch, too pure ignorance of the butch presence, established lesbian communities are far less supportive of their butch sisters than what one would have seen even in the 1940s.   Stone butch identities are seen as something to be broken and conquered instead of embraced and accepted.  While the gender fuckers and drag kings are marginally accepted as they are seen as mostly performative, the stone butch and transgender continue to encounter a large amount of difficulty.  In many circumstances ignorance rears its ugly head while the feminist plight fights to “change the minds” of masculine females.”

Honestly, I am of offended by this article. Guess what, Gird? I am one of these “feminist minded women” that you speak about. And guess what? Me and my feminist peeps aren’t trying to “convert” anybody. Feminism doesn’t hate... feminism loves. bell hooks said that feminism is for everybody. bell hooks didn’t say that feminism is only for women who act ‘like women.’

To give Gird the benefit of the doubt, maybe this article is just a rant based on her recent experiences or observations. Well, in that case, this post is just a rant about my recent observations of people like Gird claiming that the feminist movement caused all sorts of oppression and is attempting to shove people back in their gender box. Feminism is about the opposite! If feminists hated men, or lesbians that performed as men, then why would we be working so hard to include men as our comrades in struggle? Why would we be working so hard to prove that gender is a social construct and people should live their lives however they feel, regardless of if it is appropriately masculine or feminine.

Why, after all these years, do feminists still have to spend so much time defending ourselves, instead of being out there fighting the good fight like we should be? Feminists and the LGBTQ community should be working together to fight the real sources of oppression instead of pointing fingers and blaming each other for our struggles. Maybe I’m just being overly sensitive because I identify as a feminist and am extremely proud to do so, but I think that blaming feminism as a source of oppression of lesbians (who are WOMEN!!) and gender fuckers is regressive and unproductive. Feminism aims to stop the oppression of women and all people, remember? Let’s start blaming the patriarchy instead, shall we? Let’s move forward, not backward.

art. said...

Carly, i don't think that Gird is blaming feminism in this article. Although a lot of the problems ze focuses on operate around separation within lesbian communities, patriarchy is still the issue at hand.

For example, “They [radical feminists] regarded butch/femme as roles in which the players were acting out with each other the oppression from the parent culture.’ (580) That being said the dislike within feminist communities spawned an intercommunity conflict between lesbian feminists and masculine identified females."

Here Gird is saying that radical feminists saw masculine identified females [as well as femme/butch relationships] playing into the patriarchy that said feminists were working hard to combat. Because of this separation exists. Feminism is not causing the separation, nor is it blamed here. "Acting out the oppression of the parent culture,"—perceived patriarchy in action—is blamed.

Combining that with "lip stick dyke," one could argue that the space that third wave fem-identified feminists--whether lesbian or not--fought so hard for minimized a space for male identified women and/or [stone] butch lesbians. A space for male identified women and/or butch lesbians may have to be separate and therefore subordinated, or may not exist at all.

“The lesbian society caved in on itself, separating into two special interest groups; One group sympathetic the natural masculinity of butch and trans identified women, the other in strong opposition…the feminist alienated…butch females from the visibility of the lesbian movement and the comfort of their established communities.”

Once again, this is a product of patriarchy, not feminism. Butch females were understood as perpetuators of patriarchy. “…masculine women embodied everything ugly about male society. The oppression, the dominance, the male power asserted over women or in this case, femme identified women.” This is an issue of certain feminists associating these women’s understanding of self as still rooted in dominance. Maybe they would not see this if they weren’t so into [lesbian] feminism, but I imagine that people amongst dominant heterosexual culture would see such expression in a similar way.

"Many lesbian feminist see femme women as condoning the repression of patriarchal society, as women who accept their positions as lower class citizens by maintaining and seeking out gender specified relationships."

This is another case where Gird is blaming patriarchy. To view femme women as "condoning the repression of patriarchal society" and male identified women as "playing into patriarchy" is a problem of patriarchy, not feminism.

