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“i know very few trans people who are actually out to make cis people feel bad for being cis. i know a much larger number of trans people who are out to make cissexist cis people feel bad for being cissexist. there’s a difference.”—lookatthisfuckingcisgender, hitting the nail on the damn head
“when your little girl asks you if she’s pretty your heart will drop like a wineglass on the hardwood floor part of you will want to say of course you are, don’t ever question it and the other part the part that is clawing at you will want to grab her by her shoulders look straight into the wells of her eyes until they echo back to you and say you do not have to be if you don’t want to it is not your job both will feel right one will feel better she will only understand the first when she wants to cut her hair off or wear her brother’s clothes you will feel the words in your mouth like marbles you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to it is not your job ”— Caitlyn Siehl
“Feminism that’s based in a link between gender and genitals doesn’t just exclude people who’s bodies don’t fit – it’s a fundamentally flawed analysis that perpetuates an essentialist idea that feminism partially exists to combat. Feminism that centers a trans feminist take on gender, that recognizes that woman ≠ vagina, offers a more accurate gender analysis in general that benefits everyone.”—Jos Truitt, On trans issues within feminism and strengthening the movement’s gender analysis
Serena Williams' Comments Hurt Me But Don't Surprise Me; And That Hurts Even More
Like so many people, especially Black women that I talk to, I am devastated and disgusted by Serena Williams’ comments regarding the Steubenville rapists and the victim blaming she engaged in towards the survivor. I just finished celebrating her glorious win and 16th Grand Slam title and her many accomplishments throughout her lifetime and to hear this news made me literally physically sick. My stomach and chest started to ache yesterday. They still do. Here is what she said:
Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.
Because rape culture is endemic to our society, both men and women blame women, not the rapists, for rape. (When men are victims, people also blame the men or make jokes as well. For men, it is suggested that they were not “man enough” to fight off the rapist [patriarchy is the culprit here]; for women, our very character and worthiness as human beings goes on trial by the public and in the courts.) People laugh at rape jokes, defend rapists, blame victims and compared to any other crime, do not take this one seriously. Most people still do not understand what rape culture is, and immediately retreat to wardrobe and behavior critiques of the survivor in order to exonerate the rapist.
However, Serena’s comment goes beyond the “what was she wearing” blame that is common. She used the word “lucky.” Lucky? Under what circumstance is rape now luck simply because “it could have been worse?” Who are we to decide what is “worse?” Many women are raped and the rapists are not extremely physically violent nor leave physical bruises. The women are still rape survivors. They still were violated. First street harassment is a “compliment,” domestic violence is just “putting a woman in her place” and now rape is a “gift?” Luck? To even suggest so is rape culture.
Rape culture involves art (i.e. song lyrics, comedians defending rape jokes), media (i.e. shaping news stories to favor the rapist not the victim), the police (i.e. the low arrest rate of rapists, victims threatened and/or forced to recant) the government (i.e. anti-choice, misogynist legislation), citizens (i.e. the culture of victim blaming here) and so many more facets. On Shakesville, there is an important albeit painful post that elaborates on the topic: Rape Culture 101.
An apology was posted on Serena’s blog:
What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame. I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.
This is also crap. She juxtaposed the two families in a way that seems to create parity between the survivor and the rapists themselves, as if they did not have a CHOICE not to rape someone. Worse, she then said “what I supposedly said” which seems to suggest that she doesn’t recall making the statement or is claiming libel. The former is unlikely; the latter should be addressed with vigor if true, as to clear her own name. Otherwise, this is back-peddling that is just as bad as the original statement. The worst of all is the “innocent sixteen year old child” added as if playing respectability politics will restore the survivor’s name after Serena initially dragged it through the mud along with most of the public. The age, the sexual history, the career, the clothing, the location etc. does not matter. NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO RAPE. A person does not have to be “innocent” or “perfect” for this crime to be WRONG. This is an especially dangerous take on rape for Black women since we historically have been deemed “unrapeable” and deviant in terms of sexuality. I mean…a White woman (tennis player Caroline Wozniacki) mocked Serena’s own body—used racist behaviors, costumes and messages to dehumanize Serena—and though it angered most Black women, Serena laughed it off. If she cannot understand the dehumanization in that, why would she understand how dangerous her initial words and her “apology” are? As amazing of a player and as confident as she appears to be, she seems to have a great deal of internalized racism and sexism, which is unfortunate.
Certainly there are those who are excited about this situation, not because they care about survivors of rape but because they are more interested in Serena’s back-peddling and shuffling in the spotlight of the White Gaze. It’s not a secret that many Whites have wanted her destroyed since her career started. At this point, I cannot be concerned with the racist pleasures of racists—I’m more concerned with Serena changing her views and this being a moment for people to question their position on rape culture. Are their views like hers? How many more rapists will have their crimes rationalized?
Serena needs to issue a genuine apology, in person, from her own mouth. She needs to donate some of the money she’s earned from women supporting her career all of these years on services that actually help survivors of rape. She needs basic and more elaborate education on rape culture. She could use some Womanist/Black feminist theory, seriously. Once people can be certain that this garbage will not come out of her mouth, she needs to perhaps spend some time actually talking to survivors of rape. Actually no, listening; no talking needed. And the same society that Serena lives in where many people share views as ignorant as hers? This society also needs to change.
Serena Williams’ comments hurt me but don’t surprise me. The fact that they don’t surprise me hurts me more. It’s because I know how pervasive and disgusting rape culture is. I know how everyone is complicit in proliferating it. I want there to be a point where it is outrageous and unlikely for anyone to support a rapist and continually proliferate rape culture. Because as of now, it is beyond common.
So what exactly is it that sets me apart in these two photos? Is it the floral print on the dress? Is it the boxers I have on in the second photo? The jewelery? The pants? What?
The answer is nothing. I am the same exact person in each of these photos. Absolutely nothing changed within me between these shots. I am still the same sex. I am still the same gender. I am still the same sexuality.
People seem to believe that the stores we shop in and the type of clothes we wear can outright explain the complexity of human gender and sexuality. If a person is trying on a dress, they are automatically a girl. If a person is renting a tux, they are a boy. There is no deviation, and there is no in between. Good luck. I hope you feel comfortable being defined by your boobs/testicles/penis/vagina.
You are born with a sex, not a gender.
If we’re being honest, you can probably tell my sex from the pictures above. I have giveaways. But what you can’t tell is my gender. My gender is something I feel, not look like. There is nothing in this world that can tell you my gender but me. Especially not what I’m wearing. I could put on a star-spangled suit, but it won’t make me Captain America.
Our clothes do not define us.
Found a way to have gender neutral pronouns on facebook that actually works. I followed the instructions given in the following link through Google Chrome, and everything went swimmingly; I then checked it on my Android, and everything seems to be in working order. So, unlike a lot of other codes/processes that seem to only change your pronouns on the machines you have installed the code on (and may in which no longer work due to facebook updates), this process seems to change your gender on all devices.
Following these instructions will allows you to change your facebook to use they/them/their pronouns. Pretty nifty!
Living in New York I get this said to me frequently on the street. It is always on a day when I am incredibly stressed or dealing with a serious and troubling emotional problem.
Apparently, because I am a woman, I’m not allowed to be angry or upset. I should just fake happiness. I’m expected to smile and be pretty, even when I’m depressed or full of anxiety. Women are always suppose to be these beaming rays of sunshine! It makes me angry and, unfortunately, can make the different between a bad day and a terrible one.