josiphene

A place to place my "Pomes". Words crash into my brain. I write them down often directly into Facebook, don't edit and post. It doesn't matter if no one reads them. The Ether is a good home.

Gillette – Androcentrism


Disclaimer: I am not an academic. I have not subjected my writing to academic rigour, I do not reference sources. I am simply expressing my opinion based on my reading and research.

What is Androcentrism? 

My take: placing a masculine paradigm at the centre of one’s values, culture, and history, resulting in social, economic, and political advantages or rights that are available to men solely on the basis of their sex.
Otherwise known as male privilege.

You don’t have to be a bad person to benefit from unconscious privilege and recognising, being conscious of your privilege doesn’t mean saying you don’t deserve good things, or inferently a bad person.
Much privilege is an assumed right from taught behaviour, including religious indoctrination, and the socialisation and enculturation (moral / ethical principles learned via social osmosis) process. Such behaviours as overtalking women; mansplaining; assuming leadership; patronising and demeaning women’s behaviours: pay structures; sexual harassment et al. 

It is apparent from what I read and on social media, that men imagine there’s a valid comparison between the discomfort they experience when confronted with their unconscious privilege, sexism, and heteronormative patriarchal paradigm, with the lifetime of harm that women experience from living in a world that assumes women are at most, 2nd class citizens and should be grateful for what they are given – including sexual harassment, as a gift. I wish I was being humorous.

The most extreme example of entitlement being INCELS. Incel stands for “involuntary celibate” – men claiming a right to sex with women and that right can justify violence; they get VERY angry at any rebuttal often harassing women as a result, even threatening refuseniks, it seems always asking why they are being “rejected” and then arguing because the women don’t know what they are missing! The online forum Reddit hosted Incel communities which had over 40,000 members.

This mindset has deep-rooted precedence. A throwback to mediaeval era. “Droit du seigneur,” a legal right granting feudal lords entitlement to rape women, in particular on their wedding night. 

A more common manifestation of androcentrism is Domestic Abuse: Coercive and Controlling behaviour; Economic abuse; Emotional and Psychological abuse; Sexual abuse including rape (remember the law until 2003 stated a man was incapable of raping his wife, as by marriage she had given enduring consent); Physical assault, one woman in four experiences domestic abuse in her lifetime; Murder. two women are killed EACH WEEK by a current or former partner in England and Wales.

And then there is so-called Honour Based Violence. Mostly women, being controlled by male-dominant cultural values, prescribing a way of life which if deviated from “deserves” punishment, even death, to assuage the hurt to men’s pride.

Consider the male dominance over women in other cultures too, particularly Caliphates.

All this from reviewing and thinking deeply about the Gillette “The best a man can get” advert. 
My purpose? Hopefully just to state my honest views and nudge men to an awareness many, apparently, do not have and adjust what needs adjusting. 

Please, no “whataboutery”. I know, “Not all men”. I know “men are victims too”.  Should you wish to discuss that, start your own discussion.

Responses welcome.

Advertisements

A Visit to Austria 2011

Copied from Facebook Memories

Today I found myself at a War Museum. Not usually ‘my thang’ but it was called “The Arsenal” so I was inextricably drawn to it. 5 Hours, 3 coffees and three minibix later, I exited somewhat challenged and educated, not to mention ‘emotional’. My first impression was ‘OMG what outstanding architecture’, followed closely by ‘what a waste!’.  I was at the Arsenal Museum Vienna.

The entrance is an homage to past Generals and the like .. more than 50 of them, each with their own statue. More than a nod to Austria’s empirical endeavours. The workmanship was remarkable. Around the walls were the lists of “the fallen”. I couldn’t help but see them as real people rather than just names. My heart sank at the thought of the millions killed in war; the trillions spent on war and if it had been spent on saving lives rather than taking and maiming lives how we would have eradicated starvation and poverty.

