gender role policing

Advertisers must convince young women that they are in need of constant improvement largely to get and keep boys’ attention without threatening young women’s views of themselves as intelligent, self directed, and equal. Buzzwords like “empowerment,” “self-determination,” and “independence” are sprinkled liberally across their pages. But this seemingly progressive rhetoric is used to sell products and ideas that keep girls doing gender in appropriately feminine ways, leading them to reproduce, rather than challenge, gender hierarchies. An ad for a depilatory cream, for instance, tells girls that they are “unique, determined, and unstoppable,” so they should not “settle… for sandpaper skin.” Feminist demands for political and economic equality - and the refusal to settle for low-wages, violence, and second-class citizenship - morph into a refusal to settle for less than silky skin. Pseudo-feminist language allows young women to believe that they can “empower” themselves at the checkout counter by buying the accoutrements of traditional femininity. Girls’ potential choice to shun make-up or hair-removal disappears, replaced by their choice of an array of beauty products promising to moisturize, soften, and smooth their troubles away.
—  Amanda M. Gengler, “Selling Feminism, Consuming Femininity” (2011)
What Feminism Isn't

Feminism isn’t female supremacy.
Feminists don’t hate men—just the patriarchy.
Feminism is just gender equality.

Feminism isn’t women wanting to be “special”.
Feminists don’t want to be held above others.
Feminism is just abolishing misogyny.

Feminism isn’t even all about women.
Feminists want to help all genders—men too!
Feminism is just the removal of toxic masculinity.

Feminism also isn’t redefining gender roles.
No feminist should want to enforce any gender roles.
Feminism is just letting people define themselves.

If a woman wants to be stereotypically feminine, let her. Even if she’s a feminist. It is her right to do so—and if you are a feminist, you should know that.
As a feminist, you fight for the right of everyone to be equal and to be able to define themselves; you fight against the patriarchy’s inequality and toxic policing of identity, not create more inequality and toxic policing of identity.
“Real feminists” can be masculine women, men, and nonbinary folk, or feminine women, men, and nonbinary folk, or androgynous women, men, and nonbinary folk. The only requirements for being a feminist is to want equality for everyone, no matter what. That includes the right to define themselves however they may wish.

The patriarchy isn’t the only thing with gender roles, and there is far too much of the same identity policing in feminism—the only difference is that the way many feminists see how women should be is how the patriarchy sees how men should be. This is wrong, and it needs to stop.

So, in particularly to the women and feminine-aligned nonbinary feminists out there, you’re still a true feminist if you want to be stereotypically feminine. This is your right. This is what we fight for as feminists.

Guys, you don’t have to act “manly” to be considered a man; you are a man, so just be yourself. Don’t let society make you believe you have to prove your masculinity to anyone because you don’t. You are you and you are worthy, full stop.
2

a small rant on the “ok but if boys have to like fat girls, why is it ok for girls to say they wanna date guys over 6 feet???” arguments that I see self-identified ‘meninists’ use to claim that men are subjected to the same ridiculous beauty standards women are

3

Okay, I know a lot of people will be hating me for this but it’s really necessary to explain my inmense hatred toward this “gender cop” mess?

I don’t think we need to label everything we want people to know about us and rant about how rude they are because they didn’t ask about how to call us first.

I’m still thinking that a “Hello” it’s the first step to meet people, not babysitting them.

Sorry if i use my precious Shiro and my dear Pidge for this purpose, but i’m taking the risk using two beautiful characters to make you to pay attention.

Also, a bonus. 

“Steven Universe” and Butchness

One of the great things about “Steven Universe” is its overall celebration of the different types of female body.

Women can be curvy and bootylicious

They can be tall and skinny

They can be short and chunky

Fragile and fine-boned

Quirky and androgynous

Big and fat

And everything in between.  They all have their own beauty, their own strengths, and none is considered “better” or more desirable than anyone else.

But there’s on exception, and it’s the one big problem I have with the show.

Let’s talk about Jasper.

