Menstruation

Trans women do not menstruate. Most people are aware of this; but Germaine Greer felt the need to point it out, yet again. Thanks a bunch, Germaine. But her ignorant and cruel dismissal of women’s experience does not only extend to trans women.

If you didn’t find your pants full of blood when you were 13 there’s something important about being a woman you don’t know. No, actually: the normal range for menarche is 10.5-14.5 years, and The normal variation in the age at which adolescent changes occur is so wide that puberty cannot be considered to be pathologically delayed until the menarche has failed to occur by the age of 18.

Amenorrhea, the failure to menstruate, can be caused by lifestyle, genetic and other health conditions. Girls with Turner’s Syndrome have only one X chromosome, rather than the usual two. They have underdeveloped ovaries resulting in a lack of monthly periods. I hope Germaine would not deny that my friend Colin’s daughter is a real woman.

Because it is always personal. It is real individuals that suffer from these words. It might just be academic for Germaine, but not for Stephanie, or her family. Given that there are more than ten times as many women with Turner’s Syndrome than women with Gender Recognition Certificates in Britain, Germaine causes pain for far more women than just us.

No, I did not find my pants full of blood, but human beings suffer a wide range of anxieties around reproduction. It is not even true that women’s are always different from men’s: only women can worry about needing an abortion, or their own health problems due to pregnancy, but any other anxieties apply also to men, and especially to trans women: can women who have not experienced unchosen childlessness empathise with those who have?

Of course they can. Empathy is possible across a wide range of unshared experiences. Germaine’s insistence that it is not demeans all people, not just trans women; and shows why those who are willing to include us have a more excellent way. Her waving her bloody knickers in my face, when she seeks to exclude me, says more about her than me.

Blake, Malevolence

12 thoughts on “Menstruation

  1. I didn’t know anybody listened in past couple of decades to what Germaine Greer has to say – I never listened to her anyways, thought she was a twisted, angry member of female gender that had very little if any femininity about her – if anyone was a ‘female eunuch’ it was her. I like your example of the young lady with Turner Syndrome.

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    • I am not going to defend Germaine Greer. I don’t think that for “no-platforming” the considerations are entirely the same, for her and for Nicholas Griffin former leader of the British National Party; I understand that some people found The Female Eunuch inspiring, but am not sure that includes anyone I know; I don’t know how she is regarded in Australia, having spent such a long time over here.

      Without treatment, women with Turner’s Syndrome are typically shorter than average. They may feel self-conscious about this. Telling them “there is something important about being a woman you don’t know” is stupidly cruel.

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      • I guess when Greer wrote and published Female Eunuch anything challenging sexuality or old-fashioned sexuality was a kind of a hit. I never liked Greer or her work as I found it rather twisted and biased and served with a kind of repressed anger in Greer…maybe that’s just me…she hasn’t got many followers Down Under as far as I know and I’ve been here for the relevant decades 🙂

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        • She is at war. Not everyone sees the world so polarized: The freedom I pleaded for twenty years ago was freedom to be a person, with dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart. Freedom to know and love the earth and all that swims, lies, and crawls upon it…most of the women in the world are still afraid, still hungry, still mute and loaded by religion with all kinds of fetters, masked, muzzled, mutilated and beaten.

          Liked by 1 person

      • You could not be more wrong. Quit talking about things you have no knowledge of. Girls and women with Turner Syndrome are NOT typically “of lower intelligence.” They, in fact, have the same intelligence distribution as the general population.

        And, with appropriate hormone treatments (which have become very sophisticated and nuanced), they achieve typical height and typical sexual development. And a small but significant percentage enter spontaneous puberty without exogenous hormones.

        https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01066000

        Do not condescend to other women, and pretend you know about them.

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        • Welcome, Carole. Thank you for commenting. I got that information from my friend, whose daughter had Turner syndrome. I have edited the comment to delete the reference to lower intelligence, having checked. Your last sentence is good general advice.

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          • Thank you. I am, perhaps, a bit sensitive as this attitude particularly galls me, and I frequently hear this misinformation being passed on, even by doctors who should know better. There is a HUGE spectrum among those with Turner Syndrome, and very rarely does anyone have all or even most of the possible issues. Everyone is different, and presents differently. Which is true in the general population.

            Even had a professor in a Child Development class in grad school use the word, “creatures,” in describing them. I have frequently heard that they (or anyone else who “differs” from the chromosomal or phenotypic norm), are not “really women” or not “really men.”

            Treating people as somehow less than human because they do not conform to a particular stereotype (or genotype, or phenotype) is a particular problem for me.

            Which, by the way, Germaine Greer is guilty of when she claims that those with CAIS are “not women,” and that trans women don’t “look, sound or behave like women.” She also destroys her own argument, which seems to be based on the unique social conditioning, expectations, and experiences she thinks women have— which CAIS women share, as many never even KNOW they have it. They are raised from birth as girls, and live as girls and women. Many women are born without a vagina or uterus…. they would not be women, according to her, yet they share the experiences she insists are necessary.

            Who gave her the right to decide what women should look, sound, or behave like? She is trying to retain the “box” women have always been forced into— by men— which is about as far away from feminism as you can get.

            Germaine Greer may be a woman, but her experiences and opinions do not define womanhood, nor give her the right to decide who else gets to be a woman. We are a huge, diverse group, with different attitudes, bodies, voices, and opinions. And we are ALL women, whether she likes it or not.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Given that I would find it very surprising if Germaine still menstruates (but not as half as surprising as she would), can we safely take it that, by her very own criteria, means she is no longer a woman either?

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      • I’m not for a moment doubting that, Clare. My own mother never forgave my father for taking the decision for doctors to perform a hystorectomy on her after a life-theatening miscarraige.

        I am only replying Germaine Greer’s hateful comments by throwing them right back in her face, not defining all women by physiology.

        I have seen too much of this, even been subjected to it, with one vile commentator stating “Unless you’ve got a womb, you can’t call yourself a woman.” That, and what the extremely unintelligent Germaine Greer has to say, is hate speech, and I make absolutely no apologies for fighting fire with fire.

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        • This is the hate speech, as I see it. Call me a “man” if they must, I still have a Y chromosome, certain male sexual characteristics, I need to take oestradiol life long. The hate comes in the mockery. She tries to make us look ridiculous. She tries to reduce sympathy for us, and make us Other. I don’t think the women who accept me don’t realise I have a Y chromosome, but they accept me as a human being and have sympathy for me. Germaine wants me excluded as an enemy.

          Do we subvert the patriarchy? Of course we do. I supported it before, by attempting to conform to the patriarchal male stereotype. Now, I subvert it by following my own inclinations against its prescriptions. I express myself as I am, contrary to expectations. Anyone who doubts this can consider coverage in The Spectator. This has taken all the courage I have. To ask me to present male, yet express my feminine self, is to demand more courage than I could show.

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