The Skyler White Effect
The cognitive dissonance that happens when a female character is presented by the narrative as absolutely correct in their judgment of a male character, and yet the viewers assume she’s the bitch.
First thing first: I HATE THIS BLOG POST.
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll explain why….
1. She is speaking over a community she doesn’t understand.
The first piece of evidence is in her us of the word “cisgendered.” I automatically can’t take her seriously. I do my best not to spend too much time in my academic ivory tower, and I do feel a tinge of pretension at having to call this linguistic issue out…but, in the same breath, I’m not sure it is too much to ask that a person be well-read on a subject matter that they are taking such a stark stand against. (Also, she drops a “genderqueers” in there and that is a big No No.) All that aside, the author of this post makes it painfully clear that she does not have a good understanding of nonbinary/genderqueer identities and how these terms operate for the people who use them when she repeatedly conflates masculinity/femininity and gender roles/stereotypes with the use of these identifiers. There are AFAB people who identify as both masculine and female. There are AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and masculine. There are also plenty of AFAB people who identify as NB/GQ and feminine. Or a mix of both. Or neither. It is far too simplistic to infer that masculine women just stop being women because they are also masculine. Actually, it doesn’t even make sense. Also, there are plenty of AMAB people who are male and effeminate and then those who identify as trans feminine. NB/GQ identities have nothing to do with stereotypes surrounding masculinity and femininity. Or gender roles. When a cis woman to declares that her favorite hobby is weightlifting, she doesn’t know how to cook, and she has no desire to carry a child she is not forced out of her cisness or her relationship with womanhood. She is merely breaking some silly stereotypes constructed around what it means to be a “good” woman. However, if she wakes up one day and says to herself, “Self…I’m not convinced the gender binary is for me anymore,” well, then….WELCOME TO THE CLUB! I would also like to note that this in no way precludes this person from identifying with womanhood (**cough cough** like me **cough cough**). There are a lot of challenges facing cis women and even more facing trans women. Finding yourself more comfortable with a NB/GQ doesn’t mean you have to remove yourself from a sisterhood if you still find that it speaks for you. I also find that this line of thinking only furthers gender policing in all of its many forms….which in this case just calls to mind the cis gatekeeping of the trans community. The worst part of her argument are the essentialist terms she uses to defend her evidence. It’s toxic to rely on these ideas and only skews your own perception of people around you. She simultaneously claims that essential “woman” stereotypes don’t fit her, while suggesting that masculine women are going to be gay. STOP ASSERTING THAT THERE IS ANY RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO BE ANY ONE THING. STOP IT.
2. She is waiting for someone else to do the hard part.
"Perhaps one day the gender binary will be dismantled totally, and we’ll all stop limiting our children by bringing them up as either males or females."
Yup. Yeah. This is great. Want to know how we can get started on that? Stop writing essentialist bullshit blog posts about how you are ACTIVELY REJECTING A NONBINARY IDENTITY. If you truly believe in a future without the gender binary…you should maybe not talk to people about how important you think it it is. Maybe…just maybe….if nonbinary and genderqueer children had, I dunno…nonbinary and genderqueer people to look up to they could grow up with less depression and more self esteem. Maybe they could rip apart the binary for you. But, no…let’s spend more time focusing on the cisgender experience. Here is this wacky notion I have…cisgender kids could maybe find themselves looking up to trans people? Yeah? Yeah. They definitely could. What is this separate but equal role model nonsense?
3. She is perpetuating the myth that trans/nb/gq visibility can be reduced to a “trend.”
Trans and nonbinary identities are nothing if not ancient. Anytime I hear a person (accidentally, or otherwise) glorify the gender binary, my first thought is, “You’re a racist with a limited understanding of Western white supremacy.” Nonbinary identities are not new. Allow me to reiterate: NONBINARY IDENTITIES ARE NOT NEW. The relationship we (white people, as I am white), in 2014 living in the USA, have with gender is not indicative of what gender looked like prior to our arrival here. The binary is not what gender looked like in the nations of the people we enslaved, either. Transgender and nonbinary people have always been and will always be. Please don’t claim that you are “square” for choosing not to co opt something you have no intention of respecting. Please don’t encourage cis people to view trans identities as a trendy phase that has an end. Please don’t invalidate people’s lives.
I have to admit that I have walked this line myself. When I first started to look inward and realize the possibility that there was more to my relationship with my gender than the binary could offer me, I struggled a lot. I would ask myself, “What’s so wrong with being both masculine and female?” or “Am I turning my back on my female community?” I’m not mad at myself for asking these questions. It was a part of my process. And asking myself these questions helped me learn that genderqueer and womanhood don’t have to be mutually exclusive. As masculine as I am, I am interpreted as a cis female when I leave the house. That’s a part of my experience that I can not remove myself from. It is my reality and discussing it/fighting against it/identifying with it does not make me any less genderqueer. In fact, it gives me insight into two lived experiences at once. That duality can be confusing and stressful, but it can also be incredibly enlightening and, I feel, makes for a complex and richly lived life.
As someone who is both AFAB and uses the term “lesbian”, I see a problem with others in my communities and the way we approach NB/GQ people. Let’s stop treating AFAB people outside of the binary like traitors. AFAB people notoriously take up too much space within trans/NB/GQ spaces. Our visibility is more accessible and our blatant discrimination less vicious than our trans sisters. I urge us within the community and cis women alike to appreciate that privilege (and to also push back against it, but that’s another blog post). I say appreciate, because with the safety afforded us we should not be shaming the people in our community against coming out. Ever notice that these sentiments are only ever coming from cis women? Cis men don’t typically feel betrayed by trans women or trans feminine people. And they aren’t known for being the first people to rally around them and offer them support. Perhaps some of the energy being spent on shaming or discouraging or invalidating AFAB nonbinary/genderqueer people could be redirected into support and visibility and safe places for trans women and trans feminine people.
If a nonbinary/genderqueer identity is not for you…that’s cool. No one wants you to use words for yourself that you don’t find helpful. What this boils down to is: there is no good to be done by going out of your way to defend your cis-ness. I suggest you recognize the privilege you have by not having to live with the added pressure that can come with a non-cis identity. I especially suggest that you, in turn, offer more support to the trans/nonbinary/genderqueer people around you.
Written by mod John(na)
7 Things I Wish Parents Would Stop Teaching Their Children:
- That nudity is inherently sexual
- That people should be judged for their personal decisions
- That yelling solves problems
- That they are too young to be talking about the things they’re already starting to ask questions about
- That age correlates to importance
- That interacting with someone of the opposite sex is inherently romantic
- That the default for someone is straight and cisgender
We live in a society that’s sexist in ways it doesn’t understand. One of the consequences is that men are extremely sensitive to being criticized by women. I think it threatens them in a very primal way, and male privilege makes them feel free to lash out.
This is why women are socialized to carefully dance around these issues, disagreeing with men in an extremely gentle manner. Not because women are nicer creatures than men. But because our very survival can depend on it.”
The whole article sadly hits very close to home.
I mean, we’ve all been rejected by people we’ve thought we were in love with. But the fact of the matter is that when a man flies off the handle at a woman for not responding positively to his advances, it’s because he’s in a society that tells men that women are there solely for their enjoyment.
And it’s not okay.
The night before Susan and Rob allowed their son to go to preschool in a dress, they sent an e-mail to parents of his classmates. Alex, they wrote, “has been gender-fluid for as long as we can remember, and at the moment he is equally passionate about and identified with soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas (not to mention lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows).” They explained that Alex had recently become inconsolable about his parents’ ban on wearing dresses beyond dress-up time. After consulting their pediatrician, a psychologist and parents of other gender-nonconforming children, they concluded that “the important thing was to teach him not to be ashamed of who he feels he is.” Thus, the purple-pink-and-yellow-striped dress he would be wearing that next morning. For good measure, their e-mail included a link to information on gender-variant children.
When Alex was 4, he pronounced himself “a boy and a girl,” but in the two years since, he has been fairly clear that he is simply a boy who sometimes likes to dress and play in conventionally feminine ways. Some days at home he wears dresses, paints his fingernails and plays with dolls; other days, he roughhouses, rams his toys together or pretends to be Spider-Man. Even his movements ricochet between parodies of gender: on days he puts on a dress, he is graceful, almost dancerlike, and his sentences rise in pitch at the end. On days he opts for only “boy” wear, he heads off with a little swagger. Of course, had Alex been a girl who sometimes dressed or played in boyish ways, no e-mail to parents would have been necessary; no one would raise an eyebrow at a girl who likes throwing a football or wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt.
There have always been people who defy gender norms. Late-19th-century medical literature described female “inverts” as appallingly straightforward, with a “dislike and sometimes incapacity for needlework” and “an inclination and taste for the sciences”; male inverts were “entirely averse to outdoor games.” By the mid-20th century, doctors were trying “corrective therapy” to extinguish atypical gender behaviors. The goal was preventing children from becoming gay or transgender, a term for those who feel they were born in the wrong body.
Many parents and clinicians now reject corrective therapy, making this the first generation to allow boys to openly play and dress (to varying degrees) in ways previously restricted to girls — to exist in what one psychologist called “that middle space” between traditional boyhood and traditional girlhood. These parents have drawn courage from a burgeoning Internet community of like-minded folk whose sons identify as boys but wear tiaras and tote unicorn backpacks. Even transgender people preserve the traditional binary gender division: born in one and belonging in the other. But the parents of boys in that middle space argue that gender is a spectrum rather than two opposing categories, neither of which any real man or woman precisely fits.
“It might make your world more tidy to have two neat and separate gender possibilities,” one North Carolina mother wrote last year on her blog, “but when you squish out the space between, you do not accurately represent lived reality. More than that, you’re trying to ‘squish out’ my kid.”
The impassioned author of that blog, Pink Is for Boys, is careful to conceal her son’s identity, as were the other parents interviewed for this article. As much as these parents want to nurture and defend what makes their children unique and happy, they also fear it will expose their sons to rejection. Some have switched schools, changed churches and even moved to try to shield their children. That tension between yielding to conformity or encouraging self-expression is felt by parents of any child who differs from the norm. But parents of so-called pink boys feel another layer of anxiety: given how central gender is to identity, they fear the wrong parenting decision could devastate their child’s social or emotional well-being. The fact that there is still substantial disagreement among prominent psychological professionals about whether to squelch unconventional behavior or support it makes those decisions even more wrenching.
*Click here to continue reading - I recommend reading the whole article
Heroism has never had a gender: just tell that to Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, or any of the female soldiers who risk their lives daily in our military. But the “white knight in shining armor” narrative is gendered. And it keeps being repeated because it’s a feel-good story — when we desperately need one in the wake of a national tragedy — and it’s a familiar, comforting story. Our lives revolve around stories, especially ones we know (myths) which help us make sense of the senseless; we would all like to think there is some order in the universe…
…Matt McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk, and Alex Teves may well be true heroes who flung themselves in front of their girlfriends’ to save their lives. That’s beyond noble; it is the greatest sacrifice. But when we congratulate these individuals for their sacrifice, let’s congratulate them for being heroic people — not just heroic men.
Adults train kids to become sexually mature in a manner they approve of. We clap and laugh over all the little moments meant to prepare them for this; we give them gender appropriate toys that will prepare little boys for a manhood of tools and trucks and little girls for a womanhood of kitchens and babies, not to mention makeup and high heels. We take “kissing cousin” photos of little boys and girls mimicking grownup sexual behavior and proudly frame them or put them in our wallets to show strangers because children mimicking adult sexual behavior is adorable (so long as it’s the correct sexual behavior). We teach little boys that they’re not supposed to cry and we teach little girls to spend their lives wondering what men are thinking of them. The second the physical aspects of sexual maturity start sprouting, we organize social events to push them toward each other; first, the fumbling and terrifying middle school dances, then the process gets increasingly formal the closer the kids get to maturity: freshman dances, sophomore dances, proms and homecomings, all to push them toward that aisle, and the socially approved method of romantic love and baby-making. ”
Indeed, for girls the mom imperative is the central element of the broader heteronormative expectations of our culture. The authorized script for girls, as they mature into women, is that their best achievements in life inevitably will lie in the familial and domestic spheres. We are told over and over again by the Self-Appointed Obligatory Maternity Propaganda Brigade (SAOMPB) that, whatever else a woman may accomplish, her truest fulfillment derives from bearing and nurturing children. Such statements are incredibly demeaning: they denigrate any accomplishments a woman may value aside from reproduction, and restrict women’s sphere of meaningful activity to a purely biological realm. Interestingly, segments of the culture that normally exist in tension with one another, happily collude in the gauzy idealization of maternity. ”