Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I'm a waitress. Be one too.

To have acceptance for all variation, which is the abundance we find in humans, this is and will be my desire. But sadly this is not the way of things here, where, for example last month TWO men beat infants to death (well one is still in a coma), boxing with a 2 year old and in the other case a 9 month old in order ‘to make him a MAN.’

The statement implies that manhood in the west is something that can be taken away by not fitting into the gender standards, both in actions, presentation, orientation and otherwise. I am sure we have all heard of ‘Real Men’, which begs the linguistic question of ‘What then is everyone else?’ The worst possible thing to have happen, as many males see it, is to lose or even be questioned about ‘manhood’. If someone is questioning if they have it, then it is already too late, they seem to think. That is how, three years ago, ANOTHER man, actually put boxing gloves on his one year old and progressively beat him to death. His reason, “I didn’t want him to be gay, I wanted him to be a MAN.”

Do men need to put the word, ‘real’ in front of themselves in order to know they are men? I have never found that those who are, I use the term, ‘gentlemen’, would need that word. They as men who know how to be gentle, and yet to lose nothing of maleness, and know that kindness and caring do not diminish them.

We have lost this lesson often. In this culture, women learn that they are to bend, to change as demanded, while men are to remain steadfast. Why? Well, probably because the guys are so scared to be thrown off the ‘man’ truck that the definition of that means loving the guy involves changing how women act. This is true in the workplace as well. It is sad because for those who want to experience the gender representation or interests are those who are wise. Merlin, in the great description of his wisdom listed among his great feats of magic, and learning that he lived for seven years as a woman, and also a wife in the hearth. This is listed as something that brought him wisdom, which increased his knowledge, magic, and understanding.

In other cultures, gender moving, or going from one gender or set of interests or presentation to another is not that big a deal. There are words for those who have just changed gender presentation, and words for those who choose no gender presentation, but once person has finished changing, or decided to stay in one gender, then they are referred to as that gender. It is a gift.

Compare that to a study listed in Michael Kimmels’ A Gendered Society: Junior high school students in North Midwestern States were asked what they would do if they woke the next morning to find themselves transformed into the opposite sex. The girls thought about the question for a while, expressed modest disappointment, then described the kinds of things they would do if they were suddenly transformed into boys. Become a fireman, doctor, policeman, or baseball player were typical answers. The boys, by contrast, took virtually no time before answering. “Kill myself” was the most common answer when they contemplated life as a girl.

No time, immediate response: kill myself.

That’s not about sickness, or dementia, or being disabled, since I had one person tell me how all those in the catagories, particularly dementia would be better off dead. But then, that is about control, isn’t it. People don’t want to be disabled because it means aspects they don’t have control over. You can show them studies that people with lock-ed in syndrome, like the one mentioned by William Pearce at his blog, are general happy. And they just don’t want to believe you. You can tell them that people in wheelchair are, after a new life routine is established, for the most part, in the majority, generally happy. Sure, there are people who are unhappy and I think that everyone has aspects of their life of which they are not happy but generally, happy. Not sitting around waiting for someone to approach them with a pillow to smother them.

So, from 14 years, the girls, who know that life is not exactly something you are going to control, think about it seriously. And for the boys, perhaps they think they are being watched and that if they even THINK about it, they won’t be a ‘real man,’

However that occurs, it seems a loss. It is like choosing in junior high to never, ever leave your town because that way everything will stay the same. Except, that the town you grew up in doesn’t stay the same, does it?

And that is because we have a society in which male and female is something that absolutely MUST be consistent from birth. And that is NOT a gift.

Linda was, when government downsized, the only ‘out’ LGBT person in her ministry, the only ‘out’ manager. Does that mean that gays and lesbians are 1 in 6,000 in Victoria? It might explain the low Pride turnout.

In the episode ‘We come in Peace’ in season 2 of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, I was happy to find the first affirming trans main character I had ever seen in the West. Alison, called Skynet coming after her, ‘A gift’. ‘Who has the courage to truly live the life they want to live deep inside?’ And during her hypnosis session, to find a factory where they are building terminator parts, Alison talks a lot about secrets. The job was where you were picked up and blindfolded to the job site, at the job, you had an office with no window, and you were driven home.

‘Do you mind not being able to see?” she is asked in hypnosis.

“No, (a laugh), I don’t mind, I like secrets.”

“What about the office? No way to view in or out.”

“No, I like not being seen, and besides, I have a secret too..”

