Thursday, 25 October 2012

Blue Blood

Remember that advert for tampons that depicted a face off in front of a toilet mirror between a woman and a man dressed as a woman? The woman's trump card in the ‘who’s more feminine’ competition, was a tampon. 

I didn't like the ad because it plays on stereotypes that offend me but the fact that a tampon was the trump card was actually quite funny. But, funny or not, the ad was lambasted by transgender activists as being transphobic. And they harassed Germaine Greer for her comments on transgenderism.

Staying with menstruation for a moment, why does no-one ever comment on the fact that, in ALL ads seeking to demonstrate the effectiveness of 'feminine hygiene' products,  the fluid is BLUE?

This is an industry that cannot deal with the fact that post-pubescent and pre-menopausal women shed endometrium every 28 days or so - ie they BLEED - and, myths about the aristocracy aside, blood is RED

Of course it's not the industry that's squeamish - it's simply pandering to a society which is still so uptight about aspects of female sexuality it cannot cope with seeing a true representation of the function of tampons and pads. 

So, sorry transgender activists, but there are bigger issues here than whether a company was guilty of being 'transphobic'.

The notion of 'transphobia' is the inevitable outcome of interest group politics. A  loose coalition of people with similar interests, through various forms of lobbying, bring pressure to bear on politicians and corporations. 

That's fine - they should go for it. If men who feel they want to dress up as or have surgery to 'become' women want to join me in the biologically female part of the population they are welcome - but if they want my respect, then they have to take on our historic struggles. 

I'm all for diversity - and I really do not care whether someone feels the need to strap his penis down, pile on some makeup and a wig and put on women's clothes. If a woman wants to strap her breasts down and dress up and act like a bloke - it's all fine with me. 

But I have to say that very few men who are dressed like women, even those who have had gender reassignment surgery, fool me. They act, mostly, like they are think women should act - they are too studied and too often the part they are playing is too close to a caricature of femininity. 

It’s the same for women who dress up as men. They may look, talk, stand, act just like men - but invariably it’s a certain sort of blokey bloke, the drag king is very often as much a caricature of masculinity as the drag queen is a caricature of femininity.

Let's face it -  towering heels, skin tight clothes, big hair, extremely long fake fingernails and eyelashes, exaggerated makeup etc worn by genetic males or genetic females are not exactly everyday wear for most women in the world - historically or contemporaneously. 

I struggle to feel much in common with people who were born as biological men, who dress and act like caricatures of an already fetishised notion of what a woman is. 

The ‘transgender community’ is a very broad church – and like all loose coalitions it can fall in sectarian squabbles at the drop of a wig. There are cross dressers who have no interest in having surgery or taking female/male hormones to change their appearance - they just like wearing men's/women's clothes, and there are people who, because they feel they are in the 'wrong' body, may undergo extreme surgery and life long hormone therapy to try to feel right about themselves.

These are very different things it seems to me.

I have body parts that make me biologically female and I am lucky to have an identity that fits (pretty much) comfortably with my biology. A person born biologically male who has a sexual identity at odds with his biology may be able to have his penis turned into an approximation of a vagina and take female hormones to encourage breast growth and discourage hair growth; he may be able to become legally female in some parts of the world and marry - but s/he can never be a biological female. 

Transgender activitists argue that the fact of child bearing is not the measure of femininity as not all women can have children and we enter our child bearing years through puberty and we exit them through menopause. 

But the fact that the chemical messengers that made me able to become pregnant have gone on strike does nothing to alter the social and biological reality that I have lived in all my life.  

The fact is sexuality and related behaviours exist on a continuum - and most of it sits somewhere in the middle ranges. I don't doubt the misery of feeling trapped in the wrong body and being judged as deficient or deviant by the rest of the world.  Intelligent,  talented, independent women thoughout the ages have felt that.

 I do get the fact that prejudice against transgender and cross dressing people is harmful and hurtful  - but we live in a violent and socially fractured world in which a range of prejudices lead to acts of physical and emotional violence against a whole range of people - and transgender people are not alone in being targeted. 

So ditch the heels and get on the barricades.

1 comment:

  1. I have subsequently learned through careful and deliberate observation that it is because of our (human beings) dualistic bent or inherent make up that the world is so seriously fucked up. Little surprise then that an ad for tampons is at odds with the reality of menstrual bleeding, not to mention supports the notion that men and women are in competition, perhaps perpetually so, for power, Even on a small scale. Every aspect about the world now seems suspiciously and imminetly rendered into terms of division, separation, isolationa and aloneness. Counties are going it alone, the US is wanting to fend for itself again and let the rest of the world pay.
    So a tampon add which triggers thoughts and reactions re transgender people getting pissed off is about as relevant as the Trump hair style. Such small grapes, and even smaller seeds, if any. What on earth is the point?