Bitch Boi?

Can you still be a bitch if you’re a guy? I don’t know. It’s (a) female power. I was a hard-arse bitchfeminist butch who sometimes played at being feminine when I was a dyke. But now? Well, my femininity’s been re-named effeminacy, and the rest is just fucking obnoxious. Many things change, not just the body (if the body), when one is sex changed. When I’m read as a guy I shut up a lot more. I don’t talk over women the way I would talk over people before. The first time I painted facial hair on my face it was to stop myself getting into a fight with another chick, because I knew with the gender of that face I would never enact violence on another woman.

The thing is: sex matters. The way sex is perceived is a lens through which behaviour is interpreted. If you pass as male because of your body (facial hair being particularly salient in this respect as I’ve noted before), behavioural clues to gender are less important; there is less need for hypermasculine behaviour in order to be recognised as a guy. This is unfortunately complicated by the way in which masculinity is so often defined by misogyny, thus it is harder to pass if one holds and stands up forfeminist values. This is often the justification transguys hold for being as sexist as other guys, but male privilege and power fucks everyone over – trannys shouldn’t be too quick to forget.

As Kate Bornstein notes, “The correct target for any successful transsexual rebellion would be the gender system itself. But transsexuals won’t attack that system until they themselves are free of the need to participate in it… Without the structure of the bi-polar gender system, the power dynamic between men and women shatters.” That said, it is not incidental that when we don’t embrace a gender normative corporealitywe are at the highest risk of violence; liveability is severely affected in such a context, and we need to survive.

Aggression (and even violence) can be subversive for women, undermining the stereotype of women as docile and passive victims. But if male privilege is assuming one has the right to occupy any space or person by whatever means, with or without permission, what really happens when the bitch reappropriates this power? Is to be a bitch, to take mastery in hostility and force, just reinforcing male power and its dominance?

We need more guys to get their feminist shit together, stand up (against other guys), shut up (and listen when women talk), and (thus) start to define a non-misogynistic masculinity. We need power to be conceived of and employed in other ways.

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4 Comments

Filed under Feminist Politics, Max Attitude, What's Queer Here?

4 responses to “Bitch Boi?

  1. a c

    loving how much you reference Kate Bornstein – ❤

    Can't answer any of your questions close enough so i'll just pose my own thoughts…

    Although I don't ID as male, I'm trying to develop and play with my own form of masculinity. Sometimes, though, when I'm being bold, outspoken, and sitting proffered with my legs spread like i own the world like most guys at bus stops, I catch myself thinking 'masculine'. Fuck that, that's not masculinity that's just using up space, rejecting passivity and all this docile shit that i've been conned and conditioned into. Hmmm…

  2. 3P

    I’m not convinced of any possibility for a subversive playing of “bitchiness”, no matter how female/feminine someone is. I think physical power, strength, the ability to stand up for yourself, etc, are all great things. But I just don’t see nastiness as radical, ever.

  3. meg

    Aggression is. It can’t be argued away by a discussion about its appropriate non/usage. While I think then, that there’s an argument to be made for a more democratic use of aggression and assertion across genders, the thought of a world where everyone behaves like your two-bit misogynist male exhausts me (even more than the current scenario/s).

    Hence the idea that, as much as aggression/assertion/even violence can be subversive for women, not talking/listening/responding can be subversive for those who are gendered male, is appealing. In my view, ‘being a bitch’ doesn’t redistribute or appropriate power unless there’s some sort of movement to or at least identification with, breaking down gendered behaviour across genders, not just for women. I guess that requires feminist movements where men actually seek to figure out what masculinity means without misogyny. The fact that women, and transmen as you point out, have the capacity to be violently misogynistic is a useful reminder – much of gender is a circular chain, though the experience is usually so individualised. It’s always about the context.

    Love your work, xo.

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