Infertile Women Aren’t Your Political Pawn

What I’m about to say is for the male people out there. Because what I’m about to say is glaringly obvious to women.

Women are people who share a very important, defining set of experiences. Among these is whether or not an entirely new human being might emerge from our bodies, with or without our consent.

Before I go on, I’d like you to imagine, for a moment, the gravity of that. This experience does not merely wreck your body for nine months, and cramp your lifestyle for another 18 to 28 after that–though that’s HUGE. It also results in a human being walking the planet that was not there before. If a woman were to squat, give birth, and then walk away from the product of this event (as men do more often than not), she would be tried for MURDER. There is no parallel experience for men. This is something they cannot fully understand.

So women, understandably, spend a significant part of the years between 12 and 60 managing this possibility. Our sexual choices, unlike men’s, must revolve around the fact. Who will I have sex with (will he run screaming if I get pregnant?), when (am I fertile?), and with what contraception (is it effective enough?) are but a few of the considerations.

Then there’s the matter of rape, which is not only awful in and of itself, but also means that even young girls, celibate women and lesbians have to keep pregnancy on their radar.

When we’re not trying not to get pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, we are doing other things that relate directly to our biology: debating with doctors and politicians about our desire to manage our reproduction; sopping up rivers of blood month after month, while ensuring that absolutely nobody ever sees or even knows about the blood; taking a different bus and getting home before dark in the hopes of not getting raped.

“But some women are infertile!!!1!” my ex said to me, once, during one of our routine debates about whether “trans women” have anything significant in common with women. It’s not something he had some insight about–it’s just part of the playbook of things “trans women” tell each other to say when their “womanhood” is questioned.

And here comes the two statements that are obvious to women, but not to men, including those men who enjoy squishing their bodies into unusually colorful or restrictive clothing:

Infertile women aren’t born with a sign of their infertility stamped on their forehead. Most infertile women don’t know they’re infertile until they try to have a child.


Infertility doesn’t mean you run around blissfully exempt from concerns around pregnancy. For many if not most infertile women, infertility means being prone to having miscarriages.

So an infertile women has to spend the years after age 15 or so evaluating and taking birth control, making sexual decisions based on the possibility of pregnancy, deciding whether or not to have kids, panicking when she misses a period, and altering her daily routes and routines in the service of not getting raped. Just like other women.

Then, an infertile woman might, after finding the right partner, try to get pregnant. She might look forward to it and plan her career and life choices around it. She might make a decision about breastfeeding.  Just like other women.

Then, she might take pregnancy tests while she’s trying, and see a string of negative results, and then see a positive one, and then feel overjoyed, and start telling people and making even more plans. Just like other women.

Then, after taking prenatal vitamins, like other women, and going to an obstetrician, like other women, and watching her belly grow for a month, or two, or even nine, like other women, she might collapse in a pool of blood and be rushed to the hospital and find out that there will be no baby after all.

Oh, and also–miscarriages can be life-threatening.

Does that sound like a break from womanhood, to you? No. That’s a very, very female problem to have.

Then, it might happen to her another time or several other times before she learns that she’s infertile.

Or, she might see that positive pregnancy test, and be devastated, because it’s the wrong time–just like other women. She might consider abortion. She might go through with an abortion.

Just like trans women!

Oh wait–no.

Detect a theme here? Infertile women care about, and have experiences with, reproductive issues. Abortion. Birth control. Pregnancy. Pre-natal medicine. Women’s reproductive rights. Rape.

They may even have more traumatic experiences around reproduction than do other women.

So back the fuck off with your increasingly ignorant and self-serving statements about women.

Postmodern Sex

Articles keep popping up advising people (especially lesbians) on how to “have sex” with trans women. Among the creative acts recommended are “muffing” (fingering the inguinal canals, which are the indentations in the pelvis bone from which the testicles descended at puberty) and “eating ass.”

These ideas are usually proffered when people (especially lesbians) assert that they are not attracted to male bodies or penises. Well! goes the argument. That’s ok. Because sex with trans women doesn’t have to involve penises. It can involve, say, pelvis indentations and asses.

The problem with these recommendations is twofold. Problem one: people aren’t interested in becoming physically intimate with people they aren’t attracted to, notwithstanding the availability of previously-unimagined orifices.

Problem two: these acts aren’t all that enjoyable, especially to the performer. Arguably, they aren’t even sex.

Perhaps it’s intrinsically pleasurable to have your inguinal canal fingered. I wouldn’t know–I don’t have inguinal canals. However, I’m going to openly doubt it. I think it’s more likely that it’s validating–it allows trans women to imagine that they’re having some sort of sex, especially in a receptive (read “feminine”) way, especially with someone (i.e. a lesbian) who typically enjoys fingering and licking the bodies of actual females.

