greenie_breizh: (pop culture scholar nerd)
[personal profile] greenie_breizh
This post is wayyy overdue, and I'm sure I'm going to forget links because I've been accumulating so many. But life has been super busy! Allie was off work for the past couple of weeks so between that and the puppy, it's been hard to sit down and update. I really want to take the time to do it soon, though, I really like being able to go back and read what I was thinking at a given time, so I don't like when lots of things happen and I don't write them down.

Anyway, on to some links!

- The Larry King murder case goes to mistrial, which is so ludicrous and upsetting. I simply do not understand how a murderer can walk because people couldn't agree if what he did was manslaughter or murder - basically everybody understood that he killed someone but couldn't get their shit together to sentence him? What? Also: the defense's reasoning is so upsetting. First of all, it's blatant Gay Panic Defense, which I really thought we were done with; also, the killer snapped because he heard Larry say he wanted to be called Latisha? How the fuck does that count as anything near emotional trauma or whatever. Ugh.

- In happier news, Meet Jackie, A Transgender 10-Year-Old With Full Parental Support. The support that the family is showing this kid is really awesome and it's very moving to see how much they care for her and her future. Three notes: (1) Really, massive gender stereotypes in the video's introduction? People having expectations for what their baby is going to be like based on their apparent genitalia is so fucking ridiculous. (2) Gotta love how grandpa thinks that Jackie deciding to live as a girl was a decision, but her deciding to keep going as a boy would not have been one. Just because you're going with the status quo doesn't mean it's not an active process of making decisions, everyday and over time. (3) I find interesting how a lot of trans people, and I think especially trans kids, often feel like they have to emulate really stereotypical versions of feminity or masculinity. It's hard to tell how much of that is personal preference, and how much is the need to protect yourself from being accused of not being a 'real' girl (in this case).

- What Do You Mean When You Say You Want ‘Strong Female Characters’? On top of a very thoughtful and well-articulated post on the difficulties and contradictions of this idea of strong female characters, the comments are equally interesting and not maddening, which on the internet is, well, almost a miracle.

- Most of Tiger Beatdown would be worth linking to, to be honest, but Meet the Men of #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriendis funny, harsh, and excellent.

Also a bunch of links on The Playboy Club, which starting in a couple of weeks. I had pretty high hopes for the show, because I think there is great potential there to have a fascinating, critical and entertaining show about the sex industry, women, sex negative cultures, etc. And obviously I'm still waiting to see how it actually plays out when I watch it, but a number of articles have made me feel a lot less confident that the producers and creators can actually pull it off. Read for yourself:
- The Bizarre Pitch For 'The Playboy Club': It's All About Female Empowerment?
- Why is TV focusing on women of the prefeminist past? (It talks about the upcoming show on Pan Am, too.)
- Showing Off Your Boobs Is Not The Same As Female Empowerment, Anyone Telling You Different Is Trying To Sell You Something.
I haven't finished reading all these articles but they definitely raise some crucial questions about the way that feminism (or female empowerement, to make it sound less political and radical!) is often used in very particular ways, with very little critical thinking involved. I'm curious to see how it plays out on both shows - and I'm really hoping Sean's storyline, at least, is not totally mismanaged.

And to finish, on a completely different note, a colum about regulations and the food industry! Can Big Food Regulate Itself? Fat Chance.

Date: 2011-09-02 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Um, oops? Your html is messed up starting with the Tiger Beat article about TPC. :( Though I've been reading those same criticisms from the third link there in various other places. I'm still hoping the show goes more of the "Mad Men" route of portraying the reality instead of the fantasy, but we shall see... This is network television after all, not cable. *sigh*

That was a very interesting article about strong women. I was thinking about Zoe within the context of it, and there was much to think about. Will have to continue pondering. ;)

I didn't read the food regulation article, because the answer to the question is a given - as it is with any corporate entity. Don't get me started on the Tea Party/Libertarians who think deregulation is a good thing. *rolls eyes*

Date: 2011-09-02 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A bunch of the entry was messed up, it's fixed now! :)

Date: 2011-09-03 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Psst... Your 2nd link about TPC leads to the article about Casey Anthony. ;)

Date: 2011-09-03 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aaaaah. Fixed now. I think for real. :)

Date: 2011-09-02 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm still mostly hoping, but the trailers don't look too promising in that respect. Like I said, my highest hopes are for Sean's storyline, because it's less likely to get tangled up in these 'female empowerement' narratives. It'll be interesting to see whether or not they tackle the sexism of the early gay civil rights mouvement.

