Men as Prey: Under The Skin’s Connection to Gay Victimization

CW:  So, just as a heads-up, this analysis is going to talk about sexual assault, rape, and murder involving hetero and homosexual individuals.

It is extremely hard to deny the feminist underpinnings that are at the heart of the film adaptation of Under the Skin. Scarlett Johansson’s otherworldly predator of a protagonist takes on the body of a woman in order to lure and then harvest the young men of Scotland, secure in their belief that nothing terrible could happen to them. As the movie progresses, though, she starts to take on a slow understanding and identification with that new form, to the point where she begins to be objectified and victimized herself. This character is ripe for analysis, but I feel that from a bisexual perspective, something begins to show itself by analyzing the film’s alien together with the men she chooses to lure to their deaths. The upheaval of the narrative of the woman victim and the male sexual predator, the flipping of this all-too-familiar story, is a compelling hook to hang the narrative on. It is also reminiscent of something that is also all-too-familiar to the queer male community and has hung over it like a dark cloud. Under The Skin can be interpreted as a look into how the gay community has to deal with opening itself to a dangerous world of predatory and sometimes fatal behavior when dating.

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SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience

This piece will talk about story spoilers and various other game spoilers for SOMA. I suggest playing the game yourself or watching an LP of the game before reading this piece. You can also look over the SOMA wikia to inform yourself of the story and key events. Without this game/story knowledge, this piece may be confusing.

—SOMA SPOILERS BELOW—

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On Manning Up: What Makes A Man

What makes a man? Who is defined as a man? Often those who are assumed to be men are masculine. What does masculinity entail? Brave, bold, courageous, aggressive, dominating. Masculinity is powerful. It’s at the helm. Femininity is rooted in the opposite. Soft, dainty, delicate, passive, submissive. Femininity is seen as inferior. It is seen as weak, especially in comparison to masculinity. So who is told to Man Up? Those who are seen as inferior. Those who are weak. Those who are delicate.

Thus terms like Manning Up are rooted in removing the feminine. They are rooted in these sexist ideas that femininity and thus, being a woman (as the two are connected in our society) are seen as inferior. We cannot be men if we do not ‘man up’ or, in the real meaning, become more masculine. These terms are directed at men or those perceived as men (regardless of actual gender) who are often seen as feminine and thus, seen as lesser to those who are not. It is a way of eradicating gender variance, and thus, eradicating femininity among men because it is seen as weak. The ideas of Manning Up are rooted in gender policing, femmephobia, sexism, transmisogyny, and anything remotely anti-woman. Manning Up means removing anything remotely woman-like. I often see trans men, in particular, trying to reclaim this phrase and other similar phrases as a turn of phrase, a reclamation of their identities, but at what cost?

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The Assumed Male Default: Misogynist

None of my coworkers or customers know I spent the first 20 years of my life being assumed to be a woman. They have no need to. It’s never come up and unless it is relevant, it is strictly irrelevant information. So, when it comes to how they treat me, I am treated just like every other guy, which has led to some insight when it comes to men interacting with one another.

Customers and coworkers alike have stated blatantly misogynistic things to me and expected me to agree. They automatically assume that I am misogynistic. This has come from anyone from teenagers to the elderly, both in words and actions. For example, I recently had a customer come in and begin complaining about a female employee from another store. He expected me to agree. He attempted to get me to agree. I was silent. I shrugged and listened. Then he left. I was baffled.

I had a coworker show me photos of a woman who had apparently slept with five guys (who were Black, cause apparently that just adds to the shock) and quoted Chris Brown “these hoes ain’t loyal”, I flat out told him maybe if he stopped beating women and calling them hoes, they’d be more inclined to stay. He seemed taken aback. I didn’t agree with his racist and misogynistic comments? What?

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What ARE You?: Confusion in a Confusing World

“What are you?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I am a trans man…..sort of. I do not entirely identify with man and trans is more of a description for me than man ever has been. I am non-binary, but that is just as vague as saying I have some sort of gender, but I’m not quite sure what it is, no matter how true that is. I am not confused as to who I am, I know that part quite well, but what I am is quite a bit trickier.

Imagine someone handing you a color swatch. They are painting their house and need to figure out how to describe the type of color. They want your help. You look at the swatch. The swatch is purple…kind of. It’s not exactly purple but, that is the closest word you know to describe it. It is clearly not green, orange, or red. However, purple is not quite the correct term. Purple-ish? Not exactly quite right either. You know what the color is not, but you can only describe certain qualities of the color, not the color itself.

Thus, for me, man is the closest I can get to my identity in the current word pool I am allowed and know. However, it is not entirely correct, thus I use non-binary, however, even then, it is imperfect.