If under the guise of feminism, various understandings of self are diminished by opposing oppressed groups, that's still hegemonic oppression. That's the issue, not feminism. The point Gird is making, I believe, is that a lot of persons who consider themselves feminists still perpetuate these oppressions.

art. said...

Even still there is huge separation between LGB and T. Look at campus groups. GLBSU is still a "LGBT" group, yet only GLB is in the title. Although the group may not define itself as feminist, a parallel inclusiveness is supposed to be formed yet it clearly falls short. The same could be said for GLOW (Gay Lesbian OR Whatever).

"Sadly, (as with homosexuality within the hetero communities) female masculinity is seen as a choice." Ironically, this is feminists still playing into the gender binary perpetuated by heteronormativity and patriarchy. People are not perpetuating these oppressions because they are feminists; they are doing so because these oppressions are everywhere and take constant work to combat. It also takes a lot of work to view oppression as connected rather than linear.

This also relates to drag kings/queens being accepted because of their ‘blatant’ perfomativity; people are able to accept kings and queens because they poke fun at dominant culture and they play with performance. However, if someone twists dominant culture in a way that is not clearly performed, they are shunned?

If all gender is performative, the only way things are understood as natural is because repeated repetitious acts. These acts are what allow dominant hetero culture, as well dominant homo culture to minimize those subordinated within their respective groups. The acceptance of drag vs. separation from male identified women, femme-lesbians, and femme/butch relationships is a way for persons to disrupt dominant culture, and to distance themselves from existing within or as apart of it. The pedagogy of anti-oppression takes precedent over anti-oppression itself.

Furthermore whenever persons' vocalization of oppression is seen as a "step back", you are towing a fine line. Dominance exists within groups that fight dominance. If someone feels underrepresented or in the case of the article even resented, it would make sense that ze would feel not a part of said group. Considering you read the article as Gird blaming feminism [and therefore women?] I understand how hir points are seen as misguided. Regardless, calling making light of oppression and under representation a 'step back' is silencing.

Often the goals of groups reflect the culture of the more dominant of its members; people separate themselves from more subordinated persons who seek to identify with their group because they are seen as outliers who hurt the 'unified' goal. This is an issue of dominant cultures seeking to dominate. If people aren’t allowed to vocalize the oppressions they fill amongst others within ‘their’ movement(s) you’ll lose them. "Strength is in numbers, not in separatism."

art. said...

“Feminists and the LGBTQ community should be working together to fight the real sources of oppression instead of pointing fingers and blaming each other for our struggles.”

You’re right they should be working together. That being said, the idea that pointing fingers at other feminists is fighting ‘not real’ oppression operates under the assumption that feminists cannot perpetuate oppression, which is false. It also silences those who are oppressed within feminist groups. Furthermore, you should also make the distinction between feminism and feminists. Just because Gird is pointing out separation amongst feminist thinking people, she is not therefore blaming feminism. You said, “Gird argues that feminism is ‘anti’ gender bending, personal expression, individuality, and freedom” In the beginning of your critique her blame lies with the discourse, by the end it lies with the [feminists and LGBTQ community] people. “Feminism doesn’t hate... feminism loves.” I don’t have context of this quote, but it reads like an attempt to personify a philosophy, which furthers the lack of distinction between feminism and feminists.

“I think that blaming feminism as a source of oppression of lesbians (who are WOMEN!!) and gender fuckers is regressive and unproductive”

The fact is, people who play with gender in fluid manner aren’t accepted anywhere whether it be in dominant culture or amongst people who identify as feminists. Find me a feminist movement that proudly promotes trans-rights. I beg you. I’ll once again point to the groups on campus that are supposedly LGBT[Q] inclusive, but they minimize trans and queer people in the names of their groups. If you’re in a movement where everything fits under equality, trans rights aren’t even visible because most people don’t know that ‘equality’ includes trans at all. Most people think of it as equality amongst the [two] sexes. Once again, this isn’t Gird blaming feminism, but the binaries and hierarchies so ever present in dominant culture. Lots of feminists fail to address these oppressions in an inclusive manner, but that is not the fault feminism.

