On April 16, 2010, Vexing wrote at Feministing that she’s frustrated with the transgendered females she’s met who don’t acknowledge that becoming female has caused them to lose privilege. (For a discussion of privilege, see yesterday’s post.) She wants to know how to convince them that when they were gender-normative males (meaning their gender identity matched their genitalia), they had male privilege and that once they transitioned to female, they lost it.
Vexing’s frustration comes from the reactions she’s received from these transgendered females. They don’t see a problem at all. She hypothesizes that they are so thrilled with being female that they’re willing to put up with the sexism and discrimination that comes with it. Some even appear to welcome it, as a kind of proof that they are indeed being accepted as women.
It’s not just transgendered females who feel this way. Plenty of gender-normative women seem willing to accept what society dishes out because “after all, it goes with the territory.” These women usually insist that the benefits of being women—being sought after sexually, protected and supported, able to have children, and not having to work—far outweigh the possible deficits—being abused sexually, controlled and mistreated, left high and dry when they become pregnant, and not being able to find meaningful work that pays well.
A woman who refuses to call herself a feminist is one divorce or beating away from becoming one. Everything’s fine as long as she gets to be the star of her perfect little life. But when reality sets in, when she experiences the negative side of being female, when she wakes up and realizes that men get a larger share of the pie than women do, then she may begin to wonder if being a woman is all that it’s cracked up to be.
One in six women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Women get poorer after a divorce than men do. Women still bear the greater share of the burden of housework and child-rearing, even if they work as many hours outside of the home as their husbands and boyfriends do. Women are the ones who get pregnant, who work at lower-paying jobs, who are seen as easy prey by rapists and murderers. Women are treated like sex objects, trafficked into sexual slavery, and made into whores.
Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be a woman?
Of course most women don’t have a choice. But if they could choose, if they could have a do-over, would they still want to be born female?
Feminists have often been accused of not being comfortable with their gender identity (after all, everyone knows that a feminist is either an overt or a covert lesbian). They gravitate toward feminism because they’re not satisfied by marriage and motherhood. They hate their own gender and all that it stands for, so they devote themselves to tearing apart the fabric of true womanhood. The bottom line is, they’d rather be men.
That’s hogwash. Feminists value womanhood so much they’re willing to fight for every woman’s right to be what she has always dreamed of. Not every woman wants to be a wife or a mother or a homemaker, just as not every woman wants to be a career woman. And some women want it all. Feminism says that nobody has the right to stand in a woman’s way or to restrict her choices in life, whatever they may be.
Being a woman isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. But it could be.