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Straight Men: Ya’ll Are GAY

It’s time to give up the act. We all know, it’s pretty obvious, straight guys. We know you are secretly hounding for the D, you talk about it all the time. I’ve seen the way you slap your best bro’s ass while loudly proclaiming “no homo!”. Give it up, we know what you mean and it SCREAMS “yes homo”. Hell, even science isn’t on your side (TW: transmisogny). You look for penises as much as you look for vaginas in porn. In fact, you don’t just love dicks, you love BIG dicks. You can’t get enough of men with huge cocks. Straight men, you are the gayest people to walk this earth.

I have never met another group of men that hounds other guys about their dicks as much as straight men do. They are always talking about dick. Seriously. They brag about their own, ask other dudes about theirs, and its one of the most common things straight men look at in porn. I have never heard gay men talk about penises in the way straight men do. It’s like it is part of bro code to talk about the dick as much as possible. They even draw penises on everything. If you’ve ever stepped foot into a men’s locker room or bathroom, you’ve seen at least 5 crudely scribbled penises on the walls, lockers, anything they can profess their love of cock on.

Who names their online accounts, passwords, and so one after penises? Straight men. SirLongSchlong? Most likely straight. Bigcoc69? Straight. Straight men spend most of their time thinking about dick. It’s their favorite past time. They compare their dicks to one another, actively engaging in staring contests at another man’s penis in order to see who is the best. It rules their world. They love giant cocks. They thrive for them!

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Detransition And Trans Regret

There is something that is talked about very little in the trans* community, or when it is talked about, is only talked about in a negative fashion. Detransitioning, where a trans* person decides to no longer transition and/or live as a gender other than the one they were coercively assigned at birth, is something that is often only brought up in a negative light. People who have detransitioned are often used as evidence that trans* people should not transition. There are people who have detransitioned who are also very vocal advocates for not allowing people to transition due to their personal experiences. There are people who also detransition who are not vocal opponents of those who are transitioning or seeking to transition. These people live the rest of their lives as happy cis folk. They realize their experiences are their own.

There is nothing inherently wrong with detransitioning. We are afforded (or should be afforded) bodily autonomy to do with our bodies as we please. People detransition for numerous reasons, some simply because of no longer identifying in that way, others due to the stigmas associated with being trans*, and others for more complex and varied reasons. There is no wrong reason to detransition. If we are to be afforded bodily autonomy to transition, we must acknowledge the same respect for others. While we may not agree on the reasons, we must allow people to do with their bodies as they wish for their happiness.

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Buck Angel And Transgasm: The Issues

I was going to keep quiet on this for a bit, let this issue sort itself out. However, after personally dealing with and now seeing legal threats, I can’t keep my yap shut. Buck Angel’s racist, classist, transmisogynistic and sexist history is out in the open already. It is not any news to many people that Buck Angel blames trans women for their own murders via not disclosing. He used to believe that trans men should just ‘man up’ when it comes to affording surgery. He looked down upon people who asked others to help them with their surgery funds.

However, Buck seems to have changed his tune on that one. In fact, him and Jody Rose, started Transgasm which despite the name, was not about porn, sex or orgasms. Transgasm was about crowd sourcing to raise money for trans* people and their surgeries. It looks at taking the works of trans* people, selling them in the Transgasm store and dividing the profits. 50% of the profits would go to the creator of the product, 25% would go to the group pool for the surgeries, and 25% would go to keeping Transgasm around.

In reality, it seems like a pretty ok idea. The limit was 7 people with no time frame. Now, depending on the make-up of the group, and estimates the lowest range would be 7 CAFAB people sourcing for top surgery. Estimates for the surgery alone are around $6,000, meaning that $42,000 would be needed to be raised. However, in essence even MORE would have to be raised, since minimum, only 25% of profits is going towards the surgeries. The idea behind this is that these people would market their own products or services in order to fund their surgeries.  This article on the Advocate, written by Parker Marie Molloy explains the breakdown of the site, its intentions and one of the biggest issues.

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My Body Is My Own

My body is my own. My body is no one else’s. My body is my own to do with as I please. What I do with my body, consensually, does not harm anyone else. My body is to do with as I please. I say this as a trans* person. I say this as someone who has to have doctors upon doctors tell me how I can use my body to make it more of my own. I say this as a person with body mods, which society dictates makes me a rebel and an outcast. I say this as someone who in the future wishes to cover HIS body with ink and art, which society tells me, makes me stupid.

