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.