Hate is a Battlefield, Too, Ms. Benatar

Today’s post is uncharacteristically serious and topical for me, my galleons, but it’s one of those moments where I’m just full to bursting with opinions. I do that, on occasion, you know- have opinions. And, as a note, those opinions are not always entirely PC. They are also super rambly and might make no sense.

Because that’s how I roll, motherfuckers.

It all started one week ago, with a Suzanne Moore article about women, the recession, and the power of female anger (and the necessity of it). As far as self-proclaimed “feminazis” go, I don’t tend to outright hate Moore’s work (yes, that’s right- I find blind radicalism in any form, good intentioned or not, to be counterproductive and fucking tiresome). She tends to stick more to actual information than attempting to inflame the hearts/minds of the vaginal masses with gross exaggeration and misandry (just because institutional misandry is practically non-existent compared to misogyny doesn’t mean misandry doesn’t exist in other spheres).

However, this particular piece did raise the ire of one minority group. When discussing the unrealistic female body image all-but-demanded of society, Moore stated, “We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.”

Okay, before we hit the reaction, I want to go on record (…if this blog can really be considered any sort of reliable record) as initially believing this statement, while certainly not PC, was never meant to be hateful. And here’s where we take a quick side trip to discuss my own potentially back assward views on sex/gender (for the record, sex/sexuality/gender have so goddamn many terms now that I mostly just end up confused as to what’s going on when I think about all of them– I also don’t particularly understand why… no, you know what, that’s a can of worms for you all to get pissed at me for another day). BECAUSE OF REASONS.

I’m never going to truly understand the idea of believing yourself to be born the wrong  sex. I’m not condemning, I’m simply stating it’s one of those things outside my sphere of experience that I honestly have a difficult time imagining (To be fair, I have a difficult time with a lot of empathy-related issues as well, so we can chalk that up to my seemingly borderline sociopathic self, yes? …That’s a joke, I’m not a sociopath- I’m just emotionally retarded. Oh yeah, I’m un-PC all over the place today). I often think I exhibit more masculine traits than feminine, but then I cry over The Gilmore Girls and I’m stereotypically girly again. I think stereotypically “gendered” emotional reactions and interests are pretty much utter bullshit, anyway. We all exhibit traits of the masculine and the feminine both, some just show greater quantities of one or the other. My father is an ultra-manly, beer-drinking, stuff-building, football-watching dude who also loves to burn scented candles and take long bubble baths. I know people who listen to Lady Gaga and Metallica, wear ruffles and can handle a gun better than you, buy cute boots and enjoy a good Scotch.

We all slide between the masculine and the feminine because, despite our differing genitalia, the sexes are not black and white, this and that, one and the other. We are all people, unique, complicated, walking shades of grey (50 of them, if you are into bad literature- OH SNAP). I’m not saying society necessarily accepts this, I’m just saying that’s how it is.

And because of this belief (and despite more modern definitions of the terms), I do tend to use “gender” and “sex” interchangeably. The words, in my world, are used when describing those nigglingly different sets o’ genitals (heh, I wrote “genTITals” first). I am aware this ain’t PC, yo. But because of my views of “gender” as that sliding scale in each of us (like Kinsey and sexuality- I tell ya, I wish I could have coffee with that man, because we’d have shit to talk about), I don’t feel the need to differentiate between people’s insides in such black-and-white terms of ‘male’ and ‘female’. And yes, I know that some scientific studies have found differences between male and female brains, implying some sort of internal dichotomy I’m straight-up ignoring, and while I do admit that there have been legit differences found in the brains of the two sexes, these differences are never consistent across the board.

We could go on and on about my thoughts on genetics vs society when it comes to supposedly inherent gendered differences in the brain and development (hint: I don’t put a lot of stock in most genetic arguments because we can never study developing children brains in a vacuum without societal influence, rendering all studies/experiments fundamentally flawed), but I’m already way off-topic. Suffice to say, while I understand not feeling like you conform to a stereotypically male or female “gender”, I cannot understand feeling like you were born the wrong “sex”.

But just because something is not within my realm of experience doesn’t mean I don’t respect it. And so, if undergoing surgery (or not, seeing as not all transsexuals are post-op) to switch sexes is what’s going to make you a happy and fulfilled person, shit, fucking go for it. I’m not going to judge you for it (though I might not always use your preferred pronouns if you’re pre-op, and I’m very sorry about that, but I’m not perfect). I think all people have a fundamental right to pursue what makes them happy, so long as it doesn’t hurt others (and no, upsetting your “delicate sensibilities” doesn’t count as injury).

Unfortunately, transsexual culture and drag culture are inextricably wound together in the minds of the general populace. There’s nothing wrong with drag culture, but drag queens/kings are entertainers, basing their looks in caricatures of the other sex and their performances are comedic/satirical. Transsexuals are not caricatures- they are simply trying to live their lives in the sex they believe they should have been born to. For the most part, they are not caricatures- they are real women and real men. They wear jeans and t-shirts and business suits and cocktail dresses and ballet flats and baseball caps like anybody. Unlike drag queens/kings, trans individuals don’t fucking walk around in lime green sequined evening gowns and six-inch platform heels all the time. They are just men and women, dressing down, dressing up, having families, hanging with friends, just fucking being happy.

But, because sex/sexuality/gender is so very confusing and is confused even more by shit portrayals of various groups in media, most folks still confuse drag culture with trans individuals. And so, a trans woman has to be a 6’2″ broad with giant tits, a feather boa, and a silver miniskirt.

So, I assumed Moore fell into that trap. She was trying to give a perfectly exaggerated image of the “ideal” female body type, the type society pushes, and what she was going for when she said that the ideal body shape is “a Brazilian transsexual” is that stereotypical drag queen image people share of a trans woman. Was it PC? OH FUCK NO. It’s also straight-up wrong on most counts. But she was going for an exaggerated image of the ideal female form, and because drag queens are in fact caricatures of femininity, you don’t get more perfect an exaggeration.

At least, that’s what I assumed she meant. But she didn’t say drag queen. She said transsexual. While I was obviously being too optimistic (you’ll see why in a second), I really thought she just confused the two. As a professional writer, I think she could have simply said ‘underwear model’ and we would have understood where she was going. But I didn’t think her intention was, “HaHA, here’s a perfect example to stealthily spread my mega-hatred of transsexuals!” It was a confused and poorly chosen phrase, but I maintained her intent wasn’t hate.

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t offend. The transsexual community was, in fact, very upset by it. They demanded an apology from Moore.

At this point, Moore should have been all, “Shit, I fucked that up. Sorry, everybody, I was just being a bit of an idiot, not an intentional bigot. Swearsies.” If, in fact, she had made the mistake I believed she did.

INSTEAD, she lost her shit on Twitter. And not just in an angry rant way, in an angry, flippant, bigoted, transphobic hate spree. With such gems as:

“I dont prioritise this fucking lopping bits of your body over all else that is happening to women Intersectional enough for you?”

“I dont even accept the word transphobia any more than Islamaphobia You are using ‘intersectionality’ to shut down debate. Its bollocks.”

“!) People can just fuck off really. Cut their dicks off and be more feminist than me. Good for them.”

Okay, I think saying she lost her shit is a bit harsh. She just got nasty with people who were, admittedly, being nasty to her. She was being cyber-bullied pretty hard over this article. That being said, her response really solidified her own transphobia (whether she accepts the word or not) as it really highlights a huge issue facing transsexuals- the idea that a “natural” or cisgendered woman (or man) has more rights than them, is more important than them, and should be held above them.

It’s all some fucked up shit, really. I can’t believe our society is still all “Oh, they gets rights, but you don’t, for some arbitrary ass reasons.”

It’s become obvious, despite her explanation of using the phrase she used (“I deliberately used the word Brazilian transexual as ideal shape small hips and big T and A.”) that she is, in fact, kind of a bigot. At this point, while I’m no longer on her side, I still think the reaction to the initial phrase was a bit much…

More on that in a bit (I’m trying to keep this chronological).

So, there’s bullying going on all over the place on the Twitter, which causes Moore to /gquit that shit. I will not stand up and defend what she said, but I will say this (and I say this a lot and I do, truly, believe it): You cannot fight hate with more hate. What she said was bullshit. Calling her on her bullshit? Super just. But if she was legitimately bullied off of Twitter by people threatening her and her well-being… Well, that shit’s unacceptable. I don’t care what the bitch said.

[NOTE: I don’t know the exact types of messages sent to her. Various sources report her being ‘cyber-bullied,’ which I take to mean threats to her, not criticism of her shit opinions. But I’ve made the mistake of assuming once already in this debacle, so I hesitate to do so again. Judging by her above Twitter reactions to it all, it sounds like people were just calling out her work. Rage quitting because people are criticizing your work and your dickish views? That’s not a reaction to ‘cyber-bullying’, that’s being unable to take criticism. But, like I said, all my information here is really hearsay from later articles regarding this matter.]

I reiterate: Cyber-bullying, for any reason, is not cool.

So, Moore leaves Twitter. Which causes her friend Julie Burchill to write a reaction piece to the whole affair.

And oh boy, I tell ya- nothing I say can ever be as offensive as the shit this cunt writes. Some choice fucking snippets:

“I nevertheless felt indignant that a woman of such style and substance should be driven from her chosen mode of time-wasting by a bunch of dicks in chicks’ clothing.”

“But they’d rather argue over semantics. To be fair, after having one’s nuts taken off (see what I did there?) by endless decades in academia, it’s all most of them are fit to do.”

“I know [tranny’s] a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.”

“And we are damned if we are going to be accused of being privileged by a bunch of bed-wetters in bad wigs.”

“To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.”

HO-LY SHIT, RIGHT?

Oh yeah, this went over well. In fact, the piece is now the subject of an inquiry by the Observer readers’ editor. Well, no shit. Reading this filth makes me sick to my stomach. Sometimes, I am not PC. But I am not full of this vitriolic hate. Burchill tells us we should see trans women as second-class citizens to “natural” women. Buh-wha? For a supposed “radical feminist”, as she refers to herself, how can she think it’s acceptable to relegate anyone to second-class status? How can anyone think that ever? Why is it only recognized bigotry if she will benefit from triumphing over it?

I mean, this shit is appalling. Disgusting. Loathsome.

So when people blew up over it? Oh shit yeah, I was all over it. The Observer cannot allow this kind of filth to be published (how the fuck did it get published to begin with?). Even in this digital age, with online publications and less formal forms of reporting, there still have to be standards for columnists. And this kind of pure hate? It cannot be allowed.

I mean, what the ever-loving fuck?

***

There is one last thing I would like to mention. Both Moore and Burchill accuse the trans community of language policing, of quibbling over semantics. And, despite my deep reverence for language and the fact that I know semantics are fucking important (no matter what anyone says), I was feeling a little like they were making a point. As I initially argued, the original phrase, while not PC, isn’t inherently transphobic, is it?

So, why was the reaction so intense?

Then I get some context. I will admit to not being terribly knowledgeable about world trans issues- they don’t tend to show up on most major news sites (which is sad in and of itself). And so, it took an article by the well-spoken Roz Kaveney to shed some light on the issue for me and burn away some of my own ignorance on the matter:

At this point Suzanne Moore reprinted in the New Statesman a piece about female anger that complained, among other things, that women were expected to look “like Brazilian transsexuals”. A lot of people seem not to get why this upset most of the trans community.

In the first place there’s the implied dichotomy between women on the one hand and Brazilian trans women on the other – as if Brazilian trans women are somehow not women. But far more important is the fact well over a hundred Brazilian trans women were murdered in the last year alone. The failure of the mainstream press to cover the worldwide war on trans people is a significant failure – one of the major trans community events for the last few years has been the International Trans Day of Remembrance.

OH.

And now it all makes sense. Yes, this would really cut people to the quick, wouldn’t it? Looking at this, you have to wonder at why Moore specifically selected Brazilian trans women for her comment- was it coincidence, or was she jabbing the trans community, trying to bury the knife deeper? Either way, grossly disrespectful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I get it now. She was wrong.

Moore has since popped back onto Twitter long enough to supposedly issue that apology she should have just fucking given from the start:

“I did not set out to offend and the murder of all women trans or not is clearly something I DO care about. I think readers know this?”

“I am grateful for the support of I have had from many top notch people gay straight trans who cares?”

“As I said I less concerned with peoples genital arrangements than the breakdown of the social contract. Which hurts.”

“If anyone cares to storify the abuse against me please do . I cant It was threatening, ignorant and nasty and my original points got lost.”

“Despite all this there has been much bridge building between me and several trans people who I deeply respect.”

“But I realise that my flip jokes, silliness and general way i behave on twitter is no longer possible.”

“So I do what most pro journalists do and simply self promote and never anything real or “controversial” ?”

“I am sorry to those that I misrepresented and I feel pretty misrepresent myself ( an EDL supporter??)”

“To think I am opposite side of anyone who has had to think long and hard about gender is horrible. I am not your enemy.”

“But I am not ladylike when attacked and fight with fire. Thats me. Otherwise I post music and have a laugh.”

“But for now I see must leave for a while. Really bad things are happening in the world and this is a storm in a double D cup.”

Oh, way to take the high ground there. It’s not an apology, and it still makes her look  like a total twat. “Oh, yes, sorry or something, but poor me.” Real fucking classy, Moore.

Then again, after all this, I don’t expect anything more from you.

Also, learn to Tweet, woman. You’re a professional writer- check that you’re typing your words correctly and for the love of Feynman, punctuate properly.

This whole fiasco is just sad. It’s a quagmire of hate.

Get your shit together, world. Because right now, you sicken me.

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