Because we aren’t considered “real” women we don’t have the same access to resources as cis women do – and that’s dangerous.
A series of liberal newspapers have printed op-eds by prominent feminists declaring cisgender womanhood to be the real womanhood. What they all miss is how the language declaring “real womanhood” has been a racial and patriarchal oppressive dehumanizing tactic for centuries. It leads me to wonder, why is there a need to declare one thing, one experience, one human life to be “real” at the detriment to all others?
‘Real womanhood’ has been a racial and patriarchal oppressive dehumanizing tactic for centuries.
The great advertising age of the late fifties and early sixties, featured prominently in AMC’s show Mad Men brought into the mainstream the concept of what a “real woman” is. Real women wore the right pantyhose, real women cooked the right food, real women had a certain shape. Male advertising executives took an idealized version of femininity and repurposed it on behalf of capitalism before blasting it out into newspapers, and radio and TV ads. The patriarchy shifted into hyperdrive. Anyone studying ads from that time period couldn’t help but notice how often the “real women” in the ads were married, straight, cisgender, and… very white.
“Real women” back then were described with an impossible set of expectations that very few women could accurately be said to meet. Capitalism thrived on the rat race, the keeping up with the Joneses of womanhood. Capitalism has always been set up to manipulate systemic oppressive systems against the bodies of “others” in search of profits.
It makes me stop and ask, what’s the real benefit of being a “real woman”?
What’s really being said when someone comes out and declares one woman to be real and another woman to be fake is set the one considered “real” as superior and a goal to be strived for by those who are “fake.” This is a false binary that ignores the very real differences between all women.
As a transgender woman, my womanhood is constantly questioned. Not only in newspapers, but in comedy specials, by my government, by my elected officials, even by my family. I guess I don’t see the fuss. My womanhood is only one part of me. I’m a parent, a writer, I fall in love too easily and cry at the drop of a hat. I like paperbacks because I like the way the pages feel. I spend way too much time on Twitter. I’d like to go on hikes this summer. My love life sucks like every other single person out there. Being a woman is just a small part of who I am.