This was 1974. Today, forty years later, all the above still applies but now we can also add that our bodies - our waists, thighs, arms, stomachs, butts, breasts, and even our genitalia - are being modified.
"Beauty and Misogyny" by Sheila Jeffreys is blowing my mind wide open and changing the game for me.
I wear clothing from the men’s section of the clothing store. My leg hairs are longer than most of the hair in my head. I never wear any makeup, no matter if I’m going out to buy bread in the morning or if I’m going to a party. People often call me “sir”. Others hurl slurs at me, sometimes calling me a “dyke”, sometimes calling me a “faggot”, both showing their disapproval of my physical presentation. I see little kids asking their mothers, in whispers, if I am a boy or a girl. And people ask me all the time, why do I want to look like a man?
The answer is simple. I don’t.
And I do not look like a man.
I look like a woman who refuses to perform femininity.
My unshaven legs do not make me like a man, they’re MY legs, and MY hair, and I am a woman. My “boy’s” clothes are worn on my body, the body of a woman. My naked, unpainted face is the face of a woman. I am a woman, and this is not defined by a haircut or a choice of attire, or by lipstick or high heels, or boxer briefs and men’s deodorant worn over fuzzy unshaven armpits. There’s nothing manly about me.
I am a woman, not by choice, but by fact. Because “woman” is a reality imposed to me, from the day I was born and given a woman’s name, to the day I was six and I was told I couldn’t take off my shirt in a blazing hot summer day because one day I would have breasts, to last night when I walked home in a state of hyper-awareness, my house keys tightly clutched between my fingers, tracking the movements of every man in the dark streets.
I am a woman because, since before my own birth, when an ultrasonography picture informed my parents that I would be born with a vulva, I have been groomed to be a member of the woman class, the breeding stock class, the sex class, the lower class. I was taught to be accommodating and speak softly, to not bring attention to myself and to spare men’s feelings. I was taught that the boy who pulled my hair and threw his toy train at me, aiming for my head, probably did it because he liked me, and boys will be boys anyway. I learned that, if I did the same to him, I was a troublemaker. That my assertiveness is unladylike. That one day I would bear some man’s children, and this was pretty much destiny. That my worth was in my looks, more than in my brain. I am a woman because I was taught all these things, and I am a woman because people expect me to know these lessons by heart, and follow every one of them.
When people ask me why do I want to look like a man, what they’re actually asking is why am I not marking myself as a woman. They’re asking why do I fail to perform the role of femininity, to make myself pleasing and unthreatening to the eyes of the upper class, the man class. My mother once voiced her concerns to me, that my looks would make me a target for male violence, and she is right to be concerned. I am perceived as a member of the lower class who refuses to bear the marks and play the role imposed to me. I refuse to shave my legs to look like a pre-pubescent girl, innocent and vulnerable, or to wear shoes that force me to walk on the tips of my toes, slow and precariously balanced, and this makes men angry, because this is a conscious act of rebellion. This is me saying I am not theirs. I will not please them. I do not desire their approval or their attention. And men often get violent when we refuse to cater to them.
My choices of visual presentation make me a cautionary tale. I am the hairy, ugly, lesbian feminist, the one they warn other women about. “Don’t be like her”, they say, “or no man will ever want you”. But I don’t want them either, and I do not want to look like them, or be like them, or have anything to do with them. I want to be free from men and their bullshit standards. I want to strut around proudly, shamelessly unladylike, looking like a woman looks when she’s not covered in face paint and restrictive clothing, when she doesn’t care about pleasing men.
I do not look like a man, and nothing will ever make me look like one. I am pure, unadulterated woman. I choose myself over them, I choose women over them. If that makes them hate me, so be it. Because I am a woman, they would hate me no matter what I did.
I’m seeing a lot of gay dudes insulting vaginas as if revulsion to and urge to insult female genitals is something that just goes along with their orientation
where are the angry, slur-slinging, hateful packs of people calling them cissexist and posting them on callout blogs and putting their URLs on warning lists to be circulated around tumblr
Just what I was thinking. I looked through the notes of that post and there were quite a few people defending that sexist comment with excuses like “it’s just his preferences” and “you’re being too sensitive” and even “but vaginas really do look like slimy meat curtains heh heh.”
If you insult penises, hell, if you say you’re not attracted to them, then you’re a bigot and you need to “examine why that is” but feel free to talk shit about vulvas/vaginas, ‘cause women’s bodies are gross lol.
