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Thinking Differently 3 and also some travel stories

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I’m on the train again from St Austell to Bristol, then Bristol to Newport, then Newport to Bridgend. Where Grandpa Morgan was born in 1905. Yesterday I had lunch with my cousins Dave and Gill Stuart, and their daughter Jenny (my second cousin. I’m getting better at this, I think). Dave is my grandpa’s nephew. In 1907, Grandpa’s mother, Mary (Williams) Morgan, died. He was two, his sister Gwladys was 4, I think. Their dad, John, remarried – a woman named Edith (perhaps the woman after whom my mom is named, but more likely the aunt Edith who raised him). This marriage wasn’t very happy, according to the sketchy family stories. Edith had two sons with John, and a girl, I think, too. Yes. Her name was .

Nancy. I forget the names of the two sons. One of them was Evelyn, I think.

In 1914, when young Dave was 9, Gwladys was 11, their father died. Maybe he was 40. I don’t know what happened to Edith. But I don’t think she wanted them anyway. Gwladys went to Uncle Phillip in London, and Dave went to Tom and Edith Williams in South Wales – Cowbridge? Maybe. That’s where my cousin Alun lives, Cowbridge. [Update–Brynna, they were in Brynna– Katie, David, Tudor and Tom were the cousins]. Alun’s Tom jr.’s son, so my grandfather’s second cousin? I think—I need a chart. Kind of more like a nephew than a cousin is Alun, given that Grandpa grew up with his father. Anyway, so they were separated, Dave and Gwladys. My auntie in Ontario is named after Grandpa’s sister, my Uncle Tom after Grandpa’s uncle, or cousin maybe (it gets a bit confusing). My mom is probably named after Alun’s grandmother Edith, NOT John Morgan’s second wife.

Grandpa had a hard life, and it made him into a hard man. Good, but hard. He was tall, handsome, athletic, resourceful, honest, loyal and had a sense of humour – clearly, someone loved him. But he was stubborn, rigid, had a mean streak, and could hold a grudge. I think he didn’t really approve of Dad. My poor drifty messy dad. I am so like him. Dad, not grandpa. Grandpa’s tool bench was meticulously organized, and he knew how to use everything there. Dad’s was – well – he had some tools, I think, but he didn’t really know how to use them. And everywhere he went, he left a little trail of clutter. Me too!

Dear me. Look at that! We’re passing through these valleys, green hillsides bounded by hedges dotted with sheep in one, cows in another, guarded by gorse and thistle—here’s a field of corn, and a stone bridge we’ve passed under. No wonder Grandpa yearned for this place. He left in 1926, and didn’t return until 1969. His life here, from when he was 13 until he left, was centered not in the valley farms, not on the land, but beneath it in the mines. When he left, he made his way to the Canadian Prairies, a place with few hills, and he came before the shelter belts were planted, before the Great Depression – which means there were no trees when he came, either. Grassland and sky. Mostly sky. He left this lush, wet, green land for long horizons, dry relentless wind, and brilliant hard sun.

Stephanie Davies-Arai was the next speaker – I should have powered through and written this update the day after, because it’s all a bit fuzzy now. Stephanie focused her talk on what’s going on with children. You might know that the referrals of “transgender” children to the Tavistock Clinic in the UK has risen by over 900% in the last few years.

“If anyone had said, five or even two years ago, that in order to become their ‘authentic self’ children would have to take puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and prepare to undergo surgery – they would have been thought mad,” she said. Now, this is the kind of thing that ‘gender specialists’ are promoting. I have to say, once again, that this is so like the promotion of prostitution. It’s not only that liberals are describing prostitution as a form of labour, they are now erasing the harms that the pimps and purchasers wreak upon the women who are prostituted. Everywhere, women are expected and coerced into subjugating to the entitlement of men to women’s bodies, women’s spaces. If we resist, we are bigots. We are threatened with our livelihoods, our homes, our lives.

Now it’s Saturday, the 23rd. I’m waiting for my cousin Alun to pick me up. We’re going to see my grandpa’s childhood home, and the graves of his parents. Then the Welsh national museum.

Here’s a story of coercion: On Wednesday, when I was in the youth hostel, Christiane from Germany asked Lydia from China, “your skin is flawless, how do you do it?” they are both young women. Lydia is tiny and dynamic, Christiane is tall and broad. Lydia didn’t understand the question, and Christiane said again how beautiful Lydia was, how perfect her skin. I said, “you’re both young, you haven’t had time to dry properly yet” and “you’ll find different beauty in a couple of decades”.

Christiane told us a story (it was late at night) of her evening. She went to a pub with some other young people. A man invited her to go for a walk with him to the beach. “I didn’t go, I came here. I was going to, but then I thought, ‘wait a minute, no light, a strange man, an empty beach – no thanks. We went to another pub and then I just left after a pint.”

She expressed admiration to another woman for her conventional beauty, joking that she herself was too big and heavy to be attractive (she is nearly 6 feet tall). Both of them talked about their boyfriends, and the way their boyfriends touch them – Lydia’s picks her up, he’s as tall as Christiane. Christiane’s makes a big production, grunting as he plays at picking her up. Christiane says, “that’s not very flattering”, and they laugh. Then she tells this story about an encounter with a friendly man in a pub. A friendly man who is a stranger. “you can’t be too careful” she said.

