Last week at hot topic, I bought a Vault Boy tshirt.
I’ve written once in the past for Sophia’s awesome blog, and it started with a poem “The Declaration of Empathy”, but I knew I wanted more than just a poem. You can expect more posts like these, this is the first attempt, the rough freshman attempt, but in a series of many (hopefully). I have so many blog posts, tweets, and all sorts of social media posts rattling around in my head, but none ever seem to come full circle into actually pressing the “Return” key and sending it off into the world.
And that’s because I’m scared. In general I’m a worrisome, terrified, anxious girl, but this fear transcends my normal paranoia. I’m scared to have an honest online presence. I’m sure many people are, but I’m not scared of posting a drunken video to Instagram late at night, I’m scared of death threats and making sure to reveal as little as possible. Even though it’s 2015 (fucking crazy, I know), people are still afraid and assholes about gayness. I would say I don’t blame them, but that would be an outrageous lie, and this post, and all future posts, are about honesty.
I’m still a baby dyke, but in the past months of living my life as a “moderately out” lesbian, I’ve learned soooo much, and even better, I’ve found out that I have so much more to learn. Although, up to this point I haven’t been “out” on social media, I have guzzled every drop of gayness on other people’s blogs, twitters, tumblrs, etc. The problem is that there aren’t young gay girls out there, and those who are out there, browsing Autostraddle late at night, aren’t posting things and I’m guilty of this myself. I see so many cute lesbian couples out there posing and being generally adorable, but where are the young girls posting about the girlfriend they want or the awkward flirting that happened at the one gay event they managed to go to. I can’t find it. I need it. But I don’t just crave it, I think it’s incredibly important.
I’m going to go on what seems like a bit of a tangent but trust me it’ll come full circle. When I was in first grade, I planned on marrying my best friend, Tara (not her real name), and I was firm in my belief that this was what I wanted. That was true until I saw the millions of straight people thrown at me, young, old, middle-aged, married, divorced, and unlabeled. I was berated repeatedly by not only the mouths of trusted people, but society, that it was wrong for a six year old girl to marry her best friend. It threatened and scared people even for little girls to be together. Even though I was a very intuitive child, I was not intuitive enough to see through their bullshit.
The point of this tangent is that representation in the media is sooo important. Not just for women, being represented as more than just sex objects. Not just for “real sex” instead of just “hot sex” in the media. But for young queer girls. Please society, I beg you. More. Young. Queer. Girls. In the media. Please.
A note to the young LGBTQ girls out there,
I see you. Lets start a fucking revolution. Tweet with #theyoungqueerrevolution if you’re with me! My twitter handle is @crayjo I’ll try to come out from the social media closet I’ve been hiding in and tweet for you. We are the revolution. We deserve more than sexualization in the media. More than living in a room made for clothes. More than slurs and fear. More than hiding.
You are so fucking loved,
Sophia’s note: Josephine, I adore you and you are so courageous. I don’t have any sort of a Twitter but someone better make this hashtag go viral. Thank you for this post, and I hope we’ll see a lot more from you!! xoxo
“You tried to change, didn’t you? Closed your mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less volatile, less awake … You can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that.” ~Warsan Shire
For those of you who don’t know, Aerie is a store for teenagers and young adults that sells primarily bras and panties, as well as really comfy, nice pajamas. Aerie is an offshoot/subsidiary/child of American Eagle. Their customers are almost entirely young women (including me !!!) and their ads are entirely targeted toward young women and girls. Their most recent ad campaign is the This girl has not been retouched campaign. And I have to say, I’m liking it a lot so far.
I should stand up for you
In that stupid irrelevant English class
I should explain and aid your argument when
Those who have never felt the need to escape
Say that you’re stupid for even bothering to talk about how suicide is romanticized
Because they couldn’t ever understand why it even matters
And I should speak up
When they make fun of your technicolor hair
(Which, by the way, is fucking awesome)
And I should say something to them
When they ask why you dress the way you do
I should make them understand
And I should cry out
When they call you “she” instead of “he”
When they call you by the dirty name you got at birth
Instead of the beautiful one you chose for yourself
Yes, I know I should stand up
And I should get over my stupid fear
Of not being liked because
My anxieties over the way people see me couldn’t possibly be
Anything compared to yours
And I should declare my allegiance and
Share my love and
I should stand up
And my hope is that in
Some other life you’ll
Be able to forgive me for
Staying silent and sitting down and
To stand up alone
Nope—it’s about periods !!!!!
If there’s one truth in this world, it is this: The majority of teenagers are really really horny, and most are more than happy to engage their urges and mess around with someone else. Flirting is, for the most part, pretty natural and usually harmless. But at what point is flirting seen as harassment? (and, conversely, when can harassment be seen as flirting?) There are plenty of girls I know who feel powerful due to the boys who make stupid passes at them—and other girls who just feel like shit because members of the opposite sex won’t leave them alone.
As I type this on my phone keyboard, I stand in the checkout aisle of the grocery store, holding this stupid magazine. Every headline makes me cringe. I could go on and on about how magazines aimed at teenagers are just page after page of thinspo and vapid advertisements—but that topic has been done to death and I don’t have anything even remotely original to say. However, this isn’t just a teen magazine, this is Women’s World.
Every tag line smacks of idiocy. It’s all about kids and homemaking and losing weight. You’d be hard-pressed to find a “men’s” magazine (besides one that is marketed specifically for parents) that deals in any of this stuff in such detail.
No, really. I dare you. If someone can find me one then I’ll pay them with all the money I have.*
The taglines just get more hilarious as you read them. If I became “100 Lbs Slimmer” because of some miracle diet, I’d weigh ten pounds. If I lost 25 pounds every thirty days or so, as the headline so proudly proclaims, then at the end of six months I would weigh negative 15 pounds.
Also, does anyone know why is says “God Bless America” up at the top?
Then there’s the stuff to do with shopping and saving money on shopping, followed by the tagline for an article about fun back-to-school snacks for your kids, because we live in Mad Men where a bored housewife has nothing better to do than go grocery shopping and feed her two children.
Okay, I’m being unfair. I know we don’t really live in the 1960s. And I know that being a housewife can be a valid life choice. And I know that it’s probably physically impossible for me to lose 100 pounds.
Wanna hear what else I know?
This magazine is damn stupid.
I skimmed through it, and while I could be wrong, I’m about 99% certain that there was nothing relating to working or finances or (god forbid) some sort of outdoor sports. There wasn’t anything, really, besides kids and shopping and personal health.
I wouldn’t have any problem if this was specifically a parenting magazine, but what this magazine cover (and plenty of others of the same type) seems to be implying is that parent and woman are synonymous.
And yes, we now have American women at high levels of business, academia, and government—you name it. But, as we’ve seen in recent months, we’re still asking age-old questions about how to make women’s way in male-dominated fields, how to balance the demands of work and family.
Sure, this magazine cover is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it points to a bigger problem. Culturally, we can accept that women are valuable members of society for more reasons than just our functioning reproductive systems—it’s just that those reasons still have to include our functioning reproductive systems. It forces us to internalize the idea that while we can have some other purpose in life, our primary purpose hasto be for the production of children.
On the bright side, now I know how to make some really cool back to school snacks.
*”All the money I have” is a grand total of zero dollars.
Why hello there!
My name’s Eli, and I’m the dude behind My Life Without Tits. Sophia asked for a guest blogger, and so here I am. I won’t bother you with a run-down of who I am, but if you’re interested you can find my public bio here.
Sophia has been so kind as to give me carte blanche when it comes to topics for this post. I went back and forth, considering some of my favorites, Chicago (my home), poetry (my livelong passion), trans stuff (for obvious reasons), and 90s music (I was in my teens and twenties then, and so have many fond memories of growing up with that music).
But ultimately, I came to rest on the topic of feminism and the trans man, as it is plainly of interest to me, and presumably of interest to you. So let’s dig in!
I was at work the other day, and a friend asked me what was new. The following convo ensued:
Pal: What’s new Eli?
Eli: Not much. Actually, I’m writing a guest blog for another WP writer.
Pal: What’s the topic?
Eli: Well, her blog centers around feminism, so likely something to do with that.
Pal (now bug-eyed and alarmed): Oh no, Eli, you’re a dude now, and dude’s have nothing to say about feminism!
My work chum was being a bit facetious, but there, in the air between one straight white dude and another, hung a note of truth. Traditionally, straight white dudes are thought to have nothing substantial to add to conversations about feminism. Of course there are plenty of guys out there that are feminists, in that they believe women to be their equals, believe in equal pay and in the autonomy of a woman’s body, etc., etc. But I am getting ahead of myself. Socially, I’ve only been a guy for about a year now.
For 30 years I was a woman, a gay woman, a self-identified dyke: the scariest and most feminist of all the feminists. I was in the Vagina Monologues three years running, I gave money to Planned Parenthood. I took a reading and writing sexuality course in college. I might not have been Gloria Steinem, but at least I knew who she was. I guess my point is that I identified as female, was treated as female, and was proud of it.
Well, publicly identified as female.
And uh, was kinda proud of it.
It was complicated, as gender can be. I firmly believed (and still do) in woman’s equality and autonomy. And I identified with that struggle in that I knew I was just as capable as my male counterparts. But I believed it because I saw myself as male. And now that my outsides are starting to match my insides, it does not change my politics or beliefs. It does, however, change how people perceive my politics and beliefs.
My work friend’s comment points out not so much the false belief that men have no role to play in feminist politics, on the contrary, I imagine just like gay people can’t legislate rights in their favor without the straight vote, women can’t put in place equal pay structures or health care reform without men working along side them. Until we’re all on the same page, we never going to make lasting positive changes for women’s equality. But that’s actually beside my point. What my friend points out is that by writing about feminism I am outing myself again: as a turncoat, a traitor, a dude playing for the other team. But this time it’s not about homosexuality, it’s about gender allegiance.
And so as trans men, we face the dilemma: do we work to stay true to ourselves, and risk being denied access to the boy’s club we have so longed for and know ourselves as rightful members of, or do we go with the patriarchal flow and laugh along at the locker room jokes we know to be sexist? Of course there’s middle ground to be had, and made, and found: we trans folks are just the people to do it, too. We know what it feels like to be seen as the other sex. I can’t speak for every trans guy, but I didn’t have dysphoria to the degree that many of my comrades did. I was “ok” being seen as a girl, because I live in a culture where I could butch it up, wear jeans every day, cut my hair short, date women, and that was “good enough” for a long time. But “good enough” was never gonna last forever, and so I came out and have felt more at home in my body than ever before. But this new body comes with some ugly baggage: if I get to use the privileges, I get to be seen as the oppressor, too.
I use the men’s room now, I am called sir, and when I ring up male customers I feel a new sense of camaraderie I have never been privy to before. And it feels good. It’s incredible just to have a guy say to me, “thanks buddy,” or “have a good one, man” and know he saw me how I see me. I walk with my chin up for the first time in three decades. I am proud of my body, of myself, to a degree never before understood, and I have a feeling this is just the beginning. I am taken more seriously over the phone and have a confidence building I didn’t know existed. But all these positive changes exact a cost. Female customers don’t joke around with me like they used to. They (frequently) don’t make eye contact with me when I ask them questions. And I am very aware of making no physical contact with them, save a VERY gentle touch on the shoulder to address them from behind. Of course this is commonplace public civility, but the comfort I felt with them before testosterone is gone. Meanwhile, in my brain, I’m the same person. It’s difficult terrain to navigate.
So where does this leave me? The middle, I guess. And I’m starting to realize there’s goodness and a power to be found in the middle. So many people strive to conform to the traditional “masculine” male and “feminine” female figures that we have a hard time communicating between the two. Do I want the camaraderie and kinship to be had in the locker room? Yes. Do I have to accept the misogyny along with it? Yes, yes I do because historically, men have been misogynistic. That’s the facts. That is the current situation. But it doesn’t have to be the future. Trans men can make the mistake of noting the perks of being male and accepting them wholeheartedly, hook, line, and sexist sinker. On some days I hear more sexist things come out of trans guys mouths than cis- guys. We’re trying to play the role, trying to prove our masculinity. If we want to retain all the good qualities of ourselves we nurtured in our female bodies, and still be seen as men, if we want to be feminists who aren’t scoffed at, we have to write a new male history, and that starts with being true to ourselves. Being a man means being honest and using your brain. When we mimic men without thinking, we’re just being dicks.
Thanks for having me over, Sophia. And thank you, readers, for making it this far.
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli
Sophia’s note: Eli asked me to come up with a title for this post. I wanted to come up with something witty but that’s not really my strong suit. Thank you so much to Eli for taking me up on my offer to guest post (which, by the way, still stands for everyone interested 😉 ) His blog, again, can be found here.