We all make compromises, also hair knows no gender

I grew my hair out for a lot of reasons, but none of them were “to sexually appeal to men”. For one thing, keeping it short and tidy actually took a lot of upkeep, and I am quite lazy. For another, I first bobbed my hair and then buzzed my head during a period of time when I deeply hated my body and wanted badly to be something I’m not (eg, a male, so people would stop giving so much of a fuck about stuff like my hair), so I mentally associate those things now and don’t want to go back to that mental/emotional place in any way. And it’s still just hair, just like it was all the times when I cut it off.

But at the same time, we all make compromises, and I guess this one’s mine. I don’t try to please men with the way I look or act, but that means I run around with hairy legs, flat shoes, an un-made-up face, and menswear-style clothes a lot of the time. Remember the Stonewall-era laws that specified each person had to wear at least one “gender-appropriate” article of dress at any given time? That law is off the books now, but people don’t act like it is: women can only check so many non-conformity boxes before they get fucked with, so if my ultimate goal is pleasant invisibility (neither being catcalled for my femininity nor derided for rebellion), I have to pick my items of conformity and long hair is one.  

I’m not trying to achieve “femme privilege” or looking to sell butch women under the bus. I don’t fetishize femininity or despise short-haired women. I get the criticisms of femininity, believe me: I’ve just lived a life of constant trauma and I’ll gladly make small compromises in order to catch a bit of a break from the bullshit if I can. But as the previous story proves, I don’t always even catch that break. I guess the bottom line is that I really just don’t give a shit about my hair.

Feminism does not believe that asking whether an individual identifies with the particular social characteristics and expectations assigned to them at birth is a politically useful way of analyzing or understanding gender. Eliminating gender assignments by allowing individuals to choose one of two pre-existing gender molds, while continuing to celebrate the existence and naturalism of “gender” itself, is not a progressive social goal that will advance women’s liberation. Feminism claims that gender is a much more complicated (and sinister) social phenomenon than this popular cis/trans binary has any hope of capturing.

First, “masculinity” and “femininity” are not monolithic, static concepts that are wholly embraced or wholly discarded. Socially assigned gender roles encompass entire lives’ worth of behaviors and expectations, from cradle to grave. Most people’s identification with their “gender” assignment is not a simple Y/N. One may be aesthetically gender conforming, but at the same time, behaviorally non-conforming. Or vice versa. Or some combination of both. Most of us are not walking, talking stereotypes. It is unusual for a person to both appear and behave in unmodified identification with their assigned gender at birth.

For example, a female-born person might wear pink dresses and lots of makeup [eg, look stereotypically feminine], but behave in an assertive, detached, and highly intellectual manner [eg, in stereotypically ‘masculine’ ways]. Or a female-born person might appear very androgynous, without any feminine adornment at all, but express herself gently, quietly, and with graceful concern for those around her. What about a female who is aggressive and competitive in her professional life, but submissive and emotional in her personal life? Who decides whether an individual is sufficiently identified with to be considered “cis”? Or sufficiently non-identified with to be “trans”? “Cis” and “trans” do not describe discrete social classes from which political analysis can be extrapolated.

Additionally, one’s identification with their “gender” may change over time. Gender is not an immutable characteristic. While some people argue that “gender identity” is a deeply felt, unchanging personal quality; the existence and prominence of late-transitioning trans people drags this claim into very questionable territory. One may be gender conforming for many years, then slowly or suddenly reject the characteristics of their assigned gender. How an individual identifies in reference to their gender, whether it be masculinity or femininity, is not necessarily stable, nor should it have to be.

The cis/trans binary does not, and cannot, account for the experiences of people with complicated, blended, or changing “gender identities;” nor does it address people with hostile relationships to gender in general. As a woman-born-woman who rejects femininity as females’ destiny, I surely do not identify with my assigned gender in the way that “cis” describes. Indeed, no one holding radical feminist/anti-essentialist views about gender could be considered “cis” because, by definition of these views, we reject gender as a natural social category that every person identifies with. Feminists do not believe that everyone has a “gender identity,” or that we all possess some kind of internal compass directing our identification with “gender.”