I found it really interesting, in a really-really-angry-almost-despairing kind of way. She was at the same time admiring the beauty of another woman, and talking about the need for vigilance against the men for whom women work so in order to achieve this ‘flawless skin’. We learn very early that we should want to be attractive to men, and we should work at it. We also learn that men are a danger to us, and that we can’t ‘lead them on’ or reveal our distrust—“If I told him the real reason I didn’t want to go for a walk, he wouldn’t understand” said Christiane.

More likely, he would, but instead of getting angry with other men, or about sexist,  he would get angry with her for telling the truth—and he would be defensive and unpleasant at best.  None of us pointed out the obvious dissonance of that moment. It’s always our fault

July 24, 2016 – oh dear. It’s a week after the conference now, and I haven’t got half way through. And we went to St Fagan’s yesterday! And I want to tell you about Welsh Faggots! Not “Poofters”, mind, faggots. The first night in Bridgend, my cousin Alun, and his wife, Sian (who, turns out, has the same birthday as me, November 22) took me to dinner to a little pub in Bridgend. Alun ordered the mixed grill, which was about seven different kinds of meat, a grilled tomato and some chips (French fries). Alun is a tiny man, about my height, (which is really 6’2”, but people keep “mis-heighting” me at 5”3”), and probably I outweigh him by a stone (which is UK for about eleven pounds, or about 5 kg) at least. He has the metabolism of a hummingbird.

I ordered the Handmade Welsh Faggots. Only because I wanted to say, “I’ll have the faggots, please” with a straight face (well, of course, with a lesbian face—which is quite stern). The waiter looked at me a little bit quizzically, as if to check to see if I was serious. I grinned in a friendly way.

They were delicious.

Stephanie Davies-Arai said that Bernadette Wren of the Tavistock clinic notes that little boys outnumber little girls, but teenage girls outnumber teen boys coming to gender identity clinics. “We are absolutely training our boys and girls into boxes that do not overlap” Stephanie said. She showed us side-by-side photos of children surrounded by their belongings, a project of a Korean artist, I think — boys the world over were awash in shades of blue, girls in pink. it was stunning.

While girls presenting at gender identity clinics indicate the presence of other disorders and problems (depression, anxiety, autism, bullying, eating disorders, self-harming behaviors, past trauma, sexual abuse—to mention a few), there is no research into causes of the huge rise of girls presenting as transgendered. And therapists are NOT looking at underlying problems, or possible sources of this alarming increase in dysphoria.

Of course, I think it’s easy – we are ALL “dysphoric” – we live in a dystopia! Really, if you’re gender-conforming, you’re not well. Not well at all.

In Vancouver, the School Board and the Parks Board have lost their ever-loving minds. It is now policy that anyone can go into any bathroom they please. Children in schools can take the name they want, and “identify” how they like, and the school is under no obligation to let parents know. I have absolutely no doubt that had my parents and teachers been as encouraging of my magical thinking as parents and teachers are expected to be now, I would be a ‘transman’. Also, married to my father, and probably dead – because I wanted to be a cowboy, and I’m very allergic to horses and hay. That’s an aside.

Next up, Julia Long, who first read a statement from a woman who is part of a disability rights organization. The statement referred in part to the trans ideology that those who believe themselves the opposite sex are “born in the wrong body”. Which is completely inaccurate and deeply insulting to people who are born with a disability or disabling condition.

Right. The first thing Julia said was “transgenderism is a form of male violence”. I’d never heard that before, but when she said it, a light went on. I have often joked that of course men know exactly what men want in a woman, we can just retire to some tropical island and let them do ‘woman’. But that is not what they’re after. They will still require us to do the messy emotional and care-giving work, while they wear the corsets and heels and ‘perform woman’ with all their entitlement fully intact.

Julia went on to describe how, basing her analysis on J. Galtung’s (1990) description of ‘cultural violence’, and Marilyn Frye’s (1983) description of ‘oppression’.

Galtung: Cultural violence is […] events, actions, threats, etc. which have a deleterious and injurious effect on an individual’s or group’s basic needs being met (survival/well-being/social/identity/meaning/freedom).

This violence is Direct, Structural, and Cultural.

She images and accounts drew from news media and blogs that described how the transgender lobby enacts these forms of violence against women, and reinforce the bars of the cage of patriarchy which incarcerates women in oppression (Frye, 1983). She drew a clear picture of the increasing pressure on women, and especially lesbians, to disappear. We are in danger of erasure by the trans lobby, this is clear.

of course, we’re not going away, though.

Lookit, I’m going to see if I can find Coity Castle today, and it’ll take me at least an hour to get there, and it closes at 6, so I’d best get after it. I apologize for the meandering and tangential mess of these posts – I want to tell you too about seeing Grandpa Morgan’s childhood home (that guy was gender-conforming, by the way – except for his immense talent for growing gorgeous flowers. I see why he got that faraway look whenever he talked about Wales). Oh! And St. Fagan’s! and sheep and cows in fields and roads so narrow that the trees at the side scrape against the car as you drive by, and how people greet you in the shops and on the streets and –

So this is it for now, I’ll post again in a day or two.

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, working in a field for which I am not yet trained, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. Radical feminism will be the roots of our shared liberation. Rejection of sex-stereotypes (gender) and male domination will give us wings.

2 responses »

  1. Here is the photographer who took those pictures of kids with their toys.


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