I just wanted to point out that most women at one point or another, or many women continuously, HATE their bodies. That’s why eating disorders, self harm, ridiculous diets, plastic surgery, anti ageing remedies, injecting your face with deadly bacteria etc etc exist to the insane degree that they do.
Trans women don’t have the monopoly on feeling like you’re ‘in the wrong body’.
As a child, my parents never even gave me a word for my lady bits, my brothers had one, I was just vaguely referred to ‘below the waist’ – the inference I got as a girl, was my body was not clean, and my sex so wrong or dangerous that it could not even be referred to.
I first saw pornography at about the age of eight. A magazine someone had discarded in a lay by. By today’s standards it was pretty mild, just top shelf, Reader’s Wives type stuff (nothing like the degrading, filthy nonsense teenage girls are harassed with now over SnapChat and social media by boys at school). I can remember being fascinated and appalled by what I saw, and feeling very scared. My own family might not have given me the words to name my body, apart from vague allusions to your nethers but this magazine had words, words I’d heard no adult ever utter in my earshot about those bits of me that were unspeakable. I can remember around this time, sitting in the bath, looking at my little girl’s body and feeling like I desperately did not want to be a woman.
As pointed out, FGM, is an extreme example of this control of female sexuality and bodies, fear of them, loathing of them. I find it puzzling that there seems to be this idea that ‘becoming a woman’ is a bit like joining a private girly pyjama party, or somehow women are all like Rizzo and Sandy in Grease, doing each other’s hair and giggling.
Every single woman I know has a really complicated relationship with her body, even those that are conscious that their unease is socialised and sexist, and NOT REAL.
Even the way women insult each other, generally is related to body shaming ‘ you fat bitch’, ‘you ugly cow’, ‘she’s no better than she ought to be’. I sat in the hairdresser’s the other day (I never read women’s magazines otherwise) and every single article in this chat mag was about criticizing women’s bodies. Being inside a female body is not one of being ‘comfortable’ for any woman I know. Not one. Which is why I reject the word ‘cis’ as NOT ONE woman I know, is comfortable at all with their female socialisation.
Most trans women seem very, very confused about what the reality of women’s lives are like. I’m also frustrated that I’ve spent over a year now reading and reading and reading on this topic, trying to understand the opposing view, and most trans women I discuss this with (with a few notable exceptions) haven’t even BOTHERED to read any feminism, any women’s literature even, let alone actually talked to any women.
I’m not sure where this idea of “woman” is coming from? TV? RomComs? Magazines? Porn? But when I hear it talked about, other than the body loathing (yes had that in spades) I don’t recognise this thing called ‘woman’ they are talking about. In me or in any woman I know. I also get a bit exasperated that literally decades of bona fide female academic research is kinda dismissed because ‘wah wah wah I feel distressed’ – I do sometimes feel like saying, ‘join the queue pal’ …
Most women, actually ALL women, I know, grew up with a feeling of NOT BEING IN CONTROL of their bodies either. I definitely felt, from the point at about 14 where I was of sexual interest to adult men, that I could not prevent, or stop, who had control of my body, that men felt they had a right to touch me, or comment on my body.
Even the comments when I ate something, ‘you’ll regret eating too many of those’ or being told to ‘smile’ or whatever, it always felt like my body wasn’t mine to be in charge of. Even the ‘talk’ my dad gave me about staying safe was about not ‘pushing a man to the point of no return’ etc and gave me this scary idea that there was something about me that was dangerously powerful, but it would bring down on my head things I wasn’t in control of. What this ‘thing’ was was never articulated, but I understood I had to do things ‘right’ or it’d be my fault.
Pregnant women say the same thing, suddenly total strangers put their hands all over you. Even healthcare – particularly for pregnant women, but for all women – feels really invasive, being prodded and poked and man handled all the time. Having your bottom pinched, or you boobs grabbed. I’ve had my pussy grabbed in clubs loads of times (I’m looking at you Donald Trump). I’ve had entire conversations directed at my chest etc. I’ve spent entire train journeys being stared at by a muttering man.
I’ve been raped. It’s taken me a long time to accept that’s what it was.
I can remember being in the club, I can remember letting him buy me drink after drink, I can remember dancing with him, I can remember feeling sexy and powerful and in control. My memory fails me about how we got into the taxi, and remains patchy after. I only know I didn’t say ‘yes’.
I remember waking up the next morning, and being wracked with sobs. I remember taking three days off work, hiding under a duvet crying my eyes out. I remember the profound realisation that the power is always in the gaze, not the one gazed at, the one desiring, not the one desired. I think all women, in one way or another, reach this realisation. I didn’t drink a drop, not one drop of alcohol for over 12 years after that night. Even then, unable to name the problem, shifting the blame to ‘my drinking’.
A female body is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT currency in the world than a man’s. Even getting on the tube, I first scan the entire carriage to check for nutty men. I’ve been masturbated on in a packed rush hour tube by a man with a coat over his arm, I’ve been flashed and then followed on the walk to work, the list goes on and on and on. In fact, I think this idea of control is one of the theories behind anorexia, that girls feel so out of control of their own bodies, it’s a way of exerting control. Again, I feel many trans women have NO IDEA of what this is like. That being a woman means ultimately fearing you are going to lose control of your body at any time.
That in fact being a woman is being scared a lot of the time.
I don’t think ANY man knows what it’s like to walk into a garage for instance, to talk about car repairs, and to have to conduct that conversation with a topless Pirelli calendar on the wall, talking to a man, trying to be taken seriously, knowing ALL THE WHILE, he’s thinking about your tits. That even as you are handing over your money, you are being belittled. The constant reminder that your body belongs to men.
Same with walking around a city, with billboards plastered with WonderBra ads, or very sexualised images of pop stars or whatever, as a woman, you are always, always reminded that your body belongs to men. I’ve done work in the city, at a senior level, with traders, and they’ve wound up meetings early as they want to get to a lapdancing club, doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a Gucci suit, and I’m intelligent, their professional equal, once again I’m ALWAYS reminded in every context what my body is REALLY FOR.
I don’t really know what it means to ‘feel like a woman’ deep down inside, I just know how it feels to experience life because I AM a woman.
Which is why I am viscerally, instinctively opposed to this trans ideology that wants to take control of ‘woman-ness’ to even take away the very WORDS I have for my own body.
My body belongs to ME, not men.