I’ve got this apparently old-fashioned view of sex, where it’s something you do with someone you’re attracted to, someone whose body you want to explore and ravish because you’re driven mad by it. For me, sex is not body parts chosen from an ala carte menu. It’s not an opportunity to signal your political alliances. It’s not when a reluctant person is pressured to rub up against another person whose body is, because of medical intervention, no longer sexually responsive.

We can keep stretching the definition of sex to its breaking point. For example, it’s pleasurable when someone rubs the inside of your elbow, too. But it isn’t sex. If it were sex, some of those who’ve experienced this pleasure would have to say they’ve had sex with their massage therapists, their doctors and their parents.

Sometimes strap-ons are defended as the “real” sex organs of trans men. Is it sex, then, if you retrieve a trans man’s dildo from her dresser drawer and stroke it when she isn’t home? With her consent, of course. I mean, if you’re attracted to men, why shouldn’t you be attracted to a trans man’s male organ?

These tortured definitions of sex become inevitable under queer theory. That’s why Judith Butler had to coin the term “post-genital sexuality.”

After all, if you’re going to defend transgender hormone use and surgery, you’re going to have to address the pesky concern that such interventions nearly always render their recipients uninterested in sex and/or unable to orgasm (don’t ask them–they lie about this. Ask their partners). And for some reason, as a transgender activist, you can’t tell the truth about this, perhaps choosing to defend transgender treatment as nonetheless worth the sacrifice. Instead, you have to pretend that hormone-using and post-op trans people have amazing and vibrant sex lives.

I get it. Any buyer’s remorse for those who have sacrificed their sexual pleasure to “gender” must be literally intolerable. As in, not to be tolerated. To be suppressed via rationalization.

Plus, “We’ll eliminate your orgasms!” is just bad PR.

Unfortunately, this defense mechanism hurts other people. Gender-questioning children and others who are being fed a lie about their future sexual and romantic prospects. Young lesbians who feel pressured to lick a man’s ass before admitting that they exclusively love, and desire, women.

Patriarchy’s always tried to get women to lick men’s asses. It’s just getting a lot more literal.

WoLF’s Opinion on Aimee Stephens v Harris Funeral Homes Is Wrong

Because it keeps coming up in both my real-life and online conversations, I’d like to state, and explain, my position on Aimee Stephens versus Harris Funeral Homes.

For those who don’t know, this case was brought before the Supreme Court in a bundle with two other cases, often referred to as “Bostock.” In the case in question, a male-born person informed the funeral home he worked for that he identified as a woman, and thus wished to wear the “women’s uniform” to work. The funeral home wanted Stephens to adhere to the dress code for men, and fired him. Women’s Liberation Front filed an amicus brief siding with the employer. The judge ruled in favor of Stephens. The judge’s decision was the correct decision for women’s rights.

People keep sending me various breakdowns and explanations of WoLF’s arguments, like this interview with once-WoLF member and lawyer Kara Dansky. They assume I disagree with WoLF’s stance because I don’t understand it. This is not the case. I disagree with WoLF’s stance because it is wrong.

For the record, I’ve met Kara, I like Kara, and Kara is often right. But let’s take a look at her brief explanation of WoLF’s position as articulated in the above interview. I’ll use her comments as a segue into my position on the matter.

My position will roughly fall into three main points:

  • This case is none of our business
  • WoLF’s position relies on thought crime
  • The judge’s decision was based on sex, not on “gender identity,” and thus is a win for sex-based rights

This case is none of our business

If radical feminists are going to score any wins for women’s sex-based rights, they’re going to need to do two things. One, they’re going to need to overcome the growing societal misconception that “radical feminist” equals “anti-trans.” It does not. Radical feminism is focused on preserving the sex-based rights of women and girls. If someone else’s interests are compromised in the service of preserving those rights, trans or not, that’s a side-effect of our cause, not a goal in and of itself.

Two, they’re going to need to focus on what’s important and what, speaking strategically, can succeed. Because of the above misconception, alongside the usual disregard for women’s voices in culture and politics, radical feminists can secure a very limited amount of time and attention from legislators and the public. Thus, we must not squander that.

For example, WoLF once weighed in on a case in which a high school girl lost a scholarship because a male-born person who identified as a girl placed before her in an athletic competition. This is a great use of radical feminist resources. It is both an issue for which the public is likely to be sympathetic, and an issue in which a girl was directly impacted. The public is more likely to care whether a talented girl lost a scholarship in an unfair competition–after all, half of us were once girls, and many people have daughters–than if a grown-ass man wears a dress to work.

