Do you know how much I would know about what’s happening in Ferguson if it wasn’t for social media? Nothing. Zero.
Jokes aside I feel like we all need to take a minute to thank the people on the streets literally risking their lives bringing us this information with their cell phone video cameras. Furgeson is on media lockdown right now and without the people braving tear gas to bring us this information we’d all be in the dark.
Patriarchy is the social system by which men maintain power over and exploit the work, bodies, and lives of women. Western patriarchy is inseparable from capitalism because the oppression of women allows for the more efficient extraction of capital from women’s labor (similarly to how capitalism is inseparable from the racist maintenance of people of color as an under-class).
Patriarchy as it stands requires the categories of “man/male” and “woman/female” to be naturally discrete, oppositional, socially assigned, and untraversable.
If “man/male” and “woman/female” were not considered to be discrete, natural categories (as they are/were not in many cultural and historical contexts), the logic of concentrating power purely in the hands of men, conditional only to other exploitative power structures such as racism, would become incoherent. Under patriarchy, these categories are not only considered discrete, but oppositional and hierarchical- men are called brave, and women are called fearful (but isn’t it women who survive under constant threat?); men are called dominant and women are called submissive (but isn’t this simply a pale reflection of our imprisonment?); men are called strong and women are called weak (but isn’t it the uncompensated labor of women that enables men’s power?). This fiction of a hierarchical and natural binary must be maintained to justify male power.
To maintain this sort of distribution of power, peoples’ places within the classes of “man/male” and “woman/female” must be coercively, socially, and permanently assigned, and the fact of that assignment must be concealed by rationalizations of religion, pseudoscience, and inchoate appeals to natural law. The fact that we almost exclusively identify each others’ sex by culture-specific and personal cues like tone of voice, clothing, mannerisms, and names must be ignored and suppressed. The incredible variation and mutability of our secondary sexual characteristics must be ignored and suppressed. The fact that even the primary sex characteristics by which we assign sex are fully mutable and exist on a natural spectrum must be concealed and eradicated- paving the way for the reprehensible practice of coercive surgical assignment of intersex infants. Every “natural” truth and despicable violence of our culture’s conceptualization of sex and gender exists to enable the exploitation of women as an underclass by preventing the traversal of those boundaries.
That’s all to get to this first point: nothing challenges these pillars of patriarchy more than the existence and survival of trans women. What’s more challenging to the devaluation and dehumanization of women as a class than a woman coercively labeled “male” braving some of the worst socially sanctioned violence and exclusion our world has to offer simply to reclaim her stolen subjectivity as a woman; just because being a woman is worth it? What’s more immediately threatening to the enforced binary system of uncompensated or undercompensated extraction of women’s labor than the freedom of women to define our own genders and our own roles in society? What’s a greater challenge to the idea of the untraversability and natural character of assigned sex than the fact that trans women do exist, that we have always existed in one form or another, and that we cannot be easily dismissed as desperate and failed men like our male-run media would have us believe? We break every boundary patriarchy has enacted simply by drawing breath.
This is especially true when it comes to black trans women, queer trans women, disabled trans women, and others who in some way or another manage to resist even greater pressure to assimilate to the total exploitation of our bodies and our labor. There’s no shame in capitulating in some way to our exploitation, of course, as it is frequently our only means of survival, and survival in the face of mandatory extermination is the most fundamental form of resistance. But contrary to the misogynist propaganda of TERFs, we are not caricatures of femininity (a trait they ironically seem to despise) or socialized as men. As others have pointed out (I wish I had a link on me to share, but I don’t), nobody talks derisively about “straight-socialized lesbians” or “neurotypical socialized neuroatypical people.” Everyone seems to see the fallacy in assuming that the closet is a peaceful and comforting place for those trapped inside it by violent social expectations, except when it comes to womanhood. But despite these petty and deeply patriarchal biases, we are women. We run the full, wonderful gamut of womanhood and we walk in and among the other members of this society sometimes like ghosts and sometimes like queens.
Trans women exist. We always have, in various forms, histories, and discourses, and always will. So patriarchy must contend with our existence. And unlike cis women, who are necessary to the maintenance of patriarchy as an under-class, trans women exist in relation to patriarchy only as embarrassments and obstacles. Is it any wonder, then, how desperately we are eradicated? We must assimilate fully, invisibilize ourselves and submit ourselves to the sexual use of men to fit as neatly as possible into the incoherent system of power our society has developed, or we must die. When cis women are cat-called, it is to remind them of their subjugation. When trans women are cat-called, it is to remind us of our death sentences.
So back to the title: “the maintenance of Western patriarchy fundamentally requires the oppression of trans women.” Trans women are not incidental victims of cis-directed misogyny. Trans women must be and are systematically eradicated for patriarchy to survive. Transmisogyny itself is an absolutely fundamental part of the supporting structure of patriarchy, and must be dismantled if patriarchy in total is to be destroyed. Cis women who participate in our oppression are building their own prisons.
But we will continue to exist. We are growing in number and in voice. Our threat will not be extinguished. We will survive, and patriarchy will fall.
Reblogging for morning crowd
Sometimes I feel bad about the fact that I often need very basic concepts/tasks explained to me but it’s just like when you are visiting your friends house and you have to ask what drawer the forks are in except the earth is my friends house and I am always visiting
fucking dinosaurs got this
trying to decode what you wrote to yourself
Let’s be real, in a time before the internet people didn’t have more adventures and make more meaningful connections. They watched TV and listened to CDs. Before that they listened to records and read magazines. Before that they listened to the radio and read bad dime novels. Before that they embroidered or some shit.
People have been staying inside and ignoring other people for as long as there have been buildings.