Boost Shiv:


Go read this, if you haven’t already.

Shiv asks some questions that I, in my cis-privileged way, have pondered while drunk, weary, or otherwise bleary. I frame it differently but, to me, it boils down to “what is ‘hot’?” and it seems to me that a lot of people don’t put very much thought into that. I have, and all I want to say right now is that it’s instructive to think about it.

He doesn’t dress that way because he’s gay. He dresses that way because that’s how we ALL dressed in the 70s! [bbc]

This is an incredibly relevant topic. I know you know that I am contemptuous of psychology and even more horrified by psychiatry – one of the many reasons why I believe those fields are discredited is because of the way they have repeatedly muddied the waters around this topic – this issue of “why does Person A give such a fuck about Person B’s sexuality unless Person A and Person B are hopping into the sack?”  Yesterday, as I walking, I listened to one of the BBC “Witness” podcasts “When Homosexuality Was A Crime” [bbc] Don’t listen to it unless you can handle graphic descriptions of medical torture under cover of psychiatric treatment (inspired by psychological theory) – if hearing a man describe the horrific shit they did to him makes you feel sick, as it did me, then there is no amount of discussion that is not worth having about peoples’ reactions to transpeople.

As I’ve read Shiv’s postings, I’ve repeatedly had the experience of slamming face-first into one of my assumptions being wrong. It’s been instructive (to say the least) but it’s had one effect I don’t enjoy: it has made my opinions about my opinions about sexuality become a moving target. I’m not comfortable not knowing what I think about something that’s so important to many people, and I keep waiting for my ideas to gel, and instead they’re behaving more like non-newtonian water/cornstarch mixture. Which, by the way, appears to be a pretty good cognitive model for some processes: if you slam people’s beliefs they resist change differently than if you push gently and steadily.

I don’t particularly value my opinions about this matter, but once I’ve got them sorted out I’ll air a few of them so that we can collectively poke around and point out the nuggets of bullshit where ever they are found. In the meantime, Shiv’s pouring out clues and her heart – please go read her.

Comments

  1. says

    I tweeted Shiv’s post this morning.

    “why does Person A give such a fuck about Person B’s sexuality unless Person A and Person B are hopping into the sack?”

    I’ve never come to any good conclusion about that. There are various reasons, none of which I find compelling or valid. As far as I’m concerned, the way someone presents themselves is just fine. It’s no skin off my nose to respect the manner in which someone wishes to be treated and referred to, so it tends to bend my brain, badly, that so many people simply cannot cope without stuffing people into tiny boxes.

    This insistence that gender must be categorically binary is on the border of insanity to me; it’s the death scream of those who cannot think past rigid definitions of masculine/feminine. Those who are terrified they will somehow no longer fit if concepts and perspectives change. And even worse, those who think if they accept others (rather than insisting on othering), they will lose the ability to define themselves. That’s how I view a lot of women who insist that feminism will be lost if transgender people are allowed into the wimmin club, ffs. It’s idiotic, and it’s based on fear. I have had the furious arguments with those who are insistent that transwomen did not pay their “dues”, as in growing up female, having periods and all that crap. Okay, no, they didn’t have periods, or the female sex characteristics. But I didn’t grow up trapped in the wrong fucking body, and by my reckoning, that would be much worse, to be a woman, but have my physical body against that until such a time it could be corrected.

    In the Invisible Library series, by Genevieve Cogman, there’s a very gentle poke at such people, when one of the main characters is quietly confused by another – a person who is, to all appearance, female, but is referred to in the masculine, and wears typically masculine dress. It’s explained by the other main character that among his species, they are whatever gender they say they are, full stop. I would wish it were that simple, and there was just acceptance. I hope that one day, that will be the case. This is going to be, as with most major change, one primarily effected by the younger generation.

  2. says

    Caine@#1:
    I’ve never come to any good conclusion about that. There are various reasons, none of which I find compelling or valid. As far as I’m concerned, the way someone presents themselves is just fine. It’s no skin off my nose to respect the manner in which someone wishes to be treated and referred to, so it tends to bend my brain, badly, that so many people simply cannot cope without stuffing people into tiny boxes.

    I feel similarly. Although, I had some initial reactions that I had to sort through for years, regarding what I find attractive and why. It was a lot of work. I’m not sure if I should write about it or not; I’m not sure I want to get too self-referential here. One thing I’ll say is that a surprising number of people don’t appear to actually think about what they like, and why. When you start deconstructing it, as a transperson is forced to do, it kind of comes apart in your hands, leaving a weird sort of residue.

    This insistence that gender must be categorically binary is on the border of insanity to me; it’s the death scream of those who cannot think past rigid definitions of masculine/feminine.

    (wild cheers of agreement)

    I hope that one day, that will be the case. This is going to be, as with most major change, one primarily effected by the younger generation.

    As much as I generally see the potential for technological nightmares, transhumanism implicitly embeds decoupling all these things from reality. I’m not sure that they have thought about that or that it even matters. But as our ability to virtualize increases, it seems to me our gender fluidity increases, too.

  3. says

    Although, I had some initial reactions that I had to sort through for years, regarding what I find attractive and why. It was a lot of work. I’m not sure if I should write about it or not; I’m not sure I want to get too self-referential here.

    Speaking as a small slice of your readership, I’d be interested.

  4. says

    abbeycadabra@#3:
    Speaking as a small slice of your readership, I’d be interested.

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ll try to find a way of approaching that problem so that it’s not just a whole lot of “me, me, me…” Clearly when we’re talking about what we find attractive, it’s got to be about the view through our own eyes. The way I’m wired, I’m generally uncomfortable with reading other people’s inner thoughts, but this is a topic that sort of demands it. That’s one of the things I really respect and enjoy about what Shiv’s doing – she’s getting right down into things I’d be uncomfortable and scared of. As a transperson she’s had to do that because it’s been being shoved in her face her whole life, I suppose.

    I really do appreciate your comment, it’s encouraging.

  5. says

    Growing up in a homophobic country, I was indoctrinated that LGBTQ people are bad. My homophobic mother definitely was an influence. At school being called in a word that has “gay” as one of the meanings was an insult boys often directed towards each other. I can also pinpoint at least one TV show that I saw as a kid where trans women were portrayed as somehow bad. I grew up in an environment where everybody “knew” that gays and trans women are icky and you don’t want to get involved with any of them.

    I can also recall reasons, which made me change my mind. I got a computer and access to the Internet when I was 16. There I started communicating with an artist who insisted that gays and lesbians are normal people and love is beautiful regardless of what gender those in love have. At that point I finally started thinking about what exactly is wrong with gays and lesbians (before I simply knew that they are bad without having ever thought about this question). After some thinking I had to conclude that it’s OK to be gay and gays aren’t sick. I reached this conclusion logically, but I still felt that there’s something wrong with homosexuals. This feeling disappeared in a year or two with prolonged exposure to LGBTQ positive online content.

    I wouldn’t care if someone told me an acquaintance I just met assumed I was trans. I’m already used to people assuming that I must be a lesbian. Whatever. Although nobody could ever assume that I’m a trans woman. Unlike me trans women actually are feminine.

    If I found out that somebody hot is trans, it wouldn’t influence the fact that I find this person attractive. I do have a preference for masculine people, but that includes also FTM transsexuals and even masculine lesbians. A person does not need to have a penis for me to find them sexually attractive.

    Although, I had some initial reactions that I had to sort through for years, regarding what I find attractive and why. It was a lot of work.

    And you actually succeeded? For me it was either completely obvious (duh, of course I like young and healthy looking people, that’s what everybody likes) or it was completely impossible to figure out why I like something. For example, I have a fetish for long haired men. There is a direct correlation between a guy’s hair length and how hot I find him. The longer his hair, the more sexually attractive a guy is for me. And I just can’t figure out where I got this. I don’t have any long haired male relatives in my family. Long hair is very rare for guys in my country. I can’t even remember any particular hot and long haired male film star who could have influenced this. And I know that I found long haired men handsome long before I experienced puberty. And I have no clue why.

  6. says

    Unlike me trans women actually are feminine.

    Mmm… no, not necessarily.

    Trans butch lesbians exist, and their existence constitutes a pretty strong argument for how gender identity, gender presentation, and sexual orientation are almost perfectly orthogonal.

  7. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#5:
    And you actually succeeded?

    Sort of! I used some science and intuition and a lot of ruthless self-analysis. I’ll post the story, I suppose.
    There is a whole lot of stuff around this issue I could go on and on about.

  8. Siobhan says

    but marcus

    you haven’t answered the question

    have trans activists GONE TOO FAR?!?!11!1eleven

  9. Siobhan says

    /serious mode
    @Marcus Ranum

    One thing I’ll say is that a surprising number of people don’t appear to actually think about what they like, and why. When you start deconstructing it, as a transperson is forced to do, it kind of comes apart in your hands, leaving a weird sort of residue.

    People do tend to get defensive. Hence the incomprehensible non-sequitur of assuming that I, personally, want you to bed me. Like no thanks I got my hands full already (heh) I just don’t want to be constantly compared to dog shit.

  10. Siobhan says

    @abbeycadabra

    Trans butch lesbians exist, and their existence constitutes a pretty strong argument for how gender identity, gender presentation, and sexual orientation are almost perfectly orthogonal.

    I do enjoy my leather bulldyke days. ^_^

  11. says

    Shiv@#9:
    Hence the incomprehensible non-sequitur of assuming that I, personally, want you to bed me.

    Wait, what?

    Joking aside, it’s part of what’s going on, I think. If I encounter someone who says categorically that big ageing white guys aren’t on the preferred options list, then it’s not a question of “I don’t want them” anymore, it’s “they don’t want me? Wut? Waaaaa!” which is – I think – a subliminal part of it. It represents rejection – which is inconsistent because they’re also rejecting whole classes of people, but they don’t want it to apply to them in return.

    I don’t think my ideas on this topic are special, or unique, or even right, but I’ll see if I can put a few of them together, and I’m sure that you’ll haul me up short if I say something stupid. In fact, I want that because it means I’ll be getting valuable help figuring it out.

    There is a fundamental flaw that I never understood, which used to bedevil me until I figured out the rejection-scenario I outlined above: (for a simple example) straight men should appreciate gay men because they reduce the competition over straight women. (by some tiny amount, but in a group it could make a big difference) So in terms of game theory we should expect straight men to dislike gay women and like having gay men. But that’s not how it works out. So, it’s something other than what they say it is.

    have trans activists GONE TOO FAR?!?!11!1eleven

    Clearly not, since you’re getting pushback. I think you should kick the motherfuckers until they stop screaming, which means (since they stopped) then there is no more pain.

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