Thinking Emotionally II

What would “thinking emotionally” mean? “Reason is the slave of the passions” said Hume: feeling decides what I want, and reason gets me there. Yet we are stuck with older ideas, that reason decides what is good, which we then choose or not to pursue: that is free will. And so we rationalise our choices as the “reasonable” course. It feels that I have had my own desires so systematically disrespected that I have lost conscious awareness of them; I have had imposed on me other ideas of what is “good”, or what I should desire, and that when I first found my own desires, they were

  • to conform to that idea of “goodness”, to be a “good person”
  • to hide away and not get noticed, for any attention would be unpleasant to me.

This seems a crushing act of violence, and to be a main cause of my current unemployment. My own desire untrammelled by this has surfaced in my transition male to female- it was not “good”, it was simply what I wanted more than anything else I could conceive of- and in my No, when I ceased to look for work. I chose role models who were wicked, showing my deep discomfort with this, for I have been bound tightly to the role I ought to play.

I respect my feelings and desires.

Growing into that position, still frightened of my situation and with the nagging fear that what I ought to desire is the best way to my independence; and facing the further sanction of society, that without an income all I can desire is mere survival, feels like a massive act of self-liberation. I am the toddler facing the raised hand- but facing it, not cowering.

Hume- now Russell and Hegel! Bertrand Russell said he would rather his intelligent opponent than his less intelligent supporter expressed his ideas. H referred to Hegel’s “Master-Slave”: anyone who knew of Hegel would know of that, and I didn’t, just that Hegel first conceived dialectic, thesis antithesis synthesis. So I went to google and found Eric Steinhart, whom I will not summarise.

H says the trans woman can never be a woman. It is something like this: men are not supposed to feel emotional, and women are; men use their female partners vicariously to experience emotion, using her friendship circle and social life, perhaps using her as the mirror Steinhart refers to. I am socialised as the male user rather than the female used. I doubt I could ever persuade her that the WAPOW view, all trans women are a THREAT in women’s space, is unreasonable. She says she has never seen a radical feminist hostile to a trans woman: only they deny us their safe space, claiming it is not appropriate for us, and insist we are a threat- which to people as vulnerable as we, is very threatening. She resents allegations of transphobia, and expresses revulsion at the bodily adjustments we undergo. That I suffered such a crushing act of violence to my emotional sense is not my entrée: women’s space cares for victims of other violence.

Schlesinger, Hegel

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