Transmasculinity vs. male oppression

I had a weird session with my therapist today.  I was trying to explain a problem to her, and she just wasn’t getting it.  So I’ll try to explain it here.  If it’s coherent — and please, give me feedback, especially if you’re a cis-het person — I’ll send a version to my therapist.

Some humans are assholes.  A percentage of those people are cisgender heterosexual men.  This subset of assholes (a majority of whom are white here in America) have more power than the other subsets to make other humans miserable.  Sexism is part of the fabric of our culture.  It’s getting better, but it’s still there.  I watch the women I’m close to experience this sexism, and so it’s on my mind pretty frequently.

I do not identify as a woman, but I identify with women.  Do you see the difference?  I see the sexism and I cringe.  I get angry.  It makes me dislike the fact that I am mostly masculine.  (Mostly.)  It’s hard to see the good in my masculinity when I see so many masculine people being utter douchebags.  It doesn’t help that every time I go into an online space for trans men I see just as much misogyny as I do among cis-het men.  There’s a lot of butching it up when trans guys get together, it seems, and it grosses me out a little.

Given the choice I’d rather be non-masculine.  But I’m not going to deny my identity just because of douchebaggery.  I’m transgender and non-binary.  But I hate that I have that connection with assholes.

My therapist didn’t get this.  She thought I should just ignore the sexism and focus on other things.  I’m not focused on sexism, I just refuse to stick my head in the sand like she does.  So we went around and around, and when the session was over I was even more frustrated.

The Valkyrie says I’m not guilty by association, that I can be responsible and point out sexism and not be an asshole.  I try.  I am generally aware of sexism when it happens, and I do what I can to fight it.  But… yeah, I still don’t feel good about my identity.  Sigh.

2 thoughts on “Transmasculinity vs. male oppression

  1. Ian Avery

    This topic is close to my heart because, like you, I am a male-brained person who was born with a female body. Got a little story for you.

    About six years ago, before I knew that there were other people in the world like me, I created a male identity in an online game/live chat thing. For a year and a half, I practically lived my whole life in this online world, making some good friends, both male and female. These people never learned that I was biologically female in real life. I had the time of my life, and I really began to notice some differences in the way people treated me as a man compared to the way I was treated by the real life people who saw me as a woman.

    For one thing, when I was speaking, other guys didn’t plow through me with interruptions nearly as often as guys did when they were speaking to female-me.

    In real life conversations where I was seen as a woman, men tended to act as though they were my superior, and frequently interjected their own commentary without waiting for me to finish speaking. They did it as though what they had to say was more important than what I was saying. Regardless of their age relative to my own, they often spoke to me as an older person would speak to a younger one. They weren’t being rude. They were merely acting like they were the person “in charge” and it was their job to direct the flow of conversation and to correct any “false notions” made by me.

    The stereotype is that women interrupt more than men, but what I discovered is that men actually interrupt women just as much or more than women interrupt men, but it’s less noticable. Here’s why: when the man does the interrupting, the woman often quits speaking and lets him talk. When the woman does the interrupting, the man usually keeps talking and it becomes a jumble of two voices speaking on top of each other, which is very jarring and makes the woman’s interruption seem far more disruptive and noticeable.

    When a man and a woman have differing opinions on something, the man often acts as though the woman is insulting him, merely by having a different opinion. Many people subconsciously assume that a woman who debates an issue with a man is showing disrespect to that man. When a man debates an issue with a woman, it is rarely seen as disrespectful or insulting to the woman.

    Another thing I noticed was that, as a man, I was allowed to be opinionated, blunt, and even controlling, yet people still thought I was a nice guy. I was seen as a strong leader, but still a nice guy. As a woman, these same traits caused people to view me as a “bitch.” Women are expected to soften their opinions or not voice them at all if they are contrary to the “man in charge.” Women who “take charge” and act like leaders are often resented, even by other women.

    For the most part, I take your side in the debate you had with your councelor Alex. The only thing I would add is that often, women are almost as guilty at perpetuating the inequality between men and women. It is exceedingly frustrating to me, especially when I catch myself acting like a woman and deferring to the man.

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  2. captainglittertoes

    Um, WOMEN ARE NOT GUILTY OF OPPRESSING THEMSELVES. Don’t blame the victim!

    Also, although I’m not masculine, I want to say I feel this, and shitty therapists, and it is OK to love who you are–just not masculine privilege. I know it’s not as simple as that, but I wanted to send out a little affirmation your way. <3

    Reply

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