Date: 2011-09-03 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That 2nd Tiger Beat article is awesome in its sarcasm. :) BTW, when I was a tween/teen, there was a celebrity gossip magazine aimed at girls my age that was called "Tiger Beat". I'm betting the website owners were very deliberate in their choice of name. ;) Thought you'd be interested. :)

It's really... weird how all of a sudden TPTB are trying to convince everyone TPC is about female empowerment. If they'd just kept their mouths shut and gone with the 'soap opera' aspect, they'd probably have been better off. *shakes head* Because I don't think anyone at anytime has ever bought the line that being a bunny/centerfold was/is empowering. TBH, I'm expecting the show to be cancelled before too many airings. :( We shall see, but putting it in a time slot against two extremely popular shows was perhaps not the best decision ever, either. *sigh*

Date: 2011-09-02 02:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Those were really interesting feminist articles! Thanks for sharing. I forwarded them on to my friends.

Date: 2011-09-02 03:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Transpeople, even when they are very small, "know" what being a boy or girl is. Transgirls, even at three years old, often want their nails done and to dress like princesses. That is how they communicate to the world that they are girls if they are aware of themselves at that young age.

It is quite common for transwomen around the world to work in helping professions, or to work in professions that are traditionally "female". They do not feel oppressed by this. I have seen older transwomen who like to dress like typical middle aged moms, with helmet hair and jogging suits. This is how they see themselves, not how society tells them to see themselves...mainstream society would tell them to see themselves as their biological body would dictate. As it's tough for men to show any femininity at all, even in the gay community, transwomen who are closeted or unaware in regard to their identity often go the opposite extreme in putting on a "masculine" front--going into the military, working as firefighters and lumberjacks, etc that everyone will think that they are male.

Date: 2011-09-02 05:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You make it sound like being a girl = wanting to have your nails done and to dress like a princess. I knew I was a girl, probably before 3, and I didn't want to do any of these things. Lots of kids don't need to do gendered things to know what gender they are. My whole point is that of course trans people know what their own gender is - that's the whole point. If anything, they're more acutely aware of what being a girl or a boy is like, or about, than those of us who have the privilege not to think about it if we don't want to, because our gender presentation has always matched our gender identity.

What I'm interested in is the options that trans people have in communicating their gender to the world. We're all shaped by what gender expectations are in society - trans and cis people. But as a trans person, and as someone who studies LGBTQ youth and the school setting, I would venture to say especially as a trans kid, the risks are higher. It's precisely because "mainstream society would tell them to see themselves as their biological body would dictate" that they have to fight that much harder than any of us to be seen as a 'real' woman or a 'real' man. People can make fun of me, a cis woman, for acting masculine, or not being feminine enough, but they can't really attack the core of my gender - not in the same way that a trans person can find themselves in a situation where people will not recognize them as who they are, men or women.

I don't care what's common for transwomen - there's as much diversity amongst trans people as amongst any of us. I'm interested in how gender gets performed when there's such a potential high risk (with real material and possibly physical consequences) for failing to conform to gender norms. How much harder do you think that 10-year-old's life could be if she did like trucks, or if she hated pink? Do you think people would be as ready to accept her for who she is, or at the very least to recognize her as female? Or do you think people would maybe question her parents? Wonder if she really knew what she was doing, understood the decision she had made?

That doesn't mean she is a cultural dope, that she likes pink only because she's been told that girls like pink. But we do gender in everyday life through the tools that we've been given, and trans people have to work harder to make sure people don't question the way that they do gender. I think it would be a mistake not to think about the way that our societal expectations around gender weigh down on us - and on trans people often more heavily, because their very existence can seem threatening to our gender binary system - and have implications for the options that we see as available to us.

Date: 2011-09-02 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We didn't have to do these things because we already were recognized as girls.

People will either do one of two things--what is easiest, or what is truest.

We all conform to one standard or another. We all wear clothes and eat food produced by global conglomerates. We all have to practice a certain number of recognized and accepted behaviors in order to survive in society. People choose how many of these behaviors they want to conform to based on a balance of what they think will keep them safe, what is advantageous to them, and what they can live with in their souls.

