Manhood And Maleness

During a breakout in the conference, a self-described “soft butch” spoke of her years as a drag king, and how she got amazing affirmation from lesbian women; they wanted to be with her. When she came back without the performance, though, she became invisible again, much less desirable. In the end, she decided to walk away from that powerful performance to become more authentic, even if that was much less desired and therefore apparently less powerful than her drag performance.

On the other hand, drag queens of my knowledge have usually found it hard to find gay men who are interested in them, and find themselves much more successful in meeting partners coming back the next night in boy clothes of some sort.

It seems to me that women read drag kings as women, manly hearted women, maybe, but gay men don’t read drag queens as men, rather as someone who is forfeiting manhood for something else.

This means that manhood is something males can lose through drag performance, but manhood is also something females can’t gain though drag performance.

It also seems to explain why FTMs, who can male their body can have a kind of easy social manhood, but MTFs, who mostly cannot really un-male their body find it difficult to have an easy womanhood.

This leads to MTFs often ending up as a permanent guy-in-a-dress or surrendering their power by silence, rather than achieving woman power in their lives, because in a hetrosexist culture, womanhood is located by the absence of maleness.

This may be why so many MTF transsexuals work so fast to surrender their pole and end up in the shadow, and then are frustrated when they find that male puberty is a permanent change, and their male body is unerasable, no matter what the current shape of their genitals. They want womanhood, but all they easily get is a kind of surrendered manhood. Women, as the marginalized shadow of men, control their identity in a way that men don’t need to, and that means the barriers to entry can be high.

But other women who perform a kind of stylized masculinity?

Well, they are hot women, not men!

Gosh, I think even I feel that heat.

The first person I met at the conference was a young FTM Post-Grad, who has consciously created his gender presentation for power. We joked about What Not To Wear and how they recreate the gender presentation of their participants, consciously creating a new performance. And when TantraGal asked me who pulled at my heart, I said that a conscious butch in a good jacket was always hotter than androgrrl flannels and jeans.

It’s hard to get past being identified as male bodied — as having gone through puberty as a male — though.


5 thoughts on “Manhood And Maleness”

  1. I know a few transmen, one who’s quite surgically advanced and one who’s not.

    Both of them are, in all the people I know, in the list of men who give the gender a good name in the process of living their lives. It’s a short list, I tell you, but they are on it.

    Nobody ever seemed to know that I wouldn’t fight back. I was never in a fight in my life. I got sucker-punched once. The younger transman I know has been in fight after fight, broken bones and teeth and scars and pain.

    He’s been trying to prove something about himself. I feel as though I’ve been trying to prove that I *wasn’t*. When I talk to him about the way transmen tend to be treated, he has rather rude words to say about it, and it is precisely because of what you describe — they’re percieved as women-like-men, not men-bodied-as-women.

    It speaks deeply of what could be considered a visual-social male identity process. In Self-Made Man (and forgive my sketchy memory’s loss of details), the author recounts how the bowling league treated her after discovering the truth…exactly the same.

    I am sure this provokes deeper thought in my mind. It begs meditations; I shall have to consider it much further.

  2. One note from our conversation at table was that to be one of the guys you just have to show you can carry your end, do the work, and you are OK. I suspect that is what Ms. Vincent experienced.

    To be one of the women, though, you have to join the social circle, make friends and enemies, play the game. It’s a much more complex process.

    And yeah, I remember the bullies in sixth grade and how stunned they were that I could dissappear so easily, even if that meant I walked miles out of the way.

  3. I broke myself to break them.

    They were looking for a reaction, and I didn’t have it. They were looking for hurt, and I didn’t show it with anything.

    One of them knocked all my books out of my arm once. I simply picked them up and moved on; I had no reason to respond. I wasn’t there.

    I got where I was going with it. There were a few attempts here and there to get me to engage the pecking order; I never responded to them.

    That book was simply too painful to read in some places, a person intensely curious about all these…behaviors…that males have with each other. I learned to fake the outcomes of those behaviors, to make it look like I’d had them.

    But I was never part of the world, because I was not part of the boys, and I wasn’t one of the girls.

  4. I once had a woman say to me, in frustration and fury, “You are emotionally un-castratable!”

    Not giving people what they expect baffles them because they often think you are trying to fuck with them.

    Too bad they can’t imagine that they don’t get what they expect because we are not who they expect us to be.

    And so we fake it, yet never make it. . .

    Thanks for your insightful comments.

  5. I lived on hope for a long time, on the possibility it might someday be possible to get past the body/skin/appearance requirement demands. It happens sometimes, one on one. Just enough to keep the hope, that hope itself could get me by. But theres not enough time or energy or inspiration to engage the scope of even my limited little piece of world on those terms even day to day.

    As I get older I notice more how that hope has changed. Less now for myself, what’s left for those yet to come. Women have endure their lack as definition for millenia, with only small and imperceptible changes earned by that endurance. Could I ever find enough hope to sustain that kind of enduring patience?

    Its not a choice.Its just the only option.

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