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:

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:

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.

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Bristol Palin, Bullying Victim? Please.

From Truth Wins Out:

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.

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Is nuclear catastrophe imminent at San Onofre, CA?

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Apocalypse Fairly Soon

From The New York Times:

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.

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

From Rolling Stone:

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, 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 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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