on the socialization of bodies
November 3, 2013
Been seeing a lot recently about the supposed male socialization of trans women…. both from cis ppl and trans women. This is my contribution for why it is incoherent and just a silencing and oppressive and transmisogynist tool.
First…. there is this notion that children, depending on assigned sex, get one message about gender stuff and not the other. This is largely nonsensical. We all get the exact same message. Because ideas and oppression don”t exist in isolation (this is pretty much the foundation of intersectionality). For the most part, the message boils down to (if’n we”re talking just about gender):
Boys rule and girls drool.
Or something to that effect. Both boys and girls are socialized to behave as if this were true. It isn”t that boys are taught that girls are subservient and that girls are taught to defer to boys. Well, yes, we are taught that, but these are behavioural patterns designed to inculcate all genders with the same message. Children of all genders are socialized to behave in ways that assume only two genders and that one of those genders (girls) is worth far less than the other gender.
So. If we are all getting the same message, how to the difference arise between how one child embodies this message and how another does? Well, largely based on which gender they are told they are mixed with whatever gender they actually are. Outside of the rare moments where you are explicitely and on an individual basis told the message, most of the time we sort of…. just pick this up from our peers, how our parents interact with one another, what we see on tv, what we read in books, etc.
And that is the thing. We all watch (within certain variations) the same shows. Read the same books. Because, um, you know, we all lived in the same culture (obvs. relative to geography but I”m working on a really macro basis rn).
It blows my mind that all these feminist media critics or whatever can spend their lives deconstructing the harmful messages encoded in many of our cultural products and practices and somehow think that trans girls didn”t internalize and embody these things as well.
For example. Just on the impossible standards of beauty alone. We hear a lot from cis women who talk about how this impossible ideal beauty destroys confidence and self-worth and self-esteem, but can”t quite make the leap to how this impacts trans girls.
We see the same impossible ideal of beauty. And I”m not sure if you”ve realized (although, since many of you take exquisite pleasure in de/misgendering us, i”m sure you do realize), just how distant that ideal is for your average trans woman. Especially if you transition late. Many of us understand that even if we go through the entire gamut of surgeries/hormones/whatever we will never be beautiful. We will never be desirable. We will never be attractive. And, the thing is, this isn”t a newborn realization.
Why? Becasuse we”ve been exposed to and socialized with the exact same impossible beauty standards that cis women were. Because. You know, we share the same cultural and were likewise socialized together.
There is no ‘male socialization” and no ‘female socialization”. We are all just socialized in a culture that devalues and oppresses women. And these social behaviours are supported and rewarded and enforced by our institutions.