I learnt how war-mongering the Austrians were, I was at first condescending and then shared the shame of a ‘Might is Right’ historical ethos, reminded of my country’s obsession of “discovering” places and through superior weaponry, declare “mine”. My heritage is no less awful than Austria’s. My empirical heritage is shameful, not a proud boast.

I walked a timeline of weaponry, destruction, victory and defeat. Neighbours seeming to be either allies or enemies, depending upon the era. I tried to make sense of the senseless. If only it was as simplistic as “War is wrong” or to quote a certain song “War, what is it good for? Absolutely NOTHING!”

I sat looking at the car that carried the Austrian Emperor Franz Ferdinand whose assassination along with his wife, was the precursor to the “war to end all wars” …. Ironic laughter rumbled inside. How naïve, yet hopeful. It wasn’t called World War 1 because they didn’t conceive of a WW2. I pondered the innovation of weaponry provoked by ‘mine is bigger than yours’ syndrome. I smiled at the camp poses of the Austrian generals with hand on hip and obviously thinking of the quiches they were going to cook after the sitting.

I shivered at the artists’ exquisite captures of ancient battlefields with 1000’s of men formed into battle squadrons, with death the outcome for more than 50%. For a piece of land. Was I emotional – yes … and continue to be as I write as the feeling re-surface.

A small gallery was dedicated to children.. One exhibit, “They came into the village and rounded us up. My brother was standing next to me. He was 14. They asked, ‘Are you ready to join the cause?’ He said ‘NO’. They shot him in the head. Then they asked me the same question. I was only 12. I didn’t want to die. I said ‘Yes.’ ”
A 13 year old girl was taken, her arms tied behind her back then raped 3 times before being delivered to be used as a ‘runner’ to fetch and carry ammunition, food and provisions.
Yes, I cried. The shame of sharing my humanity with the perpetrators of vile, unforgivable ……. No doubt you can add your own words.

I thought I knew quite a bit about history – but what are dates and places? I was shocked to learn of the numbers of concentration camps in Austria – with the pictures of victims and their paraphernalia still invading my consciousness. There were over 40 camps. Human suffering is only exceeded by the human capacity to be inhuman. 

I wandered into a small auditorium showing newsreel of the unopposed Nazi annexing of Austria. Hitler at his ‘finest’ (what a brilliant example of an oxymoron).

A cohort of visiting schoolchildren watched with shock etched on their faces. Please God, if you do exist, ensure that memory never fades. I have hope in seeing their revulsion. I heard one question their teacher, “How did we let this happen?”. There was no answer. Perhaps the question was rhetorical anyway.

Moving on – now to the WW2 exhibition area. On a bench in front of a large screen, alone except for his memories, was a very elderly man holding a handkerchief to his eyes as he watched (re-lived?) newsreel of that bloody war; of men embarking trains with countless trucks (for they weren’t carriages). They didn’t need so many trucks for the return journey. I wanted to ask, “could that have been you – or a brother or a friend?” But that would have been too intrusive. I wondered if he was a regular visitor? My heart broke.

My mind was in confusion. In that moment I was anti-war. But, if I were attacked personally would I defend myself? I have.
If I saw someone being attacked, would I intervene? I have. Sometimes twice in a night of someone else’s drunken abandon.
If my family were …
If my neighbour was …. Oh … I have …
At times war is an extension of a simple self-preservation gene. The survival of the fittest (or should it be the one with the bigger weapon of destruction?). Self-defence or the defence of a neighbour (Poland).

I have no answer except: “Now, all we need is for no one to attack, no sense of ‘I want, I’ll take’, and then … hey presto! No need to defend – no need for war.

I need a drink.

The above prompted me to write this on Monday (for a performance).

Punctured

I wanted to smile,  I yearned to bring a joyful song to sing
But my heart was punctured by a trial.
The Stanstead 15, prosecuted as terrorists
For actions that threatened no harm,
Birthed from compassion, no aggression
Preventing transportation and deportation
Of shamefully treated at risk people whose return will trigger death or damnation.
The fifteen aware of potential prosecution for protesting the adjudication
But by the wrongful appropriation of Anti-Terrorist legislation
Have a conviction, threatening incarceration.
I am ashamed of my nation, this is another occasion to say again
NOT IN MY NAME.

I thought my verse was finished until I read another story
Leaving my sadness and anger undiminished
A man domiciled here for 20 years with British children and spouse
Now inconsolable with tears at the treatment of their father / husband
Expressing their fears as he is rejected, ejected, theirs and his needs neglected
For the rule of law applied without mercy is unworthy of support
When the decision to deport causes untold pain
And no one gains as he is put on the plane
Will they ever see each other again?

Then I awake from my slumber
This inhuman behaviour isn’t just today
It happens repeatedly from a soulless strategy
Of Tory Government bureaucrats  with Nuremberg mindset
Of just following orders
Making it easy to forget rules are for the guidance of the wise
And the adherence of fools
If all I can do is use my voice to make some noise belatedly
That destroys complacency
I will shout impatiently hoping others will join with me.
NOT IN MY NAME



More visible.

Earlier generations of trans people, including mine, didn’t grow up with the vocabulary or a listening culture, to be able to express who we are. We thought we were alone. “No one else is like me”. Therefore we must hide our true selves.

On the occasions we saw “people like me” they were demonised by print media. “Outed”, ridiculed.

We have always been here. Christian imperialism strangled previously embracing cultures making trans (and gay) forbidden, sinful and criminal.

Today’s children, as they get language and as they get older, gain the vocabulary and see they are not alone. And increasingly parents, medical services and allies stand with them.

That’s why there’s more younger trans people expressing themselves and being heard. Not more trans people, just more visible, more vocal.

There.
Saved you watching a documentary.

Sadly opposition by alt-right fascists, religious bigots and current media hysteria is at increasing volume and causing problems. But this is not preventing young and mature trans people from saying “this is me”.

In many countries being trans is a criminal offence and there is increasing hostility and persecution.
We have always been here risking rejection, misrepresentation, hate and violence but we are driven by a greater force than hate.

Here and staying!

Reflections on 11/11 First they came for ..

To remember is not the same as to celebrate. In 1939 we went to war against fascism, displaying every aspect of its sense of privilege and belief in being superior therefore justified to exterminate, murder and subjugate anyone different, targeting specific races and behaviours.
The fascism was state sponsored, but carried out by citizens. Systematic persecution and annihilation of European Jewry by Nazis and collaborators, between 1933 and 1945.
Jews were the primary victims – six million murdered.
Roma (Gypsies); physically and mentally disabled people; Poles also targeted for destruction or decimation for racial, ethnic, or national reasons.
Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political dissidents suffered grievous oppression from destruction of, or theft of property and businesses. We must never forget, mutilation, firing squads and gas chambers.
Look at Trump and his targets of hate. Ordinary citizens carrying out his agenda. Feeling “authorised” by implicit and even explicit encouragement.
Anti-semitism is rife in the world.
LGBT relationships are criminalised in over 70 countrues.
In 13 countries, being gay or bisexual is punishable by death. These are; Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, parts of Nigeria, parts of Somalia, parts of Syria and parts of Iraq.
In 17 countries, bans are in place to prohibit ‘propaganda’ interpreted as promoting LGBT communities or identities (remember Section 28?). These are; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lithuania and Russia.
In 8 countries the death penalty is the ultimate sanction.
The reasons we went to war still pervades the world.
Men and women fought for our freedom.
We are still in a “war”.
The battles continue. We honour the fallen and injured by opposing fascism and theocracies murdering, imprisoning, torturing those who are “different”.
Governments sponsor hate. The People carry it out or do not oppose it.

“First they came for … “

Performance Poetry The Messenger

The Messenger Performance Poem

The Messenger

Numinous awe materialises
Cloaking my presence with a gossamer shield
Woven with love, from anonymous benefactor.
Yet the bearer of this gift has not the wherewithal to lift
Such a horn of plenty that so satisfies my spirits hunger.