Awright. I love Jasper.  She’s a cool character, a great design, and I can’t bloody wait to see her return come June.  But both my husband and I have noticed something rather concerning about her that others don’t seem to have picked up on.  

Because Jasper is the only explicitly masculine Gem.

I’m not trying to police gender roles or say that something is more womanly or more manly, but if we look at Jasper’s design, it’s definitely more stereotypically masculine than that of the other gems.  Broad shoulders, huge hands and arms, bulging with muscle, no real hips, no obvious breasts.  The only comparable gem design is Ruby, and both Ruby and Sapphire, with their short statures and exaggerated expressions, are quite childlike (which I can’t help but wonder was a deliberate design choice to de-sexualize their relationship and avoid freaking out the censors further).  

And you know what?  That’s awesome.  Butch women are fucking starving for representation out there. It’s great to see a show that celebrates the diversity of womanhood showing that women can be masculine too.  

Except.

Jasper is the most naked and accepted villain of the show.

I once read a post about how you can judge most of the characters on the show by Steven’s first reaction to them.  If you think back, when Steven first met Lapis, or Peridot, he was curious and hopeful, friendly and open.  When Steven first met Jasper, his first reaction was terror.

And this still holds true even though both Peridot and Lapis openly and nakedly tried to murder Steven and his friends.

But their redemption is still considered more plausible and acceptable than Jasper’s, even though Jasper’s actions were to incapacitate and capture, not kill.

Now, this may have changed somewhat since the introduction of the Diamonds, but even still, I see a lot of fanart and posts about how alluring and mysterious Blue Diamond is, and mockery of Yellow Diamond’s costume and neck.  And a lot of posts about how frightening Jasper is, and how she deserves to be shattered.  I’ve seen a lot of Jasper-love posts too, just to be clear, but it seems like both by deliberate action on the part of the writers (giving her the most brutal, violent dialogue, for example) and the reaction of the viewers, Jasper was the most quickly accepted pure villain.

And this would be fine…if Jasper wasn’t the only butch gem.  Because there’s a nasty, nasty history of butch/masculine women being seen either as jokes or, more damagingly, as monsters.

There is a dearth of butch women in popular media, let’s face it.  And there’s a major issue of butch women being erased as well (the TV series “Hannibal” turned Margot Verger from a bodybuilding butch to Katharine fucking Isabelle, for example, though I guess we should count our blessings; the movie version deleted her entirely).  Butch women either do not exist, are jokes from cartoons, or are monsters.  And Jasper seems to be fitting this stereotype.  And I probably wouldn’t feel so strongly about this…except for Rose.

Let’s look at Rose Quartz.  I fuckin’ love Rose Quartz’s character and design, not just because she’s fat (but you go you BBW you), but because she is girly as fuck.

The image of Rose Quartz charging into battle with her badass broadsword and her lacy ballgown and her fluffy pink curls is one that I fucking treasure.  So often, it seems that being a warrior, and particularly a soldier, is inherently linked with masculinity.  Even if a woman does become a fighter, she is mocked for holding onto the “frivolous” trappings of femininity.  Even in the cases of the great female warriors in both mythology and pop culture, most of them shed what we would consider their femininity, wearing male clothing, participating in traditionally male activities, scoffing at delicate “girly” pastimes and dress.  There are exceptions, of course, most notably Buffy Summers from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, but for the most part, female warriors are “tomboys”.  Even in folklore and history, female warriors are often shown either as masculine in mannerisms (though still skinny, pretty-faced, and obviously feminine once the armour comes off), or asexual.  And here’s busty, ruddy-lipped Rose with her princess frock and her sabre, and you go girl.

But.

Let’s look at her alongside Jasper.

…hoo boy.  So we have Rose’s soft, styled pink ringlets, Jasper’s unkempt mane.  Rose’s pillowesque, defined bosom beneath the sweetheart neckline, Jasper’s flat chest under a geometric bodysuit.  Rose’s plump, kissable, full lips, Jasper’s thin mouth, easily curling into a dog-like snarl.  Rose’s soft, rounded arms and hands, Jasper’s defined musculature.  

Let’s keep in mind, please, that Rose has thus far been portrayed as the real force for good in the show.  She’s the hidden motivation behind all of the heroes’ actions, everything done in her name, as she would have wanted.  So what does Rose represent? Warmth, compassion, love, motherhood, hope, kindness, humour, gentleness.  

What does Jasper represent?  Anger, coldness, brutality, ferocity, sadism, disregard for others, bloodlust, vengefulness.

I do not think it was any accident that, in Pearl’s flashback in “Sworn to the Sword”, Rose Quartz was shown squaring off against (a) Jasper.

So why is one blatantly presented as femme and the other as butch?

Why does one make it easier to read a female character as a villain, and one as a hero?

Do I think the showrunners did this on purpose?  Fuck no!  I think they’re actively trying to avoid this kind of stereotyping.  But I think they’re victims of the same kind of subconscious programming that we all are.  They wanted Jasper to be intimidating and Rose motherly, and in the media and culture we all see, intimidating = masculine and motherly = feminine.  It’s the same bullshit we’re all fed since birth.  I mean, in this image of Jasper manhandling Lapis, would it seem as brutal and frightening if Jasper were dressed/designed as Rose?  Even though Rose and Jasper are likely of equal power?

I don’t think so.  And that’s a problem, not just with the show, but with how women are represented in media as a whole, that a woman who is masculine must be violent and brutal.

I hope that Jasper receives more characterization in the future, as the showrunners have promised.  And I hope that more butch, masculine gems will show up.  Because masculine women, whether cis or trans are still part of grand spectrum of femininity, and they deserve their goddamned positive representation along with the rest of us.  Because they are just as beautiful, and just as much part of the spectrum of womanhood, and they deserve to have that known.

Rethinking CIS: finding a few grains of truth in a fucked up TERF story.

If a bullshit argument gets repeated over and over again, sometimes it’s worth weighing it again to find out what it is inside that argument that makes it so appealing. I’ve been thinking a long time about objections people have to the word ‘cis’. Most is just bullshit ‘blah, blah, I don’t want my privilege labelled’, ‘blah blah, I want to be able to label you as other’ etc. 

But one argument stood out: 

We’re assigned a gender too. 

Now, before we start, some common definitions of Cis:

“Cisgender means that you agree and identify with the gender you were assigned at birth.”

“Cisgender is a t type of gender identity perception, where an individuals’ experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth.”

“Denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.”

“If the doctor announces a baby as being a girl, and she is fine with being a girl, then she is cisgender.”

“You’re cisgender if the doctor says “it’s a boy” and you’re basically like truuuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeee forever”. 

Now, there is something obviously absent here: transness. The experience of being assigned a gender that does not align with your gender identity. The experience of being transgender. But there is something implied in all these definitions too: agreement (notice the word agree in 2 of them), comfort, being ‘fine with that’, the absense of trauma. That, I think, is a mistake.

See, being assigned a gender at birth is not merely a word, it’s a pretty big package deal. It comes with a set of boundaries, a set of expectations, a set of pressures, a set of dangers, a set of assumptions. If you’re assigned female at birth, it comes with a second class status, a target on your back to subject you to violence and rape, and a worth almost completely defined by what you could mean to a man. We’re not just assigned a gender identity, we’re also all assigned a gender role in a violently sexist society. 

And gender roles never fit. They’re designed not to fit. The ideal male role and the ideal female role are completely unachieable goals that we’re nonetheless pressured to meet. Sometimes, when a man loves cars and beer and the gym and doesn’t cry much, they almost feel comfortable. But on some level, they never truly fit any of us. 

So, thing number one: We’re all coercively assigned a highly restrictive and violently policed gender role that does not fit us.

But that’s not all. A little side story: In 2009 I was sterilized against my will because I am trans. It was a very traumatic experience, a violation that turned upside down every right I believed I had and told me I did not have the right to exist. 

Incidently, I also never ever ever want children and  had at several points in my pre-2009 life considered sterilization. Given enough time, I probably would have eventually chosen the procedure myself. As a result of that, I am not childless against my will and do not suffer the same grief and despair as my trans friends who wanted children and find that that option was taken from them. That is a struggle I don’t have. But that did not make my experience any less traumatizing. I don’t ‘agree’ with what’s happened to me. I’m not ‘fine with it’. It was a deeply violating nonconsentual act on my body that marked this body and this life as ‘not truly mine to control’.  

So, thing number two: Being forced to walk a road that you would have walked anyway is still nonconsentual, coercive and potentionally traumatizing. 

And finally- I lack the experience and knowledge to explain this last point in depth - quite a few trans POC have already pointed out that what our society defines as ‘man’ and ‘women’ are very specifically white gender identities. Stuck between hypersexualization and desexualization, ‘dangerous’, ‘exotic’ and ‘submissive’, men, women and genderdiverse people of colour all experience that their gender will always be viewed as deviant because it can not comfort to white womanhood or white manhood. For those at the receiving end of genocide, colonisation and westernisation, frameworks for what it means to be a man, a woman or some other gender within their own culture are almost completely inaccessable, erasured, destroyed and replaced with a white western gender binary.

So, thing number 3: Colonialism means people of colour are marked gender deviants by default while being denied to a non-colonialized understanding of their gender identity. 

Now, put all those things together and I think we need to radically rethink what it means to be cisgender. 

I don’t think we need to get rid of the word cisgender. It’s very valuable to have a word that describes not being transgender and not having to deal with specific trans experiences. 

I do think we need to get to an understanding of cis that acknowledges that assigning a gender to a person who turns out to be cis is still restrictive, colonializing, potentially traumatizing and ultimately nonconsentual.

This is not fine. This is not in agreement. This is, in fact, still violence. 

I’m sorry, but feminism is just pointless. By advocating it, you yourself create the problem. My mom makes more than most men and still cooks.
—  Junior Mechanical Engineering major, submitted by needanewplague

xalixnsx  asked:

I hate it how because I'm a girl I'm supposed to be graceful, hardworking, smart, pretty, polite, etc. I can't even eat without getting comments such as "you're a girl, eat graceful" or if I do a funny face I get comments such as "you're a girl, girls are supposed to be pretty" or I'm expected to have kids and get married. I can't do things like open a bottle without getting comments like that. Does that ever happen to you or someone you know?

Not often, but it has happened.

I’m sorry that the people around you seem so intent on policing your actions, just on the idea that different genders should act in set ways. It’s such a close-minded way of thinking.

And a lot of the ways that girls are “supposed” to act are so limiting! There’s also a lot of sexism and heteronormativity involved, since most of these “feminine” behaviors are supposedly about making women seem attractive to men.

shiny-mimikyus-deactivated20170  asked:

do you have any advice for arguing against people who disagree with the term homophobia? Like whenever I start talking about homophobia, calling out homophobic behaviors, and explaining how horrible and problematic it is, almost always will some ignorant [heterosexual] idiot start off by saying "I wasn't being homophobic. Homophobia means an intense fear of gay people, making gay jokes isn't homophobic", and then they get hung up on the actual term instead of everything else about it.

You can’t argue with someone who’s being that big of a jackass. Don’t stop calling them out, though. What they’re doing IS homophobic, whether they accept it or not. 

Try using more specific language as well. What are they saying that makes it homophobic? For instance, are they policing gender roles? Are they being heteronormative? Are they making judgments based on stereotypes? The more specific you are about what they’re doing, the harder it will be for them to deny it. 

Interview with David Combs

This interview is a little different. In this one, I interviewed someone who has an interesting, non-traditional relationship to masculinity. David Combs, also known as Spoonboy, is 30 years old, grew up in Takoma Park, Maryland, and lives in Washington, D.C. This interview was conducted via email from February to April 2014.

