Tag Archives: stereotypes

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 Feminine Threat

When people critique femininity, they proclaim that femininity is weak, unnatural, and artificial. Many of the traits that people associate with femininity are seen as inferior, such as emotional, sensitive, grace, innocence, feminine styles of dress (such as colorful attire), especially when compared to their masculine counterparts. However, I find this kind of absurd when compared to how fragile masculinity actually is. It is threatened and questioned, potentially even destroyed, by being near femininity. Even associations with femininity cause chaos in the stability of masculinity.

Masculinity, especially the masculinity of cisgender straight men, is constantly under threat from femininity. Masculinity is something so fragile, that they fear to breathe the same air as someone who is feminine, especially someone they perceive as male (whether this is correct or not). For something seen as so weak and so inferior, masculinity is certainly on shaky ground. This ground becomes increasingly shakier the more masculine a person becomes. It becomes increasingly fragile the closer someone gets to hypermasculinity or idealized masculinity. It becomes threatened by something as small as painted nails.

In an attempt to stop biting my nails, I wore fake nails with sparkling purple nail polish on them. People stared at my hands. They refused to touch me. They acted as if touching me would somehow have them catch The Gay. People would take bags from me at work, avoiding at all cost touching me. The overwhelming majority were men. They were threatened by my blatant display of femininity, seen as more over the line than my long hair. It’s absurd that we see femininity as weak when masculinity is defeated and threatened so easily. How can femininity be seen as weak when masculinity is threatened by a dude with painted fingernails? A small dude, nonetheless, with painted fingernails who is 100lbs soaking wet. Yet we see masculinity as strength?

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When (MTV’s) ‘Faking It’ Becomes Reality

MTV has just launched a pilot of a new TV show called ‘Faking It’. Here is the synopsis from MTV’s own website:

‘Faking It’ is a new romantic comedy about two best friends who love each other — in slightly different ways. After numerous failed attempts to become popular, the girls are mistakenly outed as lesbians, which launches them to instant celebrity status. Seduced by their newfound fame, Karma and Amy decide to keep up their romantic ruse.

MTV’s new TV show is about two straight high school girl’s pretending to be lesbians in order to become popular. This is a little more than just problematic. I mean, lesbians are constantly held up on pedestals by their straight peers, right? Being an out and proud queer kid in school totally makes everyone want to be your friend, right?

Let’s ignore the fact that lesbians are constantly mocked by their peers. That teachers often engage in homophobic bullying of queer students. Let’s ignore that fact that out queer women, especially those who are gender non-conforming, are more likely to be harassed and face harsh disciplinary treatment from faculty. Let’s ignore the high suicide rates of LGBT teens, which is AT MINIMUM four times higher than that of their straight counterparts.

Of course we can ignore the fact that corrective rape is a severe problem in our society that believes that most lesbians just need the ‘right man’ to show them the way? Let’s ignore the fact that there is a heavy stereotype that lesbians and bisexual women are just acting out a fantasy for the gaze of straight men. In fact, let’s just take this stereotype that actively damages queer women, leads them to be raped and sexually assaulted to ‘turn them straight’ and make it into a TV show! Sounds like a wonderful idea!

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Not A Performance: Jared Leto and the Media

(Warning: Dallas Buyers Club spoilers)

So, Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of Rayon, a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club. A cis man won an award for portraying (poorly) a trans woman in a movie. This almost writes itself like a joke, waiting for a punchline. Sadly, the punchline is all too common, trans narratives being over written by cis voices. In fact, Rayon’s character was originally written as a drag queen. The director and Leto decided to change Rayon to a trans woman….without changing any of the script. Rayon’s character is not based on any real person. She is an entirely fictionalized representation meant to bring pity from the main character, Ron, as well as drive his character development.

This is interesting, because Leto refuses to acknowledge the character he played, the fact he portrayed a woman. When confronted with his transmisogyny he spoke of “the Rayons in the world”. He did not speak of trans women. Even in his Oscar acceptance speech, he mentioned Ukraine. No where did he ever mention the type of very REAL people he was portraying in the movie. To Leto and the director, Rayon was just a character, an act. To them, there are not real women in the world like Rayon.

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Trans 101: Misconceptions

There are a ton of misconceptions, incorrect facts, half-truths, and a myriad of other problematic information about trans people floating around in the media, academics, word of mouth, and so on. In fact, these misconceptions are often perpetuated by mainstream media and academia. For example, Orange is the New Black which is touted to be extremely positive towards its portrayal of trans people with its trans woman character, Sophia, has its problems. Sophia has had bottom surgery and has been on hormones for a while, I will not spoil any of the plot, but the show ends up showing Sophia sprouting chin hairs and experiencing breast shrinkage due to issues accessing hormones in prison. Neither of these actually happen to trans women who have had some form of bottom surgery. However, the show incorrectly shows Sophia experiencing secondary sex characteristics that are typically male due to her lack of hormones. While minor, these types of misinformation plague the trans community and society at large, creating a lot of confusion and misconceptions about trans people, transition, and their lives.

I am going to dispel some of these misconceptions and misinformation throughout this piece. I have split it into three parts:  Identity/Sexuality, Surgery/Transition, and Choices/Binary/Enforcement. There will be things that fit into several or all the categories. I picked the best category I felt for each option.

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Double Standards

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism, femmephobia

There lies a double standard in feminism and society on a broad scale, not just radical feminists of the TERF variety, that holds trans* people to an entirely different set of qualifications than their cis counterparts. It’s interesting how feminism is about freedom of expression and freedom to simply be without policing. Yet at the same time, police exactly how one should be a feminist and a “real” person. Trans* people’s bodies are not seen as our own. In an age where we fight for bodily autonomy, trans* bodies are still at the mercy of others, whether it be doctors, therapists, other medical professionals, or fellow people. Trans* bodies are not allowed to exist as their own and hinge on the validation of others for their existence. We are not allowed to be in control of our own lives, bodies, and identities in the same way that cis people are.

These double standards exist is different degrees and different ways for trans* people. Trans women, trans men, and non-binary people are held to different standards, even among themselves. Feminists and those who proclaim to be all accepting (or even openly discriminatory) highlight these differences quite explicitly. For example, it is easy to see how many feminist spaces are dominated by more masculine or butch people. Even among trans* circles, genderqueer, genderfluid, trans men, masculine of center, or trans masculine people who are FAAB, dominate discourse and discussion (heck, even butch cis women). These people are often celebrated for forsaking the gender binary and transgressing it while at the same time, trans women, trans feminine people, and even feminine cis women are seen as promoting stereotypes and binary oppression. Femme people, across all gender categories, are seen as tools of the patriarchy who have succumb to media and social pressures and thus, have submitted to these forces.

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Faces of Trans*Phobia: Victoria Brownworth

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism

This piece will not be about how Brownworth exploited a minor to show her his genitals for journalism. This piece will not be about how Brownworth has been attacking trans women about calling her out on her pedophilia for profit either. This piece will focus on going into the very root of her beliefs and exposing her for the trans*phobic, transmisogynist that Brownworth is by virtue of her own writing, interviews, and views. Just like I did with the Brennan interview, I plan on doing the same with Brownworth. If you want to know more about the previously mentioned, the TransAdvocate and Sophia Banks have done very well for documenting this and her harassment. I may touch upon those in this article, but that is not my focus as two very prominent women have already covered that (and continue to).

Brownworth says she is an ally of trans women and trans* people. However, for an ally, she spends her time around people like Brennan and other TERFs. When called out on twitter, she falls back into these people for support against these ‘vicious’ trans* people. Often, she resorts to the same TERF tactic of saying anyone calling her out is harassing, stalking, and obsessed with her. She uses the same fear mongering tactics employed by those who wish to keep trans* people, usually trans women, from peeing in peace (as an example). I feel nothing better suits this and proves this point than her piece on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Fest (Michfest/ MWMF), minus all of the stuff on Twitter of course.

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Where Academia Fails: Trans Inclusion/Education

“Transgender people are usually men.” This is how my Crisis Intervention text book started it’s only paragraph on trans* people. Despite the constant use of LGBT or just gay as a general term, they denote one definition and one paragraph to trans* people and perpetuate constant myths and stereotypes. In reality, the number of binary trans* people (thus, the stereotypical MtF and FtM) are equal.  Non-binary trans* people are almost never mentioned and are often referred to as pre-op transgender (or transsexual) people because many texts uphold the idea that all trans* people medically transition.

The paragraph continues to go on referring to trans women with male pronouns and even has scare quotes. “He may then choose to identify himself as a ‘she’ in society and even on legal documents”, is a prime example of this. This plays into the idea that trans* people and their identities are fake, constructed, and for the purpose of deceiving others. The scare quotes denote the fact that this is the incorrect gender of this person. The tone of the sentence is also problematic as it holds an air of holding trans* people as freaks, mentally ill, and so on. Did I mention that this was the textbook for my crisis intervention class?

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Kanye vs Kimmel: Racism

*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.

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