Appropriating Womanhood in 7 Easy Steps

December 3, 2009 at 9:59 AM (Uncategorized) (, )

1. Re-define “woman” as a “gender identity.” It will never do to allow “woman” to continue to refer to an adult female, as people who do not fit the biological profile of an adult female will never be able to claim to be women. Do not dwell on the fact that this re-definition gives no information whatsoever about what it is exactly that someone so identified is saying about himself; the vagueness makes the word easier to claim.

2. If absolutely necessary, back up this re-definition by explaining how hopelessly vague the meaning of “woman” currently is (ignoring the fact that it’s never been so vague as to include men, of course), that language is fluid and changes over time, or that strict definitions are inherently oppressive. Do not mention that none of these shortcomings lead to your re-definition. With skill, it is even possible to argue that “woman” should be re-defined to include “mtfs/transwomen” because otherwise, it excludes “mtfs/transwomen.”

3. Convince people that gendered pronouns exist to reference “gender identities,” as opposed to biological sexes. Bonus points for convincing people that the proper use of pronouns is determined by feelings.

4. Continue with the brainwashing phase, pretending that “woman” was a gender identity all along, or should have been, at least. Try to avoid being dragged into discussions about why it should be that way, except to assert that the alternative is transphobic.

5. If anyone refers to the common meaning of woman (an adult female) in any way, slur them as biological essentialists. Throw in “transphobic” for bonus points.

6. Pretend that everyone who refuses to accept you as a woman is specifically ignoring/disrespecting your “gender identity,” despite the obvious fact that most people don’t know what “gender identity” is, don’t care, never use the phrase/concept and have no need of it, and obviously don’t agree with your self-serving re-definition. Be careful not to frame such situations in terms of a difference in definitions, as this will draw attention to your tactics. Instead, frame it as ignorance of/transphobic refusal to admit what woman “really” means.

7. Reinforce the conceptual superiority and cultural hipness of your re-definition by talking about educating people/raising awareness about it.

ADVANCED APPROPRIATION: If possible, convince people that “female” is a gender identity. This tactic will allow you to skip straight to appropriating femaleness, and will even make appropriating womanhood easier.

Advertisements

28 Comments

  1. Miska said,

    This is brilliant. I’m going to add this to my links page, if you don’t mind.

    I’ve just discovered your blog – I am so glad to see more and more people writing about these issues, and I cannot wait to read more of your stuff 🙂

  2. Lots of links … « fab matters said,

    […] goes by the name of “H” over at Lesbian + Feminist has written a fantastic piece called “Appropriating Womanhood in 7 Easy Steps”. Seriously. You need to read it now. And then read everything else H has […]

  3. TBL said,

    This is excellent – especially number 7. That one winds me up the most, I think, especially because they use the language of feminism to reinforce the ‘superiority’ of their definition.

    I’ve just read your whole blog! It’s great.

  4. factcheckme said,

    here by way of miskas place. thanks for the read. i am so sick of this trans-obsession with “gender” over born-sex, it makes me sick. that the feminists have been sucked in so completely shakes me to my core. i am so happy to see the voices emerging, speaking out about this absurdity. radfems speaking about trans-issues without accusations of TRANSPHOBIA! flying about is really where its at, i am convinced of it. thanks again.

  5. Nicky said,

    That is so brilliant. You also forgot to mention, coming up with so many pseudoscience facts and pseudoscience data to come up with excuse or reasons why they are the way they are. Don’t forget to mention the fact that Transgender activist like to claim intersex as an excuse or alibi, when they question about their gender.

    • G~ said,

      At the expense of efforts by the ACTUALLY intersexed to be legitimately recognized as a biological reality instead of ambiguous genitalia being deemed pathological (and being “corrected” – usually to standard male by default/easy of surgery, to say nothing of Dr. requests/requirements that the family enforce “normal” male behavior so the “surgical corrections” are most effective.)

  6. rainsinger said,

    Excellent post! I’m so glad I found you 🙂

  7. FeistyAmazon said,

    I LOVE it, absolutely LOVE it…I’m going to put the website on my blog, DykesforDykes, unless it’s ok by you to quote it directly and give you full credit….It is so clear and to the point accurate.
    -FeistyAmazon

    • lesbianplusfeminist said,

      Hello, FeistyAmazon! Please, reference this post in any way that you like. I am a fan of your blog, by the way.

  8. lesbianplusfeminist said,

    Suvi-Tuuli Mäki-Asiala, your comment was not published because it was wildly off-topic.

  9. FeistyAmazon said,

    Thanks LesbianPlusFeminist! I’m glad you like my blog! I got it from the Michfest list originally, but didn’t want to copy it till I had the original writer’s(your) permission. Just dealt with the ‘what is a woman’ question yet AGAIN today, and had to give MY definition….which always scares me cuz so many then ‘hate’ on me for only recognizing bio-female women who are present women…not ‘past, present or future females’ like so many of the lame womens’ organizations and even SF Dyke March has the policy of accepting….cooptation till the point of meaninglessness. Your one post on this should be copied and posted EVERYWHERE…till bio-female women and Dykes wake up and get a damned clue!
    -FeistyAmazon

  10. Natural Butch said,

    Outstanding! Thanks for this – I’m passing it around.

  11. Lierre said,

    You forgot the best one:
    CRY.

    Every woman in the room will come to your aid, and hate the evil “transphobe.”

  12. melimelo said,

    Will you allow one of the hated trannies to comment? My guess is that you’ll just erase the comment on the pretext that I’m off topic. But here it goes…

    I can’t fail but to see a parallel between your effort to preserve the purity of womanhood and femaleness, and the effort by conservative Christian groups to preserve the purity of marriage. The same argument that Gay and Lesbian groups have been using to promote same-sex marriage can indeed be used to make valid the claim of transsexual persons to their gender identity: how does it affect your life that I’m recognized as a woman? Will you be less of a woman because of that?

    Since of course, men will no longer recognize me as one of their own and women like you won’t either, I guess I should look for the nearest bridge to jump off… You should hang out with Paul Scott, this endearing state rep from Michigan and his ideas about establishing a Gender Police.

    By the way, some of my best friends are lesbians. I wonder what have I ever done to you to hate me so much?

    • lesbianplusfeminist said,

      Will you allow one of the hated trannies to comment? My guess is that you’ll just erase the comment on the pretext that I’m off topic. But here it goes…

      I almost did erase it, given that your unwarranted assumption about how I manage comments, despite the commenting rules I posted, constitutes a passive-aggressive attack on my integrity that actually is rather off-topic.

      I can’t fail but to see a parallel between your effort to preserve the purity of womanhood and femaleness, and the effort by conservative Christian groups to preserve the purity of marriage.

      Really? I don’t see that parallel. These people you mention don’t want lesbian and gay relationships to be a part of marriage. It cannot be said that I do not want males to take part in femaleness or womanhood; I harbor no such desire because it isn’t possible in the first place. Why would I need to “preserve the purity” of womanhood or femaleness from males when they pose no threat to it in the first place, being by definition outside of both states of being? Perhaps you’ve missed the point of this post?

      The same argument that Gay and Lesbian groups have been using to promote same-sex marriage can indeed be used to make valid the claim of transsexual persons to their gender identity:

      I hope the point you’re trying to make with this parallel isn’t dependent on me being sympathetic to the marriage equality bullshit the GLBTSUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC community wastes energy and resources on, because you’d be out of luck. As I see it, you’ve just pulled some random, irrelevant, and tenuous connection out of the air, and it isn’t helping you one bit.

      I would ask you to define “gender identity” for me, given that all of the million and one definitions I’ve read are all vague and/or incoherent, but, fortunately, it isn’t relevant. As you would know if you’d read and digested this post, it isn’t about “gender identity,” and thus your comment is an excellent example of step number 6 of appropriating womanhood, namely, pretending my use of the word “woman” is a reference to “gender identity” when I’m obviously talking about no such thing.

      how does it affect your life that I’m recognized as a woman

      That isn’t an argument, it’s a question. The answer depends on what you mean by “woman.” Are you speaking the same language that I’m speaking? If not, you may want to reconsider whether or not your comment is on-topic.

      By the way, some of my best friends are lesbians

      Real lesbians, or appropriators? Either way, you get no brownie points from me.

      I wonder what have I ever done to you to hate me so much?

      Thank you for this shining example of precisely what Lierre commented about above: CRYING. Trying to paint every single thing that transsexuals don’t like as some kind of hate speech is a tired old tactic that no one with a brain is falling for.

      • Zoe Brain said,

        So – what makes you think you’re a woman?
        Serious question, not some form of attack.

        • lesbianplusfeminist said,

          Oh, god, not this again. This isn’t rocket science, Zoe. Words have meanings. When the meanings fit, people use the words.

          Serious question, not some form of attack.

          Passive-aggressiveness is not welcome here.

          • Nicky said,

            That’s why Zoe is one of those middle aged transsexuals with identity issues including deep denial of her transsexuality and stealing of another intersex person’s life history. Even Zoe likes to post online claiming to be an Intersex person.

  13. Jo said,

    Brilliant. I’m here via fabmatters as well. I’ve linked to your blog privately; if you’d allow a public link from a straight radical feminist, I’d love to do so.

  14. Sarah said,

    Am really engaged by your writing and glad to have found you here.

  15. diana said,

    Doesn’t need to be public, just a question. Can I post this on my Facebook, or will that get you public attacks? I *love* this, and clearly need to read your blog. One among my Fb friends pointed me to Sheila Jeffreys, which led to my series of Notes on transsexual and weightloss surgeries (as surgical solutions to social problems). Either way, I’m thrilled to have found your writings!

  16. m Andrea said,

    Miska has most excellent taste in blogs. 🙂 Very glad I found your place through her sidebar!

    Be careful not to frame such situations in terms of a difference in definitions, as this will draw attention to your tactics. Instead, frame it as ignorance of/transphobic refusal to admit what woman “really” means.

    7. Reinforce the conceptual superiority and cultural hipness of your re-definition by talking about educating people/raising awareness about it.

    ADVANCED APPROPRIATION: If possible, convince people that “female” is a gender identity. This tactic will allow you to skip straight to appropriating femaleness, and will even make appropriating womanhood easier.

    Those individual points are all in dire need of being hammered, imao. The way they change definitions at the drop of a hat is particularly insidious.

  17. diana said,

    Hmmm, can I take the no-response and almost 6 months as a yes? I still love your blog. 🙂

    • lesbianplusfeminist said,

      Hi! I’m sorry, I was sure I had sent you an email. You can post a link to my blog wherever you’d like; I’m not afraid of attacks.

  18. SK said,

    Er… re this statement:
    “These people you mention don’t want lesbian and gay relationships to be a part of marriage. It cannot be said that I do not want males to take part in femaleness or womanhood; I harbor no such desire because it isn’t possible in the first place. ”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much what the mainstream churches say about gay marriage. They say it isn’t possible in the first place. They argue they (rather than the state) should define marriage, and that marriage has an obvious meaning (one man, one woman).

    I’ve been following this debate for a while now, and I was interested to see the comparison with churches and homosexuality, because that’s exactly what it reminded me of too.

    Attitudinal context: I was born female, am still female, and am planning to remain female. I can’t understand why anyone listens to what churches say about homosexuality. I haven’t yet made up my mind what I think about defining transpeople, but insofar as any position reminds me of church leaders on homosexuality, I must say I don’t feel very comfortable with it.

    • lesbianplusfeminist said,

      What?! If they thought it was impossible for gays and lesbians to marry, why would they expend so much energy trying to prevent that very thing from happening?! And even if they did think that way, it’s kind of obvious that gays and lesbians are getting married in some places, isn’t it? So anyone who truly believed that would be dreaming. Whereas NO MALES ANYWHERE are becoming women. There’s no comparison.

      But that’s just my logical argument. More importantly, who cares what Christians say? It’s totally irrelevant to this post. I’ve gone over this already in another post: just because Christians argue something in a way that is somehow structurally similar to what someone else argues has no significance whatsoever. It is the CONTENT, as well as the structure, of the argument that determines it’s legitimacy. I’ll refer anyone who’s not sure about that to an introductory logic textbook. Guilt-by-association with conservative Christians is a bullshit tactic that does not stand up to logic.

      I do not care what you do or do not feel comfortable with. I do not write this blog to explore people’s emotions! I care about what is right or wrong, logical or illogical, and I am taking the time to make this point because I’m sick and fucking tired of queer/trans people and their enablers muddying/derailing discussions and/or trying to shut people up by crying about their hurt feelings(not that I think that is what you are doing, I’m just taking the opportunity your comment presented). To everyone reading this: I’m not your therapist. I don’t care if what I say makes you sad, mad, or uncomfortable, because your feelings are irrelevant. IRRELEVANT.

      And what do you mean by “attitudinal context”!? The fact that you are female has nothing to go with what you are saying, and it does not affect my thinking about what you are saying. By the way, if you tell people that you were born female, there is no need to tell people that you are still female. Most people know you will always be female because we know basic human biology. You don’t get a choice to “plan” to remain female! Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you people? Your insistance on pretending that sex is mutable is mystifying. Please, get this simple fact through your skull: HUMAN BEINGS CANNOT CHANGE SEX. EVER. NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO. GET OVER IT.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: