Trans privilege II

Do trans women have privilege?

Ukip poster: "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?"At first you will think, all the privilege is on the cis side, but we should check our privilege. I have found arguable trans privilege. But first, a question: When did my country get so nasty? she asked.

It’s been going that way for a long time- since about 1979. That got a laugh of assent. How much we hate hearing about “Hard working families”: it is corralling the wagons, in defence against the Bad People outside. Conservatives BingoThat UKIP poster is horrible, and the Tory one just as bad- vote for us, and you can drug yourself into apathy tuppence cheaper.

The woman at the bus stop was desperate to chat. As I sat on the perch, it creaked and rocked forward, and she said they should make those things safe, you know. That was enough, as I am keen to chat too. She told me of going to the convent in Lucknow, when her mother was a sergeant-cook in the Army (just before India awoke to life and freedom). Her brother was at St Joseph’s. It is still going, but it is all Indian now. She knows because it is a small world: she had been in Oxford having her brain tumour removed- she turned her head, I gently felt the scar- and she got chatting to an Indian from Lucknow. He said he had been to St Joseph’s. She would not have believed him, as it is the sort of thing they would say, but he gave sufficient detail. Then they came to Swanston, and where they lived everyone was Indian. They’re all Polish now, she said, disappointedly. Though she is a foreigner, too. Her mother was Greek. “She tried to speak English as much as possible.” All this racial stereotyping- “These people” are individuals, Liberal democratwho react in an idiosyncratic not a monolithic way- gets to me a bit, but I forebear from challenging. I am female now. I account it privilege that she wants to start a conversation with me.

On the bus a big bloke sat beside me, and told me how cold the weather was. And it was so beautiful last week. What work do I do? Feeling no obligation to tell him the truth, I say I am an adviser. He used to drive a crane, but has not done that for years. He plays in a six piece steel band, for weddings and all occasions. He gives me a card. He would play for my wedding. Are you married? Good looking woman like you should have a fine choice of men. Do you often come into Swanston? Where do you live? He got off “to go and see a friend”, he explained, and kissed my hand.

There you go. Trans privilege. I did not feel threatened- more surprised than anything, though not particularly flattered. Perhaps, rather, it is size privilege, as any woman my height and weight would feel less bothered than someone petite. Don’t tell the TERFs I said so.

 ♥♥♥

A feminist’s perspective

Then I made friends with a feminist academic, and had friendly, careful discussions about radical feminist theory. Do trans folk subvert patriarchal gender norms, or support them? In one case, she may be an ally. She believes there is trans privilege, and at first convinced me.

H was at a formal dinner, the guest of a trans woman. The trans woman was particularly glamorous, in pink silk dress, hair, makeup, nails all beautiful, performing Femininity squared. H is vegetarian, and the staff repeatedly brought her meat. The trans woman perhaps should have taken this up with the staff, as the hostess, but H felt she was behaving in a somewhat masculine manner, in care-taking. As perhaps I was, when I insisted on paying for the wine.

Then the trans woman stood to address the assembled multitude, giving a loud, extrovert, girlipink performance, like a drag queen. You may have done this yourself. It is risqué, but only to an extent. It is a queer performance of gender which the culture has just about accepted.

Trans-women, on the whole, do not get slut-shamed. H admits that I will have had shame and restrictions as a child, but we do not have the experience aged 12 or 13 of burgeoning sexual feelings along with strong social messages that they must not be acted upon.

Oh you can’t lie back
You must stay cold at heart
You must never let your feelings show
For the moment you feel it might start
Why then the only answer’s No.

Girls must be modest. The man who sleeps around is Jack the Lad. Do not disclose Lord Palmerston’s philandering, or everyone will vote for him. The woman who sleeps around is a slut. H was with Green Party activists, who referred to a Conservative candidate as “the town bike”. That shocked me, too. I would expect Greens to be sensitive to such things.

We are careful and courteous. I said I did not object to the word “transsexual” used as a noun, though some of us do. H was surprised that I was so revolted by the expression “biological woman” to mean cis-woman. It says I am not a woman. Well, maybe I am not, but the implication still hurts. In an ideal world, would people have The Operations? I explained how delighted I was to have my op, how horrified I am at the thought of losing my toe, and how I don’t think social pressures alone, strong as they are, would convince me to be castrated against the most basic survival instinct. I am not sure she accepted this. Well, I grew this breast, and the thought of losing it horrifies me as much as you- but top surgery is right for trans men.

She was an ally on the matter of autogynephilia. I explained James Cantor‘s concept of euphilia, and the thought that M-F transsexualism in gynephiles is perversion, and she said that she found that meaningless. The thought that there could be a “perversion” would mean that there was a “normal” to be perverted from. It has no relation to reality.

I loved the conversation, all four hours of it. I find her fascinating.

Boldini, Alice RegnaultA week later, I have very different views. First, she complained of that trans woman making a performance like a drag queen. It is an OTT performance of gender which is accepted from trans women but not real women. To show how objectionable this is: no-one would think of saying “She did that thing you black people do” so why would anyone imagine that referring to cliché trans behaviour was OK?

And it is an Uncle Tom act. We behave in a way the cis straights expect, understand, and laugh at. I want to keep my options open, to do that, as more choices mean more freedom, but am unclear how to do it in power.

And, yes, we don’t get slut-shamed, but I was shamed out of my sexuality, seeing it as disgusting, and not having words for it: so I had four girlfriends between 18 and 30, none at school, none lasting more than two months because I could not be myself with them. Worse, not within the protection of Feminine Virtue and Honour, we are seen as available. Steve, who has some charm and intelligence but has gone to seed, old and fat, drove me home from J’s U3A games morning. He said he found me attractive and asked if I would go to bed with him. At Oldham CAB, a dirty old man, poor, a miserable specimen, propositioned our work-experience Asian girls. They had rebelled against Asian modest dress, head-scarves and all that, but had no idea how to dress as Westerners so came to work dressed to party. He said their fathers in shame should throw them out, but he would take them in; and when he saw me about his income support, he touched up my bottom. Low status as he is, he imagines me as immediately sexually available to a path…

Do you see me at all? Here am I, without a house, partner, children, savings, job, pension fund, anything, completely vulnerable,

and you call me Privileged???

J’s joky tales of Steve’s misadventures on the dating scene, which he tells her to relieve his feelings and she tells me and her husband Pete for a laugh, rub it in. He takes women for coffee, because why take them for dinner when there will be only one fuck and who wants to be stuck with someone the whole evening? One said to him she would like him as a friend, and he expostulated that he has enough friends.

-He wants a fuck-buddy. Why not advertise for that?

Some people do. One woman basically said “Here I am- Take me.” Steve has a particularly unsuitable woman, Andrea, she’s alcoholic…

 ♥♥♥

Privilege I clearly have

With a shock, I realised. She’s- working class!

I had not noticed until sitting with J and another friend of hers in her kitchen. I found their conversation of little interest. Then J complained that some people resent her large house, thinking she had “got above herself”. She often comments that she and her husband have done so much of the work on the house themselves, that she has got furniture second-hand, that her (beautiful) clothes are from charity shops. Clearly some friends do not object; but the stifling pressure of fearing being judged as “getting above yourself” might prevent a person reaching her potential, or traumatise her as she left behind her social group.

I have one particular privilege: it was expected that I would go to University, and my sister did not, initially; as our teacher my father saw that our IQ scores were similar, though I have the edge; she wanted to be a nurse, not then a degree profession, and got her nursing degree in her 40s while holding down a job and caring for a family. Though she was in rebellion against our parents in her teens, and peer pressure rather than parental expectation would have been more important. I remember writing “It is time to rebel against my parents” in my diary. I was in my thirties, or at least late twenties.

And working class boys were not expected to go to university, generally, by parents or peers, though an inspiring teacher might drive them on, and one trans friend was, from her grammar school.

It is not as simple as “male privilege” that boys have more education than girls, and in any case I have squandered any advantage from my degree, and always earned less than my sister, whether because of a miasma of cis-sexism, or other psychological difficulties.

Indeed I won’t get slut-shamed, but my sexuality still frightens and confuses me, and is arguably immature as I have had little experience of adult sexual relationships.

Here is a male privilege checklist. Despite the last, I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege, I don’t think the ones relating to ones current position apply. I get read. If I am not seen as a weirdo, my fear of that is as restricting as the reality. I doubt being trans is ever an advantage in a job interview.

Boldini- Madame Doyen“If I complain to the person in charge, the person I see will be of my sex.” No. I am considering visiting my new Tory MP, to confront him about some of his attitudes. I will have power as my authentic feminine self and not otherwise. The problem here is the woman feeling powerless. She has power if she only realised it.

To me, the greatest trans privilege is my weirdness. Other people may muddle along, more or less, in conventional or fashionable ways of being, because they fit well enough. I have had the great blessing of completely not fitting, so being forced to find my True Self. (Every cloud has a silver lining.)

My emotions overwhelm me- the analogy I use, with bitter irony, is being pre-menstrual. It may be down to the hormones. I started them to feminize my appearance, not thinking they would so intensify my anger, fear and misery. But at the time, I was beginning to get in touch with my feelings, and perhaps suppressing then finding is the cause. So “We get medical treatment with unknown side-effects”. Not a privilege.

 

Affirmation IV

I am as I am because I am traumatised.

I could trot out my stories again, to try to persuade you- that is, persuade myself- that it really was that bad, that anyone in these circumstances would be this hurt. But that does not matter. If any person of more than minimal resilience could bear my burdens, hardly noticing them, they have still overwhelmed me. However strong I was, I have been overwhelmed.

Now, having self-respect for the first time, I no longer deny my trauma. “Get up, get up, Get On With It!” cried the inner critic, and I reply that I would if I could. I had a lovely time this morning: I cycled in the sunshine to Swanston for tea with Richard, who complained that the OED has accepted the “wrong” use of the word “refute” to mean “deny”. I can cope with complex human interaction.

These stories: serious threat of loss of funding and job; bullying and failure; failure; failure and loss of funding and job; failure. Ah, that’s interesting. Thinking of this post, I was planning to talk about various unpleasantnesses, but I am quite happy in certain social situations and even with Quakers. However I am quite literally work-shy, though that term is a pejorative, rarely or never thought to be a mental condition. The thought of going into an office, paid or voluntary, or starting the kind of project I used to undertake puts me into avoidance behaviour. I called this post “Affirmation” and thought of writing about how I was going to self-care by seeking out social situations. This realisation changes things.

I am Abigail.
I have been badly hurt.
I will care for,
nurture
and value myself
as best I see how.
 ♥♥♥

And then, something wonderful, and passing strange.

I am- upset. Sad, and likely to weep, without knowing why. And-

part of me-

asks, What is it? Something existential about my whole life, or some small matter just today?

That- part- is not unsympathetic, but still misses the mark. It is like a man seeing his wife crying, and asking “What’s wrong?” However kindly meant, his intention to find the cause of the problem and fix it is not right, in the moment.

I think of Robert Holden’s mirror exercise. “I am willing to make today the best/happiest day of my life.” Perhaps “let be” might be better than “make”. I want to let go of judgment as to what “best” might look like. What

part of me-

is doing the making?
In the shower, again. I permit the feeling of upsetness. Then,

Another part of me!
A wonderful part of me!
Beauty and Delight

in the upsetness
starts saying

I

I

I- I- I- I- I- 

I- AM! I- AM!

feeling the upsetness
permitting the upsetness

I am!

I- beauty and delight- repeat

I am

feeling the upsetness, then joy, and finally singing it, to a simple I , , , V , , , IV , , , V , , , … chord progression, bass line and descant, dancing to it….

I Am
is the only affirmation I need

Boldini, profile of a young woman

Ingrained belief

I can never get what I want.

This is not true. I write it because it has been a belief ingrained in me, and even now I detect traces of it. It goes along with “There is only one way of getting what I want” and even “I do not deserve what I want”- I hope I have digested and passed out that last one, but it ate me for some time.

“You are so covered in scars!” said a counsellor once- but that was many years ago.

I still detect traces of it in my distress and disappointment.

One value of Affirmation is inculcating behovely beliefs. I needed “I am worthy of life” in November, I do not need it now. Delete. Substitute “I am a powerful woman”. Someone with integrity and discernment told me that, after all. Take it into my heart.

I am a powerful woman.

I went for my usual walk- across the fields, along the river, round the lakes- in wellies, as much of it is squishy mud now. I have blisters on the soles of my feet. I wondered if I was enjoying it, put the question to my emotional being, and decided I was. The sunshine was glorious. I love the green, and the birds; this is a primordial response in me, australopithecine or earlier. Even the hard work had benefits. Doing this walk for the first time in my new hair, I notice that just the slightest breath of wind comes from behind and the curtains close over my face. I look ridiculous! And- my heart is open. I am a powerful woman. I play with these thoughts as I pass people enjoying the sunshine. Once, I notice my cringe. I do not like my old cringe.

When someone asks God
"What does 'feminine' mean?"
God points at me.

I like that line. Conceivably, I am a bit high; I can see that just a bit higher for just a bit longer might frighten someone and their relatives, so that the Doctors come and make it go away with drugs. Then it becomes the shadow, the thing to avoid, and the slightest sign of it terrifies the Sufferer and the Carers, and is yet more proof of Sickness. Now, though, I am simply being creative. Delete “I am soft, gentle, peaceful” and replace with “I am Feminine“. Soft, gentle, peaceful is part of it; that word is mine, for me to colour in.

Boldini, Cléo de Mérode

Hope III

Boldini- Berthè considers a fanKnow the past. Let it touch you. Then let the past go. Good advice from Octavia Butler’s heroine Olamina. Actually, it starts “To survive, know the past…”- well, it is dystopian SF. I thought of putting it as my header text.

I was crying this morning about the job I left in 2006. After various jobs round the CAB, I was going round the hospital wards, advising patients referred to me. Meanwhile, Steve, hospital service manager, was in a stand-off with Andy, chief executive. Steve said he was a manager, so should not be advising clients, and that it was unsafe to open the office when there was only one worker in it (though it was in the hospital) so if he was alone he would lock the door. Andy failed to provide any volunteer workers. I don’t know why, possibly there were other considerations, or possibly he just wanted Steve to give in and advise like Penny had. Meanwhile the hospital continually threatened to withdraw funding, including the funding for my wage. My job was fascinating, but often stressful and frustrating apart from this.

Let the past go. Of course, good advice, but how can I? My last four job-roles turned to shit, and it was not merely and entirely my fault. It will always be like that is what I take in to myself.

Let it touch you. I do not think about this a lot. I think I let it touch me at the time, my fear that funding would cease, my irritation at Steve.

I have goals, and given the exercise I wrote them out. Some, I even approve of.

To survive.
To control my space.
Not to suffer.
To see myself as a good person.
To do something worthwhile.
To form connections.
To learn and understand.
To accept and forgive myself.
To see myself and others as we really are.

What goals do you want in your life? was the question. These are not my goals, but I would like them to be:

To support myself without recourse to benefits.
To get stage time.
To write something more substantial than a blog post.
To learn new music on the piano, and polish and enjoy my repertoire.

Stage time is possible. There is a small amateur theatre in Nupton seating 83, to hire for £130 a night. I have no idea how to market my performance, though I could just invite an audience as I could afford £130, and that would be a good experience or useful try-out. Though I have only written half an hour, and am not entirely satisfied with that. Six minutes of it is good, and has had good audience reactions. I found memorising difficult. Having just found that theatre three days ago without having thought to look for such a thing before, I may start writing again.

I need hope. I want to put down this heavy weight, it will always be like that. Neil told me he just kept going. Fucking brilliant. Bully for you. I did until I couldn’t.

Essence Process

Boldini- Seated Lady (The Conversation)Why am I here? Because it gives the illusion of doing something, thereby absolving me from the need to find or do something which would actually be useful. Because it appears good, not to any other person but to the chaotic controlling Parent in my head. That is the blackest way of seeing it. Of course things done for appearance’ sake never even achieve that- on some level I see through myself. So it is utterly pointless, even for such illusory motives, but that part of me grasping at the illusion still blunders on.

Is there a better reason? At the end of the first “process” we settled down to serious mutual affirmation, which feels nice, but is no good even temporarily unless I learn to believe it.

No, I don’t trust these people. The Process has psychological trappings but is an entertainment, manipulating payers through rapidly changing emotions, to extort fees. It has some resemblance to a cult.

Bit scared of it. That’s the kind of phrase where I miss out the words “I am”, and put in the word “bit”. And I am hard on myself: my motives must be bad.

Why be here, really? Can I justify that sort of money? Well, I have the money; it is a few days away from home; the people and the situations we will be placed in could be interesting.

It is ridiculous to hope for a Born-Again experience, and yet I do. This is the kind of thing in which I have previously had such a profound challenge to my world-view that I have changed it.

I fear going into a hiding mode, find the rules and obey them, cringe against the wall, shut down and avoid the challenge, sit it out. Well, I might notice if I did, more quickly than last time.

I hope I will be challenged, and respond to challenge. That I will spontaneously- spontaneity is my desire, yet so rare for me- respond well. I may be outside my comfort zone, and hope I will be open to the experiences, see the people for who they are, hear what they say, notice my feelings at the situations, and come away with greater self-knowledge and self-respect.

Tall order. See what happens. Oops, clipping phrases again: This is a tall order. I will see what happens. No. I know that at every moment from now until Sunday, I will be the best I can be.

The idea of a piano

Boldini, Mary DonovanIn my teens, I found my voice pitched in a particular way could elicit vibration in sympathy from the strings of my piano. This completely delighted me, no matter how often I did it. The object was more than an object. It had a personality, and I had a relationship with it. I would wrestle with it. Because the syncopation was so alien to the ways my hands had gone together before, I spent a week on the first four bars of the Maple Leaf Rag, but learned Joplin more quickly afterwards. Then I learned the Pathétique  sonata, and thundered away, and though the tremolo often made my left wrist ache I kept it up until the muscles developed. I have played it to Mark Owen on his piano, and (yes I know a name-dropping story is less good if you have to explain who the person is) he is a member of Take That.

The end of the recapitulation is a moment of sublime darkness and catharsis.

My love of this is one of my greatest gifts from my father. As a toddler I listened to Jon Pertwee singing My Grandfather”s Clock and there was an old lady who swallowed a fly, and to the Emperor Concerto. I drove my mother mad with Couperin harpsichord music. I have just been listening to Beethoven’s piano concerto no. 4 in G major, and it has such full-hearted joy. I wept with it.

Ilya Repin, S.I. MenterPlaying became too much like hard work. Errors creep in, and I was disheartened from slowing down and picking a bar apart, when I had done so, so many times before. Now, it seems harder to learn a piece than in my teens. I have tried with a few, and given up.

This is such a wonderful, exalting experience. Why do I do it so little? I lose concentration and start ruminating, or I get upset, or I get a little bored, or there is a wonderful moment when the music speaks directly to me. Sometimes I follow the drama of it. There are familiar moments where I am with it completely. My sulking gets in the way. Perhaps it might motivate me out of my sulk.

Now, I shall listen to not Mahler or Shostakovich, but the Pastoral symphony. Self-improvement is all very well.

Later

Madame Pages in evening dressI think if you had loved me when I wanted, you would have been ennobled by it.

You were out of my league. I will only admit that on career path and current earnings- not wit, intelligence, physical attractiveness, anything else, but by earnings you were completely out of my league. I wonder why you picked on me, and then that bloke, who also had an income rather less, but it is clearer after you dumped him. Possibly insecurity, or a desire to be completely in control, but you wanted someone who would be far more attracted to you than you were to her. Or him. That is parasitic, and exploitative. It is a sign of being damaged: having a complete lack of trust.

I hate the way you imposed complete control, from below. I had to make the pass, though I was frightened of you and could not believe my “luck”. I was trying the same game, actually, as I am “feminine” too, but you won. A dozen emails to arrange one phone call, because you did not want to speak on the phone. It is my bad luck that I was taken off the hormones just then: my emotions went completely wild. Two days before our second proper date, you cancelled it to see a friend from Leeds instead.