“What is your secret?” the hypno-therapist asks.

(a laugh) “The secret is…..I’m a waitress.”

It is a reference to something Sarah Connor tells her, that in the same way Alison killed the person she was, and became Alison, Sarah before she became a warrior, a spy, a mother, she was a waitress. And that was the part and personality she had to kill off to survive. I like that, because now, it takes so much pain, so much effort and determination to hold on. I have to do things which make me cry and shiver in fear, and I do them regularly. It is not a life I would have thought possible, and yet it is possible. I used to be a waitress. (hard job, particularly when liquor is involved but not hard in the way needed when survival is at stake).

The discrimination, which is violent, and often life threatening in active or passive ways towards those who are LGBT comes because to quote the manga Aeisu, “In this society there is only a path of to be men and to be women.” And if someone crosses the perceived aspects of gender, or sex toward another’s personal belief, or cultural belief, and they feel threatened because of that, then violence, active or passive, like denial or services, or housing, or jobs can and often does occur.

We pretend that the burden of bullying is too great. When intersex children are born, or in puberty, or late puberty, they find out, the first concern of all: doctors, family, teachers is to hide, hide it all away. ‘It will be too hard on the child’ the doctor will tell the parents, or the teacher will say. ‘Other children won’t understand, the parents won’t understand.’

‘understand’ is code for, ‘will be intolerant, will bully, will harass, will humiliate.’ It is the same argument used against trans teens, which is why 50% of homeless teens are gender variant, or orientation variant.

And so, all of us, as a society, live a life of secrets, or the enforcing of secrets. Why? Because it produces happier people: no, teen suicide attempts for gay teens are 4 times national average and for trans teens is up to 10 times. Personal violence, destruction of books, of cars, of lockers, and bullying go up to levels where it is a small, small minority which has NOT experienced it. And why? I don’t understand, except what has already been written on the body. And that means, I know it occurs, and I know how horrific that is, and that it can leave a person terrorized, or shunned, or change behavior due to fear for years, or decades. A bad incident of harassment as a child cross dressing can make a boy into a father who ‘hates those queers’

I don’t like bullying. It has a twisting kind of ugly that eats away at both people. Also, please refrain from beating infants to death to make them ‘men’ or take away choice and spend years dispiriting a child to make her ‘a proper girl.’ Or 'my princess.' I know I’ll never be ‘proper’ and I think I would be concerned if I was.


wendryn said...

Getting acceptance requires fighting, first to be seen, then to be accepted as equals. It isn't easy and it isn't fast. The way people treat their children makes me unreasonably angry, and these are no exception - this society seems to accept that the most vulnerable and helpless are acceptable victims.

I'm sorry. I'm ranting a little. This was well written. I do hope that someday our society is not ruled by fear as much as it is now.

Baba Yaga said...

I'm at a loss for words.

Grateful that you weren't.

tinarussell said...

It’s frustrating how much femininity and female-ness is considered a sort of downgrade, and how often people think masculinity is incompatible with affection or tenderness. It’s insulting to so many people on so many levels.

Oh, and the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force did a study on discrimination against trans people (PDF), and for all ages at least, 41% of transgender people report attempting suicide at least once. This is compared to 1.6% for the general population; that means the attempted-suicide rate for trans people is _26 times higher_.

(All the ghastly statistics in that study are consistent with knowledge passed around anecdotally in the trans community, but seeing them verified scientifically is chilling. I can only hope people will wake up to the problem of trans discrimination, oh, about _now_...)

Neil said...

Hmm. You don't seem to post until I forget to check daily. :)

Gender standards: they're stupid. Life as a female? I'd look at it as a real challenge. It's easy enough for females to burp and fart and act like guys (usually tasteless), but could I learn to be a female? Could I learn to wear heels, dare I try a mini-skirt? In public???

An overnight gender change would have to be a 100% change, though, since I'd want to know what sex is like from the other point of view, and I'd like to experience being pregnant. (Yeah, there's a lot of female in me anyway, even as a guy. AND I'm confident enough in myself to admit it.) Dear old Mr. Heinlein's "I Will Fear No Evil" always fascinated me.

Thank you, Beth, for pointing out, yet again, some of the intolerance and fears of our modern society. Maybe we will learn tolerance someday. Maybe when pigs migrate annually in flocks.

And thanks for writing so powerfully, even when it costs you so much!

Good luck with the job hunting, Linda!! I'm sending you prayers and positive energy too, m'dear.

Love and zen hugs to both of you,