If you are female, expressing hatred for your own body is not just acceptable, it’s practically de rigeur. Failure to indulge in the requisite amount of self-flagellation – my thighs! my skin! my face! – isn’t just negligent, it’s unfeminine. Self-hatred is fundamental to how femininity is constructed, more fundamental than any of the more obvious external symbols (dress, make-up, shoes). What matters is not that you are beautiful, but you know your place in the beauty hierarchy (and since every woman ages, every woman’s place will eventually be somewhere at the bottom).

Young women are encouraged to bond over their dislike of excess body hair, surplus flesh and “uneven” skin. They are meant to do so in a jovial way, egged on by perky adverts informing them what “real women” do: worry about having underarms beautiful enough for a sleeveless top, celebrate curves with apologetic booty shakes and cackle ruefully over miserable Sex-and-the-City-style lunches of Ryvita and Dulcolax. It’s a gendered ritual; men get football and booze, women get control pants and detoxes. We are supposed, of course, to be grateful. Hey, you don’t have to be perfect! Just know you’re not perfect and act accordingly, with the appropriate levels of guilt and shame!

Fairy tale after fairy tale tells us that what matters is being beautiful “on the inside” but what does that really mean? It means submission, obedience and the suppression of one’s own desires. Don’t be haughty and proud. Clean the hearth. Kiss the frog. Love the beast. Suck it up when you’re replaced by a younger model. Sure, you may look fine, but you mustn’t feel fine. You mustn’t be vain. You mustn’t be angry. All fury and pain must be turned back on itself. That way you’ll be a real princess: silent, fragile and never threatening to challenge the status quo.

The ubiquitous forms of address for women ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’ are both abbreviations of ‘mistress’. Although mistress is a term with a multiplicity of meanings, in early modern England the mistress most commonly designated the female equivalent of master–that is, a person with capital who directed servants or apprentices.

Prior to the mid eighteenth century, there was only Mrs (or Mris, Ms, or other forms of abbreviation). Mrs was applied to any adult woman who merited the social distinction, without any marital connotation. Miss was reserved for young girls until the mid eighteenth century. Even when adult single women started to use Miss, Mrs still designated a social or business standing, and not the status of being married, until at least the mid nineteenth century.

This article demonstrates the changes in nomenclature over time, explains why Mrs was never used to accord older single women the same status as a married woman, and argues that the distinctions are important to economic and social historians.

— 

Abstract from Mistresses and Marriage: or, a Short History of the Mrs, also known as the most interesting article I’ve read all day.

Full text is available here, but if you remember one thing, how about that Jane Austen in 1811 is the earliest citation that the author can find for the “Mrs Man” form, e.g. “Mrs John Dashwood”? 

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What happens when you combine a macho Russian security guard and a whole lot of Barbie dolls? Russian artist Uldus Bakhtiozina creates portraits that challenge common stereotypes about gender and culture—all with a playful dose of irony. Her aesthetic is inspired by Victorian Era paintings, each featuring a clever modern update and a message about societal norms. These two portraits specifically explore the internal struggle of her subjects to balance their masculine and feminine sides.

To see more of Uldus’s work, watch her talk now»

Privilege and Using Individual Compliments/Insults To Derail Conversations About Oppression

When I discuss how oppression functions structurally, often times among the replies that I receive are compliments or insults. See, for some reason (usually lack of understanding of structural power, oppression, privilege and intersectionality, coupled with that person’s personal “like” or “dislike” of me) people think replying with a compliment or insult is somehow contributing to that topic. As if it validates or invalidates complex issues. As if their personal feelings about me makes oppression any more or less true. Racism isn’t “true” because someone White likes me or “false” because someone White hates me. Sexism isn’t “true” because men like me or “false” because men hate me. That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. And to be clear, I am not agreeing with the ignorance that accompanies lack of lived experience where the privileged will suggest that the reality of oppression in our lives can be discussed “objectively.” (The oppressor and the oppressed are invested and affected. How I feel about this matters, not just how I think about it; this isn’t divergent.) I am suggesting that compliments and insults are regularly used to assuage guilt, derail or harm, in this context.

A topic that I find both helpful at times (if discussed mostly with Black women) and triggering many times (if discussed with people who degrade Black women) is beauty politics. Obviously this complicates for Black women because of how sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, colourism, fat shaming/ableism/classism (for some), racism, and anti-Blackness itself impact perceptions of Black women’s appearance and thereby humanity; as they’re connected. This impact is not solely about “insults” without repercussions. It’s about oppression. “Ugliness” ascribed to Blackness directly correlates to how Black women are harmed, degraded and deemed “deserving” of violence. Beauty has never been “just about looks,” but ascribing value/non-value on humanity itself, and excluding Black women (especially salient for Black trans women) and Black people in general from “humanity.”

Thus, when I discuss Black women and beauty politics, the very last things I am interested in are insincere compliments from White women. I…never said I thought that I am ugly. I…don’t think that. They do. They’re socialized to think that. (In fact, everyone is and unlearning this is important for Black women. Not because we “need” to be “pretty” in an aesthetic sense, but because perception of “ugliness” places our humanity itself as non-existent because of anti-Blackness/misogynoir.) Thus, out of guilt about how White supremacy and Eurocentric beauty standards centers their appearance (and even in the margins; i.e. who is the face of fat positivity and plus size web sites, for example, White women; White privilege still exists in the margins) they feel the need to force a compliment in to assuage their discomfort with their guilt over this itself and over whatever conversation I might be having.

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Conversely, when I discuss beauty politics and oppression, some White women (and at times non-Black women of colour) immediately decide that I am “jealous” of them. (In White Women’s Aggression Against Black Women In Public Space, I mentioned how beauty stores are often very hostile spaces for me because of White women’s aggression.) Jealousy? Because I discuss how colourism attributes to State violence on Black women and longer prison sentences for darker Black women? Or because I discuss how White women force themselves into Black women’s natural hair spaces lying about “shared experiences/oppression” yet Black women are still facing discrimination for natural hair in the workplace? Or because I discuss the sheer violence involved in the cishet Black male gaze when it perpetuates the notion that I better think that Lupita Nyong’o is “ugly” but Amber Rose is “beautiful?”

The lazy responses of compliments and insults never actually address the structural nature of oppression. And this compliment/insult nonsense doesn’t only happen when I discuss beauty, though for obvious reasons it occurs most frequently then. It happens when I discuss Black women’s epistemology and people’s exploitation of my work; Whites rush in to tell me that I am “smart” (because they think sheer consumption plus compliment equals “allyship”) or call me “stupid” based on me using language that they don’t understand. It happens when I discuss street harassment in Black communities (and this is not an assertion that it happens nowhere else nor have I ever asserted that); some Black men rush in to advise how they "aren’t like that" and would be "nice" to a "beautiful Black woman" like me and how they'love' Black women,” while others rush to engage in misogynoiristic insults or assert that I “hate” Black men. And…Black men using the "you hate Black men" line basically functions as "you wish you were White." It is violent, meant to harm and carries a weight with a long history, especially since Black women are expected to serve and support Black men but are deemed “divisive” or “hateful” for expecting anything in return. 

What people approach me with as an “opinion” about oppression is usually unfounded, anti-Black, misogynoiristic, and includes expecting my humanity to be a “debatable” topic. There is no “both sides” of an issue when one side is dehumanization and the other side is survival. My humanity is not debatable. These are the insults. The compliments usually come from someone privileged (usually Whites/men) in terms of whatever facet of oppression I am speaking of as again, a way to control/derail the conversation and assuage their guilt. I’m not here for coddling White guilt or men’s need to center themselves and be told "not all men." I do not care.

Another way this compliment/insult tactic operates is to silence my dissent about exploitation of my work and my words. People rave about how they were “inspired” by my writing so felt the need to regurgitate my words without citation, or violate my content use policy altogether, if academics (and the abuse by academics [and journalists] is daily and unrelenting). I don’t care about their “inspirations.” I care about the fact that people think exploiting Black women’s lives and labor is “allyship” and justice, and how the compliments about “inspiration” quickly turn to insults and violence if I demand consent and accountability from them. Compliments and insults function in the same way when they come from people who do not value my humanity or Black women’s humanity, in general. Even what some White people think is “kindness" is actually violence. Being applauded as someone to exploit as a Fact Portal is not a compliment.