What Aimee Stephens wanted to do, however misguided, did not directly impact any women or girls. We should not be interested in stopping this guy. We should not even notice this guy. And we certainly should not be sending the message to society that the vitriolic lies of trans activists are correct, and that we are, in fact, obsessed with opposing whatever transgender people happen to get up to.

WoLF’s position relies on thought crime

Let’s get to the information that’s widely regarded as what makes WoLF’s position defensible, and what I’m often told I’m probably misunderstanding.

At around 8:59, Kara says:

“What this case could have been about [was that the] employer’s policy of having sex-specific dress codes at work is unconstitutional or illegal in some other way. That could have been a very interesting argument to make. But that wasn’t the argument. “

Radical feminists generally agree that women should be allowed to wear pants to work. Radical feminists generally agree that Price v Waterhouse was decided fairly.

Because of these radical feminist positions, and because Kara thinks an argument about the constitutionality of the dress code “would have been a very interesting argument,” we can infer, or at least hope, that WoLF thinks the funeral home’s sex-based dress code is objectionable in the first place.

From a radical feminist perspective, it is an objectionable policy.

After reviewing a policy that’s objectionable, then, WoLF then goes on to weigh in on how the employer should apply its objectionable policy.

What’s next, radical feminists weighing in on how pharmacists can apply the objectionable policy of refusing to dispense birth control?

So there’s the first problem. WoLF aligned itself with an objectionable policy and the employer who created it.

Next, Kara says:

“But that wasn’t the argument. The argument was in fact that Stephens was factually and legally a woman.”

This brings us to my second problem. Either men should be allowed to wear dresses to work, or they shouldn’t. Holding that it’s ok for men to wear dresses to work while thinking certain thoughts (to quote Kara: “I am a man but I prefer the uniform designated for women”), but that it’s not ok for men to wear dresses while thinking other thoughts (“I am factually a woman”), is legally untenable–as well as silly. Likewise, arguing that employers can/should modify their dress code policies for men who think one thing, but not for men who think another, is also untenable.

And to refer back to my first point, it’s also an absurd thing to expect legislators or the general public to wrap their head around, much less agree with–for most people, the clothing choices of gender-nonconformists do not gain or lose credibility based upon the wearer’s thoughts.

The judge’s decision was based on sex, not on “gender identity,” and thus is a win for sex-based rights

Luckily, the Court was thinking more clearly than the members of WoLF were. It ruled in favor of the employer, and if you read the deliberation, you’ll see that its members repeatedly noted that it was not necessary to focus on “gender identity” as a new category, because discrimination against a transgender person collapses into a form of discrimination based on sex, already protected by precedent and by Title VII. The Supreme Court tends to do this. It makes decisions in the most conservative way possible, relying on precedent, and not introducing complexity where it is not needed.

As Neil Gorsuch put it:

“If the employer retains an otherwise identical employee who was identified as female at birth, the employer intentionally penalizes a person identified as male at birth for traits or actions that it tolerates in an employee identified as female at birth.”

Note the judge spoke of sex at birth, ensuring that his reference to biological sex cannot be confused with some conception of Stephens’ current “gender” situation. As an aside, he even used “identified” instead of “assigned!”

Or as Wikipedia puts it:

“the Court ruled… that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is necessarily also discrimination ‘because of sex’ as prohibited by Title VII. According to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion, that is so because employers discriminating against gay or transgender employees accept a certain conduct (e.g., attraction to women) in employees of one sex but not in employees of the other sex.”

At around 27:13, the interviewer asks Kara to comment on the “clash of rights” between women and transgender people. To this, Kara says:

“I don’t think it helps to think in terms of [one group against another]… it’s just women and girls getting to do the things we want to do… for thousands of years globally men have been deciding what we get to do in the law.”

That’s a fantastic explanation of what radical feminists ought to be fighting for. But WoLF’s involvement in this case calls that into question.

“Oh really?” I hear a transgender activist saying. “Then why care what Aimee Stephens wears to work? Sounds like it’s one group against another, after all, even when there are no women and girls being denied the right to do anything.”

And that transgender activist would be right.

If WoLF really wanted to weigh in, and really wanted to preserve the sex-based rights of women and girls, as opposed to inhibiting the harmless shenanigans of men, it should have sided with Stephens, arguing, as the Court more or less ultimately did, that he was being reprimanded as a male behaving in a way incongruous with the behavior expected of males.

Now to address one more objection I often hear: this decision will not be well understood and will be used to justify other, more insidious decisions.

Yes, that is true. That’s true because society is currently hell-bent on eradicating the rights of women and girls, and they’ll be happy to use this and everything else they can find in the service of doing so.

