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I'm doing Feminisms on August 1 and 8.  My feeling is that some stuff probably needs to be talked about in advance.  Not doing so runs the risk of the dialog being diverted away from perhaps more fertile ground.  So I've got about a week and some of the days are already spoken for.

Towards the end of 1992 I came out to me daughter Jen and her partner Julie.  It went very well.  Julie hopped on to the internet and asked the members of her email list, Sappho (which at the time was the largest lesbian list on the Net), for any assistance they might provide for Jen's  I was given a couple of transgender email list names and did join one, called Transgen.  It was a literally lifesaver.  I had community.  I had peers.

But I also joined Sappho...on January 12, 1993 and entered women-only space...

At the time I joined, I knew that there were a few other transwomen on the list but only one of them was out...Nancy Burkholder, ( the transwoman ejected from the Michigan Women's Music Festival in 1991).  After about three months of being in the closet about my transsexuality, I came out when someone started badmouthing transwomen.  I generally found lots of support.  Since I had kept no secret about being Julie's parent-out-law, that meant they also knew I was the pre-operative transsexual parent who had been mentioned before.  

At the time, I was the only out pre‑op on the list.  That meant that more than once I had to justify my existence in the space.  After awhile other transwomen joined the list, including a non-operative transwoman.  Eventually another pre‑op came out to the list.

About every three months (or less), the subject of transsexualism would come up, sometimes in not so pretty ways.  I endeavored to avoid flames and attempted to educate instead.  One works with the skills ones has.  It was a lot like what I do here.  There are many interesting posts from lots of interesting people on the subject.  [If I had my shit together, there would be a link here to one of those discussions to give you a taste--ed]

Sappho was a list for women and about "generally" women's issues.  The list was primarily composed of lesbian and bisexual women (the only thing that rears its head more often than transsexuality is The Great Bi Debate, as we called it) although I understand that Sappho was founded by a heterosexual woman.

Eventually, Sappho spun off an e-list for older lesbians, called OWLS.  I'm one of the founding members of that list.  I consider it my home on the Interweb.  It is open to anyone over 40 who identifies as a lesbian.  After a time that group spun off another list...for women-born women only.  Being specifically excluded felt like a sword piercing my heart.

In 1994 I took all the Sappho and OWLS members who cared to read my posts with me through my surgery, using my diary that was posted to the lists as well as my proto-blog...and has been re-edited and is being posted here under the title Diary: retrospection.

After my failed attempt to relocate to Seattle in the last half of 1995, I returned to Arkansas and got active.  I mean, whatcha gonna do?  I joined the National Organization for Women...and became interim co-president of the Faulkner County chapter for several months (the other co-president was a college student who was too young to sign contracts).

I also began making a major effort to heal the breach between lesbian separatists and transsexual women, through my involvement with the Women's Project in Little Rock.  I asked if it would be okay for me to attend their 1996 retreat in northwest Arkansas and was supported in that effort by the leadership.  But I was on my own in my interaction with the rest of the women.

I cannot presently locate my account of the event.  I'm sure one exists somewhere.  I could rewrite it, but there are scars.  It was extremely difficult having to defend my existence.  And it was very lonely.  But in the end it bore fruit.  If you have a copy of the expanded edition of Homophobia: A Weapon of Sexism, by Suzanne Pharr, the transsexual woman mentioned in the added chapter is me.  I am also the transwoman she talked about in the interview she did in the  July 1996  issue of Ms. magazine, which caused such a stir (I can't find my copy of that either).

I also attended the Retreat in 1997...and wrote about it in my column.

From Outside the Gender Prison:  Women-only space
[first appeared in Triangle Rising Newsmagazine, Little Rock, AR, May, 1997]

I ventured into women-only space again this past weekend.  Alicia (my partner/spouse/wife/hersband/lover) and I attended the Women's Project Retreat at Lake Ft. Smith State Park with over 80 other women and girls (some of the women brought some female children with them).  I know there were that many because I helped set up the tables and chairs for Saturday night's dinner and we had seating for 84 and that still wasn't quite enough.

This wasn't my first experience with the Retreat.  I went there last year as the first transsexual women to show least the first who did so openly and hence the first to anyone's knowledge.  And I was persuaded to talk about myself and other transsexual women and our views on women-only space, though my workshop was at the same time as the drumming workshop so not many of the women came to hear what I had to say.  I was informed, however, that while many of the women had misgivings about my being there, most of them changed their opinions after I read a few of my poems on Saturday night.

Personally, I wished that it wasn't such a big deal.  I would rather have just been there to soak up the atmosphere and have a relaxing weekend with my chosen community.

I'm not saying that I was universally accepted.  There was definitely vocal opposition to my presence.  But I'm used to that and have always believed that things could be worked out if only we could sit down and discuss our differences and similarities.  

This year I was greeted warmly by the Women's Project staff, who have always been very kind to me, and told that they were glad that I came...and that they thought that my coming back exhibited some kind of bravery considering what had happened last year.  I didn't see it myself.  From my point of view, returning to the Retreat was far easier than foregoing the event.  To stay away would have meant isolating myself to an extent from the community of women, something that would have been the harder path.  And bravery, in my book, is doing something even though it is hard.  Returning this year was the easy path...and the entire reason that I gave the workshop last year.

Transsexual women have differing views when the topic of women-only space arises.  My point of view is that I don't want to be anyplace where I am not wanted, so I would choose not to attend an event that said that people like me were not desired.  The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival had such a policy for several years, though they have apparently removed the requirement that the event is for "womyn-born-womyn" only.  While I honored their past requirement, I did protest their stance...not because I didn't think that they had the right to exclude me, but rather because the women who promulgated the requirement also decided that they were the final authority on what constituted a woman and insisted on insulting transsexual women whenever they talked to us or about us.  

I acknowledge that my life experiences are quite different from those of the vast majority of women.  But couldn't we focus more on our similarities than our differences.  In a time when the rights of so many people are in danger because of their "differentness," divisiveness amongst ourselves seems to me to be playing into the hands of those who would oppress us.

Let me publicly thank the Women's Project for understanding this and acting accordingly.

That lead to a presentation to the membership in Little Rock, a speech if you will, which will be part of a diary published on Friday.

Originally posted to Robyn's Perch on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 02:36 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There will be several diaries... (29+ / 0-)

    ...on this general topic in the next week.  I'm planning the next one for Friday.  

    Tomorrow and Sunday will be new Diary: retrospection episodes and Saturday is Teacher's Lounge, so the next one of these after friday will apparently be Monday.

    I've got a review and response to Pat Califia from before he decided to become Patrick which I am considering what to do with.


  •  I'm so dense. (7+ / 0-)

    When I saw the title, I thought you meant when should transwomen start using women's restrooms. (I'd say, whenever how one is dressed dictates doing so.)
    Thanks for another geat diary.

  •  thanks for this diary (8+ / 0-)

    Excellent !!!!!!!!!!

    Impeachment is not a Constitutional Crisis. Impeachment is the Cure for a Constitutional Crisis.-John Nichols

    by wishingwell on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 02:46:48 PM PDT

  •  Sigh... (10+ / 0-)

    You know, my ex-neighbor and her ex-girlfriend started doing a lot of work with TranUnity here in LA.  Strange to me, but so many of her (our) lesbian friends were openly hostile to transwomen.  Through social interactions over the years and the fact that everyone loves my ex-neighbor, a lot of the more hostile lesbians not only grew to accept the transwomen, but also started dating them and working with TransUnity too.  

    We've had discussion in our courtyard regarding the women-only issue.  Feeling have been hurt, but the despite that, it seems the younger lesbians don't care (or mind?).  The older ones definitely have issues, many of which none of the younger ones can understand.  We had a transwoman friend who went to a lesbian retreat a few years ago.  She scraped and saved to attend the retreat.  When she got there, they told her that she was on the list of transwomen and they had special cabins reserved for "them".  She said despite the warm-fuzzies of sisterhood spouted throughout the weekend, every night she went back to her cabin, she couldn't help but feel like "the other".  

    Since that experience, she's spent the last 3 years working to bridge that distance.

  •  I've learned (and benefited) much (10+ / 0-)

    from reading your diaries. In addition to everything else I've gained, the invitation, implicit in your writings, to think deeply about what being a woman really means, has (probably inevitably) prompted this gay male towards pondering the nature of true 'manhood.'

    To be clear, I look at this as merely an added, ancillary benefit to the greater understanding of transgendered folk which I continue to find in your writings, which I've found to be of great value. Thanks,


    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. -Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:09:40 PM PDT

  •  I find it very sad that there is still so much (11+ / 0-)

    prejudice is this country, and that it takes so many forms. It is very disheartening to know that lesbians are anything but welcoming to someone who has gone through the trauma that must exist for transgenders.  It's just another sign of how much work we still have to do to make this country more welcoming to all human beings, no matter what their color, gender, religion, etc.

    The 10 year old daughter of someone I very much admire said something that has become the theme of the website NION (Never In Our Names, a site that watchdogs torture and human rights abuses).  This is what she said:

    "...all you have to do to qualify for human rights is to be human..."

    Out of the mouths of babes.....

    Liberty and Justice for All

    by Got a Grip on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:14:24 PM PDT

    •  I don't want to tarnish... (6+ / 0-)

      ...the lesbian community with too broad a brush.  Change does happen, but it is slow and takes a lot of effort.  And it takes familiarity.  One can't really respect other people without some concrete example.

      At the second retreat, which happened just after the school shootings in Jonesboro, AR, I read Jonesboro at the open mike.  I was invited to submit it for publishing in the Ozark Feminist Review.  

      I was accepted.  I belonged.

      •  I understand what you're saying, (5+ / 0-)

        I don't like to generalize out of hand.  There is far too much of that going around (O'Reilly on DKos, anyone?).  But I think it is indicative of just how much work needs to be done when it comes to intolerance not just in this country as a whole, but within the Democratic party.  There are examples of it here all the time.  The I/P diaries are full of such examples on both sides of that debate.  Pastor Dan's diaries often have someone show up to denigrate and abuse people of faith.  The list goes on and on.  We Democrats are not much better at being accepting of others different from ourselves as we'd like to think we are.  It's human nature to distrust what one doesn't understand, and it just goes to show how much harder we must work to educate those around us concerning all kinds of prejudice.

        Great diary, reserven.  I always enjoy your posts, and learn something....

        Liberty and Justice for All

        by Got a Grip on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:31:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for reading. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, The Zipper, Got a Grip

          Alas, it's not an issue many people are open to learning about, feeling it doesn't have anything to do with them, I guess.  Or maybe it's that my diaries have cooties.

          Truth is, as I said in yesterday's diary (which my OCD keeps reminding me needs one more comment by someone who didn't Rec it in order to cross over the impact = .30 barrier)

          this is not about me and it's not about gender.  It's about being different, about not fitting in, and about how people in our society treat people they perceive as The Other.

          •  Nothing to do with them? (4+ / 0-)


            They need to read their John Donne.

            No man is an iland, entire of itself.  Every man is a part of the continent. A piece of the main.  If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, or a manor of thy friends or thine own were.  Every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.  And, therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for thee.

            Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

            by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:59:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Things have changed, too (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd, tryptamine, rserven, jessical

      really quite quickly. While I have still run into some lesbians lately who are really uncomfortable about trans-issues, the bad blood has calmed down tremendously at least in this area in the last few years. We've really come a very long way IMO, all of us.

      The younger generation of feminists is far, far more comfortable with some degree of flexibility and fluidity in their concepts of gender than ever before. It's one of the things that makes me most hopeful about our young'uns.

    •  This poem won a prize (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd, tryptamine, rserven, jessical

      in the NYC Public School system.  IIRC, it was written by a 5th grader:

      The people of the world
      Are like the colors of a rainbow.
      Would a rainbow of one color
      Be beautiful?

      Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

      by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:14:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Smart kid. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rserven, jessical

      You're doing something right.  Be proud.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18

      by Noor B on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 08:32:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Self-identification (7+ / 0-)

    I've always thought that self-identification was the deciding factor. Self-identify as a woman, you're a woman. Whether it's race, religion, gender, nationality or whatever, how each of us self-identifies is who we are. Sadly, not everyone agrees. Yet.

    Me, I'm working with self-indentifying as human. Given that humanity is full of evil, hateful ideologues, I have to constantly remind myself (and others) that we are capable of so much more. I say this not to belittle anyone's struggles; anyone denied human rights is my sister/brother/friend. I want to learn as much as I can from anyone working for equality. It's a daily, lifelong struggle, and all are welcome to join.

    Except for Bill O'Reilly. And King George. And teh Dick.

    Embracing slime-sucking Monsters from the Id is still beyond me. Why?

    I'm only human.


    Shared pain is pain lessened; shared joy is joy increased--Spider Robinson.

    by Maggie Pax on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 03:22:41 PM PDT

  •  I look at it as "normal"..... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, rserven, jessical

    If a group of people can say that being gay is wrong, and a group of people can express hate for anyone that is different, it's perfectly feasible for someone who is in one of these ostrasized (sp)  groups to hate other groups in the same position. "Misery loves company".

    That doesn't make it right. And, it shows that anyone can become a hateful person, even if they are being hated by someone else.

    But, I don't understand how anyone can express hate for anyone else. It's a useless emotion. It only detracts from the person who is doing the hate. It consumes them, and makes them not nice to be around, by anyone else.

    More power to you. I am WAY too lazy to "activate" for anything, unless backed into a corner. If I get angry about it, then I will turn to activism, if it looks like something that will work.

    Unfortunately, since my transition, anger "has left the building". And, before, I was way too closed in.

    "Government will be in trouble if the people think." Hitler

    by KatGirl on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:07:26 PM PDT

  •  I've been lucky, for the most part (6+ / 0-)

    I'm also a lesbian-identified transwoman, and I've been lucky enough to be welcome at women-only spaces.

    I've attended women-only retreats in the Inland Empire area of Southern California, without any questions asked. My trans background (I am very early stages) was well-known; in fact, one of the organizers (Code Pink's Gayle Brandeis, who was also my writing teacher) extended the invitation to me, fully knowing of my situation.

    And speaking of Code Pink, that's another women-only group that I work with. (Though to its credit, Code Pink also welcomes men standing in solidarity.)

    I do have very different experiences and concerns compared to the average woman, and that does become painfully evident at some gatherings, though. Even though I am Asian, I go out of my way to avoid Asian heterosexual women's gatherings, as much of the talk centers around husbands/boyfriends and children (and maybe Dominionist Christianity). Even lesbian groups in Asian countries and Asian-American communities, I feel uncomfortable with, since the concept of a "tranny dyke" is unheard of in Asia, and I am treated as a hyper-feminine gay man.

    But I am glad that I've found my niche. I intend to strengthen my ties to the groups I do feel comfortable with, and maybe join a women's writing circle, to help with my transgender-themed novel.

    "There ought to be limits to freedom." - George W. Bush

    by Ally McRepuke on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:12:08 PM PDT

  •  I've thought about the exclusion of transwomen (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spit, tryptamine, rserven, plf515, Noor B, jessical

    since you first mentioned it, Robyn, and it suddenly occurred to me that it might be due to an experience that's pretty common.  In fact, it now strikes me as an obvious point, so before I say anything more, let me say I do NOT think the exclusion is in any way good, and kudos should go to you, Robyn, for talking about it.  People can change.

    So why the desire to exclude?  What experiences and expectations are behind it?  Maybe like one I'm about to recount.  In fact, I've had the experience many times over the years, and it may all be getting better.

    Very recently I had a very bad series of experiences when I was organizing a committee to deal with gender issues at my university.  Because we do have a HUGE gender problem, I was mostly dealing with men.  At that stage, I was dealing with more senior people, so they were "older," and probably all beyond 40. It was very, very unplesant way too often.  Not least of the problems was a general desire to get any control out of my hands and into his.

    Notice:  I am NOT generalizing and saying that we know every man over 40 is impossible.  And in fact, the issue may not really be one of gender; there are certainly women who want to have control too.  But in almost all of the feminist groups I've been in, we women have worked through these issues and come to some agreement about what to do with publicly sharing power, etc.  And honestly I hate the power struggle and cherish places where I know it won't occur.

    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

    by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:19:55 PM PDT

    •  The very root of the concerns (5+ / 0-)

      are IMO based in experiences that are valid at the base, though of course valid things can quickly get silly, as I'm sure you're aware.

      The thing is, in any group that involves a lot of folks with different levels of social power (read that as broadly as you'd like), it tends to be those on the top of the social hierarchy who dominate the discussion. The creation of women-only spaces -- much like the creation of gay bars (whose patrons, I'll add, get mighty defensive about too many straights coming in) or like, I'd imagine, similar spaces for the Black community or the Latino community or any community that has traditionally been denied power -- has a lot to do with needing some kind of space where the concerns of those communities are treated as important, central, and vital. Because those concerns get drowned out, out there in the mainstream.

      The problem comes when that identity around which the community forms and defends itself becomes another exclusive category that squashes the needs of some other set of folks.

      •  That erans a poem: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Spit, taylormattd, cfk, Noor B

        Art Link
        On the Borderlands

        The land
        on the border
        is fertile
        The people
        are kind
        for the most part
        until of course
        the patrol comes by
        to force everyone
        to move to one side
        or the other
        That causes
        great turmoil
        on the borderlands
        so sometimes
        we move
        the border
        when they aren't looking

        --Robyn Elaine Serven
        --March 3, 2006

        •  I love the thought that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rserven, jessical

          the borden can be moved and we may not be looking when it is done.  Whew!

          I suppose the shift of so many of the "underclass" to republican support (if indeed that has happened) might be a non-gender-issues case that illustrates the point.

          "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

          by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 09:07:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  See my comment, below....but more (6+ / 0-)

        oh boy does this get tricky!  

        I think most of the participants in this diary know me.... so.... well....

        I'm a straight guy.  White, too.  (Well, I'm Jewish, is that White?)

        So, do straight males have concerns that are not shared by women or gays?

        I don't know.  But I can imagine that many straight guys would feel easier talking to a group of other straight males about some issues.  When I was in group therapy, it was a mixed group - men, women... married, single.... we didn't have anyone who was G, B, or T, but we did have one woman who was L (and oh BOY was she mixed up... she felt lesbians were disgusting..... That's one of the reasons she was in group).  That worked OK for me, but I can certainly see that it wouldn't work for all men, and that that would not necessarily mean those men were sexist, or homophobic....

        Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

        by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:52:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can see what you mean (6+ / 0-)

          and in something like group therapy, that's a somewhat different thing IMO from the kind of spaces I'm thinking of, which center more around having a community of people that organize and support each other outside of "official" channels that should otherwise provide them with what they need -- bars, bookstores, cafes, networks for activism and for full social acceptance. I cannot tell you how good it feels to occasionally hang out in a space where my sexuality/gender cease to be an issue I have to work with, and most queers in my experience really don't have a way to fully express ourselves until we find the community that can let us become comfortable not analyzing ourselves as perpetual foreigners, if that makes sense.

          To the degree that men feel boxed in and need to discuss their roles, etc. without feeling that their masculinity will be called into question, I can see some point to it -- but fundamentally, men are at least partially the ones boxing themselves into that masculine ideal, IMO.

          I'd love to see a real men's movement, to be honest, that centered around gender equality and flexibility, but such things have sadly not tended to go in that direction, and have instead often become celebrations, rather than critiques, of the masculine ideal.

          •  yeah I agree with a lot of that (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spit, taylormattd, JPete, rserven, jessical

            But maybe not all.

            I am not sure what you mean by 'gender equality'.  I think there are ways that men and women TEND to be different, and I think some of these differences are due to genetic and physiological processes.

            That doesn't make men or women BETTER, but it does make them DIFFERENT.  

            I am rereading a fascinating book: The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit, by Melvin Konner, that talks about these issues (among many others).  It's worth a read.

            Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

            by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 05:15:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I tend to think (6+ / 0-)

              that we focus too much on whatever differences there might be, honestly. We're certainly far more alike than we are different, and I think we exaggerate the vast majority of those potential differences through the concept of either/or, pushing women to define themselves as not men and men to define themselves as not women.

              I suspect that I think there are far fewer intrinsic, genetic differences than you do, but even allowing for some, I think we live in a culture that focuses in on them far more than I understand or think is healthy for any of us.

            •  I didn't use (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rserven, plf515, jessical

              "gender equality," did I?

              Peter, I'd be pretty distressed if you thought any of this implied a negative view  of you.

              "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

              by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 09:02:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "Gender equality" was in one of Spit's comments (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Spit, rserven, jessical

                I would, similarly, be pretty distressed if I thought that people here had a negative view of me.  Luckily, I don't think that, and have not even suspected it for a long time.  Way back when I was new to dailyKos and to these diaries, Robyn and I had one incident in which we were seriously talking past one another, and (I think) starting to form negative views of each other, but we figured it out (nice how that can happen).  

                I find these diaries very valuable because they are, at least for the known participants, safe.  A straight white male like me will wander clueless.  And I think a lot of us offend others without intending to.  

                It is surely justifiable that many in the GLBT community are defensive.  People who get attacked a lot get defensive.  But I've noticed that SOME in the GLBT community tend to operate on the assumption that all the 'straights' are anti-Gay; just as there are SOME Jews who say "scratch a goy, find an antiSemite".  There are also SOME in the LD community who operate on the notion that all NT people are anti-LD.....  I even ran into this on dailyKos in a Feminisms diary, long ago.  The person who ran the diary that week is no longer a Kossack.

                So, here's to Robyn for creating these spaces, and making them welcoming ones not just to everyone who isn't straight, but to everyone who is.  

                Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 03:36:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm also really glad (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rserven, plf515, jessical

                  for this space, and I would be hugely distressed if I said things sloppily enough to be taken as negative toward you or anybody else here. There's always some difficulty talking about this stuff, IMO, partially because when we're talking about the social meanings of our identities, and the ways we relate on that level, that can be a thing that pushes its way into the personal level very easily -- but I never mean it to go there. We all have to figure out how we relate as individuals to those identities and social structures, and that adds a whole 'nuther layer of complexity on to the whole thing.

                  I'm glad to be able to speak my mind pretty honestly here, and I hope nobody takes it as anything more than me analyzing the social dynamics from my own admittedly unusual point of view. But I do get sloppier than I'd like sometimes, and I apologize for that.

                  The "gender equality", btw, was just me thinking that until vastly more men really commit themselves to fighting for the rights of women to be viewed as equal, all of us -- men, women, genderfuckers like me -- are all going to be constantly boxed in to this very limiting sense of self and treatment by others. A lot of "proving you're a man" can be analyzed as showing that you're not a lowly girl, for example -- think of all the "boys don't..." statements out there, and what they say about the relative worth of girls. That stuff damages all of us, women and men, and I'd love to see more men start pushing back against it (quite a few do, don't get me wrong, and it is building).

                  I hugely respect the effort you put into these conversations, and I think we all bring good points to the table, when we discuss honestly.

                  •  I think it is getting better; more guys (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rserven, plf515, jessical

                    seem to be aware of the limits of the genderizing.  It suddenly occurs to me that this might be because the once-usual lines to power in the society for men are either scarcer or more contested.  (That's just off the top of my head.) Don't know.

                    I do think that we're in some ways so different that it is easy to stumble against a very sensitive area and just have no idea one is doing it.  

                    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

                    by JPete on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 09:03:38 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  There are loads of interesting questions here.... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    what is 'manly'?  How much of 'manly' is social, how much is cultural, how much is genetic, how much is biological?  

                    Similar for 'womanly'.

                    How are these different from 'masculine' and 'feminine'?

                    Certainly part of 'proving you're a man' is proving you are not something else, and part of the desire to make that proof is that the something else is viewed by some as something worse.  I mean, to many, hetero male is like the greatest coolest.  I dunno about that - actually, I do know about that, it's about as stupid a statement as one could make - but it's also true that we've got the best deal, by and large.  I mean, if someone somehow asked me, in utero, to pick a sex and gender, hetero male seems like the choice, if only because we start with advantages.

                    But the need to prove is due to more than that.  I've never felt a strong need to prove I am a hetero male, but I used to feel a strong need to prove I was smart.  Well, smart is better that stupid, and that's not due to cultural conditioning.  But I no longer feel a need to prove it (it's only really disappeared in the last decade, partly due to my wife pointing out to me, repeatedly, that everyone knows I am smart :-).  During adolescence, my need to prove my intelligence was profound, in part due to it being questioned.  

                    But my 'maleness' was under question, too: Not only was I very late to hit puberty, but I am terrible at a lot of the traditional 'male' pursuits (e.g. sports, fixing things, cars),  I also never felt a need to prove my 'whiteness' (although I am occasionally mistaken for Black or Latino, or some mix)

                    Some of the need to prove is, I think, due to our own insecurities, while some of it is due to cultural factors.

                    Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                    by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 01:49:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  What you are saying (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spit, rserven, jessical

            analyzing ourselves as perpetual foreigners, if that makes sense.

            makes great sense.  I dearly wish it was otherwise.  But then everyone I admire/love/cherish is really an outsider too.

            You've really raised such good issues.  It is too much to have one's  basic choices always contested.  And that is (probably?) the result of the ways in which men are complicit in constructing "allowable" identities.

            I do sense that some  of the  rigidity is generational, and is fading.

            "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

            by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 08:59:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think you'll find (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spit, JPete, rserven

            that "real men's movement" is called feminism. There is a reason why, progressively defined, prejudice against men in Western society != sexism, just as prejudice against white people != racism. Because terms such as these do not exist in isolation; rather, they refer to systematic and endemic oppression. Therefore, as prejudice against men is not a systematic entity in the West, it is meaningless to conceive of such a concept as "masculinism" as a movement dedicated to gender equality. How about more of those men who pledge themselves to such ideals proudly declare themselves feminists, instead?

    •  I understand. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spit, taylormattd, tryptamine, JPete, jessical

      One of the problems I've perceived among transwomen in women's only space, including myself from time to time, is not wanting to step forward to share in whatever power needs to be exerted on occasion, for fear that the women might think we are trying to take over by offering our skills (example:  since I was web savvy back then, I offered to put up a site advertising Spinsterhaven (women's land in northwest Arkansas)).  It's a difficult row to hoe.

      We learn.  Sometimes we make mistakes. But one doesn't become human if one is not allowed the occasional mistake.

      •  Robyn, I really wasn't trying to say (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, jessical

        what was true, right, etc.

        I can't imagine you not being aware of the tensions in a gathering, which is one of the reasons why exclusion impoverishes everyone.

        Still, speaking from a position of someone who knows all too well what's it's like to be devalued, disregarded, overpowered, I can also sympathised with the idea of trying to some space where those conflicts are at least lesss.  Since you know much more vividly than I what it is like to be in unsafe spaces, I hope I don't seem to be trying to lecture to you.

        Still, if I try to recapture the insults I felt in all those meetings, I'm afraid the result is to feel  less judicious and charitable.  Good thing I wasn't organizing a  meeting on any large scale!!!!

        "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

        by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 08:44:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a guy who is over 40 (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd, tryptamine, JPete, rserven

      I am glad we aren't all impossible :-)

      But I don't completely follow what you are talking about here.... if you can't give details, that's OK.  But I'm not really following you.

      Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

      by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:44:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is now really late. I could try (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, plf515

        tomorrow.  But I am very sincere is saying that I'd hate for you to think anything negative was aimed at you.

        "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

        by JPete on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 09:33:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Let me try to give you an example. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Spit, plf515, jessical

        I'll tie it to my own experience that I mentioned, but in fact it isn't too hard to generalize to other cases.  Just as white people are very often unaware of 'white privilege', so guys are often unaware of how assumptions of power tend in many contexts to favor them.  So when they act on these assumptions what is done impacts me in a way they probably can't see.  But the impact is negative; maybe similarly, for people of color the impact of white unconscious assumptions of power is negative.

        But here's my understanding of the experience I recounted.  Just to give you a vivid picture, I'll paint with a broad brush in crude colors:  The sciences, and especially the physical sciences and engineering, are very male dominated, particularly in positions of power.  This also goes for some social sciences.  The national average for full professorship of women in the physical sciences is 4%.  This means that a culture is created of which its participants are largely unaware; they are also totally unaware, by and large, that the culture is optional.  Along with the culture is the sense, derived from all their experience, that it's damn odd to have a woman lead a meeting, and in any case, they fundamentally doubt that women are up to it.  After all, they see women around them fail time and again; what's hard to get here?  It can't be that they create an environment so hostile, women can't succeed in it.  And fundamentally they find men more interesting on any intellectually demanding discussions.  How could they not?  (Virginia Valian has a great book - Why So Slow - that discusses how our experience sets us expectations.  She's at Hunter.)

        So what happens to poor ol' me in such a group?  Well, for starters, nothing I say has any initial plausibility, and they'd dearly love to have one of them running things.  So I'm going to walk right into a power struggle.  It might be overt or it might be more subtle.  E.g., they might try to set some traps so I can overtly discredit myself.  Believe me, they are sure I can be trapped, and when that turns out other than expected, some of them will not be happy.

        What are my expectations if one of them who discovers that women are equal after all, looks at some issues of MS, and decides to go to a meeting to help the feminisits out?  O dear!  It might be that he'd be happy to sit and listen and learn.  But I wouldn't count on it.  

        More to the point:  what would be my expectations if someone brings such a person to a meeting?  Trouble ahead.  

        Now in fact my husband is a scientist (one of the physical sciences) and my closest and dearest colleagues are male scientists and engineers, so I'm certainly not saying everyone is like this.  This is broad and crudely done.  But I hope it is vivid!

        "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

        by JPete on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 09:34:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just wanted to repeat this (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JPete, rserven, plf515, jessical

          This means that a culture is created of which its participants are largely unaware; they are also totally unaware, by and large, that the culture is optional.

          because it's a really great, simple way to explain a lot of social dynamics, IMO.

          My experience in the sciences is very similar, though I'm still just a student. The system is set up to be hostile for women (and queers, and trannies, and and and) by a set of people who often don't recognize that that's what they're doing. Then, when women bail on the whole thing, that's taken as evidence of women's failings, something that supports the hostility.

          It's a really hard cycle to break.

        •  Well, it *can* go the other way (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JPete, rserven, jessical

          as I found out when I worked in a preschool.

          And as I find out (even on the ultra-liberal upper west side) when I take my kid to the playground.  Around here, on a weekday afternoon, it's about 45% nannies, 45% mommies, and 10% daddies.  The nannies mix with no one, but, from my observation, the daddies are more eager to mix with the mommies than vice versa - some of this may be due to single-status and seeking (or avoiding) relationships that are more than social, but not all of it.

          This gives me an interesting perspective (even if only a shadow of one) on what it must be like, vice versa.

          OTOH, there are always exceptions.  My dad is a lawyer, he's the senior partner at a big firm.  His firm was the first of the big ones to make a woman a partner.  He was interviewed about this, and said:

          "What the hell do I care if she's a woman? She's a great lawyer!"

          I mean DUH! but he was asked.

          Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

          by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 01:57:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The mommies and daddies thing is really (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rserven, plf515, jessical

            interesting.  Why don't the mommies want to mix with daddies, do you think?  Strange daddies are boring?  If it were during the week, I'd wonder if the mommies socially outranked the daddies, and so I'd wonder if it was a reverse power thing.

            And there are great guys who actually work to get women hired.  I wish there were more.  My husband has gotten two women hired by the science college (that's a big proportion), but everyone assumes that's because I've pressured him.  Ha, ha.  Hiring women is a joke, after all.

            Have you asked your father how it worked out?  Sometimes the first woman has a really, really big burden, not the least of which is that she has no women buddies among the lawyers.  

            At one university I was at, after a seminar the guys all went off to the bathroom together.  They'd stand around and chat and so the one or two women were really completely closed off from the discussion.  Then either you waited in the hall for them - which was uncomfortable - or they went off to get food, coffee, beer whatever afterwards to continue their conversation.  At another (very tony) place I was at, after dinner, the women went off for coffee and the guys stayed and talked over port and cigars.  (Truly; it was a tradition in a very traditional place.)  So here again the occasional woman prof was cut off from the friendly intimacy the guys had then.

            Of course, one could object, but it can be VERY foolish for the first woman to question any of the traditions.

            "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

            by JPete on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 03:15:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  IIRC, the first woman hired (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JPete, rserven

              is now one of the stars of the firm.  

              When I was getting my MA in early elementary/special ed., I was one of very few men.  But I am so clueless on these things that the women could have been meeting all over the place, and I'd have no knowledge of it at all.  

              Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

              by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 06:17:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  When I was in grad school... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JPete, plf515

       mathematics, my professors stressed that the students needed to work together, that nobody learns in a vacuum.

                I was a loner.  I rarely worked with anyone else.  I guess I was in that vacuum.  There were few women grad students and they complained of having nobody to work with.  I guess it was my choice in the matter.  They had no choice.

  •  IMO (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taylormattd, tryptamine, rserven, jessical

    and I think about this a lot, it really cuts right to the heart of a philosophical argument in most brands of feminism, which up until fairly recently have always assumed that it was self-evident what is meant by "woman" and so never took any time to think about whether it's a matter of self-identification or whether it's something essential. Of course, that sort of thing can start massive wars among feminists, so it's not terribly shocking that it was largely left alone outside of a few circles for a long time, that it led to massive vitriol for a while, and that it's IMO changing feminism from the base as things settle out and the newer generation of feminists takes on a larger role.

    I always go for squishiness. I'm very much a supporter of woman-only space, but I also think it's absolutely vital that we keep our categories as flexible as they need to be to keep us connected and give us all voice, rather than become overly limiting.

  •  OK, I'll venture into shark infested waters and (5+ / 0-)


    Which 'only's are OK?

    If it is OK to have a "Women's only" space, is it then OK to have a "men's only" space?  If OK to have a spot just for lesbians, then is it OK to have one for exclusively for straights?

    Is it about power? Being discriminated against? Or what?

    Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

    by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 04:38:30 PM PDT

    •  Here's how I think of it (6+ / 0-)

      "men's only" spaces are frankly unnecessary -- to be totally blunt, men already tend to dominate the mainsteam culture, and their concerns, so much as they are honestly and openly voiced, are already pretty much addressed. Ditto with "straight only" spaces -- pretty much everywhere you look is basically already a straight space, with a few exceptions.

      So yes, it is about power, to some degree, at least in my mind.

      Now, that gets complicated to a degree, because I think that even men, as individuals, are kept powerless by the approach of the mainstream culture toward policing the bounds of masculinity. Privilege has its own costs, because the boundaries around it are very heavily enforced. But I think that has to be solved in a different way.

      •  eh... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Spit, tryptamine, rserven, plf515

        I'd argue for men only spaces, women only spaces, no transies spaces, transie only spaces...right up to the level of public access, and a little beyond.  And I'd keep in mind that right now there are no nonbinary categories which trans people can inhabit and be fully recognized as people; you can't pee in public, or get an SSN, without being a boy or girl in terms of the public record.  So in the public sphere, access to a recognized gender is basic to civil rights.

        Some examples (if I had fiat hah hah)...I don't think a golf club should be men only...but a men's drumming circle, for the purpose of exploring being men or somesuch, sure.  You go guys.  A men's drumming circle which was known only privately among some friends who didn't want trans men as members?  Sure, it doesn't speak well of them, but that's their problem.  A men's drumming circle which advertises for members and excludes trans men?  I think there should be laws to sue them into nonexistence...

      •  Well.....I agree and disagree (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Spit, tryptamine, rserven, jessical

        clearly, men are the power-holders in society.

        Yet, there are things I could talk about more easily among men than in a mixed group.  And there are guys - decent, non-sexist guys - who feel that way more strongly.

        When it comes to sex and gender, we all have at least some screws that are a little bit loose. One of the screws that is a little loose in a lot of people is the ability to talk freely among people of 'other' groups.  In me, this screw is a little loose.  In others, it is much looser.  This is due to all sorts of reasons.

        OTOH, in a really interesting and good book I am rereading, Melvin Konner points out that, in every society of which there is a record, boys and girls sort themselves by sex from as early as 3 years - not universally, certainly.  There are girls who like to play with boys, and vice versa, but to a very large degree.  

        This is surely tricky ground.

        Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

        by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 05:00:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Think I hit on some of this below (above?) (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, rserven, plf515, jessical

          but it is tricky ground, yes. I think that there is a vast difference between having a personal space that is built around people with whom you share an identity -- a group of friends, say, with whom you can discuss particular things -- and the kind of more formalized organizing space I'm thinking of (women's festivals, LGBT bookstores, trans-retreats).

          I also think that seperating ourselves off from each other, beyond what we need for organizing and support, is a mistake. While the social concerns of women tend to be ignored by the mainstream, for example, I don't think the personal concerns of individual men and women are really all that different, and I think we'd all be a lot better off if we didn't treat each other as different species in that regard.

        •  Have to take issue with this: (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TiaRachel, rserven, plf515, jessical

          Melvin Konner points out that, in every society of which there is a record, boys and girls sort themselves by sex from as early as 3 years - not universally, certainly.  There are girls who like to play with boys, and vice versa, but to a very large degree.  

          The important phrase being "in every society of which there is a record".  The beginning of written history was not the beginning of the human race, as I'm sure you know, or even the beginning of the societies in which it arose.  The influence of those societies on the people within it is strong, and shouldn't be confused to imply that binary (or trinary) systems of gender are actually "natural".

          Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

          by tryptamine on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 08:19:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  heh... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spit, tryptamine, plf515

            There's also a fair bit of work to the effect we start to socialize in complex ways when considerably younger than three.


          •  I am not sure what you are taking issue *with* (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine, rserven

            I can't adequately summarize all of Konner's arguments; I can assure you that he isn't trying to read more into human nature than exists there, and certainly isn't a bigot on any of these issues.

            He does point out that there are demonstrable differences between men and women (and, interestingly, in the chapter in which he discusses this, cites women researchers, exclusively).  

            The subtitle of his book, I think, nicely summarizes his stance "Biological constraints on the human spirit".

            As to what is 'natural', there is very little chance that we will ever know, directly, about this sort of thing in prehistorical societies. Konner's an anthropologist by training, and did fieldwork among hunter gatherer groups - in particular the !Kung San - and notes that, although we can't know what our 'natural' forebears were like, they were almost surely hunter gatherers.

            Going back even farther, to our primate relatives, offers no help, as the species (Baboons, Chimps, Bonobos, Gorillas) that are closest to humans are radically different in how their societies work.

            Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

            by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 03:46:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If I was "on the ball"... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine, plf515

              ...I'd link here to my interpretation of berdache culture.  

              Alas, I haven't been busy enough. ,-)

            •  You know (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine, rserven, plf515, jessical

              doing a lot of bio, but with my personal background, has been an interesting thought exercise.

              The thing that I think most biological analysis misses about this stuff and human evolution is that adaptability is itself an evolutionary boon, and does appear in fact to be the very track that primates took. So IMO when people are looking for some kind of basal human from which to assess "natural" human behavior, I always think that's missing at least the potential argument that our social structures, and especially their tendancy to be both flexible and stable depending on changing needs, are themselves a huge advantage. In other words, I guess, it's perfectly natural for human social attitudes to change as they react, as a group, to the world around them, and it's also perfectly natural for some foundational social attitudes to remain steady for hundreds or thousands of years without having much to do with genetics, for example.

              I guess what I'm saying is that nature seems to me to have let the primates develop really variable methods of survival, and that social development is one of the variables involved. Bonobos and chimps are almost genetically identical, yet have completely different social dynamics, for example, that may simply be passed down through the generations with little genetic component. That's perfectly consistent with evolution, given that more complex communication would let information be passed apart from genes.