Merritt Johnson said...

When I downloaded the PDF and started reading Men & Masculinities, the first paragraph jumped out at me.”Female-to-male (FTM) transsexual people are the least studied group of
all when it comes to masculinity.” I found this to be very true. I have seen many documentaries on men becoming women but really has it been documented about women to men. For instance this year Sonny & Cher’s daughter Chastity became Chaz. It was an uproar. For awhile Cher was not accepting of her daughter being a lesbian, but finally came to terms with it. I think it was a good move for Chaz. That’s how he feels he was meant to be. This raises a question for me, since he relates to being a man; does this now mean he is a straight man since he is attracted to females, even though he was born as a female? I am just curious how that works.

On page 3, “What my contact with transsexual people has taught me is that the time
is upon us to reevaluate how we think about gender, sex, and sexuality. It now
seems perfectly clear to me that we live in a world which is far more diverse
than any number of simplistic dichotomies can describe. . . . It is time that we
begin to recognize that there are far more (mistakes of society) than there are
(mistakes of nature.)” I don’t think it’s a mistake or look at it a bad. This is how someone feels and they should be able to go ahead with it. I might have taken it the wrong way, but mistake is a sad way to put it. I think a lot of the time sex changes and identifying with the opposite sex is misunderstood, as people see drag queens. How they put on a show type thing and think it’s for attention. I think of it as a way for men to be women and have people look at them and entertain them and have them accept them.

I think feminism is able to see more than two genders, yet where are only two genders. I know there are female-to-male, male-to-female, lesbians, gays, transgender, but in reality there is male and female and however the person chooses to be seen, should be accepted. Especially in feminism, as feminists have been working so hard for women’s rights, they should be accepting of any other human’s beliefs and rights. There is obviously a difference between boys/girls & men/women there is a prevalent like that can be drawn but everyone defines themselves in different ways. For example, our class, there are so many different types of people with different beliefs. Everyone dresses differently, expresses how they feel on each topic differently, has different sexual preferences, and relates to males & females differently. Yet, everyone is accepting of each other, we respect one another and listen to their point of view. This is how our line should be drawn and should be widely accepted. I love how Art wears skirts to class, I think it’s cool, how he expresses himself and is obviously proud. How Nicole said she is a lesbian and half black and half white. Everyone respects everyone for who they are in class; I feel this class could teach people a lot.

On our last question on our blog prompt, “What does it mean for patriarchy if I can bind my breasts and stuff my pants and have instant access to male privilege?” Honestly even though feminism is better, and more women have rights. I think we’d still be stripped of male privilege and viewed as a woman. The Chaz case shows it. People say he/she about him and question why “she” did it when he is now a he ad everyone should see that. Men want to be in control and want only men to be like that. It’s sad how they view gays as “sissy’s” and “not real men” when they are gay. I enjoyed this blog & am excited to see what Nicole and Carly discuss in class tonight.

Ross said...

Oo! A polemic against a polemic against yet another polemic. How fun! I’ve got to get in on this.

Patriarchy is certainly under the crosshairs in Gird’s article, but not as directly as Art’s analysis suggests. This is overwhelmingly a critique of feminism, more specifically the feminist movement, and most specifically the way that the movement interacts with and influences the lesbian (and broader queer) community. Gird references patriarchy only once in her essay, while some variant of “feminism” appears 23 times. Many of the problems she explores can be traced back to patriarchy, but Gird deliberately keeps the heat on feminism. Consider this paragraph:

“The effect of the aforementioned anti-male feminist movement proved to be harshly detrimental to various levels male identified females. Even the perfomativity of drag kings became a taboo. Once again women who embraced their masculinity were harassed, bullied, humiliated and shunned, only this time, these spirit crushing acts, were created by other females. The lesbian society caved in on itself, separating into two special interest groups; One group sympathetic the natural masculinity of butch and trans identified women, the other in strong opposition. Slowly, yet with fierce agendas the feminist movement chipped away at butch society, forcing extreme psychosocial damage by alienating butch females from the visibility of the lesbian movement and the comfort of their established communities. Female masculinity not only became a taboo within radical sects, butch women became a threat. Their visibility was seen as oppressive and detrimental to the feminist cause. By embracing masculinity within one’s self, such persons where viewed as traitors and infidels. As far as radical feminists were concerned, masculine women embodied everything ugly about male society. The oppression, the dominance, the male power asserted over women or in this case, femme identified women.”

I admire Art’s artistry in the way he frames Gird’s points as anti-patriarchal, not anti-feminist. Clearly we have a master of rhetoric in our midst. But you can’t spin this. Gird feels that feminists (significantly, she never categorically condemns all feminists), have used some portions of feminist theory to marginalized butch and femme lesbians. Rather than giving her the “benefit of the doubt,” as Carly is willing to concede, I’m inclined to take her at her word.

I’m not a lesbian and I’m not familiar with the lesbian community. I know, however, that libratory movements can be coercive and intolerant, even without intending to be so. “Feminism loves,” there’s no doubt about that. But even though feminism has always had love in its spirit, its body and mind have frequently fallen short. Feminism’s libratory mission does not render its doctrines and adherents infallible, nor does it exempt it from strong critiques. Such critiques strengthen the movement by adding diversity and monitoring for hypocrisy.

Ashley Halpin said...

I believe feminism is most definitely dynamic enough to expand beyond two genders. I do not think feminism relies on the existence of two genders, but instead is in existence because of the gender binary. While feminism serves its purpose to expose the problems with patriarchy and the gender binary, the world would be a much better place if feminism was not necessary because in such a world, we would all have a choice to live as we wanted and no one would be considered abnormal.

“Within general society many masculine identified women find themselves shunned from their communities of lesbian identified sisterhood. This is not only a harsh reality of lesbian society but also a cold reminder that tight knit communities such as the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) community, still have aversions to those who live outside the box. Movements such as the feminist movement of the late 1970s, while wonderful for lesbian visibility, was also a train wreck for masculine identified women. Stone butches, gender queers, gender fuckers, transgender and drag kings found themselves alienated from their community, and viewed as a threat to feminism and the female struggle” (Gird). I think a similar point has been spoken about in other articles that we have read, such as race and homosexuality. From what I have read, instead of developing a strong belief of acceptance, being “outside of the box” to the “normal” patriarchal society can lead to the desire to try and fit into the box and shun those who are even further away from fitting into the box.

One can talk themselves in circles about whether femme lesbians are trying to fit into patriarchy or if transsexual are attempting the same, but none of this solves the overarching problem at hand. The feminism I believe in shatters the boxes that people are restricted in. While discussing masculinity and femininity and the restrictions the gender binary imposes on the members of our society, the main goal should always be to understand that 1) these restrictions can be very harmful and 2) they are not necessary.

In terms of criticisms that Gird states about the feminist movement, I have to agree with Ross that such criticism can be useful. As someone who is not a lesbian and cannot possibly relate to some of the issues at hand, I do think it is important to always consider well thought out arguments, even if you do not agree. It is often when we do not agree with someone that we learn something new and possibly very valuable.

What does it mean for patriarchy if I can bind my breasts and stuff my pants and have instant access to male privilege? I do not think it is quite that easy to gain access to male privilege as the question suggests. A person cannot just be masculine to gain male privilege, but must also pass as a man to the other members of society. Amy Bloom, as quoted by Halberstam, said “I expected to find psychologically disturbed, male-identified women so filled with self-loathing that it had even spilled into their physical selves, leading them to self-mutilating, self-punishing surgery. Maybe I would meet some very butch lesbians, in ties and jackets and chest binders, who could not, would not accept their female bodies. I didn’t meet these people. I met men” (41). It is not the chest binding or the stuffing of pants that allows people to have access to male privilege, but in the successful integration into the gender binary. A butch lesbian who binds her breasts and stuffs her pants would not gain this privilege. Instead, she would be shunned for her resistance to be a feminine woman or a masculine man. Therefore, it isn’t necessarily the presentation of being masculine, but a person’s ability to fit into the gender binary that determines privilege.

j.leigh said...

"Transgender Butch: Butch/FTM Border Wars and the Masculine Continuum" was a difficult, yet incredibly insightful, read, and one which greatly opened my own mind to new ways of viewing gender and the feminist movement itself. I give author Judith Halberstam much credit for challenging previously held assumptions about gender fluidity, desire, and sexual identity, and for defending her own article "F2M," while still remaining open to constructive criticism from others. I feel like this is crucial to the feminist movement, and cannot be stressed enough - classes such as these, and experiences in my own life, have personally shown me how important it is to remain open to all other individuals and not become self-deluded that our own brand of feminism is the "right" one.

Halberstam, for example, "want[s] to challenge the assumption that fluidity and flexibility are always and everywhere desirable" and "wants to resist the hierarchy ... that places 'the successfully integrated post-op FTM' at the apex of cross-gender transition." By challenging the idea that a successful FTM transition is somehow more deserving of masculinity than the stone butches whose bodies she is writing on, and by arguing that "stone butch" is a valid identity and not just a stepping stone on the road to transitioning, she is faced with much criticism from the transgender community who argue that she is "presuming to speak for FTMs." While this is a very valid critique, Halberstam counters that she was not trying to criticize the transgender community, yet was rather trying to break down the dichotomy that places the transgender and butch community "at war."

It was very frustrating to read this article and realize how many different theories there are about what constitutes masculinity, how individuals perform masculinity or are masculine, and how much of the "border wars between transgender butches and FTMs seem to proceed on the assumption, shared by all sides, that masculinity is a limited resource, available to only a few in ever-decreasing quantities. Or else, we see masculinity as a set of protocols that should be agreed upon in advance." Halberstam herself points out the difficulties in establishing what masculinity truly is. She quotes Prosser who writes, "queer theories of gender are constructive [while] transgender theories are essentialist" and then "proposes that transgenderism be separated out from 'generic queerness' in order to build a transgender community."

j.leigh said...

This is the difficulty we as feminists face today. There are so many opposing ideals and theories that it begins to seem futile to ever reach a place where people are just respected as individuals and respected for whatever gender identity they take. I feel like this problem is not just scholarly in nature either, but rather seeps into our daily lives as well. "Border wars" are not just occurring between FTMs and stone butches for places of masculinity, but among many feminist spaces. I have talked to several people who have been accused of not being "feminist enough" or been told that their feminism isn't real, and so they are pushed away from the movement. I have seen individuals oppressed and judged for their actions, none of which have anything to do with their feminist identity and none of which have oppressed others, and then felt like their work was futile, that their own being was worthless. We cannot, as friends, as sisters, as brothers, as feminists, continue to hold onto self-deluded ideas of grandeur that anyone is better than anyone else. This type of separatist attitude is a form of oppression and silencing and will never allow feminism to flourish.

As Halberstam writes, however, "while identity continues to be the most efficient basis for political organizing, we have seen within various social movements in the last decade that identity politics must give way to some form of coalition if a political movement is to be successful."

I think she is exactly right, and yet this just may be the greatest challenge to feminism yet. Is it possible to form a coalition among people whose identity politics vary so drastically? I believe so, as long as we have a common goal - the equality and acceptance of all. In this way, individual identity is preserved and we can truly come together as a powerful movement. All we have to do now is check our own judgements, our own previously held beliefs, and try to end the olympics of who is more masculine/feminine/feminist.

Ariel Dansky said...

"Sadly...female masculinity is seen as a choice. And though this may be a correct assumption within the drag king and gender fucker scene, this assumption is quite the opposite with stone butches and transgender females. Their masculine nature is as inborn as the color of their skin."

This quote by Jessica Gird embodies the ironic practice of discrimination against masculine-identified women within the lesbian community. It is ironic because the assumptions used to marginalize masculine women are the same assumptions used by our heteronormative society to deny LGBT individuals equal rights. They chose to be gay. They chose to be masculine. Therefore, they should just suck it up and deal with the consequences. Or maybe, as Gird says mentions is a common notion, we can attempt to "convert" them to the norm.

But what exactly is the "norm" within the lesbian community? Gird writes that both a butch and femme identity were often rejected by feminists within the lesbian community as mirroring what is seen as a repressive heterosexual norm.

When I read about the anti-masculinity movement within feminism during the 1960's and stretching into the 1980's, I was not surprised, as the 2nd wave movement was discriminatory on many levels. However, I did not realize that the rejection of traditional gender roles would reflect in the practice of discrimination against women by women and that feminists were perpetuating the cycle of marginalization within their own communities! Further, while I assumed that this discrimination was only present in the 1980's and had evaporated today, I was shocked to find that its detrimental effects are still present in the lesbian community.

Although feminism has come far, it is clear that it has a long way to go.

Sara N said...

First, I’d like to note that this is not really polemical. Polemics is arguing for the sake of arguing where this is a well founded critique of the paradox of identity politics and yes, to a lesser extent, the limits of feminism. I would like to retract my statement that in feminism men should speak with women not for women. In its place I suggest that an individual’s bodily disposition is not as relevant as the common goal. There are few other places where it is as clear how dangerous it can be to have a movement/political positionality which seeks liberation but relies on member/nonmember logics. If the goal of feminism is to liberate women than all those who advocate this goal should join together because “they are all fighting for the same cause. Equality. Strength in numbers, not in separatism” (Gird). No other place has this been as clear and articulated as within the transgender community within feminism.

This is not the first time I have heard this critique. In “Feminist Theories” we were asked “what is a real woman?” And after we all recited our calculated formulas we watched a movie about Jennifer Miller the self-identified “bearded lady,” which really messes with traditional ideals of femininity and masculinity. Jennifer Miller is a radical lesbian feminist. Jennifer Miller experiences resistance from the radical lesbian feminist community. Because of her facial hair she passes as a man not a “stone-butch” because most “women” do not grow facial hair. Having a beard is not the typical “butch” experience. So, to say that “the aversion to masculine identities in women snowballed from the radical feminist movement of the 1960s into present society” is not a terrible stretch. Halberstam too, notes that “[s]ome lesbians seem to see FTMs as traitors to a ‘women’s’ movement who cross over and become the enemy” (GLQ, Halberstam,287).

It is important to note in the spirit of our prompt, Gird, Halberstam, Butler, Foucault, Sedgwick, Rubin and a myriad of others, that feminism has limitations. Because it “relies on the existence of, and difference between, boys and girls” coalition building becomes extremely difficult when we reinscribe the gender binary using member/nonmember logic. If we really want to stretch the categories “men” and “women” to meaninglessness (which I for one do) then we need to move beyond bodily dispositions and towards a goal oriented coalition. The process of naming certainly changes the experience and it is important to keep this in mind when focused on liberation politics.


Abigail said...

I totally see where Carly is coming from…Jessica Gird seems to have a problem with everything most of all with feminism. Apparently feminism leaves masculine lesbians in the dust but also is threatened by feminine lesbians. Criticisms are necessary because they encourage people to self examine and can have some great outcomes, just look at all the differences from second wave feminism and where we are now in third way. Though when you just bitch or disapprove of so many things then what next, where is feminism supposed to go? Her reading was also hard to accept because feminism is not this one set idea or stance, it deals with a multitude of issues which feminists do not all agree.

