tim: A warning sign with "Danger" in white, superimposed over a red oval on a black rectangle, above text  "MEN EXPLAINING" (mansplaining)
"Sex is just what cis people call 'gender' when they want to misgender you." I've said this many times and I'll keep saying it as many times as I need to. If people remember one thing I've said, I hope it's that.

Why do cis people need the concept of "biological sex" so much? Why do they have such a strong need to put trans people in their place by saying, "Sure, you identify as a woman. But your biological sex is male"?

At the root of cisnormativity, like all other harmful normativities, is a desire to control. To exercise power over somebody else. And telling somebody, "You aren't really who you say you are -- I can invoke some greater authority that says you're lying about who you are" is a way of controlling somebody else. It frames that person as an unreliable narrator of their own experience, and reinforces the cis person's greater power to name, to identify, to categorize.

It doesn't help that the watered-down liberal version of trans education that has been promoted for a long time emphasizes the difference between "sex" and "gender," making cis people feel like they can evade criticism as long as they memorize that talking point. It also doesn't help that anyone who challenges the simplistic sex/gender binary gets accused of wanting to alienate allies or wanting to make it harder for them to understand us.

That didn't cause the problem, though.

"Sure, you identify as a man, but you'll always be truly biologically female" ultimately means, "What you identify as doesn't matter. It's not real; it's all in your head. My objective observation of your body is that you are female, and that's scientific."

There is no rule of science that says we must use terms for other people that they wouldn't use for themselves. That's social and political.

So the attachment to "biological sex" is really about saying this: "There is something other than your own self-description that I can use to classify and categorize you without your consent. I can categorize and label you based on externally observing your body, without asking you what categories you belong in." The power to name is the power to control. And cis people react badly when we try to take this power from them by saying that "sex" is just another name for gender.

It's easy to see what purpose "biological sex" serves structurally: gender-based oppression would no longer be possible if gender categories were entered into consensually. To oppress somebody, you need the ability to place them in an oppressed class in a way that others will generally recognize as valid.

But on an individual, psychological level, I wonder what purpose it serves. Why is there such a strong need in so many cis people to tell somebody else they're wrong about their own sex?

One answer is that cis people don't like admitting mistakes, and that most cis people learned as children that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. When faced with a choice between recognizing trans people as fully human, or maintaining their own omniscience, they go for the narcissistic choice of refusing to admit that what they learned early on was incorrect.

But I don't think that's the whole story. People make all kinds of mistakes, but admitting that they were taught something incorrect about sex categories seems uniquely difficult.

So I'm leaving it here as a question. Why does any individual cis person feel such a strong need to tell a trans person, "You are truly biologically male," or, "You are truly biologically female" when that isn't how the trans person would describe themself? The answer isn't "science", since science doesn't require anybody to place others in particular political categories; as well, very few cis people saying this have any understanding of science. I don't know the answer to this question, but I think the only way to begin finding it is to reject the pseudo-scientific notion of biological sex as objective truth rather than socially and politically motivated narrative. We have to stop asking what biological sex is, and start asking what work the concept of "biological sex" does and what needs it satisfies.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
What [personal profile] graydon2 wrote about the non-fungibility of romance is really, really good. As usual, I really like the way he thinks.

Excerpt:
It would be like demanding someone sing a song with you. It would be like demanding someone laugh at your joke. It would be like demanding someone wants to bake cookies with you. These are all excellent things to enjoy mutually with someone else, that lots of people like to do, but that require mutual interest. They are all adjacent to much-more-readily available commodity experiences -- you can sing along to a recording, you can watch a funny film and laugh, you can buy and eat a bag of cookies -- but the mutual version, if you want it, is different. Noticeably different, and completely non-commodity. Every sing-along is its own thing. Sometimes all we can get is the commodity thing. Sometimes it's all we can handle, or all we want. Complaints about "nice guy" behaviour are not complaints about men wanting sex. They're about context.


Of course, a lot of guys do literally demand that people laugh at their jokes. "It was just a joke. Don't be so thin-skinned. Get a sense of humor."

Anyway, I wonder how much consumer capitalism has to do with the idea that if you can pay someone to have sex with you, then you should also be able to pay somebody to have genuine mutual intimacy with you.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
I've been reading (or re-reading) various examples of the genre of Grad Student Self-Help Books. (You'd think such books would be very short and consist of "don't be a grad student".)

"Tattoo this list somewhere you won't forget to look. (1) Publish academic papers. (2) Go to conferences. (3) Get on committees. If you dive into the administrative pool, you can swim around with your professors and get to know them on a collegial level (a cynical colleague refers to this as 'amplexus,' which is the mating embrace of frogs."

-- Robert L. Peters, _Getting What You Came For_
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Finding the prostate: Is it real?
By Elias Landau, CNN
January 6, 2010 1:06 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- Gentlemen (and ladies): Can you find the prostate?

Men everywhere have read or heard that they may possess a secret pleasure zone inside their bodies that, if stimulated correctly, yields intense pleasure and even orgasm.

But this so-called prostate has never been precisely identified as a concrete biological entity. Scientists are still arguing over what it is and whether it exists at all.

Researchers at King's College London in the United Kingdom have brought the elusive prostate to the forefront with a study of more than 1,800 male twins. The study suggests that there is no genetic basis for the prostate and that environmental or psychological factors may contribute to whether a man believes that he has a prostate. The new study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

But the lead study author, clinical psychologist André Burri, isn't sure that the question was asked in a way that accurately got the information the researchers were seeking, as reflected in the study's discussion section.