              All of that is very squishy, and I don't want to tread too much into evolutionary psychology (which I have some trouble with) but it's how I tend to think of it.

              •  Well, Konner also talks (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tryptamine, rserven, jessical

                rather extensively, about this very point - that one of the hallmarks of humans is our adaptability; and he points out how this ties into other things, like evolution.  

                Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 02:01:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I really should read... (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Spit, tryptamine, rserven, plf515

                  ...the new edition of that.

                  IMNSHO, behavioral biology does a poor job with questions of causality in relation to trans folks -- the larger question is "why are you (those people) different?" and that's so loaded for all possible respondents. It's also very difficult to address experimentally :}

                  What I think it does a great job with is answering "what is a transsexual person" in the (limited) terms of endocrinology.  I tend to see administered estrogen and testosterone as flawed but profound genome expression hacks.  The relationship to behavior would have to be layered and complex by its nature, but to me this lessens the impact of essentialist arguments, rather than strengthening them.  

                  •  Konner is an anthropologist and an MD, not a (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rserven, jessical

                    biologist, although he cites research from many fields, including biology, neurology, psychology, ethnography and ethnology.  

                    Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                    by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 06:14:21 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  eh... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      rserven, plf515

                      Yeah.  My old copy is in the shed boxes and I probably should go dig it out -- though even that would not be fair, given there's a new edition now.  I can hardly say "it's behavioral biology" without the current version in front of me.  But I guess I'm confused by your comment (I'm not playing strawman, I just am missing the point...been a longish day already though)

                      •  P.S. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        That wasn't completely fair on my part...honestly my impateus to scribble the original response was that I'd seen your various mentions of the book and the thinking processes it had triggered for you.  I could be wrong but the original book was very much what I'd call "behavioral biology" -- not out of any derision at all, but rather as an apt description of where the disciplines you listed merge and mingle.  It's a subject I love, though I'm a long ago failed wannabe in those academic ranks.  I don't have a lot of use for any of the "why are those different" questions, in the absence of evidence, from EO Wilson's speculations about face-to-face gay sex onward; but I've found my understanding of the biological basis for my current existence to be a real help, a kind of grounding, and one where there is a lot of experimental and clinical information.  Anyway, my intent and hope was to share some part of it I'd found useful and cool, rather than to appear to attack...

                        •  I think all the fields (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          rserven, jessical

                          have something to offer, and none have the complete answer to anything more complex than "Why are his eyes blue?"

                          When it comes to something so complex as gender roles, then it seems clear to me that, not only are there effects from nature and nurture, but that these two interact, which makes it impossible to disentangle them even to say "it's 25% nurture" or whatever.  Further, nature has multiple components (e.g. parental genes, environment in the womb) as does nature.

                          The 'why are they like that' questions are different when asked about groups versus individuals.  Humans, though, have difficulties understanding these differences in meaning.  Even people with statistical training (e.g me) don't always react statistically in our guts.  

                          With groups, we can say things like
                           "In every society studied, males commit more of the murders than females, and differences in murder rates correlate with amounts of testosterone in utero"
                          "People who, as adults, are violent, are more likely to have been abused as kids than people who are not violent"

                          but humans (again, even those who know better) tend to react to this with such things as
                          "But what about XXXX?" naming some murderous female, or pointing to a person with high testosterone who is very gentle, or one who was not abused but is a murderer.

                          With individuals, any such statements are demonstrably nonsensical.  A high level of testosterone does not 'make' you capable of murder.  Neither do any of the cultural or child-rearing practices.

                          A question like "why is Peter White?" has a simple answer.  A question like "why is Peter straight?" certainly has no simple answer, might not have any answer, and might not even be a sensible question....

                          Anyway, I'm rambling.  I don't agree with all of Konner - like you, I think he places too much on the genes, and looks for 'medical' answers to things.  And even he can get the individual question mixed with the group question.

                          Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                          by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 07:28:09 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  yeah... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            rserven, plf515

                            it's an interesting ramble.  I think the whole "behavioral drift" thing -- you can teach a chicken to play ball, but not to stop scratching the plate -- is interesting.  These complexes of behavior, from which we're clearly not immune, give lie to the "it's all learned" response -- and at the same time, what sets we end up with, which sets we are occupying, and our own particular interpretation of the set, all vary and make broad generalizations difficult at best and complete crap at worst.  I think it's really useful from a political standpoint though, for the reasons elucidated in the feminisms diary last night -- we're creatures with bodies and tropes and broad, foolish instincts, and to base our liberalism on the idea of a perfectly learned, rational self is I think a terrible folly...

                  's fun stuff.  Personally I get the most from Lorenz and Tinbergen, but then I find the idea of sitting in a blind watching seagulls to be an utterly romantic notion in the largest sense :}

            •  Maybe I misunderstood. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rserven, plf515, jessical

              I thought you were saying that the gendered divisions of young children meant that gendered divisions are "natural".

              Class & Labor - Tues. nights, Feminisms Wed. nights

              by tryptamine on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 05:39:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am not sure what 'natural' means (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tryptamine, rserven, jessical

                Every human is raised in a culture, with very rare and pathological cases of horrendous abuse. So, what is 'natural'? I am not expert on the play behavior of young children in different cultures, so I can't say whether boys and girls separate into groups in the same way in different cultures.

                There do seem to be some sex differences that are 'natural' in virtually any sense one could mean it, although these differences are tendencies, not absolutes, and are smaller than most people assume.  There are similar differences in other animals, including the other primates.  

                Now up: Republican motto Friday: WAYR? History, politics

                by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 06:11:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  It's about the need to caucus. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, plf515, Ally McRepuke

      Places where like people can discuss their issues.

      What are the men going to do in their caucus?  Decide how to control women's lives and bodies?

      I'm sort of rambling here, but bear with me.  I asked in a diary once upon a time why it is that heterosexual men feel the need to assault transwomen.  I know that not all men do, but enough do that their is serious danger to transwomen, especially heterosexual ones.  I can't fix that.  I'm not a heterosexual man.  Should heterosexual men form a group to solve that issue?


      •  I'm not sure (4+ / 0-)

        Let's take this.

        Suppose a guy is having trouble about how he feels when he has sex with his (female) lover/spouse.  I know that  a lot of guys would feel very uncomfortable talking about this in a group that included women, and would also feel uncomfortable talking about it among friends.  

        Or, more generally and more politically, suppose a guy  wants to talk about what a guy is supposed to be like in today's society?  It's one heck of a confusing role, with all sorts of clashing demands.

        Do we have most of the power? Well, duh. yeah.  Does that mean we have no concerns that are unique to us? No, I don't think so.

        Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

        by plf515 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 05:06:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Like jessica said... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tryptamine, plf515, jessical

 really depends on why the guys are getting together and what they are doing there.  That old-boys network thing is a tough nut to crack.

          •  heh... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tryptamine, rserven, plf515

            how can I not rec that title :}

            Since I'm a wiccan sort of atheist, I can actually say that my own religious/spiritual frame relies in many cases on gendered ritual.  This makes me (a) cautious of how I'm included or excluded from that ritual  -- this is often closely held, private stuff, and I have no interest in being where I'm not wanted...and (b) inclined to be very open and interested in how people pursue intra-gender type dialog, and think it serves specific, important purposes.  And, that said, none of this is as important to me as the preop chica with her black eyes calling for a shelter to take her.  So I'm inclined to argue this in a very specific way, to defend public inclusion and also put limits on that defense, ideally ones which people can understand, support, and build consensus around...

            Blah blah...gotta finish this little project in the other window now lol...

  •  not saying this was brave or foolish... (6+ / 0-)

    ...but there's a whole line of freaked out angels in the hall, peeking through the door and skittering back wide eyed...

    My own argument is probably sightly different, though I suspect you're no stranger to it.  The problem to me is barely worth discussing in terms of inclusion and acceptance; frankly, I've given up on that.  What people think is their own business.  What I think is pivotal are issues of access to public and quasi-public services, like shelters and EMTs and medical care...and saying "that's not a woman, it doesn't go in my special space" is a definition which has power and weight, which begins with small private groups but ends up enforced at a shelter door at three ayem.  People die on those edges. That larger set of effects in the public sphere -- not my personal sense of exclusion -- are why I strongly support trans inclusion in specific, clear language -- and in law where possible --  in most kinds of public women's space.  

  •  How does it feel for you... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, rserven

    reliving all of these moments as you share them with us?

    I hope you include the Pat(rick) Califia stuff in something...

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 06:39:40 PM PDT

  •  As a lesbian I simply do not understand... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, rserven, plf515 some gays and lesbians can be so cruel to transpeople.

    You would think that a group of people who have experienced such hate and discrimination would be more understanding.

    Honestly, I can never imagine what you have gone through, but I would never be one of the women who would reject you at a women's event.

    I appreciate your posts and diaries, and believe you have personally helped to educate a lot of people on this issue.

    Good for you!

    01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

    by kimoconnor on Wed Jul 25, 2007 at 07:58:08 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. :-) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, cfk

      It's like people think that to get rid of cruelty done to them, they must pass it on to someone else.

      My own view is that if cruelty is done to me, then I own that pain.  it's mine.  To blame it on someone else or try to pass it on is to give the person who was cruel too much control over my life.  "Too much" in this case would be "any."

      •  I am not sure that is the only reason... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, jessical

        you have experienced this kind of hate and discrimination in the lesbian and bi community.

        I for one feel that if harm has come to me, it is my job to make sure others never have to go through what I have.

        But it is likely one reason you have had to endure what you have.

        Thanks again for posting here and sharing yourself with the rest of us.

        01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

        by kimoconnor on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 12:48:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think this is an interesting point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rserven, jessical, Ally McRepuke

      You would think that a group of people who have experienced such hate and discrimination would be more understanding.

      A lot of people do think that; I sometimes think that way myself.  Is there any evidence for it?

      Make a list of the groups that have experienced lots of hate and discrimination:
       G L B and T people
       etc. and, unfortunately, etc. etc.

      Is there any evidence that members of these groups are more understanding?

      Certainly there are many, many people in these groups who are understanding, but there are many who are not.  Are the percentages different than among people who are members of no such group?

      I dunno...  it would be interesting to try to find out.

      Now up: The cult of mastery Friday: WAYR? History, politics

      by plf515 on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 03:53:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  First, I should say... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven, jessical

    Hello. If I stalk and comment around your diaries, it's probably worth my at least making myself known. I've commented a few times before using an old account, but it was making me feel vulnerable due to being the same as my email address and too close to my real name, so I thought it'd be a good idea to reregister.

    Also, I'd like to ask - do you have any information on the reversal of the MWMF policy? As the last I knew, based on this Barbelith thread (join! Barbelith is dying and needs more people!), was that:

    1. A transwoman attempted, as she has for many years, to buy a ticket as an open transwoman.
    1. Said transwoman was rejected, being shown an old policy.
    1. She pointed out that this policy was for an old festival, and asked what the current policy was.
    1. The ticket person went away, came back and said there wasn't one, andshe was free to buy a ticket.

    But, then there's part 5): After the festival, Lisa Vogel releases a statement saying, "Since 1976, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has been created by and for womyn-born womyn, that is, womyn who were born as and have lived their entire life experience as womyn. Despite claims to the contrary by Camp Trans organizers, the Festival remains a rare and precious space intended for womyn-born womyn."

    So, erm, I think cries of success in that particular area may be a bit premature, I'm afraid.

    •  Your analysis is what I read as well. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, pingles

      So I specifically did not include anything here about present circumstances.  I just don't know what they are.

      The last dinosaur?

      •  Oh! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, jessical

        I am a fool; I tend to read things copied into Notepad, and so the lines between quote-from-1997 and non-quote blur somewhat. Actually, the fact that that part's from ten years ago is somewhat sad, highlighting as it does how the same celebrations of success were made back then, and yet it's still not moved forward.

        Plenty of dinosaurs left, though, and I think it's somewhat hasty to say any of the old ones have died out either, even if they're looking a bit more sickly round the gills. The new(er) Lavender Menace, perhaps?

      •  Still some dinosaurs (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rserven, jessical

        and they still have some clout. The debate continues in lesbian feminist circles, but it's turning into something generational as well, IMO.

        What's always interesting to me, and this is purely anecdotal, is that the strongest tendancy is usually for the anti-trans sentiment to come from self-identified butch women. As a pretty damned butch thing myself, though I don't really do the butch/femme thing, I've always found this strange -- but then it makes sense politically, since they've been fighting so long for acceptance as women and as masculine -- trying, correctly IMO, to decouple masculine/feminine from man/woman. That's a tough fight, too, and the way the rest of the world reads trannies does sometimes tend to be a negation of progress there, though of course that's not our fault.

        Random morning ramblings.

  •  I wanted to add something (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rserven, jessical

    I went to a performance of the Vagina Monologues a couple of years ago here in Minnesota, possibly 2005.  The version they performed included some newer material from Eve Ensler about/by transwomen.  The phrase that has stuck with me, that I wanted to share here (bear in mind I am paraphrasing from memory):

    "I am in a new land, mostly welcome, but still an immigrant."  

    The piece instilled a poignant sense of longing, of not-quite-acceptance.  I was moved to tears.

  •  In case anyone is interested... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Diary: retrospection (episode 7) just opened.

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