Being Feminine: What Defines Femininity? Being Masculine: What Defines Masculinity?

When I was a little transkid I was called a sissy.  People said I looked and acted like a little girl.  In spite of running in the fields and woods.

Maybe it was because I liked movies, reading and that sort of stuff too much.  Maybe I was feminine because I didn’t spend much time wondering if something was meant to be for boys or for girls.

Maybe I was considered feminine because I liked some of the girls in the neighborhood far more than I liked any of the boys.

What ever it was the label stuck.

I realized I was feminine and I resented being bullied for it.

I had kind of figured out I was transsexual as a pre-teen after encountering the word in some of my father’s “men’s magazines”.  When I was fifteen  my parents confronted me with the word and I claimed it. They had found my clippings of the tabloid biography of April Ashley.

The asked me, “Is this what you think are? Is this what you want to be?”

I answered them with, “That is what I am, isn’t it? I’m going to grow up to be like her.”

When I left home five years later I was feminine to the point that queens and transsexuals I encountered saw me as a sister, no matter how I was dressed.  Yet effeminate gay men were something else again. Their femmishness wasn’t really femininity, it was a type of gayness.

Just as butch lesbians are a type of lesbian, and their butchness is different from the masculinity of men including TG/TS men.

I still wonder what is femininity?  Not the corporate marketing bullshit that sells femininity as a means of peddling over priced crap but real femininity.

I sort of wonder if real femininity or real masculinity are part of primal gender, a term I just coined.  Could real masculinity and femininity be part of the gender Jello that is so impossible to nail down, something innate that all the social construct stuff latches onto as the base on which to build the paradigms.  Paradigms like “real men”  love muscle cars, war and other bullshit real men are supposed to love. Or the paradigm that goes “real women” love shoes that cost as much as a months rent, impossible standards of beauty and servile groveling to men.

I’ve been around for a long time.

I’m pretty certain femininity doesn’t require expensive shoes, clothes or make-up.  Otherwise why would I have been considered feminine even before I came out?

Why are some traits like caring, kindness and gentleness labeled as feminine while those traits are just as easily found in men and are equally admirable in either sex?  The same is true of courage, conviction and heroism.  Why are these traits considered masculine when they can be found in either sex and seem equally admirable no matter which sex exhibits those qualities?

Most often though these traits are not the traits focused upon when labeling something masculine or feminine.

Instead of something admirable too often either femininity or masculinity seems associated with some sort of exaggerated to the point of silliness stereotypes.

The psychologists in the employ of the corporations tell us we aren’t really feminine or masculine and offer to sell us a product that will make us really masculine of feminine. If we don’t buy their products then they sort of taunt us and make us insecure about our masculinity or femininity.

We get suckered into this through a constant barrage of advertising.

Transsexual and transgender people are particularly susceptible to this sort of manipulation because of who we are.  But only marginally more so than non-trans folks.  Remember the advertisers are playing on the weaknesses and insecurities of those non-trans folks.

Natalie Reed has a good piece up:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/05/15/mandated-femininity/

It’s unfair that TS/TG people get knocked for being vulnerable to messages aimed at non-trans people, but nothing is fair when bigotry is the game.

Masculinity/femininity are tools used to manipulate people into doing things that aren’t in their best interest.

Most obviously the convincing of men that their masculinity is questionable if they are unwilling to die for some rich fuck’s noble cause. Oh they use words like patriotism and duty to sell that one to the people who will die but really behind it all is the message that men who question the “noble cause” are really masculine, therefore aren’t really men.

It doesn’t matter that those men are smart, creative men, who love women and humanity, men who happen to see through the “noble cause” lie.

They are labeled as lacking in masculinity while cowardly rich men who send others off to die for noble causes are lauded as hard masculine men making difficult choices.  Difficult choices that involve the deaths of others.

Too often femininity has a price tag on it, actually several.  One price tag involves self denigration.  Never developing one’s intellect, as though intelligence is a masculine trait. Submissiveness is considered feminine as well, as though real women are on this earth to be abused by men.