Now in regards to the blog prompt…I spent a lot of time thinking about what now? What does male privilege mean if we can’t define male and female, if we can cut our hair and pass for male? I think it means that we are closer to where we need to be, that we are closer to understanding that male/white/heterosexual privilege is bullshit and once we know we tell others, until the system is dismantled. Once people understand that we are so mixed and different but yet the sample then the rest doesn’t matter and people ought to be treated as individuals and taken for face value.

Claraine said...

I think this week’s prompt speaks to the fluidity of gender and that it cannot be seen in such a dichotomous perspective as male and female. As we have discussed in class the boundaries of feminism are blurry to say the least depending on your desired brand of feminism but the inclusion of all queer folk would defiantly stretch the scope. Of course there are good and bad benefits to feminism being a more inclusive movement but then the dispute of labels and definitions would not help matters any. Further, labels and definitions can be very difficult to overcome in a society like ours that has such rigid guidelines as to ‘who counts’ and ‘as what.’ In this week’s reading, “Part of the Package: Ideas of Masculinity among Male-Identified Tran people,” Green states: “Making everyone else wrong is easy; understanding difference as complimentary rather than oppositional seems to be much more difficult project (295).” Feminism in conjunction with other movements might help further resistance to systems of oppression that exist today.

Brian H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
taco said...

In response to the blog prompt: If feminism weren't dynamic enough to see more than two genders, I would have to stop adhering to it. So many people live as a testament to the fact that there are in reality more than two genders. The strict boundaries of societally-defined gender (the binary of woman versus man) is not flexible enough to account for the identities of all people. This is a downfall of our society; this should not be a downfall of the feminist movement. As I see it, feminism relies on fighting against the oppression of people based on the binaries created by society - it does not rely, as Cat Pyne states "on the existence of [these binaries], and differences between, boys and girls."

Whether or not gender itself is wholly a social construct, the binary circumscribing gender is definitely a social construction. There are more than two types of people, and the dichotomy of "woman versus man" cannot possibly account for everyone in society. Mainstream society does not accept this. Feminism has to. If we fail to see more than two genders and to work for the equality of all gender identities, we marginalize people in the same way as the society we are trying to change.

And if "I can bind my breasts and stuff my pants and have instant access to male privilege," all that means for patriarchy is that it's a completely and utterly messed up system. This fact only strengthens the feminist stand, because it demonstrates that male privilege isn't based on any tangible cause. There is no reason for it. It is completely unwaranted. No one gender is inherently better than another, and people of a certain gender should not be valued more than any other.

Brian H. said...

I definitely feel that feminism is dynamic enough to see more than two genders. In my opinion, the feminist movement draws power from the diversity, both biologically and mentally, of people who share the same idea of equality for everyone regardless of gender, orientation, race, etc. Androgyny is a powerful tool that challenges people's perception of traditional views and gender stereotypes. It sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable and challenges their views of what should and shouldn't be. People who do not fit into the strict gender binary that has been constructed by our culture highlight the flaws in the strict patriarchal thinking. As Leandra recounted, her friend's baby with pierced ears challenges people's ideas of what has been traditionally male and female.

Personally, when I had long hair, at family gatherings my aunts and uncles (all very conservative) would constantly berate me with questions of when I was going to get a "real man's haircut". The very androgynous nature of my hair length, combined with my inability to grow a beard, seemed to insult them and their view of how a man should look. While hair length seems trivial, it forced them to reconsider appropriate gender norms, and what is socially acceptable.

