Thinking emotionally

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.

Van Gogh, half figure of an angel, after Rembrandt

14 thoughts on “Thinking emotionally

    • I loved it. I post on Sunday.

      I wanted you to comment, because your posts had inspired me. I want to show respect to women thinking rationally- good for you- as well as emotionally; and want to value my (man, woman, whatever) thinking emotionally. It is a big thing for me. Coming to accept that and value it has been my personal growth work over the last six months.


      • I’ve read a little about it and I see it’s up for BAFTA. I also read the review linked to on Whiner’s Diner, which was interesting, if biased (but aren’t we all?)
        Inspired you? Well, if that was in a good way then I’m glad. I think your comment below is spot on though. Each of us think how we do, but to define thinking as male/female indeed traps people and perpetuates the usual. Different ways of thinking don’t mean one is superior to another, they are just that. A totally unscientific unvalidated comment would be that we all have potential to think … however, but a lot of factors influence our preference in life. Who’s to say how much in control we are of it? If you are happy with the balance of your thinking, that’s an important result. The most work I have done on thinking was an MBA module on Creative Thinking. It was really good and very thought-provoking.


        • Definitely in a good way. Let us break our moulds.

          The review: today’s practice of endorsing sex-reassignment surgery for all who express dissatisfaction with their birth gender– ridiculous paranoid fantasy. Walt had the surgery because he wanted it. He should not blame the culture. It is not easy to gain access to surgery: you need to express a settled desire for years.

          The Danish Girl is stuffed with fluffy, gooey sentiments designed to convince “homophobic” or “transphobic” heterosexuals that the painful twists and turns of a transgender person’s life are really a healthy and courageous quest to embrace his or her true self. Mere fantasy. Lili dies, after all.

          Autogynephilia? No, Lili had an intersex condition.

          Walt blames everyone but himself, makes a fool of himself by asserting he had his balls cut off though it was inappropriate, makes false generalisations from his experience, and makes money from telling conservatives what they want to hear.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Agree, some friends I too need to keep separate. I did an MA dissertation on masculinity and feminists in detective fiction! I ended up thinking I would make more money if I could write a good detective novel but I can’t! Too plot driven, not enough emotional reflection? Am rambling but I used Venn diagrams for characteristics of the masculine and the feminine. Perhaps it’s the human in the centre where both overlap! I enjoy your posts too.


  2. I’m looking forward to reading what you thought of the film. I’m pleased you find this woman delightful company but I can’t believe what she said to you. Maybe it was a you-had-to-be-there moment. I need to catch up on Quiner’s Diner, I’ll pop over now.


    • Well, you see me as a woman. The concept of “woman” is elastic enough to include me. Or, you accept my self-image. I am glad.

      She has a particular theoretical position, a particular understanding of the concept and of the way it fits in the wider culture. I see the value of it, in her other campaigns. In contrast, Insanitybyte’s view of LGBT is merely wicked, oppressing her as well as causing misery, family break-up, homelessness and death. But it is so important to me to not be affected by either of them to see myself as less. This is who I am, and being trans is a positive good.

      My Danish Girl post is now up.


  3. Clare, dear, utterly fascinating as always. I feel as though I must reread both posts and backwards to understand more of the nuances of how you are feeling. As I am a typical American, I am afraid I am more bombastic and direct. May I please care about you as you, too? Conflicted human, interesting writer, logical woman or intuitive man, whoever you care to present yourself to be, when we communicate? Honestly, I find some iterations of sexual identity to be wearying. I run the usual gamut of inadvertent offense, and this just wears me out. Isn’t it much better simply to treat you as you, to be present in the moment with whoever God brings across my path?


    • Part of it is how I react to strong characters. Part is trying to know and accept myself. I like to be called Abigail IRL, Clare here, and for people to use female pronouns. These things are not difficult; but yes, we relate to the person we perceive. I hope to detect the difference between inadvertent and intentional offence: only when we are most hurt do we lash out at those who offend unintentionally. If you are open to the different identities of people, rather than rejecting, I hope most people would perceive that, and be forbearing with inadvertent offence. I am glad you feel it is worth rereading.


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