But I am on my way.
Not at my destination,
I should tarry no longer.
Tho’ as captured by a dreamcatcher
I do not struggle for release
For here is unrelenting peace.

It is no god of whom I speak.
No deity taking pity brandishing a toy as a gift for being good, from Santa’s sleigh.
No human intervention interrupting our conversation as we dance the steps of wonder and shared appreciation.
We breathe in harmony the elixir of presence
The very essence of requited love
and I feel the embrace, savour the taste,
of mutual exchange as our smiles illuminate one another.

So how, what or who mimics mercury’s endeavours; showers glory and enchantment as pantomime

fairy godmother?
Not a tweet of antisocial media, but nature’s messenger
With tilted head, cheeky grin, perfect pitch,
Perched and singing, breast proud
My deliverer
My Prince of Peace within
The redoubtable, regal, resplendent
Radiant Robin.

 

My Soundcloud Poetry

Songbird

Not Feminist

A year ago, #metoo awoke us to the unspoken behaviours of men with charismatic power, status power and/or financial power. Women working in the film industry braved exposure and personal attacks to say Me Too – revealing the decades of abuse women suffer in silence, even conditioned to expect, as it “comes with the territory”.
The architect of #metoo was an African-American woman. Worth remembering.

But without negating any of the victims so far, we have to shift the media narrative that it’s for white, cis/het famous women. That has to be corrected.

“What about the men?” Yes men can be victims too, especially but not exclusively gay men. HOWEVER it is important to declare that sexual abuse and violence happens overwhelmingly to women.

Before memories begin, women and women’s bodies have been property – something to be owned and directed, used and abused, at the whim of the “owner”. Many religious practices promote this idea and cultures have it ingrained in their DNA.

The outcome of resistance or non-compliance being violence and death. Murder. Some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. This truth is insidious because the enculturation process seeps into women’s psyche meaning that girls grow up expecting such behaviours making it seem “normal”, it comes with the territory of being female.
1 in 3 girls will have some kind of unwanted sexual encounter before they are 16.

Such male privilege is the enabler that allows other vulnerable groups – boys, gender minorities, people with disabilities and others – to be targeted too.

A group exists who call themselves feminists but who believe that trans women do not have the right to identify as female. When they see trans women they see and shout men – and they are adamant that the genitals you are born with define you. They are identified as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. TERFs, for short (this is not an insult, just an acronym). Sexuality should not be part of the gender debate, but many of the most vocal and active TERFs are self-identifying left-wing lesbians. Please do NOT misunderstand my statement. I do not believe that being lesbian (or left-wing!) equates to TERF. Many lesbian voices are raised in condemnation of TERFs, declaring that TERFs do not speak for all lesbians or all women.

But there is now a level of malevolence directed by TERFs towards trans women which I have never seen before. It is as if their whole energy is devoted to persuading others that we trans women have an agenda to be threat to cis women and children.
They misrepresent the proposed law changes as access to “women’s spaces” when it is solely about easing an already existing legal process. They conflate paedophilia, rape and predatory male behaviour with being trans. They repeat the lie aided and abetted by media seeking sensational stories to inflate readership.

They are supported in their hate programme by allies, who in other arenas, they would never collude with.  The American religious alt-right are funding these otherwise left-wing activists because it suits their exclusionary “God given” agenda. And the TERFs are so grateful, they are willing to sacrifice their values.

Anti-trans activists claim they are concerned to keep women’s spaces safe. It’s true that for decades feminists have fought for women’s spaces to be kept safe, for women’s voices to break through. These gains have been hard won.

But they are not be lost by including trans women in women’s spaces, which in fact we have already been part of for many years. Women’s Refuges, declaring NO issues, are vocal in their embrace and support of trans women victims. There are NO recorded incidents of predatory trans women in toilets. We just want to pee! It’s distressing to see these attempts to obscure that history, that truth.