- E. Hungerford, “A Feminist Critique of Cisgender”

To repeat [bolds mine]:

“Indeed, no one holding radical feminist/anti-essentialist views about gender could be considered “cis” because, by definition of these views, we reject gender as a natural social category that every person identifies with.

Feminists do not believe that everyone has a ‘gender identity,’ or that we all possess some kind of internal compass directing our identification with 'gender.’”

Response to an inbox ask: "Gender doesn't matter, so we should just let people pick sides."

Well, no. It does matter. It matters a lot. Saying “all strong women are trans men” is telling young women we cannot be strong. Saying “all sensitive males are actually women” is denying males the ability to express sensitivity. And it’s all driving people back into a 1950s understanding of men and women. That doesn’t make trans people bad or sick or wrong (where have I said that?) – it makes the system (eg, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy) extremely, extremely persuasive.

*gEnDerFeeLs* a true story

Today I woke up wearing man underpants and a stripey wifebeater. I think that is what these tank tops are called; I feel that is a misogynist thing to call them, but some people will insist it is not, so whatever. Point is: totes hot. Literally, it gets really hot where I sleep, because it’s right in front of a window and the sun shines through, so I sleep with as few clothes as I can manage without offending housemates when we are stumbling around to and from the bathroom/first thing in the morning/etc.

I had to go out into the real world today, the world where there are men who stare at my little boobs and yell things about my ass, so I had to pick out what to wear for that occasion. At first I was going to wear another wifebeater and purple shorts because I am rad, but then I realized that my boobs were too visible and my ass was not minimized enough in that outfit. So I changed it to a silky button-down, a jean jacket (a real ‘90s jean jacket from the actual '90s), and some plain black shorts (over the man underpants), and went out like that.

Then the day got chillier, so I went into a thrift store to buy a scarf. While there, I also saw an inexpensive dress, and decided to try on the dress. I am whatever about dresses; they are garments that I like to wear, the same as I like to wear trousers or overalls or skirts or anything, and that’s about it, but this one actually looked pretty awesome on me. And it was cheaply priced, and old but high quality, and it had a handmended place on it (that sort of thing really endears me to a garment), so I bought it.

Soon thereafter, the jacket and new scarf were not enough to keep me warm, so I changed into the pair of tights that I’d brought. While I was at it, I wondered if I should also put on the dress, since it took up more room in my bag. So I changed that too, with the shirt and scarf back on overtop, and suddenly I had a lot more room in my bag.

At that moment, I realized I was also wearing a dress, and I could have had a moment wherein I wondered: “What am I? My personality is not very femme, and my hair-wearing and grooming and self-carriage are not very femme, but this outfit is femme, am I femme? Does the fact that I wish to wear a dress at all mean I am femmer than I think I am? Does the fact that I usually don’t wish to wear a dress mean that I am butch? Does the fact that I just wear a dress the way I’d wear anything else mean I am butch? Will wearing a dress make me less butch? Which part of my personality is dominant? Or do they just cancel themselves out? Am I neutrois now?!”

But since I am radscum, I skipped trying to mindfuck myself and just thought, “That lesbian looks pretty good in a dress,” and gave myself a chin-throw in the mirror.

Adventures in Misgendering: The Gender Noose Tightens

I have long hair, almost down to the middle of my ribcage. Usually I wear that shit in a braid or topknot to tame it because I don’t use product and it gets unruly over the course of a day. I am also five foot six and slightly built, with small hands and feet, so I don’t think I could really pass for even a small teenage boy if I buzzed my head again.

The other day I wore my typical casual clothing – a basic roomy tee-shirt, trousers, flat ankle boots, a knit beanie, and a cardigan under a slouchy blazer – when I went to the grocery store. I don’t often wear makeup, and I had the start of a miserable cold that day anyway, so I didn’t cover up my under-eye circles or bother with anything except lip balm. 

When I was exiting the grocery store with my food, a boy of about seven or eight was standing outside with his family. He watched me approach on the sidewalk, then turned to his family and asked, “Boy?”

His mother looked me in the face, then started to laugh at me. “No! Girl!”

The mother kept laughing, while the boy and his father looked at me and started laughing too. I was totally perplexed and just stared over my shoulder at them in disapproval as I walked away, because their behavior was rude and inappropriate and I wanted them to feel ashamed.

This type of thing had last happened to me when I was rocking that buzzcut. It did not rock my sense of self this time like it did back then, because I have feminist analysis now – so instead of thinking I am either a bad genderqueer or a failed woman, I’m thinking: Fuck. In the past five or six years, culture has shifted such that women are not necessarily recognized as women unless they’re wearing dresses, loose flowing long hair, and full faces of makeup all the time. Anything else is worthy of ridicule, contempt, derision, and public humiliation (which is something radical feminists, especially lesbian feminists, have been talking about for a long time). 

But no, gender roles are definitely relaxing and becoming more flexible! The noose is looser, not tighter! And this type of thing definitely never happens to women born women, those privileged cisfucks.

Saying Biology Exists is not saying “Biology is Destiny.” Get a grip on what “Biology is Destiny” means - it means that because you are born female, you will be x,y,z (x,y,z being sex stereotypes and general shittiness). No radical feminist believes “Biology is Destiny” in [that] way …

- Cathy Brennan

Repeat: no radical feminists believe being female = conforming to stereotypes.

I’m not even that “butch” – I have long hair, am not opposed to skirts or dresses, and sometimes wear a little eyeshadow on a night out. I just grew up doing farm work, so I never learned a lot of the vulnerable-female posing that girlchildren are taught: I stand flat on both my feet (unless I cock one leg because it’s hurting), I don’t cross my legs daintily, I square my shoulders, I don’t do the coy shit we’re taught to do in order to mitigate the impact of our words, etc. I hold my own in a crowd, walk quickly, and also have a really awful smirk that is pretty much the only face I make in public other than a semi-glowering deadpan. Apparently I can come across like a major asshole, even when I’m not trying – and while I don’t usually go out of my way to be an asshole, a lot of the time I don’t even care how much of an asshole I appear to be.

In my line of reasoning, people tolerate and even celebrate much worse behavior from men – they can learn to tolerate it in a woman.

Beyond that, in today’s gendurr climate, anything less than full makeup and all-out pinup/club/glossy-chic garb (depending on which subculture you hang with) is considered “un-femme” – so fuck it.

"Feminine. Sexy."

Sometimes I forget how much value even other women place on femininity. Then, like tonight, I read a “feminist’s” takedown of some random TV show that lauded said for portraying a woman who “liked scotch” and “had a career” but was “also feminine […] and sexy.”

Like … having careers and boozing are only cool if the woman is also “feminine” and “sexy”? Male fantasy much?

And really? Femininity is SO IMPORTANT to some women that they’ll make it their hill to die on? They REALLY need to see it in the media *EVEN MORE*, and get butthurt over depictions of “unfeminine” women?

I guess the “feminine” identity is really that hard to maintain, and women feel so insecure about it. That makes me indescribably sad.

It's not that trans activists and radical feminists live in different realities, we just understand the same reality in different ways?

Hey, remember when the trans faction found my “why women go het” post, where I talked about my roommates getting bent out of shape that I didn’t want to engage in stereotypical middle-class-white-women behaviors? Remember how the trans faction and funfems said that my unwillingness to oblige these people, and my mild resentment at being pressured to do so, was indicative of my own internalized misogyny?

Well, the behaviors I described – and the fact that I faced a blowback for failing to conform, and still face this blowback on a continuing basis – are in fact a form of sex-role policing. My roommates (two of whom are female, one of whom is male) have a certain narrow idea about how women are supposed to act, and when I fail to conform to it, they get unhappy and step up the pressure to bring me back into line.

Folks, this is gender policing! Which is a big deal, according to identity politickers. It’s a prime example of a female person who does not identify as trans, being pressured to conform to artificial, capitalist, middle-class, white Western social expectations of how women are supposed to behave – and facing serious consequences (social ostracism, uncomfortable interpersonal interactions, even possibly loss of housing) when she persists in doing her own thing instead.

If I did not find the idea of “gender identity” completely unnecessary and therefore consider myself genderless – if instead I had called myself a “genderfluid genderqueer CAFAAB pansexual girlboi” or something, included a photo of myself wearing skinny pants and a suit coat over a tee-shirt and scarf with my hair in a bun (eg, what I am styling right now) and labeled the post with trigger warnings for gender policing and cissexism – the response wouldn’t have been “lol look at the radscum HATING WOMEN.”

It probably would have been “OMG how dare that cisfuck try to tell you how to practice your gender identity?!?! You should slap that b**** and punch her in the c***!" 

So that’s why I think it’s a little ironic when they call us out for misogyny.

a radfem said some cotton ceiling BS was reminiscent of what her rapist said to her and evenweirdosneedtoblog said that her rapists were “insightful” and educating her about “the inherent cissexism in the lesbian community.” - Anonymous

Holy shit.  I’ve had some interactions with them before, but I didn’t realize what a sicko they were until now.  Even by crazy trans standards, that’s incredibly fucking sick.  Where are the trans hordes calling out the misogyny?  That’s right, only transmisogyny matters.  In Tumblr Trans Land, it isn’t misogyny until it happens to males.

- via gaynotqueer

The person in question was me. And for the record, my rapists were not educating me about cissexism in the lesbian community either, because I was not calling myself a lesbian (although I do love and have relationships with exclusively women) and these dudes were definitely not trans activists either (although I have also been raped by a trans activist; he didn’t say exactly the same thing to me, though, it was mostly the het or bi white boys who went with “my dick will enlighten you”, which was the rhetoric I criticized).

I’m honestly glad someone else saw this and thought it was wrong. I’d thought the whole exchange didn’t matter to anyone else and I was alone in this.

Lucypaw found me and has taken umbrage with my use of the term “kids” to refer to the Tumblr genderbabies. S/he is pretty sure s/he’s older than I am. I’m pretty sure s/he’s not.

I didn’t read any further to see if I got any death threats. I’m 25 and a reasonably intellectual person who has a life, I’m not really interested in finding out whether or not teens and twentysomethings on the internet think I should DIAF because I don’t believe in their conservative, regressive gendermantra.

Small-breasted women manage to survive every day.

As a fairly small-breasted woman myself, I understand that there is a social pressure for women to have large breasts (preferably breasts that are both large and perky, which is pretty much not possible without surgical augmentation). From reading accounts of women who have undergone medical mastectomies, I understand there is a tremendous social pressure for women to have breast augmentation to ‘rebuild’ the missing breast/s after surgery – no matter how the woman attached to the breast may feel. And having been deeply entrenched in postmodern gender studies and politics for some years, I understand that male-to-female trans* people feel like they need to have breasts – preferably large, perky breasts – in order to feel they are/socially pass as women.

But yo, as painful as that can be to someone’s self-esteem, it will not literally kill you. As with the social pressure for females to be thin, pretty, et cetera, it may get bad enough that your self esteem and self perception are affected, and you may be driven to depression and self-harming behaviors (which breast augmentation technically is, since it’s major surgery and the complications can be life-threatening or even fatal), and in extreme cases these effects could plausibly drive someone to die in the course of surgery or even commit suicide  – but having small or no  breasts will not kill a person in and of itself. It is not a fatal condition, I promise. I mean … I have personally had saggy A-or-small-B-cups for the past thirteen years and they haven’t killed me yet.

What the fuck are our priorities as a society, when the law lets women die painfully of wasting diseases but considers “small or no breasts” to be a life-threatening condition? 

