Feminism is defined as advancing the rights of women so that they are equal on all platforms to that of men. More modern definitions focus on the equality for all genders in regards to rights, social status, politics, bodily autonomy, and beyond. No matter the definition of feminism you believe in, there is always something they share: Equality. All definitions of feminism focus on equality for all people so that they are no longer marginalized or oppressed based on their gender or perceived gender. However, there seems to be a strain of feminism that excludes women from their take on the movement, despite the bonding idea of equality.
*This piece was co-authored by Olivia Quin.
After Kanye West publicly called out Jimmy Kimmel for his skit on his show, twitter and the internet exploded. The skit is trying to spoof an interview that Kanye recently gave with the BBC. It was a rare in-depth and personal interview in which he bared his dreams and insecurities for the first time in a long time. His newest album, the critically acclaimed ‘YEEZUS’, deals with issues of racism and the lack of acceptance of black people in culture, even after they have made it far in society. In both the interview and the album, Kanye brings up how he is never taken seriously in his life, by the media and as an artist and a creative person because he is a man of color. An extremely passionate speaker, Kanye repeatedly brings up how his passion for his art and life has been mocked by others and the media, exactly what the Kimmel skit did.
Instantly people began to take sides, people saying Kanye couldn’t take criticism and that Kanye was basically overreacting. Several articles have appeared on the internet, discussing the issue, however most of them just scratch the surface. Most of them focus on the disrespect Kimmel threw at Kanye and how Kimmel’s skit focused on ignorance and highlighted Kimmel’s ignorance of pop culture. None of these articles, from what I have seen, highlight the deep racism behind the Kimmel skit.
The sex binary is a form of hierarchy and oppression. Sex, in of itself, are categories made by other people to impose ideas of gender onto a person based on something as simple as their genitals. Penises and vaginas are not inherently gendered. They exist in a state of objectness until the person they are attached to determine what their gender is. Penises are not inherently male and vaginas are not inherently female. This goes against the basic biology 101 that many people are taught, but bear with me.
Sex is much more complicated than just penises and vaginas. Sex is a combination of primary sex characteristics (penises and vaginas), chromosomes, hormones, secondary sex characteristics (breasts, body hair, etc), and several other categories. Basically, sex is not something as simple as penis = male and vagina = female. While this is generally true, this is not always the case.
There are XY cis women who exist, XX cis men, cis men who have vaginas (due to childhood mutilation), and various other forms of intersex people. These people bring light to the outdated idea that sex is based on genitals, just as trans* people do. Trans* people challenge the very notion of the sex binary.
This first appeared in Permanent Wave Philly‘s zine entitled Tiny Acts of Rebellion. Currently the full zine is not available for download, but when it is, I will link it.
Every day I wake up is a small act of rebellion. Every day I walk out the door is a small act of rebellion. Everything I say is a small act of rebellion. My mere existence is a rebellion. For years, and even now, people have told me to shut up. People have told me to kill myself. People have told me that I should disappear. People have told me I don’t exist. Despite these things people has told me many times over, I am still around. I am still alive and louder than ever.
This is not something unique to me either. Every queer person alive is an act of rebellion. Our mere will to live is a rebellion against a society that tells us we are not worthy. It is a rebellion against the cissexist and homophobic world we live in. Queer people rebel with every breath they take. Merely being alive and refusing to let society snuff us out is an act of rebellion. In the words of Kanye West, “jokes on you, we still alive”.
Those queer people who do not live their lives as out and proud people are still rebelling. Those trans* people who live in stealth are still alive. Queer people are anywhere from four times to eight times more likely to have tried to commit suicide. Almost half of trans* people have tried. Those of us who are still here, breathing in the same air as our oppressors, are acts of rebellion. We go against the very grain of what society expects of us. By refusing to fit into the perfect square cages, we are rebelling and we are winning.
In a way, these acts, one totaled, are not so tiny. These acts of rebellion are huge. An ocean of it, releasing wave upon wave of change, no matter how small. Rebellion does not have to be loud. It does not have to be angry, nor does it have to be passive. Rebellion has to demand change. Rebellion has to demand its rightful place. By living, we are demanding change and asserting our rightful place. As queer people, we are showing ourselves to the world. We are bearing out hearts in our existence and our lives. Every step we take is in the right direction, there is no backwards in life, just forward. Onward.
“Your silence will not protect you.” -Audre Lorde
This is a button I hold very dear to my heart. This button is sandwiched between two others of equal importance. Above it, “You can’t expect change if you hide who you are” and below it a button simply stating “Tell Your Story”. These buttons are together for a reason, a very important reason. Silence enables. Silence oppresses. Silence kills.
I’ve written about the need for trans* narratives due to how diverse the trans* community is. I’ve written about how schools are unsafe for queer students, and I’ve written about how the media portrays trans* people inaccurately. However, there is a trend among all these things that I have not yet written about, and that is silence.
Please note this is an ever changing article. This means I will continue to update it as more problems/information arises. Please leave a comment with feedback or use my contact the author page!
The news media has a huge problem when it comes to reporting on trans* people. This problem spans across a wide variety of arenas, it is not localized to one specific issue that can be addressed simply. The news media needs an overhaul, a make-over if you will, on how it reports trans* people. While I understand there are articles and guides out there that cover how to do this, I’ve noticed very few explain exactly why in some form of depth. I want this to be a basic guideline, a stepping stone of dos and don’ts, organized by the trans* community and their voices. A guide from and by trans* people about trans* people. There are no better teachers than ourselves.
Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism
On September 2, the hashtag #CognitiveCissonance made its way around twitter, mostly from trans* people. Started by @AmyDentata, the obvious word play on cognitive dissonance was made to point out the hypocritical and double-standard that many cis people have towards the identities, presentations, and lives of trans* people. For example, the idea that trans women must present en femme to really be women and that trans men must be masculine to truly be male. Cognitive cissonance was a witty way to expose every day trans*phobia and cissexism.
Cognitive Cissonance became a trend through accident. Being a writer, who enjoys bringing comedy into what she writes, the original tweet was based in snark and wordplay (obviously). What started as an off-the-cuff joke turned into a massive twitter following in the trans* twitter world. Something about the simplicity and catchiness of #cognitivecissonance caught on like a wildfire. People began basing their own tweets off of Amy’s original tweet. “I guess maybe the phrase just happened to describe that phenomenon succinctly enough to drive the point home”, she mentioned when asked why she felt the hashtag became so popular, “I think trans people, myself included obviously, are sick of the double-standards, hypocrisy, and two-faced behaviors that result from cissexism and all the beliefs that go with it.”