Winter sexistland

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Bodies, Damned binaries, Gender, Personal, Sexism
Tags: ,

Ah, casual sexism. Where would we be without it? Girls can’t throw. Boys can’t write. Women can’t drive. Men can’t multitask. The tropes are symptomatic of an utterly unnecessary chasm being created between each half of a false binary, and as they reveal it, they widen it. People don’t even seem abashed about it; it seems that it’s perfectly acceptable to walk up to someone in the street and make a sexist remark based on their assumed gender, and reasonable to expect people to laugh.

And butting in on other people’s conversations. When someone talks loudly, of course they want you to join in! Even if you’re a total stranger! And a douchebag!

And misgendering. Y’know, every time I leave my house, I can’t wait for the first big shithead to come up to me and make an incorrect assumption about my gender. It just makes my day. (withered from the sarcasm yet). Especially when it’s done to provide groundwork for a display of privileged arrogance and sexism.

And nonconsensual bodily contact. Yeah, sure, I just love being grabbed round the hips by some entitled, misogynistic asshole.

I am, on the whole, very lucky. I get read as male a lot and therefore get accorded male privilege. However, as someone for whom it’s always a toss-up how others are going to read zan, I also sometimes get incidents like that one. It’s a long time since someone last touched me in a way I felt threatened by. This guy came up behind me and another person as I was saying, ‘I can’t hit the post with a snowball, I should stop trying,’ and said, ‘excuse me,’ put both hands on my hips as he was going past, and then said, ‘girls can’t throw.’ I was slightly too nonplussed to do anything, plus the nausea from the bug I’ve had was rising again.

Times like this when I really don’t envy my female friends. They talk about this kind of thing happening fairly often.

And what’s it a symptom of? A kyriarchal culture wherein the binary is rigidly enforced and masculinity is seen as superior to femininity. If it was recognised that the binary was a broken system, there could be no division. There is more variation within the binary sexes than between them; we’re really not very biologically dimorphic, and that doesn’t even take into account intersex people. The idea of the binary is a pure social construct that enables a them-and-us division, thus fostering kyriarchy and encouraging negative labelling of the outgroup.

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Comments
  1. Dreki says:

    Ergh, I think that’s a lot more trans misogyny than just misogyny. It definitely sounds like the guy felt he was entitled to your body because you, as a non-cis person, do not have a right to personal boundaries when a cis person wants to know what genitalia you have (and he then commented on your gender based on that, even though he clearly didn’t think you were presenting as your assigned sex if he couldn’t tell “which” you were). I don’t know how often that happens to cis-appearing women (although it can happen, and is fucked up no mater what), but it is generally way worse for trans people because then our boundaries aren’t as important as the cis-given right to do whatever it takes to find out what we “really” are. I’ve seen women comment on the differences in how people approach them and how much respect people have for their boundaries when they’re read as cis vs trans. Very fucked up system all around.

    • JKBC says:

      I’m not sure, he could’ve easily read me as a non gender-conforming cis woman, that happens often enough – I never really know, though, so it could be trans misogyny and/or gender policing or even homophobia if he read me as a lesbian, which a lot of people seem to. The touch was hips-only – he didn’t go for the groin, which was what led me to think it was less to do with the fact that I am not and don’t look cis. I read the situation as simply a man feeling he had an entitlement to bodies he reads as female; it does happen quite a bit for those read as cis women, although it is worse for those read as trans. Cis people need to stop thinking they have a right to anyone else’s bodies, especially cis men. The way manhood is constructed in this culture leads a lot of them into thinking they’ve got a right to the bodies of everyone who isn’t a cis man.

      • Dreki says:

        You were there so you probably know better- and you’re definitely right that cis people in general and cis men in particular need to get that they have no right to touch ANYONE’s body without permission.

        Just the order seemed like he grabbed your hips tof igure out “what” you are because hips are generally an indicator and it’s less likely to get you in trouble than grabbing someone’s crotch, but it could definitely have just been an asshole who thinks he’s allowed to touch women however he wants.

        It really sucks that that happened either way. People suck.

        • JKBC says:

          It could have been that he was trying to figure out assigned sex, I suppose, but the incident seemed more in keeping with the idea of male entitlement to ‘female’ bodies, so I never even thought of that.

          It hasn’t happened, anyone touching me non-consensually, for years, so I guess I’ve been lucky. People like that do indeed suck.

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