Another determinant of femininity requires vast sums of money to buy very expensive clothing, cosmetics, jewelry and services.

This makes working class women (the vast majority of women) not feminine since things like housing transportation and food take up the money they earn.

Then all this gets lumped into gender, all these constructs used to psychologically manipulate people into consuming or acting against their own best interests to prove their masculinity or femininity.

So what is masculinity? What is femininity?

Not all those social constructs used to manipulate us but real masculinity and real femininity.

It seems like it is about things like caring and courage in the face of adversity, traits that either men or women can have and are admirable no matter who has them.

Physical masculinity or femininity is a different matter.

In the matter of physical femininity or masculinity the determining factors are how closely one matches some sort of idealized image of man or woman and perhaps it was my physical appearance that resulted in my being labeled as feminine from a very early age.

But I also discovered something else.  When I started taking hormones many years ago and I became more physically feminine, interpretations of behavior and personal qualities changed with neutral qualities coming to be seen as feminine qualities and behavior heretofore ignored suddenly seen as feminine.

Sometimes all this business about gender and pinning it down seems like the metaphor about nailing Jello to a tree.

As 50 Million Americans Starve, Republicans Seek to Cut Off Their Food Stamps

From PoliticusUSA:  http://www.politicususa.com/50-million-americans-starve-republicans-seek-cut-food-stamps.html

By: Rmuse
May 18, 2012

One of the more difficult tasks for the military is teaching soldiers to disassociate their feelings of humanity in combat situations to prevent them from hesitating to fire their weapon if they are ever confronted by an armed adversary.  There are many professions that require leaders to have a certain amount of pure objectivity in order to make decisions that benefit the greater good whether it is a construction company, hospital, or a government. However, government leaders must take into account the human toll of their decisions whether it is going to war or dealing with a budget, and as Americans have witnessed for the past year, Republicans have lost any sense of concern for Americans as human beings; if they ever had any.

With all the talk this week about the deficit and budget cuts, it appears Republicans have no interest in considering what effect their Draconian budgets have on their fellow Americans. Of course, men like Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Willard Romney are pushing the “reduce the national debt” meme, but their arguments fall flat when they continue advocating for harsher cuts to social safety nets while giving more entitlements to the wealthy and big oil. Earlier this week, Boehner promised Republicans would extend the Bush-era tax cuts that are projected to cost $8.1 trillion, and then had the audacity to promise to hold a debt ceiling increase hostage for even more cuts to safety nets to more than offset the amount the debt limit is increased. It makes absolutely no sense on a fiscal level, but on a human level, it is downright evil.

Willard Romney and Paul Ryan’s budgets make vicious cuts to safety net spending such as SNAP (food stamps), and transform Medicare to a voucher system to save money, but any savings will not even cover a fraction of the huge tax cuts for the rich. This is not a political or budget issue any more; it is a human tragedy at the hands of one political party who completely disregards the human toll they seem perfectly fine imposing on American citizens. Early in the Republican primary, Willard Romney made a flippant comment that he does not worry about the very poor, and qualified his contemptible remark by claiming there are safety nets to take care of the most vulnerable Americans. However, his grand economic scam decimates the safety nets more severely than the Ryan budget informing that Romney’s first remark that he doesn’t worry about the very poor means he doesn’t care about the poor.

Republicans are wont to claim America is a Christian nation, and Romney particularly promotes himself and his Mormonism as being Christian, but he is as far afield from Christ’s admonition to care for the poor as his faith is from Christianity. It is well-known that Romney has no idea what it is like to be hungry, or wonder where his family’s next meal will come from, but where is his sense of compassion? The recent Ryan budget that passed the Republican-controlled House was endorsed by Romney, and besides cuts to education and privatizing Medicare, there are massive cuts to food stamps that assist 46 million Americans put food on the table.

Continue reading at:  http://www.politicususa.com/50-million-americans-starve-republicans-seek-cut-food-stamps.html

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Bristol Palin, Bullying Victim? Please.

From Truth Wins Out:  http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/05/25243/

by John M. Becker
May 17th, 2012

Bristol Palin, exemplar of so-called “traditional families” that she is, just couldn’t let President Obama’s historic endorsement of marriage equality pass by last week without throwing in her two cents. (If you missed this important development in this historic story, reading this handy post from Evan will catch you right up.) Basically, Bristol Palin turned the story around into one about how she, her mother, and other “Christian female” presidential candidates are, in fact, the victims of the current President’s social conscience. His daughters’ perspectives helped him evolve on marriage, but when “Christian women” run for President, they’re picked apart about the degree on which they rely on their spouses. As an example, Bristol cites Michele Bachmann being asked at a debate about whether, as president, she would “submit” to her husband Marcus. (Palin writes as though the question was just plucked out of thin air by a mean-spirited, anti-Christian debate moderator rather than a logical follow-up to remarks Rep. Bachmann made herself when running for office in Minnesota in 2006.) And of course, there’s also her mother, the perpetually victimized Sarah Palin, who her daughter believes was the target of unjust questions about the role her father — Gov. Palin’s husband, Todd — played in decision making (despite the fact that Todd Palin was widely knownto be one of Sarah’s closest advisors).

Bristol also hauled out two thoroughly debunked right-wing talking points about marriage — first, that it’s been a static and unchanging institution for “thousands of years,” and second, that “in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home” (when in reality, study after study after study shows that claim to be patently false).

As it turns out, a lot of people had a lot to say about Bristol Palin’s factually inaccurate, anti-Obama, anti-gay blog post. Some were supportive, some opposed; some were well-reasoned and calm, others were vicious and mean-spirited. In response, Bristol came out with another post on Monday where, in vintage Palin fashion, she failed to address any of the legitimate arguments made by her critics, bashed “Hollywood-type sheeple” for their allegedly uniform intolerance for people with anti-abortion and anti-gay views (apparently I missed the memo that a stint on Dancing with the Stars qualifies one as a Hollywood insider these days…), and said that she felt “[hated] in the name of love” and “[bullied] in the name of tolerance.” She then attempted to imply that in voicing her belief in marriage discrimination, she was speaking for her generation — my generation, the Millennials, who support marriage equality by a landslide margin of 22 percent. Yeah, no.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/05/25243/

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Is nuclear catastrophe imminent at San Onofre, CA?

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Apocalypse Fairly Soon

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/opinion/krugman-apocalypse-fairly-soon.html

By
Published: May 17, 2012

Suddenly, it has become easy to see how the euro — that grand, flawed experiment in monetary union without political union — could come apart at the seams. We’re not talking about a distant prospect, either. Things could fall apart with stunning speed, in a matter of months, not years. And the costs — both economic and, arguably even more important, political — could be huge.

This doesn’t have to happen; the euro (or at least most of it) could still be saved. But this will require that European leaders, especially in Germany and at the European Central Bank, start acting very differently from the way they’ve acted these past few years. They need to stop moralizing and deal with reality; they need to stop temporizing and, for once, get ahead of the curve.

I wish I could say that I was optimistic.

The story so far: When the euro came into existence, there was a great wave of optimism in Europe — and that, it turned out, was the worst thing that could have happened. Money poured into Spain and other nations, which were now seen as safe investments; this flood of capital fueled huge housing bubbles and huge trade deficits. Then, with the financial crisis of 2008, the flood dried up, causing severe slumps in the very nations that had boomed before.

At that point, Europe’s lack of political union became a severe liability. Florida and Spain both had housing bubbles, but when Florida’s bubble burst, retirees could still count on getting their Social Security and Medicare checks from Washington. Spain receives no comparable support. So the burst bubble turned into a fiscal crisis, too.

Europe’s answer has been austerity: savage spending cuts in an attempt to reassure bond markets. Yet as any sensible economist could have told you (and we did, we did), these cuts deepened the depression in Europe’s troubled economies, which both further undermined investor confidence and led to growing political instability.

And now comes the moment of truth.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/opinion/krugman-apocalypse-fairly-soon.html

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Accidentally Released – and Incredibly Embarrassing – Documents Show How Goldman et al Engaged in ‘Naked Short Selling’

From Rolling Stone:   http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/accidentally-released-and-incredibly-embarrassing-documents-show-how-goldman-et-al-engaged-in-naked-short-selling-20120515

By Matt Taibbi
May 15, 2012

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes God smiles on us. Last week, he smiled on investigative reporters everywhere, when the lawyers for Goldman, Sachs slipped on one whopper of a legal banana peel, inadvertently delivering some of the bank’s darker secrets into the hands of the public.

The lawyers for Goldman and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have been involved in a legal battle for some time – primarily with the retail giant Overstock.com, but also with Rolling Stone, the Economist, Bloomberg, and the New York Times. The banks have been fighting us to keep sealed certain documents that surfaced in the discovery process of an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Overstock against the banks.

Last week, in response to an Overstock.com motion to unseal certain documents, the banks’ lawyers, apparently accidentally, filed an unredacted version of Overstock’s motion as an exhibit in their declaration of opposition to that motion. In doing so, they inadvertently entered into the public record a sort of greatest-hits selection of the very material they’ve been fighting for years to keep sealed.

I contacted Morgan Lewis, the firm that represents Goldman in this matter, earlier today, but they haven’t commented as of yet. I wonder if the poor lawyer who FUBARred this thing has already had his organs harvested; his panic is almost palpable in the air. It is both terrible and hilarious to contemplate. The bank has spent a fortune in legal fees trying to keep this material out of the public eye, and here one of their own lawyers goes and dumps it out on the street.

The lawsuit between Overstock and the banks concerned a phenomenon called naked short-selling, a kind of high-finance counterfeiting that, especially prior to the introduction of new regulations in 2008, short-sellers could use to artificially depress the value of the stocks they’ve bet against. The subject of naked short-selling is a) highly technical, and b) very controversial on Wall Street, with many pundits in the financial press for years treating the phenomenon as the stuff of myths and conspiracy theories.

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Killer Cops: Gun justice anger swelling in US

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Why Seafood Guides Alone Can’t Save the Troubled Seas

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/05/seafood-guides-callum-roberts

By Tom Philpott
Wed May. 16, 2012

Over on The Daily Beast, the marine biologist Callum Roberts has a good essay (excerpted from his new book) on a topic that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: the declining state of the oceans.

According to Roberts, “with an ever-accelerating tide of human impact, the oceans have changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history before.” Today, he adds, “in most places, the seas have lost upwards of 75 percent of their megafauna—large animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, and turtles—as fishing and hunting spread in waves across the face of the planet.”

Roberts touches on the familiar villain of overfishing and gives the standard (and relevant) advice that consumers should strive to “eat low in the food web, so favor smaller fish like anchovies, herring, and sardines over big predators like Chilean sea bass, swordfish, and large tunas (you will be doing yourself a favor, as these predators also concentrate more toxins).”

But he makes an even more important point that I fear often gets lost amid the fishery labels and the “avoid” and “recommended” lists (as important as those things are): The oceans represent contain highly complex ecosystems that are intimately related to their terrestrial counterparts in ways that transcend fishing trends. Overfishing is “only one small piece in a much larger puzzle of interacting impacts,” Roberts writes. To put it in another way, consumer choices about which sea creatures to devour and which to shun, while important, only exert so much influence over the fate of the oceans.

In ecosystem terms, there’s no clean line between “land” and “ocean.” The two are intertwined; foul one and you foul the other. It turns out the human addiction to fossil fuel may be even more devastating to the seas than our appetite for big top-feeding fish like tuna, or our insane habit of hoovering up of “forage” fish like sardines as feed for industrial salmon farms. Roberts connects land-based fossil fuel use to the the ruin of oceanic habitats.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/05/seafood-guides-callum-roberts

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Where Are the Missing 5 Million Workers?

