Dear friends, colleagues and supporters. It has been a while since you have read something from my pen (well…..my computer really..) and so I thought I might share with you an issue on which I have been pondering for a really long while.
First, let me welcome you all to 2013…….I have baptised this year as the year of infinite possibilities. I have a very positive feeling about this year and I do believe it will be a revolutionary year for trans feminist activism.
The year got off to a really positive start. We formalised ourselves a bit more at S.H.E and launched our website on the 17th of January 2013. This will be our mouthpiece in our communication with all our stakeholders. Please see our work at www.transfeminists.org and feel free to sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter, The Transfeminista!
In this piece I am writing about a very ironic issue, given my herstory as a transgender woman. Yes, you guessed right, I am addressing the issue of masculinity.
This is an issue on which I have pondered for a long while now. It is really ironic for me to write about masculinity, given that I have rejected the notion of masculinity with my transition from male to female. Not really so ironic looked at from a feminist perspective. The key word here is feminism…….that is my political identity.
OK, so back to the issue of masculinity. Why did I choose to write about masculinity and the construction thereof? Simple, I feel if we were to tackle patriarchy, the proverbial plucking of the root lies in examining masculinity and the construction thereof. There has to be an inquiry into the concept of masculinity and influencing change at that level. I feel our activism has been much centred upon women, females, femininity, proving to the world our strength as women…..tada tada tada. Fighting these inequalities, one has to be strategic, study those inequalities, dissect it, and construct an alternative ideology. It is on this premise that I base my argument. We have to examine masculinity as a concept, see how it is constructed and find ways of deconstructing it in order to shape “the man of tomorrow”.
So why am I rambling on about this topic of masculinity when all our resources (physical and mental energy included) should be focussed on improving the lives of women and sexual & gender minorities?(and all those pushed to the margins) Again, very simple, all the inequalities that we experience are very deeply rooted in patriarchy. There must also be an analysis of the link between patriarchy and masculinity, in other words,” my entitlement (patriarchy) because I am a man (masculinity)” conversation. The hate of transgender and intersex women has its roots in patriarchy. The idea that persons born with male genitalia (in the case of trans women) could reject masculinity is engendered from a very cultural, patriarchal, misogynistic view of the world and all in it. This is so accurately captured in the words of Ian McEwan:
“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”
― Ian McEwan
A lot of the time you will find a mother advocating for her son, regardless of his flaws. Many mothers acknowledge their sons are no angels and yet you will find the same mother defending her son’s position in whatever goes wrong in his life (OK, so sue of us for being inherently nurturing, compassionate beings!). I am pointing this out to highlight the collective responsibility that we have as women, and mothers, and sisters, and daughters to advocate for the construction of an alternative masculinity. One in which we say to men that it is OK to be equal with women, it will in no way affect you masculinity. A masculinity that is not so highly challenged that men feel they have to rape lesbians in order to “correct” them. A masculinity that will stop the war on women’s bodies. A masculinity where men don’t have the need to sit around talking about women as if they are only a collection of body parts. How many times have you heard: “ That girls has a fine ass” or “I’m turned on by big titties?”. These are not the only features to women’s bodies – it is just an objectification of women, one that is dripping with testosterone.
This is the one thing that all men have in common: trans men, cis-men, black men, white men, short men, tall men. Misogyny is not a reinforcement of your own masculinity, its simply adds to the inequalities that women (like your mother and sisters and daughters) have had to fight, and will still fight for years and years.
So what I propose: an alternative masculinity. The re-socialization of boys. Tell your boy its ok……….
to treat girls and women well
to express emotion
its ok to love
to work on self-development and self-improvement; and most of all……..
Boys do cry……………..
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”
― Gloria Steinem
Until next time