A normal woman
Posted on July 7, 2009
Visually, she appears such a normal woman that no one passing her in the street would nudge their companion and titter
I’ve been playing a game of spot the gender stereotyping with this article in today’s Telegraph: and what a surprise, I don’t fit the paper’s idea of what constitutes a “normal woman”.
As Kate Craig-Wood bends to grab something from the office photocopier she waves one wedge-heeled foot in the air. It’s a feminine gesture that matches her expressive way of talking while waving her arms about so that her bracelet jangles
I don’t wear wedges or heels, and when I’m photocopying I tend not to wave my feet in the air: sounds a bit too dangerous to me.
From early childhood, Kate knew she was really a girl. “I hated football and wanted to spend time in my tree-house, which was clean and tidy and had a stove”
From early childhood I also knew I was a girl. But I loved playing football, hated being clean and tidy, and I didn’t go anywhere near a stove unless I absolutely had to.
Nevertheless, she had a difficult time learning about being a woman. “I found myself in abusive relationships with men,”
Yeah ok, I’ve got no arguments with that one.
It amuses her to observe how she has become better at multitasking, and communicating
Now she is hormonally a woman, does she have trouble parking? “No,” she says, with a girlie laugh,”but I have never been any good at map reading.”
Please. Just. Stop. Now. You’re. Fucking. Killing. me.
Seriously, I’m sorry, but this simplistic kind of “explanation” for why some people feel the need to transition is just complete and utter bollox. There’s surely got to be more to it than “When I was little I liked dolls and kittens and playing with my mum’s make up, so I always knew I wasn’t really meant to be a boy.” ‘Cos you know, I never did any of that (well ok, the kittens maybe) and I’ve never, not ever, felt that my failure to conform to what being a girl/woman is allegedly all about somehow means I’m trapped in the wrong body. No, what it does mean is that socially constructed gender roles are just that, socially constructed, and a pile of old shite to boot.
None of the examples used to illustrate Craig-Wood’s femininity have anything to do with being a “normal” woman, if such a creature even exists. We’re not born with innate abilities to multi-task, communicate effectively, or perform boring household chores with a smile on our face and a song in our hearts, those are the things we are taught to do, from day one: they’re the things that society/culture/whatever tries to instil in us because we’re born female, they’re not natural female attributes we’re born with.
Gender is not binary, as was thought, but a mosaic. Nor should it be confused with sexuality: sexuality is about who you fancy; gender is about who you are. It’s innate, not acquired, and you cannot change it
So what does that make those of us who were born women and who are happy being women but who don’t fit the stereotype? Those of us who don’t want to wave our dainty painted toes in the air when we’re doing the photocopying? Who don’t want to play house?
Numbers are doubling every five years as it becomes more acceptable to admit to a disjunction between mind and body, and 6,000 people in the UK have undergone “corrective” surgery. Very few of them are women becoming men. “That may be because it is more socially acceptable for women to behave like men: the stereotypical butch lesbian.”
Ah, I see. So “butch lesbians” are socially acceptable now (as if!), and therefore women don’t feel the need to physically switch sex in the way that some men do. But if that’s the case then how does it marry with the idea that gender is innate, and that corrective surgery is sometimes necessary to align a person’s gender with their sex? If it’s socially acceptable for women to “behave like men”, without actually having to turn themselves into men, doesn’t that contradict Craig-Wood’s assertion that gender and gender roles aren’t socially constructed? Is Craig-Wood actually theorising that if it were more socially acceptable for men to “behave like women.” then trans women wouldn’t necessarily feel the need to undergo sex reassignment surgery?
If so, isn’t that what Julie Bindel and others have been arguing for years? That if we do away with gender and all the limiting stereotyping and culturally ascribed roles that go with it, we’ll all be free to be whoever and whatever we want to be without any need for surgical intervention?
Confused? Yes, I have to admit I am, and after reading the Telegraph article I suspect I’m not the only one.