But that doesn’t mean the Court’s decision was wrong.

When Your Values Are at Odds with Transition

One thing that happens when you write a memoir is that your values become abundantly clear.

A memoir, even when it’s about the author’s encounter with a difficult person, is about the author herself. It won’t resonate with readers if it’s a just list of complaints about someone else.

If you’re doing your job while you’re composing a memoir, you’re asking yourself:

  • Why did that one incident, in particular, bother me?
  • What was it I found odd about the other person’s stance that I couldn’t quite put my finger on?
  • What was I trying to say in that argument we had?
  • What couldn’t I abide, in the end, and why?
  • What final straw broke the camel’s back?

What’s become clear is that my values were at odds with my ex’s. Specifically, my values were at odds with the values he acquired as he became involved in transgender activism.

My ex likes to twist any value difference between us into “transphobia” on my part. For him, it simply isn’t possible to hold legitimate values at odds with his own. There are only illegitimate ones, namely, conservatism and aversion to difference. Thus, if I’m not on board I must be a conservative and a person who was “disgusted” with his presentation.

It’s a bald-faced lie. I vote democrat. I’m 100% pro-choice (unlike my ex, who once said pregnant minors should have to consult their parents before getting an abortion). I recognize and sympathize with the oppression of minorities. I’m in a same-sex relationship. I support the right of everyone to love who they love and wear what they want. I’ve dated “girly” boys and “manly” women (for lack of better terms). I supported my ex’s identity in many ways, before he lost his mind, from buying him clothes and manicures to role-playing in bed.

So no.

I am not a conservative and never have been. My ex’s values changed, not mine. The values I hold, which I’m about to share, were once his, too. Or at least he said they were.

These are the values I hold that interfered with our relationship after he began to pursue transition:

  • Honesty. I couldn’t keep lying to someone and for someone. I couldn’t keep moving my mouth in the service of dishonesty without feeling dirty and compromising my soul. I couldn’t keep biting my tongue and censoring myself to keep from blowing over someone else’s house of cards. I intend to live and speak the truth, however inconvenient for others.
  • Body-positivity. It’s kind of a dumb modern phrase, but the concept is sound. It’s better to love your body than to hate it. It’s better to treat it kindly than to harm it.  It’s better to age gracefully than to pursue youth and beauty. A person’s value comes from his mind and his ethics, not in the conformity of his body to some standard. Physicality is superficial. A failure to come to terms with one’s physicality is a failure of mental health because it’s unsustainable: our bodies deteriorate and forever move toward an undesirable state. There is no a way to “support” a transitioning person without encouraging or condoning his bodily hatred. And because I’m not religious, bodily hatred is self-hatred. There aren’t “good” reasons to hate your body, and I can’t, in good conscience, support someone’s idea that there are and watch him injure himself in the service of that self-hatred.
  • Emotional intimacy. You aren’t being emotionally intimate when you’re lying or being lied to. You can’t become close when you’re evading topics because you don’t want to hurt feelings or you fear increasingly frequent outbursts of temper. When calm and rational discussions must end because of thought-terminating phrases about “triggering” and “feeling safe,” real communication has been lost.
  • Physical intimacy. This is threatened when one partner’s addiction to role-playing supersedes normal sex. It’s threatened when one partner removes and suppresses the sex characteristics that turn the other partner on. It’s threatened when one partner’s self-centeredness precludes his interest in pleasing his partner.  It’s threatened by the decreased sexual response that are a side-effect of hormones. It’s threatened by surgery.
  • A tremendous respect for female people. It is simply not possible to value women in all our uniqueness while defending or accepting the idea that we are nothing but a collection of indistinct traits, indistinguishable from kangaroos, smoke and mirrors, and men who play Grand Theft Auto and jack off to tranny porn. Women are people who are shaped by intense shared experiences from childhood sexualization to the need to subdue rivers of blood to the knowledge that a new human being can emerge from our bodies if we’re not careful. This is not trivial.  One cannot respect women while subordinating women to whichever men utter the right incantations.

I won’t apologize for valuing honesty, body-positivity, intimacy and a respect for female people.

Instead, opponents need to explain why dishonesty, self-hatred, a compromised ability to participate intimately with a partner and a hatred of women must become a necessary consequence of gender dysphoria.

“Listen to Trans People’s Stories”

“Listen to trans people’s stories!” is a common response when women hint at the possibility that being trans is not exactly the same thing as being female.

As someone who was married to a “trans woman” and tried to make it work, I can’t be accused of not listening to trans people’s stories. I heard them in the most honest, most intimate setting possible, over and over again for more than a year.

As someone who has attended trans support groups, I can’t be accused of not listening to trans people’s stories. I heard them straight from the source: trans people in trans spaces.

As someone who has attended trans spouses’ support groups, I’ve heard more intimate, honest, letting-the-guard-down “trans stories” than anyone else I know, from women who wanted to stay married to trans people–the people who are most invested in hearing and understanding trans stories.

And as it turns out, the “trans story,” or at least the “trans woman story,” is overwhelmingly a story about sexual paraphilia.

A paraphilia is an “experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, or behaviors.”

The majority of “trans women,” especially the ones who did not consider themselves gay at a young age, are sexually attracted to feminine clothing and to themselves in it.  Most started with erotic cross-dressing. At some point later they became more interested in looking in the mirror than looking at their partner. For people born male, the line between “transgender” and “transvestic fetishist” is by no means a clear one.

Some are also turned on by acting “girly,” by the bodily functions of women such as menstruation, by the idea or reality of having breasts and constructed sex organs via hormones or surgery, or by several of these in conjunction.

Their marriages break down in large part because fetishism, by definition, is an interest that takes over and pushes out other, normal, partner-centered intimate activities.

This is hard for some to believe because we spouses of “trans women” often stay silent, lest we get mowed down by an angry mob with torches on social media. Over something we’ve experienced directly, and they’re merely guessing about!

It’s also hard to believe because “trans women,” my ex included, are out there marching on the platform that the sexual component is a dirty lie (all the while at home asking me to pull down his lace panties and call him a bitch). 

Of course that’s the official story. The true story–the sexual one–threatens to open a real dialog on whether trans women should access women’s locker rooms and other spaces.

But the medical community is well aware of the sexual story. A phenomenon called “autogynephilia,” a “male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female,” “underlie[s] transvestism and some transsexualism.” Although activists have tried to discredit the term, a search on something like Pub Med shows it’s alive and well among medical professionals.

Here, transsexual psychologist Anne Lawrence compiles 249 first-person accounts of trans women describing sexual attraction to themselves in feminine clothing or situations.

Did you know that men with fetishes and paraphilias tend to have more than one? And that “transvestites” fit that model?

Please note that all above links are to studies or medical or legal sources, not blogs or opinion pieces.

You might ask why the medical community supports transition in light of the fetish connection. Here are some interesting facts:

1. Up until recently, they did in fact oppose transition for fetishists. That changed after pressure by transgender activists to eliminate such “gatekeeping.” It’s worth thinking about why the transgender community does not want to ferret out fetishists from their midst, nor to see them denied transgender medical services.

2. Prescribing hormones to transgender people is still an off-label use. That means hormones are not approved by the FDA for transition. Doctors who prescribe them in such a way do so in contradiction of available research.

3. Many medical professionals are sounding the alarm about the lack of “robust evidence” behind the current protocol, some calling it a “medical scandal.”

Now let me make one thing clear. I don’t necessarily think fetishists are awful people. I’m not here to make judgments on paraphilias one way or the other. I think that topic is complicated, and in any case, it’s not my area of expertise.

But I also don’t think we have to pretend that men with fetishes are women. After all, “Fetishism is seen almost exclusively in men” per the DSM.

So yes, listen to trans women’s stories. You could start with the ones where numerous “trans women” on Reddit confess getting “spontaneous boners” from wearing women’s clothes and thinking about transition. (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 +)

We can listen to trans people’s stories, be fearlessly honest, protect the rights of trans people, and protect the rights of women and girls all at the same time.

No one should be denied employment or housing over how they dress. No one should be beaten up over what they look like.

But protecting the rights of trans people doesn’t have to mean redefining “woman” as anyone who gets a hard-on while wearing a dress.

Protecting the rights of trans people doesn’t have to mean making a civil rights crisis out of a tampon fetishist’s desire to share a women’s locker room with pre-teen girls.

Listen to trans people’s real stories, not the lies that are sanctioned by the activist community.

And when you do, consider whether those stories are the stories of women.

The Emasculation Fetish versus Womanhood

My ex-husband was aroused by wearing lingerie.

I used to refrain from saying that. First, I refrained in order to be respectful of his privacy. But then he decided to make a three-year post-divorce mission of dragging my name through the mud on social media. He decided to reveal my alleged dirty laundry–like that I called him a “tranny”–without revealing his dirty laundry–like that the entire reason I called him a “tranny” was that he requested it, in the bedroom, for a sexual thrill (I had used the word zero times before that request, despite his tossing in a completely fictional story that suggests otherwise). So I’m less motivated to respect his privacy now.

Then, I refrained from saying it because  he’s a “trans woman” and it’s become strictly verboten–illegal, in some places–to say things about “trans women” that they don’t want said. Even if they’re true. Even if the “trans women” themselves said the same thing last week on transgender forums.

My ex-husband was also aroused by being called insulting names, like “bitch” and “slut” alongside the aforementioned “tranny.” He was also aroused by being tossed around and mistreated in the bedroom.

He was also aroused by “sissification” porn, a genre in which men are forced into wearing women’s clothes as a humiliating punishment for some offense.

Notice the conflation of the feminine with the demeaning.

My ex-husband went on to become a prominent transgender activist in my area who loves to repeat lines like “being transgender isn’t a sexual thing.”

A man once wrote to Dan Savage and said that he wanted his girlfriend to squeeze his testicle really hard until it popped.

Emasculation fetish is a powerful thing.

There’s a paraphilia called “cuckolding” in which men like to watch their wives have sex with other men. Judging by their posts on “cuckolding” forums, they especially enjoy it if the other man is extra masculine and virile and if he manhandles the wife. Cuckold-fetishists like being tied up and otherwise prevented from interfering with the sex they’re watching. There’s a strong element of being “shown up” by this “better,” more alpha male.

That’s reflected in the non-fetish, general dictionary definition of the term:

Cuckold: a man whose wife is sexually unfaithful, often regarded as an object of derision.

In biology, it applies to male animals who “unwittingly invest parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own.” In other words, a sucker. A fool. Emasculated.

On a cuckolding forum recently, a man expressed his glee at discovering that his pregnant wife’s “bull”–a name given to the man who has sex with the wife–is HIV positive. The cuckold fetishist has been “rock hard” ever since, he enthused, to know that “only a thin strip of latex” protects his wife and child from wasting of an incurable, debilitating disease.

Misogyny is behind the emasculation fetish.

It is misogyny to conflate “female” with “demeaning.” It is misogyny to call your wife’s lover a “bull,” as if she is some animal you’re arranging to have bred. It is misogyny to get a hard-on at the thought of infecting your wife with a virus.

Emasculation might seem, at worst, like a disrespect of men rather than of women. But why is it disrespectful to treat men like women? Because of misogyny.

The power of the emasculation fetish comes from the indignity of being “feminized.” Women are for abusing, not men! Imagine wanting to be as worthless as a woman!

Around one-quarter of men who die of autoerotic asphyxiation–that is, choking yourself while masturbating–are cross-dressed when they are discovered. (1 2 3 4 5 6)

The risk of being caught dead and cross-dressed is a sexual thrill for some men. It’s the titillating fear of emasculation.

Studies have shown that cross-dressing has a high comorbidity with other fetishes and paraphilias. Almost as if it is a sexual thing!

On Reddit, a man once posted that he wanted a surgeon to remove his testicles and replace them with fake testicles. He frequented transgender forums, for what it’s worth.

Are you detecting a trend?

Do I think my ex-husband is a terrible person for acquiring an emasculation fetish? Do I think he’s going to choke himself to death or jack off to exposing another person to injury? Do I think he has ten other paraphilias?

Not necessarily.

Am I a “kink-shamer?” Much as I hate that word, no. No, I am not.

That’s why for a time, I called my ex-husband a “tranny” and a “bitch” and threw him around in the bedroom at his request.

I’ve indulged my share of kinks. I’ve had my share of kinks. As long as people act out their kinks with consenting partners, and without hurting anyone else, it’s not really my bag to call out kink behavior.

But do I think that fetishistic behavior in males equates to womanhood?

No. It does not.

If anything, it illuminates the very maleness of the thing.

Thought experiment: How many women do you know who get wet at the thought of having their ovaries removed?

“Fetishism is seen almost exclusively in men,” says the DSM, the health care field’s authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders, which include fetishes and paraphilias.

Getting off on misogyny is not the same thing as being female.

It’s practically the opposite.

On Believing Things That Aren’t True

For approximately twenty-five years, I believed I had straight hair, even though I have wavy hair. How did this happen?

It all started when I was a kid. Back then, I really did have straight hair (you can see it in photos). And my mom never cut it, so it was long. Down-past-my-butt long. My mom beamed when talking about her daughter’s beautiful, long, thick, straight hair. Other people complimented it a lot, too.

When I became a teenager I cut it and started getting perms, like you do in the 80s. That lasted off and on until my twenties. I liked perms even after I stopped liking 80’s “big hair” because perms gave my lifeless hair some texture and seemed to make it easier to “fix.” (Fixing it was important to me back then.)

So I don’t know exactly when my hair started getting a wave in it.

I do know that when my hair got a wave in it, I continued to believe it was straight and to say it was straight.

There were plenty of clues to the contrary. Like the stubborn wave in it that caused me to need to straighten it if I wanted it straight. But I had some weird justifications for that. First, the wave was a big wave, not a small one. I think I thought of wavy hair as containing cute, small waves that repeated and looked nice when you left them alone, not as containing one or two annoying big waves that just served to make your hair look messy.

Secondly, I’d sometimes say my hair was bendy like fishing line. It wasn’t that it had a wave in it. It was that I had leaned on it funny, or something, and it had bent, and it was wont to retain such a bend more readily than other people’s hair.

I think, in some strange way, I identified as a person with straight hair, because I’d once had straight hair and to some extent was rewarded for having straight hair.  Andy Worhol once said something about the trap of “self-imitation.” He was talking about art. But maybe there was something similar at work.

Anyway, I was at my hairdresser only sometime in the past few years and I mentioned something about my straight hair.

“Oh honey,” he said. “Your hair isn’t straight. It’s wavy.”

I asked if he was sure. I mentioned that it was bendy like fishing line. He rolled his eyes.

“Your hair is wavy, my dear,” he said.

“It’s quite wavy.”

Then I realized he was right. The damn hair was wavy. That’s why it was hard to fix. That’s why it retained a bend. That’s why it looked wavy.

Good lord. Why had I been spending decades telling myself that it was straight?

It’s instructive to face that I went so long believing something untrue, that I sincerely held a belief that needed correcting. It helps explain why other people think things that are untrue in the face of so much evidence to the contrary.

As I’ve mentioned in a recent post, a lot of people think that people like my ex (straight, late-onset, masculine, geeky) are “faking it.” He’s not. He thinks he’s a woman (though he clearly crashes against some cognitive dissonance once in a while as evidenced by some of the things he says). He also thinks other people can tell he’s a woman. This isn’t even a belief that he passes, but a belief that the woman-magic is seeping out of him in a recognizable way. He also believes I’ve called him names I’ve never uttered in my life. He’s also more or less heard voices.

I have examples. But you’ll have to wait for the book. (Soon.)

Honestly, it’s been one of the hardest things about it all. If he was just a dick (I mean he’s that too, now, but), it would be easier to write off the whole experience as me accidentally getting involved with a dick. Instead, a person who was once kind and thoughtful and seemed to be facing reality has drilled so far into a bizarre inner world that he’s lost his personality, his grip on reality, and his connection to some of the friends and family who have shown him the most love.

My straight hair delusion was an easy-ish one to fix, all things considered. Not like being forced to update your beliefs on the existence of God or the fact that what your friend did that one time when you were asleep was assault. (I’ve had to do both of those.)

And yet, I went for a remarkably long time not seeing something obvious and benign and objective about myself that was right in front of my face (literally, sometimes).

What if I had insisted everyone see my hair as straight? What if I’d gotten mad at my hairdresser for his hair-phobic views? What if I’d said it was all of dire importance to me? Would people have stopped seeing the wave in my hair?

Identity is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. My ex once said to me, “I identify as a woman, same as you.”

But I didn’t identify as a woman, and I said so. That’s not to say that I identified as something else, but that I did not identify at all when it comes to gender–it all seemed like a set of made-up stereotypes that I found irrelevant. Might as well ask me which Harry Potter character I’m most like when I don’t read fantasy novels. Yes, I’m watching the shitstorm that can occur when one woman even alludes in a tolerant way to another woman’s belief that “sex is real” (even though that’s not why I chose that example; It’s one I’ve used before).

“Sex is real.” That’s what’s been named as the most hateful and criminally intolerable claim of our times. Not the spewing of “you cunt” and “suck my dick” and “die” that has been hurled in return, but the relatively boring “sex is real.” That’s how far things can go when people are committed to believing things that are untrue.

Anyway, I didn’t know what identifying as a woman was like, much to my ex’s ire and to his certainty that I was in some way lying to invalidate him.

I also don’t identify as a white person. Again, not because I’m something else, but because that would be weird. People can see my white face and they’re going to behave accordingly. They don’t need my commentary one way or the other.

If I were going to bother to identify as something, I’d identify as an artist. But I don’t, because I haven’t done any art in a while, and because I know that other people are only going to identify me as an artist if they see me make art, and further, if they like that art well enough that they feel it has some cred. I don’t get why I’d try to coerce their view, outside of just trying to make some good art and show it to them and hope they adopt the view on their own.

That’s what identifying is all about, isn’t it? Making a claim to something that isn’t obvious, is perhaps even counterfactual. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have to identify. People would just know.

That’s the problem, for me. Coercing others’ views on things they’re not inclined to believe, or worse, getting them to pretend to agree, is squarely on the dishonesty spectrum. And if there’s anything I’ve come to learn about myself over the last few years it’s that I hate being dishonest.

I only ever do it under duress, like telling a hiring manager that I’m excited about the project when maybe I just need to pay the bills and feed myself. Someday I’d like to shed even the little white lies required of me by capitalism and other compelled social arrangements. Why not? What’s so scary about a world in which people tell the truth? I personally think it would revolutionize everyone’s bravery, compassion and ability to make a difference in the world. It’s my little utopian fantasy.

I have no interest in identifying as anything. I have no interest in coercing anyone’s thoughts or language. I’m interested only in interacting with people as free agents, who are free to voluntarily accept, reject, or question whatever I throw out there. Otherwise, why not check out of real life and surround myself with agreeable bots on social media?

Actually, that seems to be more or less what a lot of people are doing.

I’m going to stick with honesty as best as I can.

If someone comes along and tells me my hair is wavy, maybe they’re right. Maybe I have something to learn from them.

Is my hair wavy? Is yours? Why can’t we have those conversations? I’m not afraid.

Shout Out to the Asexuals

There’s an “asexual” in my class and one in the Pride group where I work.

It’s easy to be snarky. There are so many snarky things to say about asexuals:

  • Asexuality isn’t a sexual orientation. There are gay men who don’t want sex, lesbians who don’t want sex, bi people who don’t want sex and straight people who don’t want sex. Asexuals know they have an orientation apart from “asexual;” that’s why they invented the words heteroromantic, homoromantic et al. It isn’t necessary to create a new identity every time someone wants or doesn’t want something.
  • Asexuals aren’t an oppressed minority. No one who might hire you or rent you an apartment can tell whether you like sex or not. It isn’t stamped on your face. Maybe your asexuality manifests in your being perpetually single (though it needn’t), but being single is something everyone, gay, straight or bi, is at some point (and often over and over again).
  • Because of all this, asexuals who join the LGBTQ+ movement look a lot like just another flavor of straight person who inexplicably seems to crave queer cred.
  • Almost every “asexual” I’ve ever met has changed their mind within a few months to a couple of years. It’s almost as if they were going through the perfectly normal experience of not being tortured with constant arousal and/or finding other things in life to prioritize.

But goddess love ’em, in the end I believe asexuals are reacting to a toxic sexual culture.

They are mostly young, mostly female, and mostly heterosexual. The messages they’re receiving from society in the age of social media and “sex-positive” wokeness are absolutely nauseating to anyone with a shred of decency at their core. The males in their age range are completely unsuitable for having sex with. It’s always been a challenge for women to find caring and reciprocal partners, but female pleasure doesn’t even seem to be on the collective radar anymore.

Not having sex under these circumstances is the most rational response a woman can have.

Here’s what a sexual culture that’s toxic to women looks like:

  • This video of a bunch of inexcusably clueless and selfish men tee-heeing about how they can’t be bothered to make their partners orgasm.
  • Porn that’s more violent than ever and more ubiquitous than ever.
  • A cultural stigmatization of “kink-shaming” that has bafflingly come to mean that committing cruel and unusual sex practices is preferable to questioning cruel and unusual sex practices.
  • An atmosphere where a high school teacher friend of mine found a girl crouching under and chained to a boy’s desk, surrounded by a number of other boys, in the middle of class. When questioned, the boys insisted they were all having a consensual BDSM relationship.
  • A world where Teen Vogue advises teenage girls (who have probably never even had decent “regular” sex, see point one) on how to take a dick up the butt. It was bad enough when boys, patriarchy, movies, music and porn were doing that, but now trusted adults posing as sex educators are doing it too.
  • A world where a teen magazine wouldn’t be caught dead teaching boys (much less girls) to perform cunnilingus well. Where’s all that sex-positivity now? Oh, right. It was only ever male-orgasm-positivity after all.

Who can blame a young woman for feeling turned off in a world like this?

The problem is that “asexuality” is a short-term and individualistic solution to a systemic problem. My classmate writes poetry on her “mixed-orientation” relationships, whereby men pressure her for sex and she resists it, and the whole thing is presented as some interesting journey of divergent souls finding a middle ground in a complicated world.

My classmate believes that unenjoyable, coerced sex is normal, and that she’s the unusual one. The “other.” The one whose “identity” requires naming. The one whose quirk requires working around.

It would be better for her soul, and for the soul of society, if she could embrace and thereby spread the absolute normalcy of not wanting to make oneself available for abuse.

But that’s too much to ask of a young woman. It’s easier to take on a quirky identity than to understand that almost every male around you is broken.