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Whipping Girl by Julia SeranoWhipping Girl is an outstanding book on transsexual women, feminism and trans-misogyny. Serano draws well thought-out lines from general societal misogyny to the hatred and fear of gay men, feminine men, and trans women. She blows up a lot of tired paradigms of sex, gender, gender presentation, gender identity and all that stuff. M

y main complaint is that she confuses two different definitions of class, one that refers to social/economic differentiation (as in “working class”, “upper class”, etc) and one that refers to a category or group of something (like in “class action lawsuit”). Through this confusion she mostly avoids conversation about the intersections of trans identity and class status, shielding and invisibilizing her own class privilege. The same thing happens with race- Serano is almost completely silent on how race intersects with trans identities. Once again she covers up her own privilege when in fact nearly every facet of life in the racialized US is affected by racial identity, including trans identity.

Critiques aside, there is still much to be gained from the book. I found the following quotes quite illuminating:

“[M]ost of the anti-trans sentiment that I have had to deal with as a transsexual woman is probably better described as misogyny.” pg.3

“From my own experience in having transitioned from one sex to the other, I have found that women and men are not separated by an insurmountable chasm, as many people seem to believe. Actually, most of us are only a hormone prescription away from being perceived as the “opposite” sex. Personally, I welcome this idea as a testament to just how little difference there really is between women and men. To believe that a woman is a woman because of her sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, or socialization denies the reality that every single day, we classify each person we see as either female or male based on a small number of visual cues and a ton of assumption.” pgs.51-52

“The fact that we perceive two major categories of gender enables us to view women and men as “opposites”—a premise that is founded on a series of egregiously incorrect assumptions. [I]n order for the two sexes to be “opposites,” they must first be mutually exclusive. Therefore, on a societal level, we purposefully ignore that variation that exists in sex characteristics and create the illusion that there is absolutely no overlap between the sexes.” pgs.102-103

“Cissexuals may want to believe that their genders are more authentic than mine, but that belief is dishonest and ignorant… [T]he major difference between my life history as a woman and theirs is that I have had to fight for my right to be recognized as female, while they have had the privilege of simply taking it for granted.” pg.169-170

“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… 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… [W]hile 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 somtimes do now—an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women who they believe threaten their fragile male egos.” pg.223

“[T]hose who patrol the gates of women-only spaces are often dead set on discriminating against me, driven by the ridiculous belief that my girly little estrogenized penis is somehow still pulsating with hypermasculine energy.” pg.229

Here’s part of a great answer:

I am a feminist because I do not want that right, because I never want to stand on the same side as my abusers;

I am a feminist because, if I am honest with myself, I cannot deny that I am, as a man, always and already on that side, because to be honest with myself is to recognize the changes that my side needs to make…

AAAA! Somebody has thoughts that are similar to my thoughts! Wow!

Look at this neat zine that Suzy X is putting together about the exploitation of interns & volunteers at feminist non-profits. I suspect it isn’t even too late to submit pieces to it!

Fuck Officework

H/t RR

Speaking of Women’s Rights has crossposted my I am the 51% piece. Thanks guys!

Note the white lady who posts some racist shit in her comment. WTF is up with racist white “feminists” and their tired predictability? Boooorrring.

This is SOOOOO GOOD!

Melissa at Shakesville is writing a series of posts for men who want to have more egalitarian interactions and relationships with women.

My faves from part 1:

1. Every woman is an expert on her own life and experiences.

9. Don’t play Devil’s advocate. Seriously. Just don’t.

From part 2:

Men’s socialization includes strong disincentives against asking and listening, and strong incentives to reflexively prioritize their own judgment and perspective, which many narratives in our culture exist to (wrongly) assure them is Objective Truth. That is one of the grandest lies that privilege tells any of us—your perspective as a person of privilege is not subjective; you are better capable of assessing truth than anyone compromised by their marginalization.

Read it all!!!

Certain second-wavers would have it that I don’t use the word “feminist” too much because I am weak, or afraid to use it, or have given in to some sort of societal pressure not to stand up for women’s issues.

Wouldn’t you know that my fraught relationship with that word is the result of self-education, listening to the voices of marginalized women, and a large amount of introspection? You see, I was able to use my own brain power to autonomously decide “feminist” is problematic, just like any normal human being!

Here is why.

To wit, “feminism” has become so closely allied with, and claimed by, women of privilege that to claim it would be a vote of support for privileged (mostly Western, white, middle-upper class, heterosexual) women and against the repeatedly expressed concerns of the rest of us: trans women, queer women, poor and low-income women, women of color, non-Western women, differently-abled women.

I haven’t just seen this on the blogosphere, in the various wars where WOC critique white feminists’ passive racism, and a bunch of white self-described feminists leap into the breach to try and silence the WOC voices and validate the white ones. I have seen this in real non-computer-mediated life. I have literally observed white feminists deliberately push women of color back to the margins just as the WOC are trying to push to the center. I have seen queer women’s specific needs regarding sexuality, relationship formation, and child-care sidelined as less important. And etcetera.

I have seen white feminists get angry at the suggestion that power within this supposedly all-inclusive women’s movement be shared. Race is a separate issue, a distraction from the sisterhood, they say. So is disability. So is recognizing the very different life experiences of women from different social classes.

It is almost too painful to even discuss what cisgendered feminists say about trans women. Let’s just say that the majority of cisgendered feminists aren’t at all convinced that trans women’s issues are worth a modicum of their time.

I can’t use the word feminism anymore without thinking about all of this. The liberation of privileged white women has little to do with my liberation. Until feminists realize that “[their] liberation is bound up with mine” I don’t have much motivation to join their exclusive movement.

Please read this article at the Guardian to get the perspective of a woman of color on this matter.

The 11th Carnival of Feminists, Global Edition, is now up at Gender Across Borders. The Czech is included! Yayz. Go check it out, lots of good reading there.

Late on the draw, but I feel that this is an important issue, so [fill in obvious cliché here].

A bunch of awesome disabled feminists have recently addressed the ableism present on popular feminist site Feministing. Read about the sequence of events and those involved at this ain’t livin’.

If ableism is an unfamiliar word for you, you can learn more at my 101 collection page.

Check out the 5th Carnival of Feminists over at Zero at the Bone.

Lots of good reading to do. They’ve got some big names, they’ve got some little names. (I’m a little name, FYI.)

Thanks to Shagufta Pasta at Terry* for this rad post: Telling Other People Exactly what You Think: A Tip Sheet to Make Your Online Commentary Really Count.

It’s about the recent discussions surrounding French President Sarkozy’s call to “eliminate the burqa”.

A quote:

These are scary times. Without asking your permission, Muslims are daring to write articles, create films, develop radio programs, and produce art that unabashedly celebrates the complex and textured role Islam plays in their lives. They say Islamic feminism is alive and well; that they’re perfectly capable of saving themselves thank you very much, that they aren’t a monolithic lot, and their identity as Muslims isn’t their only influencer. Concerned? Enjoy the tip sheet below and tell those people exactly what you think. After all, who needs thoughtful, community building dialogue anyway?

I recently had the privilege to meet fellow feminist bloggers from Evil Slutopia in person!

Yay! Not only are they super for posting about me (my favorite topic), but also for posts such as Margaret Cho: Evil Slut?

From their FAQ:

The term “evil slut” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to what some people might call a liberal, pro-choice, feminist, open-minded, strong-willed, outspoken, powerful woman who has the courage to do what she feels is right (not just what she’s been told) and to be her own person regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Enjoy!

Curious people have a lot of questions, and below you will find lots of answers! I decided to compile some of the awesomest basic resources (101s) out there on the internet about -isms and social justice so that you can find most of what you need in one easy post. So here are some resources about important topics like feminism 101, anti-racism 101, ableism 101, and so much much more! It’s my own 101 101.

    WOMANISM/FEMINISM

What is Womanism? Posted by Trula Breckenridge

Definition of the word “Womanism” from A Feminist Theory Dictionary

Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

Shakesville’s Feminism 101 page

    RACE & ANTI-RACISM

Talking About Race

Resist Racism’s Racism 101

Alas, a blog, on How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism

    CLASSISM

Classism.org

    ABLEISM

Ableism, Accessibility and Inclusion by Heather De Mian

Some info about Ableism by Greg Wolbring

    FAT ACCEPTANCE

Size Acceptance 101 on Case Gordita

But Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? on Shapely Prose

Size Acceptance 101 on Shamless

    GENDER, HETERONORMITIVITY, TRANSPHOBIA, HOMOPHOBIA

A resource from Questioning Transphobia: How to Check Your Cis Privilege

Trans 101 on T-Vox

Trans and Genderqueer 101 at Gendercrash.com

The Bilerico Project’s Homosexuality 101

Heteronormitivity 101

    INTERSECTIONALITY & GENERAL

Intersectionality 101 on Illvox

How to Fuck Up by Teh Portly Dyke

Please add all those I missed (there must surely be many) in the comments!

Czech Feminist Trailblazers!

Look at this neat-o site I found, which gives you links to info about important Czech feminists, Czech women’s history, Czech feminist organizations, and news articles about Czech feminists! Yay!

In today’s Boston Globe, Geraldine Ferraro again participates in the Oppression Olympics** (boycotted by all dedicated to social justice) and reaffirms her racist credentials.

Ferraro is enraged that it appears a black man may get “a seat at the table” before her preferred candidate, a white woman. Like a certain segment of second-wave feminists (is Ferraro even a feminist?), she feels that women (and when Ferraro says women, she means “white women”) have paid their dues and are now “owed” a turn as president. There is not a small amount of intrinsic racism in the fact that she seems so deeply horrified, offended even, that a black man may get a turn before a white women.

She uses several covers in attempts to hide her racism, and all of them are as flimsy and transparent as Saran wrap. The first is that, to her determination, sexism is now a much greater force in American society than racism, so Hillary has suffered the greater degree of bigotry, and it is for this reason alone that she is losing. She is even ready to fund a study to prove this, as her Op-Ed makes clear. Anyone with an iota of education about oppression and social justice would immediately spot this sentiment as coming from a place of thoroughly entrenched privilege. Of course, being female, Ferraro is quite familiar with the effects of prejudice against women. Being white, she has little familiarity with the effects of prejudice against blacks. Assuming that her prejudice is the greater one is not only a front-row ticket to the Oppression Olympics, but also an interesting case of oppression chauvinism. (“The oppression I experience is ipso facto the more important oppression.”)

The second cover is her claim that Obama’s race is in fact a benefit to his candidacy; i.e. he has unfairly benefited in the primary season because he is black. She suggests that were Obama not black, his political career would not be where it is today. Ferraro must be privy to some form of secret political affirmative action that the rest of us are unaware of. She hints that Hillary’s whiteness is actually a liability, though admittedly a liability that 43 previous presidents were able to heroically overcome. If anyone can point out to me any fairly reputable information that indicates being black has ever unfairly benefited a political candidate against a white opponent, please post it in the comments, I am dying to see it. So is Geraldine.

Her silliest cover is an infantile rhetorical maneuver: she “objectively” describes the racist concerns of a “certain” group of white democrats who just so happen to think exactly like her. But since all she does is describe this anonymous group of “Reagan Democrats”, she surely cannot be pinned as sharing their racist fear of a black president. No, all she does is merely describe their fear of reverse-racism, loss of supremacy, and dwindling ability to make racist statements in the media and get away with it.

Her final cover, in the penultimate paragraph, is to raise the class issue. I think she does this to wave a straw man off to the side: “See, all this stuff about race I just said? It isn’t about race, it’s about class! Therefore, what I said is not racist.” (Also known as the “Anything But Race” argument.) She clumsily suggests that because Obama is smart and was raised middle-class, working-class democrats can’t relate to him. So….? What about Hillary’s intelligence and class background? What about the black working class? What about the fact that white working-class voters had no problem voting for Obama in Oregon? What does this have to do with any of the preceding paragraphs? This sounds strikingly familiar to the bellowings of the Angry White Man.

One inch of her racist butt that she forgets to cover is the pesky little issue of the existence of women of color. In this Op-Ed and her last, she fails to recall that they exist, fails to consider that they have especially complex issues to contemplate this election cycle. She seems to assume that they will meekly get in line behind their more important white sisters and just do whatever they are told. Ferraro also seems to assume that women of color will feel unrepresented by a candidate of color, but yet will feel complete sisterhood with a white woman whose campaign has occasionally relied on racist tactics. Oops, but since racism is so minimal women of color are expected, by the Ferraro set, to ignore stuff like that, because a white woman will undoubtedly know what’s best for them!

**I first heard of the Oppression Olympics at Feministing.com.

© idyllicmollusk 5/30/08

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