In terms of dealing with racism and White supremacy, one of the reasons why Whites insist insulting White people is “racism” isn’t just because they cling to pathetically simplistic, structurally incorrect dictionary definitions of racism in order to false equalize structural power Whiteness has to Black people reacting in self-defense from anti-Blackness that dehumanizes us. It’s because again, they cling to the idea that an insult is an adequate response, a valid interrogatory and critique of oppression. Thus, if they elevate compliments and insults to that which can remove or critique oppression, they engage in epistemic violence. In other words, the notion that Whites’ definitions of their violence and power are the only valid ones and that replies meant either assuage their own discomfort or inflict personal harm in any way addresses actual oppression, is how they seek to control language/concepts and use it as a form of violence.  

Because of this epistemic violence, they try to equalize actual slurs used against Black women/Black people/people of colour that are/facilitate oppression as structural with insults Black people make of Whites. This is why some still engage in the epistemic violence of suggesting “mayo” and “cracker” are slurs (they are not) with the gravity and weight of “nigger.” This is why they use the word "racist" as "nigger" as well, calling Black people “racist nigger” as a slur; when we suggest their words/behaviors are racist, we’re stating a fact not calling them a name. I mean, they even try to suggest “not loving Whites” “oppresses” Whites, when it does not. The oppressor demands the language, the labor, the time, the space, the bodies and even the love of the oppressed. All violence. White supremacist thinking can only support external individualism. It doesn’t support introspection. It doesn’t support examining institutional racism and all of its tentacles into every space. (Everything is an “isolated incident” to them.)

I’m not interested in anyone “liking” or “disliking” me because they think doing so is some sort of anti-oppression praxis or proof that oppression is not what it is. I’m not interested in anyone so guilt-ridden or intellectually dishonest to think that compliments and insults can address structural oppression and how it impacts both individuals and institutions. And since people cannot divest of misogynoir to be able to think about how compliments about what good fact portals and doormats Black women make for them, I’m not interested in their compliments meant to mask their dehumanizing gaze, their theft of my work and words. And I’ll never view their interpersonal abuse as valid criticism of structural oppression.

Related Posts: 10 Ways That White Feminist and White Anti-Racism Allies Are Abusive To Me In Social MediaOn People Who Respond To My Stress With Unfunny, Never Clever “Jokes”

While bias has been experimentally demonstrated, it’s hard to study in the real world: Just as it’s hard to isolate a single environmental pollutant’s effect on human health, it’s been near impossible to isolate gender as a variable in the real world and watch how it affects a person’s day-to-day experience.

Until now. Trans people are bringing entirely new ways of approaching the discussion. Because trans people are now staying in the same careers (and sometimes the very same jobs) after they change genders, they are uniquely qualified to discuss the difference between how men and women experience the workplace. Their experience is as close to the scientific method as we can get: By isolating and manipulating gender as a variable and holding all other variables—skill, career, personality, talent—constant, these individuals reveal exactly the way one’s outward appearance of gender affects day-to-day interactions. If we truly want to understand women at work, we should listen carefully to trans men and trans women: They can tell us more about gender in the workplace than just about anyone.

—  Interesting New Republic article revisits the question NPR’s Shankar Vedantam posed in his excellent meditation on our hidden biases by looking at how transgendered people are uniquely positioned to know what it’s like both to swim with the current and to struggle against it. 
Watch on the-eagle-atarian.tumblr.com

Gender and feminist critics collectively BTFO by based Christina Hoff Sommers.

In addition to the difficulty of comparing data sets of varying size and depth, however, comparing male versus female online “harassment” is problematic for many reasons.

First, as Young points out, women’s harassment is more likely to be gender-based and that has specific, discriminatory harms rooted in our history. The study pointed out that the harassment targeted at men is not because they are men, as is clearly more frequently the case with women. It’s defining because a lot of harassment is an effort to put women, because they are women, back in their “place.”

Second, online comparisons like this decontextualize the problem of harassment, as though a connection to what happens offline is trivial or inconsequential.

Third, the binary frame camouflages the degree to which harassment of people, often men, is frequently aimed at people who defy rigid gender and sexuality rules. LGBT youth experience online bullying at three times the rate of their straight peers.

For girls and women, harassment is not just about “un-pleasantries.” It’s often about men asserting dominance, silencing, and frequently, scaring and punishing them.