When I chauffeured you about, I was a bit down because of something else. You lost interest, yet gave mixed messages: hugging me and whispering in my ear “You know I came here just for you, don’t you?” then vanishing- what shall I say? “Upset me”, perhaps, I really don’t have the words- as did dancing so close at your party, then going to bed with someone else.

When three months later you invited me to your flat so that I would leave just after he arrived, that was to torture him rather than me. That- upset me- but that was not your primary purpose. That was March 2012, after I first told this story here.

My healing process from this is still ongoing. I resent that, for so long after, I thought of your casual derogatory remark about me, when you had lost interest, as The Truth about me. For so long, if you were near I would be intensely conscious of you, follow you round like a puppy at any opportunity, and be utterly miserable after. I felt wronged, though Bradley Headstone ran in my mind, protecting me from wrongdoing. And this Rupert Brooke poem, which has lived in me since I was twenty.

Success:

I THINK if you had loved me when I wanted;
If I’d looked up one day, and seen your eyes,
And found my wild sick blasphemous prayer granted,
And your brown face, that’s full of pity and wise,
Flushed suddenly; the white godhead in new fear
Intolerably so struggling, and so shamed;
Most holy and far, if you’d come all too near,
If earth had seen Earth’s lordliest wild limbs tamed,
Shaken, and trapped, and shivering, for My touch—
Myself should I have slain? or that foul you?
But this the strange gods, who had given so much,
To have seen and known you, this they might not do.
One last shame’s spared me, one black word’s unspoken;
And I’m alone; and you have not awoken.

I have at last ceased to worship you. At least the hurt and anger I feel is no longer mixed with desire.

Compliance

Boldini- Madame Doyen“Surely, nothing shall hold her back.” Well, yes and no.

I had a compliance interview with the DWP. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, they could decide I owed them £10,000, cut my entitlement by £55 a week, not pay me anything for two months while they sorted my claim, and take money out of my bank account.

The worst of it was, these interviews happen after a public spirited citizen has called the anonymous information line. Not that many people know I am on the sick. I worried a Quaker, believing me capable of work from how I appear at Meeting, had reported me. This is paranoid, but believable enough to be worrying. I phoned the DWP, and they said HMRC had reported to them that I had capital. I haven’t, now, and did not have enough to affect my claim when I made it, but the “notional capital” rules might apply as I lived on savings for two years before claiming. I don’t think they do, but the Decision Maker might disagree.

I thought this morning that I am quite terrified. Mummy will be angry, and something Bad will happen. In that moment I was that child. I thought of other confrontations- have I told you of my final written warnings?- and it seems child-feelings came into play.

Elaine drove me down, we parked, had a cuppa and strolled round to the jobcentre. The displays have a primary school feel, with individual words printed on coloured A4, laminated and stuck on the wall. It helps to create an impression: Elaine admired my LK Bennett jaiket. As the woman explained at great length benefit rules I know well, I thought of interjecting but forebore. I would let her control the interview.

We did not get as far as notional capital. All she was assessing just then was actual capital. However, she is entitled to ask for evidence and withdraw entitlement if I do not give it, and she now has the evidence to consider notional capital if she wishes. I am not out of the woods quite yet. Elaine thought if someone had looked through the glass wall, they would have thought I was interviewing her, with the papers in front of me and that jacket; and the “statement” she wrote for me was poorly done, getting the figures wrong. Elaine thought I had taken control of the interview.

Up to a point, it is good to worry. I was prepared for more than actually happened, and for what might happen next. Beyond that point, it isn’t. I was terrified. I have been functioning a little less well than my current normal, anticipating it. I realise I am an adult, and that thought “Mummy will be angry” feels so terribly real but is not. “Nothing shall hold her back”- except perhaps herself. Mmm. I will think on this.

Female Privilege

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/Boldini_-_Ava_Lister%2C_Baroness_Ribblesdale_%28The_Black_Sash%29.jpgSites talking of female privilege are terribly whiny. Is there any merit in the concept at all?