I know that hair length and transgender are HUGELY different, but the same principle of forcing people to reconsider their ideas of what is "normal" applies to both. The feminist movement draws power from the idea that patriarchy is flawed in a cornucopia ways, and transfolk exemplify just how marginalized and poorly anyone outside of this norm has been treated. Transgender people have a very important role in the feminist movement because it brings to light just how fucked up and strict people tend to view gender. It opens dialogue and brings to light that the current system is not working. Identifying as solely male or female can be constricting since masculinity and femininity rarely, if ever, fit exactly some person's view. It is just another example of how we are all different and come from a multitude of backgrounds, and how labeling and stereotyping robs us of our unique characteristics.

jorge mendoza said...

To respond to the question posed in the prompt, "What does it mean for patriarchy if I can bind my breasts and stuff my pants and have instant access to male privilege?" (Cat Pyne), I think it tries to doubt the very nature and encompassing influence of patriarchy, at least as we know it. Patriarchy is going to exist and is not going to follow any rule or allow for any exceptions to the rule, and that includes masculine-identified women. It doesn't mean anything to patriarchy that she wears business slacks, has short hair and is trying to arrange a takeover of a rival business competitor.

As described in Jessica Gird's essay, masculine-identified women, gender fuckers, drag kings, whatever one may identify or refer to themselves as, do face ostracizing and discrimination from heteronormative culture as well as from other groups within the very GLBT community these women look and expect equal support from. Despite Gird's often stern and critical view of feminism, she does make valid points on intra-movement dynamics. I've seen several good thoughts already on some of these comments, such as how women who identify male do so by choice according to their 'attackers' from within the lesbian community, a conclusion that screams hypocrisy.

What I can gather from this essay is that it's not just feminists attacking feminists, or attacking patriarchy, or attacking those they perceive to be latching onto patriarchy and being 'traitors'. There's something more than just big bad patriarchy going on in these intra-movement dynamics. If you can't call ostracizing, humiliating and shunning one group from the larger encompassing culture that word, patriarchy, then what can you call it?

Jo said...

First, I have to say that I agree with Jamie that “Transgender Butch: Butch/FTM border Wars and the Masculine Continuum” was a difficult read for me as well. It was certainly also insightful. I’ll admit that when it comes to a lot of the terms used in the article, while I’ve heard them before, I don’t necessarily have what I’d call a good working definition for them, in particular as opposed to each other (stone butch, gender fuckers, gender queer). So it occurs to me that it becomes problematic when we try to name/label ourselves and each other. For example, I may consider myself gender queer while your definition may put me in some other category. I think that it is human nature to want to categorize people; it’s easier. It’s the same way people want to know the sex of a new baby. Once they have the right category, they can begin to assume to know some things about the individual. When in all actuality, this doesn’t really work. There are so many variables involved when it comes to matters of gender, sexuality, masculinity/femininity, and even sex that it is impossible, I think, to continue to categorize. There are actually so many variations, there would/should be so many categories, that the categories themselves become meaningless (as Sarah mentioned). Halberstam quotes Rubin as saying that “no system of classification can successfully catalogue or explain the infinite vagaries of human diversity.”

Unfortunately, I do not know what this means for feminism. Because, as has been pointed out, feminism seems to rely on the dichotomy of male/female for its very existence. It does seem to point toward a more “goal-oriented” movement, but does that mean that at some point it will cease to be feminism? This vexes me.

Sara N said...

I still don’t have the option to make a new blog so I’m just going to put this here. I thought “Venus Boyz” was helpful in demonstrating the difference between performativity and performance. Using drag as an example can make it confusing because drag in and of itself is not performative. But, the subversive nature of drag does however, point to the performativity of gender. Drag is a performance because it requires an audience that is “in on the joke” so to speak. They all know that this is a drag king and not a “man” (whatever that means). Passing in social situations as a “man” is not a performance insofar that it does not have an audience who “knows” it is a drag king, queen etc. As we saw in the movie, the consequences for being “found out” gives meaning to the phrase “the violence of gender norms.” Hope this makes sense to somebody other than me…

I really wanted to see Judith Halberstam’s “Jack” though. Oh well, I thought it was a phenomenal film.