American culture has a gender binary system. Most people find a balance within this system and within their souls. What people have to fight for are laws and practices that protect diversity of gender/sexual identities, even if the surrounding communities don't like queer people. Right now, any queer person--not just trans--challenges the established order of things.

When we live under a government that can't even say positive things about two people of the same sex getting married or serving in the military, how are protections for all of the diverse sexual/gender identities going to come?

I hate to say it in this language, but there is always going to be someone in society who is an outlier, for whatever reason. Those rules for who will be in that position and who won't are never made by the outliers. And these words are spoken by an outlier.

Date: 2011-09-03 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We didn't have to do these things because we already were recognized as girls. [...]

I may have missed something, because I thought that was greenie_breizh's point all along?

Besides, norms (as in, for instance, that's a good thing to be a girl who likes pink, but it's a little more suspicious to be a boy who likes the very same colour) are often arbitrarily human-created prejudices. So why couldn't they be destroyed? Why couldn't we get laws AND less narrow-minded people?

Obviously nobody wants a Brave New World in which we're all alike. But being an outlier, being different, doesn't need to be such a bad thing as it is in our societies, right?

Date: 2011-09-03 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Humans do not like to admit that biology drives much of our psychology and behavior, whether as individuals or in groups.

Difference in the animal kingdom is only seen as advantageous if it has direct applications to the survival of the species.

Gays and lesbians are suspect because they cannot reproduce. Forget about in vitro and adoption...they can't reproduce.

Transgender people are suspect because, if they operate as their intended sexual identity and not their actual biological sexual identity, they cannot reproduce.

As many humans, on a subconscious level, see "their people" under some kind of threat of extinction, they say that LGBT people are sinful because, as adults, they are not reproducing. Now we know that many are, but the homophobes have other ideas.

LGBT people, unlike heterosexual people, actually have more choice as to whether or not they want to reproduce. This is a threat to the world order, especially since many LGBT people are very intelligent and talented...where do their genes go?

In our human society, we still hold up married couples with children as some kind of gold standard for success. If a gay or lesbian couple can be as successful in their couplehood, or raise adopted children successfully and make a wonderful family, this is a threat to the established power structure. All of a sudden, "the powers that be" interpret this as traditional motherhood and fatherhood no longer of value, and no longer the gold standard. No one likes to hear that.

BTW--this post was written by a cranky lesbian, who would like to reproduce but can't.

Date: 2011-09-03 04:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Humans do not like to admit that biology drives much of our psychology and behavior, whether as individuals or in groups.

Actually, we love doing exactly that. It's a much simpler way of dealing with complexity and contradictions in our behaviour, and justifying why certain things exist, rather than taking a hard look at the way at ourselves.

You're right that queer and trans folks challenge the normative sexual order, and that it profoundly bothers people, but it has nothing to do with people's unconscious biological need for the species to survive and the threat to biology that LGBT people bring. If it was, homophobia in the particular form that it has today would be a constant throughout history, and it hasn't been. And if it was, this sense of threat couldn't be overcome, and clearly people manage that every day. I really don't see the need to bring biology into it, especially since our sense of what is 'biologically natural' or not is something that we construct culturally as well.

"This is a threat to the world order, especially since many LGBT people are very intelligent and talented...where do their genes go?"
I don't see how this is connected to your previous sentence about LGB people having 'more' choice to reproduce or not, or how it's at all relevant. There's no more intelligent and talent LGBT people than any other kind of human being, and lots of smart, talented people have no interest in reproducing. Since smarts (however you define THAT, which another can of worms) isn't primarily about genetics anyway, it doesn't matter.

(As a sidenote, "Transgender people are suspect because, if they operate as their intended sexual identity and not their actual biological sexual identity, they cannot reproduce." is not true; see Thomas Beatie.)

Date: 2011-09-03 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We will agree to disagree. All that anyone (including LGBT people) know about LGBT people are based on a variety of theories, so we cannot say what is true and what is not; only what might have been proven under particular circumstances.

A lot of LGBT people want to be assimilationists. If the Republicans turned the other cheek and said yes, let's legalize same sex marriage and make unisex bathrooms, there would be far too many white Christian LGBT folks who would vote Republican and be more than happy to be on that side of the fence, with their sweet little families or families to be.