I looked at Men’s Resistance, and the occasionally valuable Thought Catalog. They seemed ridiculous. TC: 1. Female privilege is being able to walk down the street at night without people crossing the street because they’re automatically afraid of you. Oh, brilliant. And male privilege is not needing to cross the street. Go figure. This is not the only one which is a corollary of male privilege, and I know which I would rather have.

2. Female privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labeled “creepy.” And male privilege is being able to approach someone and ask them out without being labelled a slut, unfeminine, or desperate. You are creepy if you are out of your league.

3 is where it gets really nasty. Female privilege is being able to get drunk and have sex without being considered a rapist. Female privilege is being able to engage in the same action as another person but be considered the innocent party by default. Well, sex is a bigger deal for women than men. It depends how drunk, doesn’t it? If she is unable to consent, then don’t. Given the level of evidence necessary to prove rape, convictions for drunken sex where the woman was too drunk to consent are rare.

6. Female privilege is being able to decide not to have a child. Mmm. So he says the birth control is the woman’s problem, then objects to the result. Wear a condom!

OK, enough. I read this and feel disgust and contempt. Is there anything in these lists I could agree? Just a grain of truth among the exaggeration, victim blaming and stupidity?

8. Female privilege is never being told to “take it like a man” or “man up.” Indeed. I was told “Big boys don’t cry” aged 4. My escape from that has been transition, which is further than most men want to go. Acceptable male roles are Procrustean. They fit very few. But then, male privilege is not being called “bossy” as if that’s a bad thing. Assertive girls with leadership qualities get put down.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Boldini_-_Franca_Florio.jpg10. Women normally get custody of children in divorce. Yes. But this comes from traditional conceptions of women’s roles. OK, guys, you can have custody when women’s pay and promotion chances, and representation in Parliament, are equal. How’s that? This might be soon: 15, more women go to college.

Men’s Resistance, now. 7, Women don’t get conscripted. Actually, in Israel they do, though their term is two years rather than three for men. In a volunteer army with a high degree of technical training this may be seen as an advantage for men.

16. If I am a partner in crime with a man I will likely be charged with lesser crimes even though I committed the same crimes even if I was the ringleader. This is the basis of Dickens’ Mr Bumble the Beadle saying “The law is a ass- a idiot.” However rather than impose a strict rule, courts now consider evidence.

20. Males make up nearly 100% of workplace fatalities. Mmm. There are “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”, still: I tend to feel that the balance is against women- consider earnings. But, yes, this has bad consequences for men too.

But- 42. Women initiate the majority of domestic violence. This is not true, in Britain at least: 1.2m female and 800,000 male victims estimated by the British Crime Survey in 2010/11: physical assault figures were too low to be extrapolated.

70. Women’s loos are nicer. As a trans woman, I would agree; but a trans man told me he much preferred men’s loos.

Try harder, chaps.

John Singer Sargent

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Madame_X_%28Madame_Pierre_Gautreau%29%2C_John_Singer_Sargent%2C_1884_%28unfree_frame_crop%29.jpg

It is one thing to paint nudes, quite another to paint society ladies. Madame X might have opened the floodgates. Exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1884, the painting caused a scandal. Sargent had to paint over the dress: the strap falling down had been immodest.

It is all to do with timing. Gustave Courtois’s work of 1891 is less subtle, as well as less accomplished:

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Courtois_Gautreau_1891.jpg

Boldini in 1885 was comparatively demure:

Ella Brooks Carter

Later, Boldini made a career of painting women in dresses they wore to society dos, but Sargent did not remain a portraitist. A gust of wind, 1886, is quite different, though I love her lips.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/58/A_Gust_of_Wind.jpg

A street in Venice. It has been the mistake of some very great artists, from a quite natural reaction against the artificial Venice of bad painters, to concentrate exclusively on the Venice of the more humble campi, the little deserted rü, which they found more real, wrote Proust, but look at the man’s gaze:

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/dc/SargentStreetInVenice.jpg

A pity he did not paint more portraits. Here is Lady Agnew of Lochnaw:

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Sargent_Lady_Agnew_of_Lochnaw.jpg