David has a non-binary identity, but was assigned male at birth, was raised as a boy, and is perceived as a cisgender man and often benefits from cisgender male privilege. David’s experience is very interesting to me as a non-binary person who also benefits from cisgender privilege. Even though we share the experience of being non-binary, our experiences of being non-binary are very different, as David is living with the experience of being mistakenly perceived as a cisgender man and I live with the experience of being mistakenly perceived as a cisgender woman. With privilege, I have found, it doesn’t matter how you identify; it matters how you’re perceived. Of course, with that privilege comes an erasure of one’s true identity, which really sucks, to put it simply, and isn’t much of a privilege at all.

Content warning for discussion of patriarchy and rape culture.

Charlie Stern: What is your gender identity?

David Combs: i guess it’s fluid.  i don’t feel i have great words to describe my gender identity, but some words that have come close at various times are genderqueer, genderfluid, genderqueer man, boy, transfeminine, androgynous, ambivalent.  this manifests mostly in how i understand myself, and less through outward gender cues.  95% of the time i pass as cismale. 

Stern: At what age did you identify that way?

Combs: i started understanding myself as something other than cis when i was 28.

Stern: How does identifying as male make you feel?

Combs: it doesn’t click.  but other people identifying me as male generally doesn’t make me uncomfortable.  i experience the world largely with cismale privilege.  there are aspects of my male experience that i really value and i don’t just mean male privilege.  like parts of my experiences in life that were coded as male experiences are things i experienced as dissonant and alienating and other parts have been meaningful and resonant.

Stern: Do you sometimes feel trapped by your identity?

Combs: i occasionally feel trapped by a sense that i need to express my gender identity in certain ways for the benefit of others.

Stern: What made you decide to dress as your gender?

Combs: i’ve pretty much dressed the same way since i was 5 years old.  i wear more clothes with buttons now than when i was younger but i don’t feel like buttons are particularly gendered one way or another.

Stern: How long did it take you to “pass” as a male?

Combs: i’ve passed as male for the majority of my life but not all of it.  in periods where i’ve worn my hair longer i’ve often been read as female, both when i was a kid and as an adult.  but even when my hair is short, i’ve been read as female more often than any of my cismale presenting friends.

Stern: Do you ever feel completely at home with your developed voice?

Combs: no.  and as a singer i have more than one cause to be self conscious about my voice.  some of it has to do with gender and some doesn’t, but i’ve often wished i could sing with a typically female voice.

Stern: Do you ever have second thoughts about being male?

Combs: yeah.

Stern: When did you learn about the different gender pronouns used?

Combs: i learned binary gender pronouns like anyone else when i was first learning the english language.  i think i first met people who used non-binary pronouns around 2003 when i was 19.  i remember being put off by the idea of non-binary identity initially, because i considered my masculine identity to be a more feminine masculinity, and i sort of felt i was being left behind in a strictly defined masculine identity if i didn’t identify as this new and alien non-binary identity.  i later came to see that some of the non-binary people i met were using different words to describe a similar thing to what i felt.

Stern: Do you feel the need to conform to what society asks of you, in terms of your gender?

Combs: i mean, i definitely did when i was younger, particularly when i was a teenager and coming into my sense of self.  before i was a teenager i felt comfortable with feminine and queer aspects of my identity that i came to really hate about myself once i was old enough to know those weren’t socially desirable masculine traits.  as an adult i’ve learned to be comfortable with myself regardless of that, but there are certainly still times when depending on who i’m talking to i might feel pressured to perform my gender differently than i would normally.  but actually if you take that idea outside of the context of the mechanisms of culturally policed gender roles, i don’t that kind of fluidity is always negative.  there are certain environments where i feel really at home and comfortable presenting more masculine sides of myself, and certain environments where i feel at home and comfortable presenting my femininity. 

Stern: Do you think gender is merely a social construction? Why or why not?

Combs: i think the ways we define gender and the categories we use to understand it are constructed.  the idea that there are gendered behaviors expected of a person based on the sex they’re assigned at birth is entirely a social construction and there is so much evidence to that effect that i wouldn’t really know where to start.  but that doesn’t mean the way people experience gender isn’t real.  i think that a majority of people have an innate sense of gender whether that fits within binary categories or not.  and certainly we all experience the real world effects of the ways that gender is constructed.  arguing that gender is a construct doesn’t make navigating a gendered world any less real.

Stern: Do you think of gender as a thing you would like to undo? Please explain.

Combs: i think of the gender binary as something i would very much like to undo.  i don’t think gender goes away, but i think it should be something you define for yourself, not something you should be assigned.

Stern: If gender did not exist, do you think you would still have the desire to live as a male?

Combs: that’s kind of a trick question, right?

Stern: If you were unable to live as a male, what would that mean for you?

Combs: there have been many times when i’ve fantasized about living as a woman in a sustained way, but i’ve never done it, so i can’t say 100% that i’d be comfortable with that as my only option.  i could easily see myself occupying a more expressly non-binary identity, but it would probably swing towards the masculine part of the spectrum in regard to gender cues, so does that even count?  in that respect, i’d be happy to stop living as a man, but if it was never an option to express myself in a masculine way i think that would be pretty uncomfortable.  there is definitely a comfort in my lived experience of maleness that i wouldn’t want to give up permanently.  and again, by “comfort” i don’t mean male privilege, though that’s certainly part of my experience, but i mean comfort as in feeling at peace with myself.

Stern: Do you have many friends/family who are also male?

Combs: plenty of friends.  no family.

Stern: What is your relationship to the male community?

Combs: i don’t know that there is any such thing as coherent “male community."  my relationship to other men really varies depending not the man, obviously, but if it’s a question of spaces where there is a sense of masculine solidarity among male identified people, my relationship is also fluid.  when my typically masculine people read me as feminine it puts me lower on the totem poll and i am antagonized by misogynist men.  but when there are others present who are read as more feminine than me, all of a sudden i’m part of the club.

Stern: Do you find that your relationships with people in the male community are different from your relationships with people outside the male community?

Combs: sure.  there are certain ways that male socialized people are taught to relate to other men differently than we’re taught to people we don’t read as men.  it’s like the cab driver who is perfectly polite until my female friends get out of the car and then he starts with the sexist jokes.

Stern: Have you ever felt excluded from the male community because you weren’t “male enough”?

Combs: i have felt excluded from certain communities of men for not being masculine enough for sure.  there’s a pretty long running narrative about the boy who is picked on for being too feminine and it’s based on a prevalent social dynamic.  it’s misogyny and it’s how masculinity creates a barrier of solitude to protect itself.  constructing itself in opposition to femininity.  trying to root out anyone who brings femininity into it’s fragile fortress of pure hegemonic masculinity.

Stern: Have you had any role models influence your gender, "teaching” you how to be male? Please explain.

Combs: i mean, totally.  our understanding of acceptable gender expressions are policed strictly by the people in our lives constantly, by the models we’re offered through media, and particularly by the people who raise us.  i certainly recall the ways in which my father tried to prepare me to “act like a man."  i wrote a song about it.  it’s called "stab yer dad.”

Stern: What kind of support for being a male do you have?

Combs: patriarchy.

Stern: Have you run into any problems with religion, in regards to your gender identity?

Combs: religion is very often a primary influence in how gender roles are taught to kids.  i haven’t been in much of a religious environment since i was young, but i grew up immersed in various denominations of judaism.  and particularly in orthodox strains of judaism there are very strict restrictions on what is or isn’t acceptable depending on your assigned gender.  whether it’s self conscious or not, growing up with the idea of a masculine god, masculine messianic figures, masculine religious rights and leadership, you learn to value masculinity over femininity.  on some level that influenced my self-understanding and biased me against my own femininity for sure.

Stern: Did you have any friends/family who thought they could change you to be “normal”?

Combs: no.  this interview is set up to point out to people with cismale privilege how little they have to think about their gender identity and how infrequently it’s challenged and i hope that me trying to answer the questions sincerely hasn’t come across as oblivious to that.  this question though was a real poignant one in that regard.  i have enough privilege that no one would ever try to change me to “normal”, because when i’m read as a straight white male (regardless of my identity) or close enough, those things are coded as “neutral,” “objective,” “normal."  and that’s really disgusting.

Stern: How has being a male affected your romantic relationships?

Combs: most of my female partners have told me at one point or another that they didn’t think of me as being masculine in the same way as they did other men they’d been with.  in some instances i think my partners understood my gender better than i did at the time.  even when i identified as cis it was always comforting when other people identified me as feminine.  i’ve dated a lot of queer women and whether it was explicitly stated or i just thought about it privately, i’ve understood many of my relationships with women to be queer relationships.  conversely i sometimes feel most at home with my masculinity when it’s been the source of desire from other men.  queer male attraction is one of the spaces that i feel most at home with a masculine identity.

Stern: How has being a male impacted you negatively?

Combs: hegemonic masculinity teaches us that vulnerability is weakness.  and weakness is antithetical to manhood.  so we shut down our emotions to avoid any appearance of vulnerability and we alienate ourselves from ourselves.  i wouldn’t underemphasize what a damaging effect this has on the world. but also it’s a relatively small thing compared to the ways that patriarchy negatively impacts people without male privilege.  our culture’s misogynist status quo economically, socially and politically disadvantages non-cismale people to the point that people are basically psychologically tortured and even murdered for not having male privilege.  

Stern: How safe do you feel at school/work/public (and why)?

Combs: generally pretty safe.  i mean we could talk about the various factors that might make me feel safe in one neighborhood in versus another.  but basically my privilege allows to walk around without the general fear that any given person might stalk me, attack me, or sexually assault me for not being male; that any given person might be looking for some opportunity to take advantage of me sexually, etc.  not that i haven’t experienced that fear at all, but it doesn’t present itself to me the same omnipresent way that it does to people without male privilege.

Stern: Have you faced any hindrances functioning within the system (like school) because of your gender?

Combs: no, but i don’t do school or have a traditional professional life either.

Stern: Have you ever been a victim of a hate crime?

Combs: no.

Stern: Have you ever been forced by friends/family into mental health treatment for your gender identity?

Combs: no.

Stern: If your family had to raise you all over again, what advice would you give them so that your life gender experience would have been different?

Combs: i might have asked my mom to raise me with the same baseline of criticism and disdain for the gender binary as she did for sexism, racism, and homophobia.  i might still have been indoctrinated into those ways of thinking from all the shit we absorb from media and the dominant culture, but i might have had a little easier time with self understanding as an adult if i’d been exposed to a critique of the gender binary sooner.

Stern: What was the best advice you received as a young person?

Combs: be yourself.

Stern: If your own child were to declare themselves male, what advice would you give them to help them survive the world they may have to face?

Combs: be yourself.  and beware the way our culture trains boys to think like male supremacist sociopaths.

Stern: Do you have any fears about the future and how living as a male could hinder pursuits in the realms of family and children?

Combs: no.  but i’m also not making any plans to have children.

Stern: What do you see as the main issue facing male people today and what do you see as a possible solution to this problem?

Combs: overwhelming male complicity in rape culture.  i think teaching consent and comprehensive sex education to young people might go a long way.

Stern: Do you feel like any health disparities you face are directly related to your gender identity and expression?

Combs: no.

Stern: Have you ever felt that you have been denied proper medical treatment or questioned inappropriately while seeking medical treatment?

Combs: no.

Stern: What changes would you make in healthcare in order to receive better care oriented towards males?

Combs: health care is already unfairly oriented towards men.  there are all kinds of changes we could make to health care that would make it better for all humans (including men) but yeah, not being oriented towards men isn’t really the problem.

Stern: What do you think society could do to better understand people who are male and their needs?

Combs: offer young people education around the ways that gender is constructed.

Stern: How could society change to be more accepting or emotionally better for you?

Combs: the dissolution of the gender binary, patriarchy, heteronormativity, capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, ableism, etc.  :)