Date: 2011-09-03 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I keep feeling like we're having two separate conversations, or rather that your replies to my comments completely shift the conversation. When have I implied that LGBT people aren't assimilationists? Or that I know exactly what makes people identify as LGBT, for that matter? I have no interest in that question, personally. I was only commenting on your universalizing statement that people reject biological explanations for human psychology and behaviour, which frankly is blatantly untrue. Otherwise the entire field of evolutionary psychology would not exist (what a beautiful alternate reality that would be), and Science Studies would barely have anything to study at all...

Date: 2011-09-04 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Conversations do shift, especially when it deals with questioning concepts. If you do not agree with what I have to say, that's quite all right. But honestly, neither one of us can say what is true or not in any absolute way about gender/sexual identity, because we can go by any theory and use examples of people to back it up.

In regard to the people I mentioned who reject biological explanations for human psychology, I mean the average folks, and not academics. Unfortunately, academics do not shape policy and laws--at least not in the United States. What a blessed nation we would be if that were the case.

All I can say is that, for myself, I don't fit the girly girl "norm", and I have had people ask me if I was male or female because of my demeanor and the way I dress (even though one look at my hairstyle should tell anyone that I am female), because I wear no makeup, have no piercings, and do not depilitate. Am I oppressed or hurt in any way because I do not conform to a girly girl norm? Honestly, I can't say that I am. I have my education and career where I have prestige and make money. My accomplishments, not my gender expression, will help me to advance in life.

Date: 2011-09-04 12:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's one thing for conversations to shift naturally as we discuss different concepts, but that's not what's happening here. Go back and re-read our conversation - I respond to your comments and instead of responding to mine, you pick a concept you feel like running with and start a different conversation about that concept. It's honestly very frustrating, not because I agree or disagree with you, but because it feels like you are refusing to engage with what I'm actually putting on the table. Instead you build up straw men to take down that have nothing to do with what I was actually talking about.

So I will just end by saying first I have no idea what makes you think that average people reject biological explanations for human psychology - if nothing else, the way that evolutionary psychology has been popularized is a great example of the way that people do easily adhere to biological explanations.
Second, of course, if you don't feel marginalized by your gender expression, that must mean that gender expression is never really a source of privilege or hurt. Or maybe that people who are marginalized due to gender expression just haven't accomplished enough. (That's sarcasm, obviously. But again, I have no idea where that comment came from - I never suggested what displaying nonnormative gender expression automatically means winning the Oppression Awards.)

Date: 2011-09-04 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for your patience.

Average Americans (not academics) DO reject biological explanations for human psychology. They want to base the reasons on why we think the way we do on religion, culture, history, the education system, or the media. They actually get very intimidated when everything about human psychology is boiled down into biology and evolution.

To be honest, even when we have bounced this topic around, some of the concepts that I have mentioned in relation to biological explanations for human psychology you have not agreed with. And it is not because what I am saying is necessarily wrong.

Human beings are not snails, earthworms, or seahorses. We are incredibly complex in that we have individual identities shaped by other forces outside of biology. At some point in our lives, some of us come to a realization that we are different, and this could be an inner biological awakening (something caused by hormones or something else) or an awakening due to what we observe outside of ourselves.

One of the things that we learn very early in life is whether we are a girl or a boy. Whether we learn to express what being male or female is, or whether we already know how to express it, is up for debate. And whether or not there should be a third category is also up for debate. This third category, however, would be a manmade construction, and not a biological one.

Should there be no categories? Well, if we were snails, earthworms, or seahorses, that would be the case.

Date: 2011-09-04 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're being dishonest here. Your conversation is one-sided, since you pick the few arguments you feel like answering and ignore the ones you don't like. Maybe you're not doing that on purpose, but it has discouraged me from engaging with you further.

Date: 2011-09-04 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know, greenie_breizh said the same thing. I don't know what I am ignoring. I believe that my statements are addressing everything.

Date: 2011-09-04 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Rather than thanking me for my patience, I'd like for you to indicate you understand why I'm having a problem with this conversation...

I'm going to try in short bullet points this time, so that the different conversations happening are clearly separate.

(1) I am not representative of the average American, or more accurately, of the average academic. Me disagreeing with you that human psychology can be explained through biological phenomenon does not mean that these explanations aren't common, or popular. It just means that I have reasons to believe that biological explanations are not only insufficient but often problematic. This is a perfect example of you derailing the argument, btw. Either we're talking about why I disagree with you on this (which we were not) or we're talking about whether average people put stock in biological explanations (which we were). By jumping from one to the other, you're both confusing arguments and failing to engage with what I was putting on the table.

