What Makes A Woman? by Elinor Burkett
I am old enough to remember seeing photos of Bruce Jenner when he was still Bruce Jenner on Wheaties cereal boxes in grocery store aisles back in the day.
And I agree with this editorial below. I tweeted it once over a year ago, and some rude, hideous trans supporter got nasty with me on Twitter in response to my Tweet of this.
[Author discusses the transition of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn]
…I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes.
Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.
That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.
People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.
Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails.
They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before.
They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.
For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.
…“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girl’s brain’ or ‘that’s a boy’s brain,’ ” Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Britain’s Aston University,told The Telegraph last year. The differences between male and female brains are caused by the “drip, drip, drip” of the gendered environment, she said.
THE drip, drip, drip of Ms. Jenner’s experience included a hefty dose of male privilege few women could possibly imagine.
While young “Bruiser,” as Bruce Jenner was called as a child, was being cheered on toward a university athletic scholarship, few female athletes could dare hope for such largess since universities offered little funding for women’s sports.
When Mr. Jenner looked for a job to support himself during his training for the 1976 Olympics, he didn’t have to turn to the meager “Help Wanted – Female” ads in the newspapers, and he could get by on the $9,000 he earned annually, unlike young women whose median pay was little more than half that of men.
Tall and strong, he never had to figure out how to walk streets safely at night.
Those are realities that shape women’s brains.
By defining womanhood the way he did to Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Jenner and the many advocates for transgender rights who take a similar tack ignore those realities.
In the process, they undermine almost a century of hard-fought arguments that the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us. And they undercut our efforts to change the circumstances we grew up with.
…But as the movement becomes mainstream, it’s growing harder to avoid asking pointed questions about the frequent attacks by some trans leaders on women’s right to define ourselves, our discourse and our bodies.
After all, the trans movement isn’t simply echoing African-Americans, Chicanos, gays or women by demanding an end to the violence and discrimination, and to be treated with a full measure of respect. It’s demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves.
…The landscape that’s being mapped and the language that comes with it are impossible to understand and just as hard to navigate. The most theory-bound of the trans activists say that there are no paradoxes here, and that anyone who believes there are is clinging to a binary view of gender that’s hopelessly antiquated.
Yet Ms. Jenner and Ms. Manning, to mention just two, expect to be called women even as the abortion providers are being told that using that term is discriminatory. So are those who have transitioned from men the only “legitimate” women left?
….Women like me are not lost in false paradoxes; we were smashing binary views of male and female well before most Americans had ever heard the word “transgender” or used the word “binary” as an adjective.
Because we did, and continue to do so, thousands of women once confined to jobs as secretaries, beauticians or flight attendants now work as welders, mechanics and pilots.
It’s why our daughters play with trains and trucks as well as dolls, and why most of us feel free to wear skirts and heels on Tuesday and bluejeans on Friday.
Read the rest (Link): here.