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The Body I Want.

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A little while ago, a young friend of mine said on facebook that she was going to start taking testosterone. She had decided she was no longer a woman, and was going to take ‘T–  “But only until I have the body I want”, she said.

I’ve been puzzling over this since. What does being a woman have to do with having the body one wants? The gender training i received hasn’t entirely taken, eh. Like pretty much ALL the women I know, we have rejected a lot of what patriarchy trains us to do in order to be a woman. All of us. Even some of my friends, well, acquaintances, really, who say “oh, i like being that woman who takes care of her man”. Grim. But even at that, these women have also rejected some of their gender training. No one of us can manage to be the “Ideal Woman” under patriarchy. none of us.

as for the body–well, patriarchy trains us to strive for slender and kind of weak looking. the Ideal Woman (far as I can tell) has no body hair and not much muscle and big breasts.  If a woman, like my young friend, is stocky and short, she’s going to have a hard time getting that kind of body. And I don’t imagine it feels good to be skinny and without much muscle tone. And on top of that, being a lesbian, well, we used to be a different kind of woman, I think. Now, though, now we’re supposed to look like “L Word” lesbians (that’d be,  like men’s pornified fantasies of ‘girl-on-girl action’). So, ya. I don’t want that, either.

So. What’s a girl to do? become trans! then you don’t have to worry about getting a straightening iron and dieting and all that. you can just take a shot every week (or whatever, i don’t know how it works…) and then you will have the body you want. no diets, no fussing endlessly with your hair, and no worrying about how to be the “right” kind of woman/lesbian.Pass as a man. whew.

but what happens to women, then? This is an individual answer to one woman’s isolation, confusion, resistance. it’s a patriarchal answer, too-i don’t think men got together and conspired to get women to do this–either starve ourselves or poison ourselves (i do think testosterone, steroids, growth hormone, all that stuff is toxic. we don’t know the long-term effects)–but patriarchy is a strong structure, and we are trapped in it. Men benefit from the disintegration of the women’s movement, and from some women ‘jumping ship” as it were, but they don’t have to DO anything–other than the usual — you know, sexual harassment, assault, incest, all that stuff–a few guys do that, keeps us all in line.  there’s a  whole big analysis of  the ways that male violence keeps us isolated from each other, including transitioning–and i’ll maybe get to that some other time, but for now, this is just a quick thread tying men’s violence against women to our own self-loathing and fervent wish to change the bodies we have to achieve peace.

unless we organize.  We need to find ways to come back to each other, to be women together in solidarity with each other. To reject patriarchal norms–to SEE them in fact. We need a women’s liberation movement. I wanted to be a boy when i grew up- i desperately wanted to have a different body–broad shoulders, narrow hips, flat muscular chest, I wanted that.  My own body didn’t always work so well, though being a girl had little to do with that. But I also  wanted the stuff that went with being a boy–the entitlement, the open doors everywhere, the acceptance,  the benefit of the doubt that men just get.

But when i grew up, I found women, and i decided to be a lesbian, and i found feminism, a MOVEMENT–so much to do, so sparky and big and meaningful–and urgent. and then it didn’t matter so much what m body was like– though i train really hard because i can breathe better and think clearer and i feel happier–and i now have a body that won’t let me down, and looks just fine in a suit, too.

Testosterone will not give that young woman the connection to other women that saved my life. That gave my daily activities a focus and meaning. We are all trying to figure out what it is to be a woman in the world, really and truly. I don’t  know what it is, exactly, but it has something to do with our shared experiences of social expectations to become “the Ideal Woman” and the ways in which we must reject it. And it has something to do with what we make room for when we don’t fuss about our “inner self” versus our “outer self” or our body. Together we can find integrity and drive–something a needle or a treatment cannot  (or a bottle or pills, for that matter).  I think we’re supposed to now want a ‘quick fix’ for our alienation–if we change ourselves, we will be happy.

No. we won’t. because The Man is always fuckin’ moving the goal posts.

My young friend will take testosterone, and notice more muscle density and her voice will change and maybe she’ll start losing hair on her head and gaining it everywhere else–but–she can run on the treadmill of trans forever and never get away from her womanly hips.

She could perhaps join a women’s organization, or start a group,talk with other women about body image, what’s the body you have, what’s the body you want, why do you want it? who’s doing the choosing here? really really…

and do some sit-ups.  Core training for the revolution.

i’m sad for her, and for us. i hope she comes back.

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About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, under-employed, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. I play accordion better than I did, and i'm learning the concertina. Slowly.

8 responses »

  1. Great blog, you put all the feelings I have into words in a way that makes me laugh and cry a little. Keep up the great words!!!!

    Reply
  2. We are all trying to figure out what it is to be a woman in the world, really and truly. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but it has something to do with our shared experiences of social expectations to become “the Ideal Woman” and the ways in which we must reject it. . . I think we’re supposed to now want a ‘quick fix’ for our alienation–if we change ourselves, we will be happy.

    The process is always the same in every generation, though the external way to “become an ideal woman” changes. It used to be the consumer-happy-wholesome-housewife, then the educated-sexy-housewife/careerwoman, now the medically-enhanced-happy transperson. That process never works out. We need to work it out of ourselves and out of women’s communities.

    Reply
  3. yep. and we need to be together. I’m totally pissed that now we are forced to “identify” ourselves as “cis”–[i refuse THAT one] or “Women born Woman” or “female assigned at birth” good lord. i won’t. i’m a woman. Men don’t have to do all those semantic gymnastics–ffs.

    Reply
  4. I didn’t know that “cis” was pronounced “cease” or at least that was what I heard on a youtube vid by a trans. That’s what the trans movement appears to want, to “cease women,” make us stop identifying as who we are, to take away our identity. They want it all, even the ones who still have penises want to be called women. Very clearly.

    The video was about camp trans and Michfest. They threatened a woman’s livelihood because she was producing WBW t-shirts for Michfest, even though she produced plenty of trans tshirts. Even though they insist on these designations, they don’t want us to use them ourselves.

    Why do they, as a group, continue to attack and weaken women? Oh, yes, because they are raised with male entitlement, because you can’t take the male out of the trans.

    Reply
  5. Two things that helped heal my own “The Body I Want” spin cycle: Weightlifting and lesbianism. Both showed me that women have all sorts of different, natural bodies, and that each looks different when at its best. I watch women lift weights and do other high-intensity physical things, and the bodies they end up with are tremendously diverse. Two public examples are Jackie warner and Jillian Michaels: Both are in peak physical condition, but their genetics are very different — long and lanky with very little body fat vs. short and stocky with a predisposition to put on muscle.

    And now that I’ve been close to all sorts of women’s bodies — in the locker room and in bed — I see how we really look, without all the airbrushing, botox, etc. Lesbians are some of the most authentic-looking women on Earth, since we’re not sweating the male gaze.

    Reply
  6. Katie, i didn’t know that about the pronunciation of “cis”–doesn’t surprise me, though. I did know about the threats and harassment directed toward Michfest, and against any woman or group of women who wish to be together without men.

    and phonaesthetica, i’m with you on the pumpin’ iron and being a lesbian. “not sweating the male gaze” — yup.

    Reply
  7. Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

    Reply

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