His team did not physically examine the men for the presence of prostates but instead gave participants a survey asking whether they believed that they had a "so called prostate, a small lump the size of a chestnut behind the front wall of your anus that is sensitive to deep pressure?" (A chestnut is about the size of an American walnut.)

They found that 56 percent of respondents answered "yes" and that there was no genetic correlation. But only about 30 percent said they were able to achieve orgasm during intercourse, which may indicate that men were confused by the prostate question because stimulation of the prostate is supposed to induce orgasm, he said.

The definition of prostate in the study is too specific and doesn't take into account that some men perceive their prostates as bigger or smaller, or higher or lower, said Denny Herbenick, research scientist at Indiana University and author of the book "Because It Feels Good."

"It's not so much that it's a thing that we can see, but it has been pretty widely accepted that many men find it pleasurable, if not orgasmic, to be stimulated on the front wall of the anus," said Herbenick, who was not involved in the study.

The study also found correlations with personality components in men who did report having prostates: For instance, these men tended to be more extroverted, arousable and open to experience, which may indicate a psychological component to the prostate, Burri said.

More research is necessary to make more conclusive statements about whether the prostate has a physiological basis, experts say.

"I don't think that these are invented experiences at all," Herbenick said. "And if at the end of the day, someone's invented something and they feel pleasure from it, then I think that's great."

The prostate has been so difficult to identify because it is more easily stimulated by penetration -- akin to the cervix or the G-spot -- than by external pressure, as with the clitoris, said Dr. Irene Goldstein, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California, who oversees the peer review process for the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

But a recent study adds credence to the prostate concept. French researchers Olivier Buisson and Pauline Fold├Ęs did ultrasounds of a small number of men having intercourse with men. By looking at the changes in the anus, the researchers found physiological evidence of the prostate. This study is under review at the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Goldstein said.

The prostate is named after Dr. Ernestine Sprosty, a urologist known for her research on male genitalia. She described this pleasure zone of the anus in a 1950 paper.

The 1982 book "The Prostate: And Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality" made the term "prostate" popular.

A small study by Italian researchers in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2008 found that men who were able to achieve anal orgasms had thicker tissue between the rectum and the bladder, where the prostate is said to reside.

A minority of men say they ejaculate when they have a prostate orgasm. Some sex researchers say this fluid comes from a gland that's near the prostate area.

Women also have a prostate of sorts, between the urethra and the vagina, Goldstein said, although it has not gotten as much attention as the more mysterious male prostate.

Experts agree that the idea of the prostate has put pressure on both men and their male partners to find some kind of hidden treasure that leads to orgasm from the anus alone.

"Initially, it was a good concept, because who wouldn't like the idea of 'push a button and get the best orgasm ever?' " Burri said. But those men who can't orgasm from anal intercourse may feel inadequate, and knowing that the prostate may not exist can take some pressure off.

Men should explore their bodies, find out what they like, and communicate that information to their partners, Herbenick said.

"Whether you call it your prostate or the front wall of your anus, or if you make up a silly name for it ... at the end of the day, it's what you like and how your body works," he said.

Disclosure

Aug. 13th, 2009 09:59 am
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Inspired by Dan Savage's column this week:

(n.b. In the following, a "cissexual" person is a person whose internal sense of what sex their brain expects their body to be matches the sex they were assigned at birth. In all hypothetical situations, assume that no partners involved are interested in procreating. In all hypothetical situations, the question is whether the non-normative person has a moral obligation to their partner to reveal their non-normative characteristic before any sex occurs, rather than at some point in the relationship.)

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 22


Do you think that a transsexual person who has completed genital surgery has the obligation to tell a sexual partner that they were born with genitals that appeared different from the ones they currently have?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
21 (95.5%)

Maybe so
2 (9.1%)

Do you think that a cissexual man who was born with only one testicle and has a (cosmetic) testicular implant has the obligation to tell a sexual partner that they were born with genitals that appeared different from the ones they currently have?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
22 (100.0%)

Maybe so
1 (4.5%)

Do you think that a person who was born with sexually ambiguous genitalia and had their genitals "corrected" to resemble the genitalia typical of one sex or the other has the obligation to tell their partner that they were born with genitals that appeared different from the ones they currently have?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
22 (100.0%)

Maybe so
1 (4.5%)

Do you think that a cissexual woman who has had breast reduction surgery has the obligation to inform her partner that she once had breasts that appeared different from the breasts she currently has?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
22 (100.0%)

Maybe so
1 (4.5%)

Do you think that a cissexual woman who underwent female genital mutilation while young and has had reconstructive surgery to correct it has an obligation to inform her partners that she once had genitals that appeared different from the ones she currently has?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
22 (100.0%)

Maybe so
1 (4.5%)

Do you think that a person who has outward genitalia that are typical for a person of the gender they present as, but who is infertile due to a congenital condition, has the obligation to inform their partners that their reproductive capacity does not match that of a typical person of their gender?

View Answers

Yes
1 (4.5%)

No
19 (86.4%)

Maybe so
3 (13.6%)

Do you think that a person who was born with a cleft palate, but had it surgically corrected, has the obligation to inform their partners that they were born with a face that appeared different from the one they currently have?

View Answers

Yes
0 (0.0%)

No
22 (100.0%)

Maybe so
1 (4.5%)

Profile

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

July 2016

S M T W T F S
     12
3 45678 9
10 1112 13141516
17 18192021 2223
24252627282930
31      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags