I didn’t think I “got pissed and cried oppression”?? These are close friends of mine that I’m referring to and I’m def. not mad at them lol.
I’m pretty certain I framed my post as an “I’m working through this so hear me out” thing… and I wasn’t just ranting… I backed up my thoughts with details and support but. whatever I guess? I don’t really know what you’re trying to get at.
Additionally: I’d watch calling people out for “getting pissed and crying oppression.” It’s okay for people to get pissed, getting pissed is healthy sometimes. Also accusing people of “crying oppression” is sort of problematic? What’s wrong with calling out oppression when they’re being oppressed?
On preferred pronouns and male bodies
I know “yin / yang” is referring to “masculine / feminine” that’s why I used the example…
I was referring to cisgender men who use women slang or women pronouns to express their “feminine” side. My point was that “woman” isn’t just this “feminine” side, which you’re right, is sexist. Consequently, don’t appropriate language and slurs used against “women” to express your “femininity.”
1. I’m not referring to people who identify as trans, and maybe I should have made that more clear. I’m referring to cisgender gay men who use female pronouns and slang to describe themselves and their friends.
So, yes, I wasn’t talking about trans women. I wasn’t talking about trans people. It’s completely possible to have a conversation about gender expression without talking about being trans. I was referring to a long-held struggle between lesbian and gay-male culture that, frankly, is pretty common-knowledge.
04 . 12 . 2013
On preferred pronouns and male bodies
I have a couple of people in my life who are male-bodied and for all intents and purposes, present as men. Sometimes they dress in drag or sport a “feminine” scarf and what not, but to any given person on the street they look like attractive, well-dressed, cisgender men.
Which is great. So I never thought twice about it but lately it has started to make me uncomfortable, and it took me two months to figure out why:
To some people, the next part of this brief “essay” (if you will?) will seem sort of obvious, but it’s actually a profound realization for me:
I’m in my second year working in an administrative office for a nonprofit, and my first year having a man for a boss. I wont go in to any detail for the sake of time but I’ll say that I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been told to be quieter, have been intentionally under-appreciated or under-represented in meetings, been hit on at fundraisers and galas. Though I hold the title of “manager” I am CONSTANTLY referred to as my boss’ “assistant.” I’m expected to do menial tasks that no one asks of my male coworker who is the same age, has a lesser title, but has the same degree. It’s all too apparent how the women running my office let the men who work for them get away with anything, and then men think the women are jokes or at best, frustrating to work with.
Working in a professional setting has made me very conscious of what it means to be a woman. It’s shed light on sexist family conversations and all the other areas in my life where I’m treated differently. I was a sociology and women’s studies double major and for four years I did nothing but “unpack” this issue but for some reason, I feel like I’m looking at it with fresh eyes.
Because of this, I’ve been noticing gendered micro-interactions between my friends that I never used to, and to name an example:
As those of us who have studied gender know, women are conditioned to be hyper-aware of their bodies and the space they’re taking up. Picture myself, three other women and one of the men I mentioned earlier all in a cafe, waiting in line to order a beer.
A group of people start to pass us on their way to the exit and quickly, each one of my women friends, including my partner, step out of the way to make room. I find myself apologizing for being half in their way and my women friends offer a polite smile. It’s then I notice my male friend standing, concerned with his own business, taking up a man-sized amount of space (both physically and in essence), not moving out of the way for this passing group of people.
I say his name to alert him of the situation, and he moves, offering no apology for the space he’s taken up. He simply continues staring at the menu on the wall. And that’s when it hits me:
We are living in two very different worlds.
We face very different professional environments.
How we relate to strangers is extremely different.
And frankly, the way myself and other women-bodied people experience their life is more challenging. We’re required to think more, to be more aware, to be more concerned and to put up with a lot.
And then a second realization comes: this is why it bothers me when male-bodied and male-presenting individuals claim female pronouns and identify as “women.” Whether it be referring to their friends as “bitch,” using “she,” “girl” etc.
They do not live as women. What I experience on a daily basis is completely incomparable to what this person experiences.
It’s impossible to identify as a woman “in certain areas of your life.” Well, if not impossible, it’s quite unfair. What if I could identify as a woman when it was time to be sexy, alluring and emotional. But when I went to work every morning I’d put on my “man” hat, use male pronouns because I felt like a “man” when I was making business dealings. Then, when it was time to come home and enjoy cooking or interacting with young people I’d feel “like a woman” again.
Being a woman isn’t just these stereotypes, and I know my friends know this. Feeling “like a woman” means embodying all of the struggle, the sexual harassment, the pigeon-holing and still being held to higher standards than men.
I work hard to be a woman, let alone a woman who loves other women. It’s a challenge that I take pride in owning. Which is why, I think, it makes me upset when people try to claim “woman” for theirs when it really, truly, isn’t.
"Woman" isn’t an aspect of everyone like someone’s yin or yang. Woman is an identity that is oppressed. And claiming such a powerful and emotional identity without actually living through the challenges and hardships of being a woman every day, without stop is, in my opinion, wrong.
Between any other group of people, using a culture’s identifiers or slurs if you are not truly part of that community would be quickly labeled as inappropriate. Calling someone a “bitch” “slut” “cunt” “jota” “girl” “woman” when you are not a women-bodied or women-presenting person is also inappropriate.
I don’t care how ingrained in the gay-male community those words are, or what importance they have to your culture.
They were stolen from ours, and are used to make jokes when women are called them daily, and are deeply effected by them.
If you consider yourself a feminist, an ally to women or simply a good person, please don’t appropriate our identities.
There’s an awful lot of awesome queer activism happening on tumblr, and this isn’t a message against that, but a plea to not forget women and lesbians as a part of this struggle, whose identities and wishes deserve respect and understanding.