“this response works equally well for the proclamations of “well you think gender doesn’t exist anyway” that radfems seem to get (i have once already). gender DOES exist—it’s a fucked up, bad, wrong thing, but it exists, and it hurts people.”

- homemadepepsi via paleotrees

There is a weird embrasure of extremely abstract language within the queer circles, but at the same time, many people seem to take that abstract language very seriously. That’s the best I can describe it. 

It appealed to me for a time because I’m a drug-addled amateur absurdist philosopher who loves nonsense and is constantly evaluating life with the strange questions: “What is the nature of reality? What can be considered to ‘exist’ at all?” But then (among other turning points) I looked around at other people who were reading queer theory and realized they were taking it literally: that it seemed without 24/7 positive validation, everything about them and their worldview would cease to exist.

So the best I can describe this phenomenon is: radicals do not positively validate queer theory and the concept of gender, so people mistakenly believe we do not think it exists. I’m not sure if that summary even makes sense or if it could make sense, because the whole thing is nonsensical. It is not absurd in the fun way, either.

“you look radiant! so much for the trans loons suspecting all of us are bedraggled cave monsters”

- 18brumaire via paleotrees

Thanks! I can’t take much credit, as I am approximately half French and French people can do pretty much everything while still looking excellent. See: Eva Green and Victoria Legrand, for notable examples.

But indeed, it’s silly that the trans brigade thinks we are all either troll-like and “butch” (which seems to equal “ugly”, in their minds, unless it’s a born-male person who identifies as female calling zieself “butch” whereby it becomes … ???) or immaculately groomed high-femme white laydees. They can’t seem to make up their minds.

I may have long hair now (for the first time in twelve years), but I’m hardly groomed, hardly “femme”, and not entirely white either. I’m just one person, but it’s exemplary of the fact that the things we wear do not make the people we are (long hair or dresses =/= “woman”/“female”, tousled appearance or trousers =/= “man”/“male”), and the kind of person we are doesn’t influence what we wear (eg not all “good” people are hip & stylish and not all political people are “unstylish”, etc).

I wish they would get over the fixation on appearances, it’s really bourgey and teenagery.

“i wonder whether they even think about the implications of what they’re saying, or if they’re too self-absorbed to care. the way women are “cis”privileged is because we’re comfortable with our assigned gender? HARDLY.”

- sendforbromina via paleotrees

It’s a wonderful reversal that they’ve decided we are the conservative ones, when we’re the ones advocating for accepting one’s body as it is instead of seeking to change it through cosmetic alterations or mental gymnastics of any sort. 

You know, instead of thinking, “I hate my penis, so therefore I have decided it’s an outie vagina!” – thinking “I have an ambiguous relationship with the expectations and/or privilege bestowed upon me simply because of the place people with my anatomy occupy in the social hierarchy … so I am going to seek to behave ethically and work to dismantle the system such that people are not organized hierarchically according to anything.”

And instead of thinking “I don’t like the way I am treated or expected to act due to my female anatomy, so I must either ramp up the act (shave, be prettier, act compliant, make moar sandwiches!) and hope people love me, or accept that I am Really A Man Inside and seek to live as one!” … perhaps think “I don’t like the way I am treated or expected to act due to my female anatomy, so I am going to fucking burn the system down and liberate all other human beings with female anatomy.”

Assuming that we don’t seek surgery because we are comfortable with our assigned roles (or because we are in denial of our transhood) is ludicrous. Few women are comfortable with their assigned roles – that discomfort is how products (whether beauty products, lifestyle aids, or surgeries and hormone treatments) are sold, and an actual analysis of the media and how marketing works would make that very clear very quickly.But yet obviously we are the right-wingers.

Long story short, I don’t think they do think about it. Or they do, and they don’t fully understand the concepts (because let’s face it, there isn’t much information out there that doesn’t support the dominant paradigm but also hasn’t been marked with the handy Red X of ‘Icky Radical Feminism Ew Gross’ …), so they get nowhere.