TERF (noun, acronym):

  1. Woman who believes that adult human females exist and are oppressed as a sex class.
  2. Woman who is friends with a woman who believes that adult human females exist and are oppressed as a sex class.
  3. Woman who once retweeted a woman who believes that adult human females exist and are oppressed as a sex class.
  4. Woman who on one occasion failed to publicly denounce a woman who believes that adult human females exist and are oppressed as a sex class.
  5. Woman who … (as definitions are continually broadening on this one – for instance, all of the above criteria may now be applied to gay men and trans people – please consult with Roz Kaveney and/or members of Blockbot). (Glosswatch)
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GRIMY 301.

I’m going to take 301 pictures of boys with make-up. 

In Russia, there is a project which is called “pure 1001”. A phot-er takes pictures of girls without make-up. He says, that this is a real beauty.

Fuck off man, there is no “REAL BEAUTY” all.

That’s a joke-reason.

The real one is that people may look like THEY want and also they may be what THEY want. 

You know, here, in Russia, it is TOO hard to look or to be like you want or feel. You can’t be yourself. 

Last:

http://boxya.tumblr.com/post/77307034253/grimy-301-im-going-to-take-301-pictures-of-boys

http://boxya.tumblr.com/post/77918621515/grimy-301-im-going-to-take-301-pictures-of-boys

When I read this story, I can’t help but think… ‘well duh’
_____________

One study shows that using hormones to prevent the onset of puberty has positive results for transgender youth.

As transgender visibility and acceptance has increased, young people have been identifying themselves by a different gender than they were assigned at birth sometimes as young as their pre-school years. Some of those young people have been using a hormone treatment to delay the onset of puberty, giving them a unique opportunity to mature before committing to a gender transition, and a new study finds that the results of such treatments are very positive.

Dutch scientists closely monitored 55 young adults who had been previously diagnosed with “gender dysphoria,” which meant that they identified as transgender and were experiencing mental health consequences as a result, such as anxiety, emotional distress, and body image concerns. At an average age of about 14, they each used hormones to block puberty and prevent the development of sex characteristics. The study found that this gave them “the opportunity to develop into well-functioning young adults.”

Lead Author Dr. Annelou de Vries explained to CBS News that puberty suppression is a “fully reversible medical intervention” and the extra time allows the young people to work out their struggles related to gender dysphoria before taking permanent steps toward a transition. As a result, they “have the lifelong advantage of a body that matches their gender identities without the irreversible body changes of a low voice or beard growth or breasts, for example.”

The participants in the study underwent transition-related surgeries on average around the age of 21. At that time, they were no longer experiencing mental health consequences related to gender dysphoria, their quality of life and happiness levels were on par with their non-transgender peers, and none expressed any regret about delaying puberty or transitioning.

Though further studies must be done to confirm the results, the study provides promising reinforcement for transgender young people who are considering puberty suppression. It also counters detractors who have attacked families for allowing their children to undergo such treatments.

Back in 2011, CNN profiled a same-sex couple in California who were allowing their transgender daughter Tammy to undergo puberty suppression. The family was attacked by conservative groups like the Ruth Institute, who accused them of “human experimentation,” and Fox News’ Dr. Keith Ablow, who diagnosed Tammy’s parents as needing “psychological evaluations” for subjecting their child to such treatments. Last year, the Washington Post profiled a similar youth named Tyler, prompting the Liberty Counselto accuse his parents of “nothing short of child abuse.”

Transgender young people may experience confusion related to their gender identity, but their mental health complications are also directly impacted by anti-transgender stigma, which has escalated in recent years as a backlash to supportive families and inclusive schools.

Imagine you’ve spent your whole life being told that things that are green are apples, and things that are red are grapes. And then you get told about red apples and green grapes. Now you know you’re not an apple, but you understand that red apples exist. And then you get told cherries exist, and strawberries, and raspberries. And that’s only the red fruits, there are fruits of all different colours as well. I’ve spent my whole life seeing that I was red and assuming I was a grape. Now there’s so many options. I don’t know I’m a grape, i was just always told I was. It doesn’t mean that i’m changing my mind, it just means that my mind has been opened to a world I didn’t know about before and i’m taking my time to work out what I actually am rather than clinging to being a grape. Let me explore the fruit bowl.
—  Me trying to explain why I don’t ‘just know’ what my gender is.
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