(2) My biggest problem is the way you keep generalizing in each of your comments. I never said lay Americans always prefer biological explanations, or that they never respond positively to explanations based in history, religion, culture, whatever. I replied to your original comments that people reject biological explanations by saying that it is incorrect to say so, and presented examples as to why I'm making this assertion. Because we were generally talking about sexuality and gender, I brought up evolutionary psychology as an example of how biological explanations for gender have been popularized in America. Another good example would be the increasing use of biological arguments by gay and lesbian activists re: why gays and lesbians should not be discriminated against. (See Jane Lehr, 2007, Beyond nature: Critically engaging science to queer straight teachers.) All I am arguing is that biological explanations have significant weight on American culture and the way that Americans engage with questions of human psychology and behaviour; not that these explanations are the only ones, or that they can't be resisted. You, on the other hand, keep making grand statements about how human beings are, or what average Americans want and believe, which you don't substantiate with anything but (seemingly) your own beliefs. As this point, just to be clear, we're not even discussing who is right or wrong, it's the way that you're engaging in this discussion that I'm taking issues with here. Personally, I don't believe anyone can claim that all 'average Americans' or 'American academics' believe one thing or react in one way. I would frame the question differently, but I'm not going to go into that right now.

(3) I'm not going to go into why I think saying that 'boy' and 'girl' are biological categories is a laughable assertion. We disgree, and there is enough literature out there already debating this - I've done my reading and I know where I stand, and why I stand there. I'm sure you feel you've done the same. I will say that the fact you don't seem to think people can exist, from a biological perspective, outside the gender binary (unless there are a 'boy' or a 'girl'), makes me worried, especially coming from someone who has claims to contributing to the LGBTQ literature. It's not a very trans- or queer-friendly way to think about the world, aka: for people who already exist outside the gender binary, "whether or not there should be a third category" is not "up for debate". It's their actual, present lives you're talking about.

Date: 2011-09-03 04:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I may have missed something, because I thought that was greenie_breizh's point all along?

Pretty much! Although [ profile] goodall missed part of the point, which is that we DID have to do these things, or at least some of these things. Enough of these things that we would conform to gender norms, or else there was a certain price to pay for us, too. If no cis girl felt compelled to like and practice girlhood and its traditional attributes, there'd be no pressure on trans kids to live up to that. Cis girls do have to prove their femininity, but they have a headstart, so to speak - or maybe a better image is that, while they have to prove that they're 'real' girls, they'll never have to prove that they are 'really' girls, whereas trans girls have to prove both. This is obviously not breaking news to you :) but I wanted to clarify my own thoughts.

Also, agreed with you that there's no reason why being an outlier is always going to be a bad thing. My whole reason why I find queer studies encouraging is that by focusing on norms and how they create certain boundaries, we can start seeing how these boundaries can be constantly questioned so that they're never allowed to be naturalized. Just because what we currently tend to do with civil rights is reframe 'belonging' so that certain citizens are included, doesn't mean it's the only way social transformation can happen.

Date: 2011-09-03 06:50 am (UTC)
ext_30914: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
TransKid: It makes me *very* uncomfortable how the article equates barbies and pink to being a girl. *bad shivers*
However, it's good to hear there are parents open to the reality of transkids.

Date: 2011-09-03 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yep, I'm right there with you. I don't think I've ever read an article about a trans kid that doesn't rely on ridiculously essentialist notions of gender, which is sad. :( I think it probably has a lot to do with how intense the backlash and criticism would be if anyone was cool with letting a kid who wasn't CLEARLY at odds with the normative expectations of their gender start transitioning. As in, a little boy who likes trucks but still identifies as a girl? 'He' HAS to be confused, not know yet, etc. :/

Date: 2011-09-03 03:13 pm (UTC)
ext_28210: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
Despite not being a big fan of the article's writing, it makes me very happy to see that there are parents who see what a child needs, and support him or her completely <3.

I also want to thank you for that 'Meet the men of #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend' article. I totally lost it at "This aging bitchwhore could be you!" PROMISES, PROMISES.

Date: 2011-09-03 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, that's mostly why I was posting it. The language in the article is super annoying overall.

Haha, Tiger Beatdown is awesome. XD Sometimes it's more harsh than funny (but still awesome!), but this one made me howl with laughter sometimes.


greenie_breizh: (Default)

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