We trans women, are already exposed to high levels of violence and have a lot to lose through being denied access to safe spaces for women. If these activists were truly concerned about women’s safety – survivors’ safety – they would not spend energy, time and donated money, trolling and attending events with trans speakers (which I have witnessed), to scream abuse and spread unfounded fear.

To exclude people who have to fight so hard to be visible – to survive – and to claim our true gender identity as female – is not feminist. The world is changing. Gender as well as sexuality are increasingly fluid and the overwhelming majority of feminists know that and support all people to claim what is rightfully theirs.

Thank you trans allies. We need you now more than ever before.

 

Pass Pass

I wish I could say that I didn’t care about passing but the truth is, I still do.
A little while ago I brashly declared that “passing” was not important to me. If I am seen as a trans woman, that’s OK because I am a trans woman. I am not trying to deceive anyone. But that stance is far too simplistic.

It is true to say that I have no interest in deceiving a man into thinking I am a woman – for any reason!  I am not trying to deceive women into “allowing” me into women only places – physical places or shortlists.

Despite the law (Equality Act 2010) preventing discrimination because I am trans, meaning access into gym changing rooms .. I am sensitive to the potential embarrassment or concerns, so I won’t put anyone into that position.  Because toilets and shops have cubicles I have no such need to avoid them.

Back to “passing”.
Whereas I really do not mind being identified as a trans woman, the reality is by not “passing” I am targeted for the whole range of arrows, some poison tipped, which are fired at me.
From the unthinking misgendering of a sales assistant, to deliberate misgendering, refusal of service (“we don’t do men”) – eyebrow shaping!, “Please use the Disabled Toilet as a customer has complained”, “Your cock is showing”, “You should have been killed at birth”, “Rapist”, “Paedophile”.  Laughing in my face. “What is THAT?”
I wish they were only arrows from quiver to bow.
Of course, there are the silent comments too.  The filthy look. The conspiratorial sniggers between couples or friends, trying – perhaps succeeding – to take photos of me to post who knows where.
Then there are the “tranny chasers”.  Men who fantasise or have a fetish for an encounter with a trans woman because obviously it doesn’t make them gay, so it is OK for them to approach me in the street to proposition me. Hey pal, there are plenty of web sites for you!
Having my wig snatched off. Being pushed from behind, and not accidentally because I was shoved on my shoulder from behind.
Bus drivers refusing to believe my Freedom Pass.
Threats and abuse online.

So “passing” .. yes it does matter to me because of how it impacts on those around me and their behaviour towards me.

It isn’t all negative though. My obvious trans status has not been an issue from family and an ever increasing circle of friends. And I do mean friends, not just acquaintances who also are non-judgemental and inclusive.  I get friendly service from nail salons and beauty therapists. Bus drivers who recognise me and give me a cheery hi. Waiting staff in restaurants who are simply ordinary with me. Sales assistants. Women in queues for the loos at theatres and venues (there is always a queue!) engaging in friendly chats or asking for loo paper to be passed under the partition! Lesbians unaffected by my transness. Gay men who embrace me as Josi. Colleagues past and present. Visitors where I volunteer. My GP and ALL the surgery staff.

And my point is?
1)  To prick the fear bubble created by TERFs, amplified daily by the media. Why would any man pretend to be trans .. its bloody hard work!

2)  Be honest with myself about how I feel about my “femininity” being judged and the potential for harm/opposition.

3) Realise I judge myself and I am concerned I am not good enough.

4)  Spread understanding to those willing to listen.

 

ROGD is a Fallacy

“Rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) is a myth gaining ground from a discredited paper by an academic with no history of trans knowledge.

Her premise is “gender dysphoria may be socially contagious.” Like you can catch a disease from contamination!

The paper has serious methodological flaws, as the author interviewed only parents, not trans people themselves, and recruited from websites frequented by parents who were concerned about their children’s APPARENTLY sudden gender transitions. So the sample (quite small for a science paper) is skewed so unreliable.

Of course, to those who I had hidden my dysphoria from for 50 years (for some), my disclosure was “sudden”. My dysphoria was not.

