I went to The Danish Girl with my radical feminist friend. She had her black book and pen on her lap: she feared it would be politically correct pro-Transgender preaching, and was ready to note down the most objectionable and unreal (from her point of view) bits. I don’t know if she wrote anything in her book, I was too engrossed in the film, and before the end she leaned her head on my shoulder.
After, she said, “You know I see you as a man, don’t you?” Well, yes. But I find her so fascinating, beautiful, stimulating and exciting that I am willing to put up with that. What matters is that I do not doubt myself: if there is no echo of her assertion in my own mind, I can tolerate her believing it.
H is not a virago or a harridan, but if those words could be stripped of their strongly pejorative connotations they might approximate to her. “Virago” is partially reclaimed. I sympathise: she does not fit Patriarchal views of woman any more than I fit those of man. And she is so playful! She might not like “termagant” or “hoyden”- she had not liked being called a “tomboy”. Why should she be any kind of “boy” for liking what she liked?
She wondered why I had gone on Quiner’s Diner. “If you go there, you must at some level imagine they are right.” No, I go there to inoculate myself against the falsehoods. That spoke to her: she has considered pro-pornography sites for a similar reason.
“I think emotionally,” I told her.
“You’re not going to tell me that makes you a woman, are you?” she said.
No. Really, really, no- I understand completely your objection to such an argument; but coming to accept this is my major personal growth point atm: I grew up not knowing my feelings, suppressing them, fearing my anger and my fear- which makes them far more painful and difficult to deal with. She understands- there are so many advantages to this friendship that a little thing like her thinking I am a man is quite tolerable. And I am never going to convince her, so what’s the use of trying?
I have been thinking of my niece, aged about 17, say of something, “That’s Yucky!!!”- at the time, I thought this a childish mode of expression, now I think, what clarity! Beautiful!
This morning I had tea with Richard. “She thinks I am a man,” I said, and he was horrified. He thought I must refute this, with rational argument. “No! Fuck rationality!” I said, joyfully. This shocked him. You have to think rationally. Well, of course I could do rationality; but my most important thinking is emotional, and I celebrate that.
I put the radical feminist argument, and he gave me five minutes to put it, and said, “You forget, don’t you, that I am a social scientist?” He told me of differing styles of playing, relating, being between boys and girls. H has seen this in her grandchildren. I countered with research showing adults treat babies differently according to whether they think the child is girl or boy. The question is not yet answered; yet women can definitely think rationally.
Many people think I am a man. I asked my feminine friend Kingsley, whom I hug when I see her, whether she saw me as a woman and she dodged the question- “I see you as you!” So I see me as me. I am Abigail, and that is enough. I don’t know that this is anything innate, as taking oestradiol for fourteen years could affect it; this is who I am, now. I don’t need rationality, or any other crutch.
I love them both, and thought of bringing them together; but I don’t think it would work.