My body is my own. I have every right to do with my body as I please. To say anything else is oppressive violence. Seems like a strong word, but it is truth. Dictating how a person uses their body and controls their body is the very way oppressors take away power. They dictate what people can and cannot do with their body. They take away their right to own themselves, since they cannot make up their own choices about their own flesh and blood. This is oppression, this is violence. They make laws against our bodies. They institutionalize their control over our bodies. They invade our very bodies as much as they can, forcefully and violently.

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Experience Versus Being

Trigger Warning:: Transmisogyny, violence, trans*phobia, homophobia, assault

Privilege is something that is granted and gained. Privilege is something that is given, and taken away, by other people and society. People do not just roll over and decide to be privileged one day. If it was that easy, there are a lot of people in the world who would love to hit that privilege switch. Privilege is something that is handed to people society deems worthy, mostly white, cis, straight men who aren’t poor. Just as privilege can be given, it can be taken away, almost in the blink of an eye. A trans* person who is perceived as cis has passing privilege that can be easily removed the moment they are known to be trans*. A queer person who is perceived as straight can lose their ‘straight passing’ privilege the moment their identity and status as a queer person is known. Take it account how many people do not know of their privileges until the moment it is taken away.

One of the better examples is when a person of privilege is a victim of a hate crime for being perceived as a queer person. A trans man who is perceived as a woman by his attacker and is assaulted as such in a misogynistic attack; a straight man that is perceived to be gay and thus is the victim of gay bashing or a verbal assault. People can experience the violence of being perceived as queer without actually being queer due to the perception of another. Denying this experience strips the victim of their assault, whether verbal, physical, sexual or a combination of such. Take the first example. This man has become a victim of misogyny due to his attacker perceiving him as being a woman. While the attack may be tinged with cissexism, trans*phobia, and maybe even homophobia, the attacker still carried out the attack as one meant to be rooted in misogyny. It is almost as if the other causes are accidental. Denying this denies the impact that such violence has not only on queer people, but on the majority as well.

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A Review of Transmisogyny Embodied: Cathy Brennan

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, rape, assault, violence, harassment

On Sunday, October 27th, Cathy Brennan was a guest star on Roseanne Barr and Kathleen Wells’ talk show. This was of course in regards to Brennan’s stance on trans* rights, especially trans women. I decided to take a listen and see what this show was going to be all about, a “know thy enemy” type of deal. I do want to mention that this is my own personal review, feelings, and analysis of the show. I will try to go in chronological order of events as they happen in the show, with commentary woven throughout. I will mention some things out of order as they may tie into the current discussion. This is because Brennan’s thinking is very circular and repetitive due to her simplistic understanding of gender and trans* people.

The show is opened with Barr saying she was away for a meeting with a friend. This meeting was for a conspiracy theory involving the US government using mind control on its citizens as well as enslaving people as spies. Good way to open a show with a guest star who is obsessed with the conspiracy that trans women are forcing lesbians to have sex with them, among other ridiculous claims, but more on that later. I’ll be honest, I did not pay attention much to this section as it was of no interest to the reason I was listening to the show.

After they introduce Brennan, they talk about her history involving her activism with LGBT rights. She includes trans* people in this because at the time the “trans* community was very small” (this was early 2000s) and they were not pushing much for rights. She goes on about how she was active in even passing legislation for trans* non-discrimination policies. This was because she believes that gender and gender stereotypes are damaging and inherently oppressive. Brennan wants for the abolition of gender in its entirety since it is a system of oppression, specifically aimed at women (mainly cis women). Brennan mentions how damaging stereotypes are, yet is a person who holds trans women to gender and sexual stereotypes. Brennan believes that trans women uphold gender stereotypes by simply existing since according to her, all trans women embody female stereotypes and are hyper feminine beings.

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Where Do We Belong?: Gender and Privilege

Privilege is always a sticky discussion. It is something almost everyone experiences in varying degrees in some aspect of their lives whether it is gender, sexuality, race, social status, etc. Privilege and the lack of privilege is something that is extremely important in the discussions about intersectionality and oppression in feminism. However, as someone who presents and IDs as male, I’m left in a weird gray area.

As a trans man, where do I stand in feminism? I’ve experienced misogyny and sexism in the past, especially since I worked in a video game store for most of my working adult life. For 20 years of my life, I presented as female even if my gender identity did not match this, this is how I was perceived by the world. Working in a male dominated area, I experienced sexism and misogyny. I have a history with these things, a very personal history. Transitioning does not erase my history, as my history is part of me. I do not deny being trans* and fully embrace it as part of my identity. I should not be excluded from feminist spaces (not women’s spaces, as a man, I do not belong there). I also must sidestep and let women speak before me. I must acknowledge, accept, and understand how my new privileges affect me in my life. I am seen as a man (most of the time). However, this does not erase my history with sexism and misogyny.

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