Probably ALL trans people, of any age, hide our status because:

  • We don’t understand our dysphoria
  • When we do recognise our dysphoria, we don’t have the vocabulary to explain it to ourselves yet alone someone else!
  • We see other trans people rejected by their families, bullied at school, losing their jobs, ridiculed, abused and murdered simply for existing openly, told we are possessed by the devil, ejected from their faith home and described as paedophiles and rapists and predators.

When a child, adolescent or adult “suddenly” reveals their dysphoria, it is sudden to the listener, but NOT sudden for us.  We have been fearful of saying it out loud for fear of rejection and recrimination.

Now of course, anti trans rhetoric quotes this paper to justify their bigotry. It matters not that the University who published the paper HAVE WITHDRAWN IT FOR ITS FLAWS and of course now the TERFS are shouting “Freedom of speech” and censorship, rather than acknowledge an alleged science paper has been shown to be seriously flawed. The author had made up her mind already and created “evidence” to confirm her bias.

My view is that in our current age, trans men and women are now more visible. We are visible living our lives (tho’ most of us not without opposition).
Young trans people now have language, a hope and not as isolated.
Older trans people see that the risk is worth the potential outcome of living our own authenticity.

ROGD is NOT a diagnosis. You cannot “catch” gender dysphoria, we are not diseased.

But I am dis eased by false psychobabble being used as bullets in the guns of hate mongers.

Josi

Passing – and I don’t mean overtaking!

A look in the mirror, my antagonist, is enough to destroy my sense of self and lead me back to my duvet. My visual presentation usurps my right to thrive. That’s how I feel.

You see, society’s norm is that as a trans woman I must “Pass” in order to be allowed my identity. The value I placed on passing has so much significance that it dominated my emotional and psychological wellbeing.  I cannot “Look” trans or possess any characteristic of maleness. The consequences: self-hatred, social anxiety, depression, self-imposed isolation.

So what is “Passing” for me?  The need to satisfy the often-unreasonable definitions of femininity, to meet other’s standards of “female”. The privilege of blending in rather than stand out as an “other”.  But some women have “masculine” traits. However, because they display obvious female presence they are rarely misgendered because of their appearance (I acknowledge that some prefer to present as androgynous and some are occasionally misgendered).

I am developing confidence in my identity, even going out without hair, bald as a coot and no wig to divert my maleness, so that I don’t feel it necessary to correct pronouns or take offence to misgendering whether accidental or deliberate. It takes so much energy and negativity flows in and spoils my sense of self when I respond to it. Responding damages me. I do not have the permanent responsibility to educate nor challenge. Repeat after me, I do not have the permanent responsibility to educate nor challenge.

I am not exempt though from being disillusioned by seeing women who I envy. Who embody the presence I never had and never will have and feeling that pang of defeat as I realise my shortcomings. This is an instinctive response. It hurts for a while as I am reminded of all I am not.

Passing means not being identified or targeted because of my presentation. Where I don’t have to stop and explain or deal with the anyone misgendering me when I pay for my items or whispers I observe from onlookers. Passing ultimately means avoiding unwanted attention in the street, on the tube, getting my nails done, being present in public places. But I don’t pass the test, so I must deal with that.

And the truth is that I live in my skin. I have to learn to feel good about myself, walking with my head held high, unashamed saying “I belong here, I need make no excuses nor any justification”.  It is not my job to make others feel comfortable if it is their own issues causing their discomfort.

It’s taking me years (and it is ongoing) to learn the lesson. I have lived in a state of perpetual angst over how I was perceived and accepted. Until others were indifferent to me, I refused to be satisfied with myself. I am not looking to be held up as a pinnacle of a successful transition, I only want people to be indifferent to me as I navigate my way each day.

I will no longer hinge my happiness on how others respond. They will still stare, laugh, ridicule, threaten or abuse me for being me and will still puncture me. But I have a repair kit. I know who I am. I will mend the puncture and re-inflate knowing if I run out of puff then my family and friends will take a turn on the pump until I can get my breath back.