Tuesday, January 23, 2007

drawing the line

Been thinking more about the "women and trans only" policies that I mentioned a few days ago, fueled by some of the interesting comments y'all left for me.

Anonymous number one- even before but especially after you wrote "So if the dick is equal to oppression, who gets to check who has it and who doesn't?" I was thinking about that line of thinking, which is basically the foolishness of basing an ideology around lines drawn through some sort of supposed biologically based binary. The myth of the binary sexes hasn't been debunked as thoroughly as that of the binary genders, perhaps because of less awareness of intersex issues, etc and because of even stronger taboos about discussing the range of body variation that falls within normal (and 'abnormal', too, I suppose, though a) that's a really loaded, potentially hurtful term and b) it seems to me that the line between normal and 'abnormal' is no less arbitrary than the lines between all the shades of 'normal). But seriously, yet another reason why the "women and trans only" thing doesn't sit well with me. My cock is welcome but some other guy's isn't? Carry that line of reasoning any further and it starts to get real disrespectful real fast, but if you don't carry it any further at all, well, then it's about as silly as it sounds.
Anonymous number two, I've got a bone or two to pick.
First and foremost, I think either I was unclear, or you totally missed my point. When you say "are men really still the patriarchal, evil "other" to you?" I go "Huh?" because that's precisely what I was trying to say. "Men" as some sort of homogenous category does not resonate well with me at all, particularly when it gets glossed as uniformly evil. So I think we're in accordance there. However, perhaps the miscommunication began through my determination to throw out there that I do believe in the patriarchy (much as I believe in fairies, but with less handclapping). That is to say, I do think that there is such a thing as institutionalized sexism, and while I might not call it evil, I think it's pretty darn crappy, and I know that while it affects and is perpetuated by all of us to a certain extent, it gets instilled pretty heavily in people who are raised as male, such that non-trans men who don't do some pretty thorough soul-searching/consciousness raising often exhibit (knowingly or not) some pretty crappy attitudes and behaviors. So yes, I do think there is a "patriarchal other" that I'm trying to keep that way- as an other. I'm committed to my feminism, and I want the patriarchy to remain an other. I don't want to perpetuate patriarchal practices, I want to break them down. As a man.

Which is what leads me to the touchy bone of contention, which is that I have to admit I'm not a big fan of the language you're using here. When you say things like "you know, for a transguy, you've got some rather misandrist attitudes" I get defensive, because it sounds to me like you're questioning my male identity. What I hear is "if you're actually a guy, you wouldn't be dissing guys like this!" Now, hopefully, this is a miscommunication on my part, being excessively defensive, etc, but I want to throw it out there that I didn't like that language, because I think it's perfectly acceptable (downright critically important, even) for guys to critique the patriarchy.

Which leads me to this last little bone, this word "misandrist" which, to quote the Princess Bride, I do not think it means what you think it means. Inconceivable! ahem. sorry. Perhaps you mean feminist? Misandrist isn't a word that I'm comfortable using as a simple counterpoint to misogyny, because misogyny has the weight behind it of institutionalized sexism (aka the Patriarchy) which pointedly privileges men, masculinity and maleness (albeit specific permutations thereof). There is no corresponding systematic privileging of women and femaleness, and so I don't believe there can be such a thing as 'misandry.' Personal prejudice against men? Fine. Sure. I'm sure it's out there and it probably does correlate with feminist principles at a rate higher than chance. But discrimination = prejudice + power, and the word 'misandrist' sounds too much like "feminazi" for me to be willing to accept it.
I'm sure there's plenty more (and comments welcome- I mean no disrespect, Anon2) but it's time to go home now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did not say feminazi, and I did not mean to compare misandry to misogyny. in a way, they are two completely separate ideas.

I simply meant bias against men, maleness, and masculinity. that's it. a gut-level assumption that women are somehow better, or more worthy, or more politically correct-- even though you yourself are not a woman, I think your words sometimes reflect these assumptions.

I'm trying to call you out on how reductionist it is to assume that male people are oppressive, complacent in the suffering of women, etc simply by virtue of being male. I don't care if "most" male people reflect those views "on average"-- that doesn't give you the right to automatically value women and their experiences over men.