"this is the internet, i can say whatever i want" is a super creepy and obvious way to say "when there are no obvious consequences for my actions i lack all empathy"
We need to take this idea that we can only learn about things if we consider both sides and destroy it. Liberal individualism in America has led people to believe that every opinion, every viewpoint, every action, deserves to be considered and respected, that framework is oppressive by its very nature.
When [an abusive man] tells me that he became abusive because he lost control of himself, I ask him why he didn’t do something even worse. For example, I might say, “You called her a fucking whore, you grabbed the phone out of her hand and whipped it across the room, and then you gave her a shove and she fell down. There she was at your feet where it would have been easy to kick her in the head. Now, you have just finished telling me that you were ‘totally out of control’ at that time, but you didn’t kick her. What stopped you?” And the client can always give me a reason. Here are some common explanations:
"I wouldn’t want to cause her a serious injury."
“I realized one of the children was watching.”
“I was afraid someone would call the police.”
“I could kill her if I did that.”
“The fight was getting loud, and I was afraid the neighbors would hear.”
And the most frequent response of all:
"Jesus, I wouldn’t do that. I would never do something like that to her.”
The response that I almost never heard — I remember hearing it twice in the fifteen years — was: “I don’t know.”
These ready answers strip the cover off of my clients’ loss of control excuse. While a man is on an abusive rampage, verbally or physically, his mind maintains awareness of a number of questions: “Am I doing something that other people could find out about, so it could make me look bad? Am I doing anything that could get me in legal trouble? Could I get hurt myself? Am I doing anything that I myself consider too cruel, gross, or violent?”
A critical insight seeped into me from working with my first few dozen clients: An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong.
I sometimes ask my clients the following question: “How many of you have ever felt angry enough at your mother to get the urge to call her a bitch?” Typically half or more of the group members raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many of you have ever acted on that urge?” All the hands fly down, and the men cast appalled gazes on me, as if I had just asked whether they sell drugs outside elementary schools. So then I ask, “Well, why haven’t you?” The same answer shoots out from the men each time I do this exercise: “But you can’t treat your mother like that, no matter how angry you are! You just don’t do that!”
The unspoken remainder of this statement, which we can fill in for my clients, is: “But you can treat your wife or girlfriend like that, as long as you have a good enough reason. That’s different.” In other words, the abuser’s problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable….
Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (via seebster)
Abusive men’s problem is not anger, or that they can’t control themselves. If it was they wouldn’t just pick out acceptable targets. Women have always been acceptable targets. And violence against women is routinely excused.
One of the reasons why I don’t think men should be in the feminist movement
amazing how often men think women need to be taken down a peg for our successes and how often this involves telling us we’re unfuckable, or that we deserved our worst moments.
Making gender out to be a separate axis of oppression from sex actually obscures gender’s role as a mechanic of female oppression and will inherently lead to misogynistic conclusions in your theories.
To those of you who think representation isn’t important, Lupita Nyong’o inspired a young black girl to not bleach her skin.
I repeat, Lupita Nyong’o inspired a young black girl to not bleach her skin.
Lupita received a letter from a young black girl that said she was about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten her skin when Lupita appeared and saved her.
So, stop telling POC they should get over it when they’re being misrepresented.
Representation DOES matter. Seeing Lupita onscreen can save and bring hope to the lives of many young black girls.
all i want is a safe space for women and girls to talk about their female bodies without shame or embarrassment and without people derailing the discussion by yelling “not all women have vaginas!!!”
your “safe space for cis girls” is the entire world lmaoooo your victim complex is astonishing
Remember that time a female state senator was kicked off the floor of the legislature for saying the word “vagina” during a debate on a bill to restrict access to abortion?
Remember that time little girls had their clitorises cut off and their labia sewn together to prevent them from pursuing the evils of sexual pleasure? Remember that time teenage girls and young women were made to feel so bad about their vulvas that the cosmetic industry capitalised on their shame to sell them expensive, medically unnecessary labiaplasties? Remember that time sex therapists urged their female patients with vaginismus to have sexual intercourse with their insistent husbands in spite of the tremendous physical pain? Remember that time a group of males expressed in anatomical terms how they wanted to “plow” and “wreck” a young female body, who was targeted for violence specifically because of her sex? Oh wait, all of these things are still happening, but fuck reality lol, gender warriors need a pacifier and a diaper change.
Do you ever have a problem where you just don’t know how to reply to an argument, not because you don’t know the answer, but you just don’t know where to begin? Like, the foundation of knowledge you’d need to impart to this person before you could even begin to drag them out of their sinkhole of ignorance would cost thousands of dollars if it were coming from a university?