From The Nation:   http://www.thenation.com/blog/167951/were-are-missing-five-million-workers

Laura Flanders
May 17, 2012

“Where have all the workers gone?” David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal wondered about the labor force this week:

In the past two years, the number of people in the U.S. who are older than 16 (and not in the military or prison) has grown by 5.4 million. The number of people working or looking for work hasn’t grown at all.

So, where have all the workers gone? Have they retired, suspended their labors temporarily or are they languishing on public assistance? asks Wessel.

There are some other possibilities. Since the crash of 2008, there’s no question that millions of Americans have indeed stopped looking for a job. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not working. Look around, it’s much more likely that the officially “unemployed” are busy, doing their best to make ends meet in whatever ways they can. Sex work, drugs and crime spring to mind, but the underground or “shadow” economy includes all sorts of off-the-books toil. From baby-sitting, bartering, mending, kitchen-garden farming and selling goods in a yard sale, all sorts of people—from the tamale seller on your corner, to the dancer who teachers yoga—are all contributing to the underground economy along with the “employed” who pay them for their wares.

The “underground” is always with us. For better and often for worse, it’s how marginalized populations tend to survive—often not very well. (Think of the old, the young, the formerly incarcerated or foreign.) In recessions—surprise, surprise—“irregular” employment grows. Consider recent stories from Greece about wageless public “workers” swapping skills and trading food for teaching. Austrian economist, Friedrich Schneider, an expert in underground economies, has documented a surge in shadow economy activity in 2009 and 2010 in Europe. University of Wisconsin–Madison economist Edgar Feige has been doing his best to follow what’s happened here.

Tracking the gap between reported and unreported income in the United States since 1940, Feige finds:

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/167951/were-are-missing-five-million-workers

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Chicago cops start preemptive arrests before NATO Summit?

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Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/18/anti-intellectualism-us-book-banning

The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself


guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 May 2012

Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” and/or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare’s The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. “I chose not to go to any of their classes,” he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. “Why even go?” In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as “Rosa Clark.”

The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers’ unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan’s Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin’s family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, “I was told… that I’m being paid to teach, not to be an activist.” (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under “emergency manager” contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a “product,” calculated in “opportunity costs.”)

The law has taken some startling turns as well. In 2010 the sixth circuit upheld the firing of high school teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall when parents complained about an assignment in which she had asked her students in an upper-level language arts class to look at the American Library Association’s list of “100 most frequently challenged Books” and write an essay about censorship. The complaint against her centered on three specific texts: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. (She was also alleged, years earlier, to have shown students a PG-13 version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/18/anti-intellectualism-us-book-banning

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Chicago police gear up for clashes with NATO protesters

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Ex-priest guilty of conspiring to kill boy who accused him of rape

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/ex-priest-guilty-of-conspiring-to-kill-boy-who-accused-him-of-rape/

By David Edwards
Friday, May 18, 2012

A former Roman Catholic priest was found guilty on Thursday of hiring a hit man to kill a boy who had accused him of sexual abuse.

John Fiala, 53, showed no emotion as a Dallas jury found him guilty of plotting to kill the boy, according to The Dallas Morning News. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors said that Fiala had tried to hire at hit man for $5,000 in November 2010, but the would-be assassin turned out to be an undercover police officer. Video and audio of the meeting were presented to the jury on Wednesday.

The former priest had claimed that he only hired the hit man because he feared for his own life.

“John Fiala is not a puppet,” prosecutor Brandon Birmingham told the jury. “He is a puppeteer.”

Tom Rhodes, an attorney for the accuser, in 2008 said that Fiala had been “grooming” the boy by buying him gifts like a computer and a car. By providing private catechism lessons, the attorney added, the then-priest “gained access to him and began to sexually abuse him once or twice a month, including on church grounds.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/ex-priest-guilty-of-conspiring-to-kill-boy-who-accused-him-of-rape/

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