The Cis Gaze

I took off the dress, and put my suit, shirt and tie back on. “Perfectly normal young man,” said the psychiatrist, approvingly, finishing off the aversion therapy. I saw my body as wrong, so now I was an adult I hid it. My arms were too thin, my sternum too prominent. I did not enjoy team sports, only swimming.

The white gaze socially constructs Blackness, the male gaze objectifies women, through the power to control, but my view of my body as unmanly and therefore inferior and inadequate must have come from somewhere.

Here are some men, looking at art, and some of them are frankly ogling. Yes it’s culture, the technical skill and Titian in the forefront of innovation, with the ambiguity of a woman either covering herself or playing with herself, where the ambiguity is part of the artist’s skill and the value of the picture, but it’s also a naked lady. Other men look at naked men, also aroused. I wonder what Zoffany thought of that. I can see it as inclusion, with the man on the right above described and acknowledged not condemned.

I had come across Zoffany, or Zaufallij, before, but got this, Tribuna of the Uffizi, from Mary Beard’s documentary Shock of the Nude. That also had the artist Jemima Stehli talking about a series of photos of her, aged 39, stripping in front of men. Nobody is in control, so that the woman can be powerful and sexual and objectify herself and still be interesting, intellectual, all the other things that she also wants to be. At art school I was a feminist but I wasn’t happy with 80s black and white feminist simplification and especially the idea of demonising men. She claims the power, and some women, not all, have it, even though men tend to be larger and stronger, which can count for a lot. There is power in having what men want, though danger when men feel entitled to take it. The photos are taken from behind her, facing the man. One looks uncomfortable.

Now, others may see me as a freak, a cat to kick for the lowest-status straight male, and often I limit my attention in the street so I do not consciously notice if someone has read me and is shocked, amused or disgusted by seeing a trans woman, but after transition was the first time I started to love my body and see it as beautiful rather than malformed. There is relentless hostility seeking to make us an out-group, but it does not affect how I see my body. My body is fitting, doing what I need it to do, enjoyably. Valuing my character has been a long struggle, helped on by others’ regard, valuing what I was taught to denigrate. “Soft, gentle, peaceful… truth and courage” came from one man. Despising softness and seeing it in myself came from the culture, boys at school, so many influences until it was as commonsensical as gravity, and moving to value it was a hard, drawn-out process of which transition was only the start.

I have redefined the word- from “soft as shite”, a direct quote from someone, I remember where we were, who he was, in about 1980, to softness as strength, for healing and peacemaking. Others would change the word, to “squishy”- I remember reading that too, from a TERF- calling to mind the softness of a ripe peach and the squishiness of a peach that has gone off without ever properly ripening.

My glance of approval in the mirror, or a distressed “Oh God I look like a man,” seem to come from general self-confidence rather than any actual change in appearance. Others seem to have the same experience, sometimes feeling alright enough, sometimes desperately unconfident, which leeches into everything, including how we see ourselves.

We are seen, and despised, controlled, made to serve. There is the “male gaze”, conceptualised by and for feminists, where men define women, their regard showing their power and control, where men film women, male cinematographers and directors display women to male audiences, with women tagging along. The woman is Other, and Less, primarily emotional rather than rational because her emotions are denigrated rather than affirmed as a man’s are. Critical Whiteness Studies can adopt this concept: the Black person is Othered by the white Gaze.

I hardly know, for myself. I tried to pass as a man, to make a man of myself, for Being a Man was good and if I could develop particular traits, and strengthen my body- going out running until my tendon gave way, taking long walks with a rucksack filled with bricks- I might be OK. And that was based on denigration, of my natural traits. I too reject the black and white feminist simplification: if there was a Rightness in Men, to be affirmed by Patriarchy, it was not in me; I had to ape it as best I could. Now, stopping trying to ape it, attempting to find myself under the male act, value myself under the denigration I received, has some benefits and some disadvantages. Walking down the street I may be obviously queer in a way that I was not, wearing that dark grey suit and silk tie. And I despise myself less, so torture myself less, so my pain lessens, slowly.

Recently I attempted to use words to describe a process of acceptance of another human being as she is. What is our thoughtless attitude? To reject and condemn. This woman does that, which we cannot tolerate in the Quaker meeting. We would start with our Testimony to Equality, tolerating as we expect her to learn the rules by osmosis, and eventually get more and more tetchy as she should have had time to obey the rules until we make her uncomfortable and drive her off.

Doing that meant writing about the woman from the view of the powerful person who rejects, even while preserving his self-image as a wise, generous acceptor, before saying we must see it in a different way, and expand our concepts of normal and acceptable. She was hurt by my gaze, though I inhabited the gaze of the powerful person only to show that their view should be changed, to see her not as that unacceptable thing, but as within the range of normal and acceptable.

I suppose saying “Some see you as this” is threatening and dehumanising, reminding of rejection, even though I name it in order to bring it into full view, critique it and dispatch it. I was trying to be an ally, but I have been angry with allies before, and praised them. I should have been clearer. And, in part, it was me. I was uncomfortable with particular characteristics, before making the decision to see them as positive. It’s my process. This is the human being. Calling aspects objectionable as a way to make her pitiable, or to drive her away, is wrong. I will not do it, because I would benefit if I gained her perspective, understanding and companionship. But for me that has to be a conscious process. I see the exclusionary acts I commit without thinking, because now I am making an effort to notice them, in the hope that I will learn better habits, that inclusion through practice can become habitual. Writing, I observe that process of exclusion or inclusion in me and others, to call it out.

Lionel Shriver, novelist, wants to write any story she can imagine, without regard to “call-out culture”, wokeness or political correctness. {Content warning: there’s a nasty sideswipe or two at trans folk.} Um. Sometimes we want to tell our stories ourselves, resenting the privilege or luck that gives others platforms. Sometimes we resent stories of trans women who are always victims, or deceitful, or messed up, and want stories of our success. Allies have to be careful. People hurt, and feel justifiable anger.

Are you female, or feminine?

I asked trans men if they were transitioning because they were really a man, or because they were masculine; women if female or feminine, non-binary because their true physical form, or their character, was non-binary?

Several trans men said they were really men. Their female-developed bodies revolted them. Their breasts, their widening hips, had been horrible, a weird, squishy, fleshy thing. Their chest masculinisation freed them to be feminine. Femininity before transition was an act, now they could be their authentic feminine selves if no-one would think them a woman. Female puberty had confirmed that they really were men, if there had been any doubt. Body hair delights them, the voice breaking delights them. So even in a utopia without gender stereotypes, they would transition.

I worried about this, when I heard it. I have no idea what proportion detransition. It might seem to confirm the gender-critical feminist perspective, that teenage girls want to transition because being a woman can be horrible, subject to groping, unwanted advances, sexist “banter”, sexist assumptions and treatment at school, university and in employment, and being a man would seem liberating, and yet being a woman is wonderful, being a mother, giving birth and suckling a child are the purpose of these body parts, as well as the sexual pleasure of their owner. Women can be used sexually in a way men are not, so much. Approximating to being a man is liberating, at great cost in physical mutilation and long term hormone treatment with unknown consequences. These women pay the price of sexism with their beautiful female bodies. Sexism erases lesbians.

And yet, that denies the ability of these trans men to make decisions for themselves, or to know themselves. None will say that they transition to escape sexism, but because they really are men, and that they want their bodies to reflect the fact. They are clear that they are men.

I feel feminine. That is how transition enabled me to discover myself and value myself: I could be my feminine self, and begin to peel back the thick layers of shame obscuring myself. I don’t feel constrained by any particular concept of feminine. It is elastic and fuzzy, covering a wide variety of women. I don’t know how things would be, if I had not had hormones and surgery, but had attempted a transition without, but I transitioned because of my femininity.

Others echoed this. They were feminine rather than female. Many, men and women, were not really masculine or feminine, they thought, but both or neither. “I’m just me” is a good way of being. I feel non-binary is freeing. We should be able to adjust our bodies just as far as we need, and express our personalities without feeling constrained by ideals of masculinity or femininity. Men need to find and liberate their feminine side, not just trans women. Yet it is uncomfortable being feminine, and appearing to be a man.

As people went through the transition process they thought less about these things, and were more simply and unaffectedly themselves. Not everyone. Some detransition, and curse the whole idea of changing sex or gender; but it saves many lives.

And the gender-critical should get alongside us. So, yes, they are oppressed by sexism, by men interrupting and taking up space and not respecting them and suspicious of their leadership and ogling and groping and demanding sex. They are distracted from fighting these things by being drawn to fight a few thousand mostly-harmless trans women. We liberate ourselves from patriarchal oppression as best we can.

The Mythic Archetypal Feminine

“In most mythologies and archetypal psychology, the feminine principle has greater interest in the inner, the soul, the formless, intuition, connection, harmony, beauty, and relationality in general; it is more identified with lunar subtlety than the over-differentiating light of the masculine sun god or the literalism and linearity of the left brain. … Jesus himself illustrates these feminine qualities…and God is variously described as a compassionate mother, a hen protecting her chicks, and even “The Breasted One” or El Shaddai.

“The masculine principle, as I experience it and have observed it, is more interested in the outer, the mental, exterior form, idea, the movement or action of things, the naming and differentiation of things one from another; solar clarity of individual things, as it were, as opposed to the relationship of one thing to another. It prefers the ascent of mind to the descent of soul. It often moves toward “agency” and action before relationship or intimacy. Just watch little boys play, and watch how men love to fix, build, and also demolish. It is often a more “focused consciousness” than the “diffuse awareness” of the feminine principle, as Carl Jung noted. We see examples of these characteristics in Moses, the Hebrew judges, the practical, eager disciples, and in many images of God as lion and king.”

That’s Richard Rohr. I find his comments harmful. People need to experience both to be fully rounded. He is clearly more comfortable with the masculine principle than the feminine: he ascribes the masculine specifically to boys and men, but not the feminine to girls and women. With the possible exception of the judge Deborah, he does not name women- even, he implies that Mary Magdalen was not a “disciple”. In describing the feminine, he specifically contrasts the masculine, in negative terms, but describing masculine he alludes to the feminine as “descent of soul”: he is frightened of critiquing what he calls feminine.

What he calls feminine is necessary to serve what he calls masculine. It is all very well to “fix, build and demolish” as long as you are not in conflict. The “feminine” relationality means we can co-operate, and eases the self-doubt of the man when he fails. I see female architects building, which creates a shift: the work of supporting is for all of us, not just females. Monks and male priests, men of peace, ideally take on that feminine role, using intuition, compassion and connection.

The “descent of soul” is a matter of maturity, not just femininity. We learn who we are, and come to accept the whole in unity rather than just the active, confident mask. Men have to learn to do this for themselves, without women supporting them. Then we can support each other, and move between soul and intellect, intuition and action, as necessary. We can be co-operative rather than hierarchical. We will have diverse voices and so greater collective understanding.

In “The State of the Art”, Iain M Banks’ character observes that a particular Holocaust memorial is a cave to walk into, “a cunt rather than a prick”. The man approves, but they are two parts that fit together, not symbols of discrete roles. One might think of the active yoni “enveloping” the phallus, and of monuments being just that, stone symbols of commemoration, not penises.

The result is a union of archetypes. Each person’s gifts are valued. Couples may be partnerships without “men’s” and “women’s” roles. These separate archetypes have value, but as active and contemplative, or nuanced and decisive, rather than masculine and feminine. God may unite them as of equal worth without being seen as mother or father.

Avoiding transition

-Doctor, I am a trans woman. I want to transition, and I want your help and support to do that: I want testosterone suppressants and oestrogen, and I may want surgery at some time, I have not completely decided on that.

-Many people transition, and find it makes them happier and better adjusted. You can certainly transition. Why do you want to?

-I knew there was something wrong before I went to school, and when I went to school I worked out what it was. I was a girl, and I am a woman. I did not feel as the boys felt. I did not want to play with the boys. Now, I do not like to be with the blokes. I much prefer being with women.

-What does it mean to be a woman? When you say you are a trans woman, what is it that you are?

-I am feminine, by which I mean I am sensitive. I have strong feelings, and I like to express them. I am good at reading the feelings of others. I loathe conflict, and like reconciliation. I want people to be happy. I have a strong aesthetic sense: I love beauty, and enjoy flower arranging.

-I wonder if that could be a description of a man. Have you ever heard Alfred Brendel play Beethoven, or Maurizio Pollini, Chopin? Can you hear the strong feelings, the sweet yearning gentleness, expressed there? Or have you seen the paintings of Henry Raeburn or Allan Ramsay: there is strong feeling. The painters well those passions read, which yet survive on the living canvas. Both painted women as well as men. As for wanting people to be happy, Jesus would not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick. Jeremy Corbyn, always speaking out for peace- is he not a man? Or Carl Rogers, who founded person-centred counselling? Why is being a man so difficult for you? What does it mean to be a man?

-Rudyard Kipling’s If. The Scout Law. Self-reliance. Rationality. Preferring things over people, rationally organising. Relishing conflict, and overcoming.

-These are difficult for anybody. If all around are losing their heads, and only one is keeping his, are the others not men, or not real men, or what? What should they do? Give up their Man card? Can you think of anyone who is like that? It seems to me your difficulty is not with being a man, but with your idea of what a man should be.

-Well, in my case I want to transition. I am happiest when I am Clare, and when I go back to being Stephen it is horrible.

 ♥♥♥

The lightbulb must want to change. By the time you see the gender psychiatrist, you know who you are, and what you need. No-one goes to the psychiatrist because they might be transsexual. Now, years afterwards, I am well aware of the breadth of male and female emotional expression and rationality, relish for conflict or desire for reconciliation, interest in things or people. I can value my gentleness. Now, with the new concept of gender-schematic, I can see that imagining some concept of manhood separate from my own gifts and inclinations is poisonous rather than idealistic, pointless and harmful, and while one might escape it into transition it would be so much better to escape it into appreciation of onesself as a rounded human being.

As for “femininity”, women are not all like that, and to some extent neither am I. So often in a group, the trans woman is the only one in a skirt, the cis women are far more spirited than our passive ideal. One sees that “femininity” is often oppressive. Equality is better than subordination- By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: the very being and existence of the woman is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband, wrote Blackstone (quoted by Rebecca Solnit). Concepts of femininity might be closer to who I am than the concept of masculinity I grew up with, but still require me to deny parts of myself. It seems such a long way round to self-acceptance.

People will continue to transition. Many people are satisfied with the result of their operations, and others’ dissatisfaction as well as my own goes with poorer results- pain, and lessened sensitivity. If I advise people not to transition, that may fall on deaf ears. Yet there are better ways to health. How to unpick the desire? I do not advocate conversion therapy, but self-acceptance: yet acceptance of body as well as character. “Why are you so unhappy?” might be a good question.

On trans rights, having transitioned I am entitled to be treated as a woman. So are any others who go through this. It is hard enough to be trans, without the covenant we have with liberal human rights, by which we are members of the acquired gender, being overturned.

Gender-schematic

Gender-schematic people use gender stereotypes to organise information in their world. People who identify strongly with their gender stereotype adopt attitudes and behaviours consistent with it, and use it to judge others. That seems me to fit trans folk. We imagine that “masculine” and “feminine” have meaning. Trans women I know tried desperately to fit the masculine stereotype, perhaps even ultra-masculine, and then become ultra-feminine, at least in presentation.

Cordelia Fine did not say how the Attitude Interest Analysis Survey decided what was masculine and what was feminine. Hundreds of specimen attitudes, emotions, personality traits and occupational choices were put before American school-children. Those which elicited strongly different responses from one sex were included in the survey. So it is a test of conformity: those who score as particularly masculine or feminine are those who want to conform. Trans people can report that does not mean we accurately estimate who we are.

The Bem Sex Role Inventory, made by S.L. Bem, asked adults about the desirability of traits in men and in women. It had separate scales, one for masculinity, one for femininity, and so could produce results as masculine, feminine, androgynous (both) or undifferentiated (neither). I found this pdf for the Personal Attributes Questionnaire, which indicates the scores with the questions. I scored myself high feminine, low masculine, though wondered whether others would score me the same. Would their estimation of me equal mine? For this test, to be “excitable”  in a major crisis is thought feminine, to be calm, masculine. But the weaker person with less control might be resigned, rather than excitable. Excitable might go with panic and fruitless activity or passion and directed activity. One might think it “British” to be calm, and “Italian” (well, we are talking stereotypes) to be excitable.

The source I looked at said PAQ measured “desirable” traits. I don’t see excitability in a crisis to be desirable, but then I am British, and conform to that stereotype to a great extent. Also, it said “feminine” in the test meant expressive, and “masculine”, instrumental. It says it is masculine to be competitive, but not feminine to be uncompetitive. Fine says that women can be competitive, in sports and for academic advancement.

PAQ says women are sensitive, in the negative sense that their feelings are easily hurt and the positive sense that they are aware of the feelings of others. I feel these traits go together.

I don’t know what I would have said when I was struggling so gamely to make a man of myself. I know that I was not aware of my feelings, and might have been similarly unaware of my attributes. I remember claiming not to be easily hurt, and Moira incredulously denying that. I would deny it myself, now.

I feel my self-perception now- that I am easily hurt- is more accurate than it was then. This seems a matter of learning about myself as I age, but could equally be conforming to a feminine stereotype. One does not feel as one ought to feel, but as one feels, and that can be difficult to understand. I find the idea of what feelings are appropriate can be a barrier to knowing what one actually feels. I remember being surprised in the hour of my mother’s death that none of us were crying.

It could then be that trans people are just particularly gender-schematic, that we understand people through the concept of gender. Unable to fit as men, trans women transition. This may go along with arousal at cross-dressing, not as a prime cause but as a factor making transition more likely. The end of the concept of gender, as a way of understanding others or ourselves, would liberate us to find out who we really are.

Psychology Research and Reference on masculinity and femininity.

Grayson Perry

I am a transvestite; I am turned on by dressing in clothes that are heavily associated with being female…How can I, brought up as a man, know anything about the experience of being a woman? It would be insulting to women if I thought I did.

This is enough for some people to write Grayson Perry off as a transphobe- it implies that trans women insult women too. He speculates about how his mother, venting her rage about men, or her partner, the Minotaur who could be the only masculine one in the household, might affect his gender- it’s nurture, not just nature. Then he refers to his “gender dysphoria”. Later he says boys fear that putting on a dress will turn them into a girl. (If only!) He may be a trans woman who cannot admit it even to himself, but the truth keeps leaking out. Or, loathing makes him express it negatively- cross-dressing is “childish”, a “fantasy of femininity”- but also he (p52) calls it “adopting femininity”. He wears little girl dresses, the clearest transvestite fetish opposite of the serious trans woman in women’s trousers, and finds women dote over him like they would over a little girl, drawn into the narrative of the costume despite the incongruity of the wearer.

He conflates things we would differentiate, and states etiologies we would dispute. He boasts of using the men’s toilets “even” when wearing a dress, “out of respect”. Most say “cross-dresser” rather than transvestite. Yet he challenges Masculinity, which has poisoned us and which we flee. I would go beyond the failure to see trans as we see it, to his whole view. We can’t impose an orthodoxy on everyone. Many people will say “Trans women are women”, still, thank God. Does anything he says advance our cause?

Unfortunately, his book The Descent of Man is confused. It seems he has thought a lot about masculinity, as a transvestite, but not read widely or systematically. Parliament being half women would bring in consensus, steady debate and empathy in leadership. So women are other, and I don’t get the same sense of women’s variation. High-achieving, ambitious men revel in the status quo. “Sexually promiscuous,” he calls them. That could be envy, though he is married. Men lower down the pecking order still benefit from the patriarchy. But “those who lose out”- probably “unmanly” men like him, have nothing to lose and might rise up alongside women. How many? “A lot of them,” that is, no idea.

Later, he writes “A lot of men are sold the narrative of male domination, but lead lives of frustration and servitude”. So the macho men who dropped out of education and have no job, but who beat up their partners, might rebel? They would rebel in quite a different way. Men compete unconsciously, talking of their achievements, possessions, and strengths. I have noticed that sometimes I do not feel the need to compete, sometimes I compete, and sometimes I can add nothing to a conversation, as if invisible (once on Saturday). I am aware of it. Not feeling a need to compete is a relief, but perhaps it was that I did not see the man telling me his boastful story as competition.

The props, gestures and script which signal gender are temporary social constructs. Yes. I would like a discussion of how our symbols relate to our underlying qualities, real or feigned, but it is not here. But he has interesting things to say about passing. He mimicked the “pimp roll” of older boys, being keen to pass as a real man. All men do, he argues. Authentic manhood, merely expressing ones inner qualities, is the ideal, and men have ways of pretending to that, such as leather biker jackets. We work at passing in many ways: sexuality, class, race, occupation or nationality. However for me, we imagine our interior selves fit our ideal. We do not know ourselves.

Masculinity III

Maybe it’s cos Google is more of a bubble than facebook is, and they have me down as a Lefty, but when I search “Masculinity” most of the first page is about Toxic masculinity, violent against women and driving men to suicide. Then I learn that rugged, dependable masculinity is fragile: As Victorian men moved from the fields into factories, so grew a fear that their sons, now spending more time at home with their mothers, were at risk of becoming feminised, or “inverted” (the Freudian term for homosexual). Organised sport, with its emphasis on male bonding and toughness, was a concerted work of remasculinisation. Toughness is the heart of masculinity, yet all sorts of things can leech it away.

What makes masculinity dangerous is the need to prove, assert, demonstrate toughness, which hurts others, and doubt of it, which hurts men. They want to assert toughness at the cost of other qualities. Self-doubt increases. They imagine empathy and caring dents an image of toughness. Men secure in their own manhood selfhood can care for others, insecure men can care for no-one, nor seek the help they need.

You need to be tough to work in a shipyard, hammering red hot rivets all day. It takes skill and bravery to manipulate them, working with others. You need to be strong and dependable. Then you take home your wage packet to your wife, as symbol and proof of those manly qualities. But the shipyards, mines, steelworks and car plants closed down, and how can you prove that toughness now? Iain Duncan-Smith says by committing crimes, drinking too much, taking drugs and fathering multiple children. He thinks marriage is the answer.

YouGov asked people to place themselves on a scale from 0, completely masculine, to 6, completely feminine. Sadly, negligible numbers of men said 4-6, if any. 56% of men over 65 said they were completely masculine, but only 2% of 18-24 year olds. 47% of these young men chose two, only one stage away from neutral between masculine and feminine. This may have more to do with perception than reality. The youngest men have a negative view of masculinity; or, they are comfortable distancing themselves from it, not too ashamed to tell someone in a survey. My own positive description of masculinity, above, hearkens back to conditions when I was a child, thirty or forty years ago.

If we pretend to cliché masculinity from decades past, it sets up tensions with reality now, where men are not dominant in work, where work is insecure, and we are all insecure. Getting from imagining, and desperately asserting, that you feel what that cliché says you ought to feel, to realising what you do feel can be terribly painful. I find that crying can bring me to authenticity, to consciousness of my feelings, and even though I know this the crying is painful. To be a Man, who cannot cry, and does not understand that process, it is overwhelming, and may be so humiliating he just resists it even unto suicide.

We need some activity to organise our lives, too. I blog, as I do not work.

Is masculinity in crisis, the Guardian.

Masculinity II

Is Men’s Rights all about whining? Awww…

Joke site Return of Kings, perhaps set up by radical feminists as a satire, certainly is. Here’s “Beau Albrecht”, who blogs about “Game”, that is, attempts to get sex. He writes on “How to deprogram yourself after becoming a male feminist”. “White Knights”, men who defend women on the internet, never get rewarded with sex, he whines. Women want real men. “What’s good for women is not identical with modern feminism”, he says, because he knows better than women what they need.

He claims that in the past men had it harder, working in factories and mines (women were miners in Britain until 1842). Women achieved equality with suffrage in 1920 (USA) and the Equal Pay Act. So women moved the goalposts. Divorce favours women. Men earn more because men prefer harder jobs and work more overtime, and rape culture is a lie. Paternity fraud is worse than rape. Feminism causes civilisational decline. America was great in the 1960s.

Corey Savage disagrees: it was great in the 1950s, when a man could find a sweetheart simply by being decent and hard-working, because men had the jobs. Now, women slut around with dark triad- Machiavellian, narcissistic, psychopathic- men. Decent men sit and watch from the sidelines. Women like talentless but famous entertainers, fantasise about being raped by abusive, dominant men (though the link given as authority notes that the belief that rape fantasies are subconscious wishes has been debunked), and write love letters to killers in prison (Corey perhaps does not realise that prison keeps the woman in control). He whines that Kim Jong Un and a “drug lord” called El Chapo can find attractive women. Awww….

David G Brown whines, after Roy Moore’s deserved defeat, This character assassination is what the future holds for Republicans in general elections and conservative Republicans in GOP primaries. There was no proof Moore was a paedophile! Brown wants Moore to get away with it, unless he is prosecuted and convicted. I feel having no criminal record is too low a bar for a senator.

So far, masculinity is the concern of men who whine that no woman finds them attractive. Alphonso Taft, an “Aryan”, praises Joe Rogan, a stand up comedian and commentator on mixed martial arts, as an icon of masculinity to emulate. Rogan’s masculine principles [are] integrity, brotherhood, discipline, and curiosity, which in themselves are unobjectionable. He confronted and dominated another comedian, who has completely fallen off the map, a broken man. I don’t trust this site, so googled. The story seems to come from Rogan’s blog.

Rogan exercises a lot, and eats the animals he hunts. Fighting is a form of meditation for him, and he is disciplined in pursuing new skills. Rogan’s most masculine skill other than martial arts is hunting, a discipline not practiced by weak men, drools the writer.

The site is obsessed with trans women (Oh God! They’re so insecure!) Two articles on recent posts: Japan bans chicks with dicks– in Japan, trans women will only be recognised after GRS- and Hannah Mouncey has been banned from Australian Rules football women’s league. In fact, Japan requires trans people to “permanently lack functioning gonads”, orchiectomy not penectomy. Mouncey was banned in Melbourne but allowed to play in Canberra.

I pity the insecure, resentful, weak males who would want to read this stuff.

Beau Albrecht.
Corey Savage.
David G Brown.
Alphonso Taft.

Masculinity

If before transition I had to define the masculine ideal I was trying for, I would say “Christian gentleman” or even “Boy scout”. I had enjoyed the Scouts.

A Scout is to be trusted.
A Scout is loyal.
A Scout is friendly and considerate.
A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.
A Scout has courage in all difficulties.
A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.
A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.

The Prayer of St Francis, not by Francis of Assisi, has some similarity:

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

The similarity is self-reliance. We act, give, create unflinchingly and unswervingly. It is a promise not to be weak, not to be stressed, not to be unable to cope with the burdens on you, which is a promise only a fool makes. At the university Christian Union I changed “Francis”‘s word “seek” to “need”.

The emotions of this man are strong and positive, quiet and undemonstrative: pleasure in service and achievement. Like Arnold Swarzenegger in Commando, first seen carrying a large tree trunk on his shoulder, doing a manly thing because he is a man, getting the pleasure of being entirely himself and fitting his world. Men on the front line of the Somme would go over the top and walk towards the enemy as they were ordered, resolutely because that was simply what men do, even though machine guns made such tactics insane.

A man’s shoulders are broad enough for anything. In that film, Arnie shows intelligence strength and courage thwarting his enemies. He has the task of rescuing his daughter and he does not rest until he accomplishes it. The one joke I remember is cruel.

-You remember I said I would kill you last?
-Yes, yes (the man begins to beg and plead)
-I lied.

But he is provoked, and so the audience of pimply boys completely sympathises with him.

Emotions would be positive, and rarely expressed. Men do not cry: I cried three times in the year following my mother’s death. Ideally, emotion produces motivation. One is enthused by a task, which one chooses rationally. The paterfamilias behaves like the good father, in control for the good of all. A man would fight if he had to, but that would be a last resort.

My problem was that my emotions were not accepted when I was a child, so I did not know what they were. They still affected me and my behaviour, but I was not conscious how. I began to learn to accept emotion after I had decided to transition.

We observe that the violent man who physically abuses his partner expresses emotion- hurt, anger and resentment- easily. Anger and derision, especially for weakness, are emotions men are encouraged to show. That produces the vicious cycle that boys learning to be men show anger and derision at any perceived effeminacy in fellows. Drunk men can become enthusiastic, but their enthusiasm carries the possibility of violence.

That ideal, of the Man capable of all life would demand of him, is not within the individual’s control. I would temper it with resilience at setbacks, clarity in perceiving possibilities and determination in pursuing them. Kipling’s Man is surrounded by knaves, fools and doubters who lose their heads, so this is an ideal many cannot live up to. A Scout is considerate- that is close to “kind”- and that is a feminine virtue seen virtuous in men: in the end, I have an ideal for humans, not for one gender.

Defiant

I have lunch with my friend, who is slowly and steadily making the preparations for transition: telling people of her true self, appearing in public, laying the ground. I notice the imperfectly shaven hair beneath the make-up. To my mind, her face, the size and shape of it, jowls and brow ridge, appear male, and the wig is wrong: its parting shows a cloth lining rather than a scalp. The clothes suit a woman of her age, but the dress sense is slightly off.

And this is me, not her. How often I have looked in the mirror and thought, “Oh God, I look like a man!” and at other times thought, well, actually, I don’t look too bad; and I looked the same, it was just the way I was looking at myself. I thought of telling her- “Don’t do it! It isn’t worth it!” but what would be the point? I do not know that it is not, for her; and I really want to tell my two decades younger self, but I can’t, and that younger self might not listen anyway. S/he had her heart and mind, her reality and nature, and if s/he would not listen to them s/he would not listen even if someone came back from the future. Or, perhaps, she is right and my doubts now are wrong.

And this is dissatisfaction, a nameless unease rather than a clear understanding of what might be better. If that’s all there is, let’s break out the booze and let’s keep dancing. In Tesco’s, two small children, below waist height, stared up into my face and said “Are you the bikey man? Are you the bikey man?” “I’m the bikey person,” I said weakly. Such clarity and definiteness from two so young is depressing.

Possibly the thought of defiance is the kind of illusion I would jump at in this mood. I shake my fist in the face of encroaching Night. It feels as if it might be energising. The febrile energy would be heat not light. What would I be defying? What would be better?

Possibly dissatisfaction is better. I am dissatisfied. Things are not as I would wish- this is the impetus to find what might be better. I would be defying the expectations of others, or what I imagined those expectations to be.

If-

If that really is all there is, it is good enough, actually. I try to be a Real Man, and fail, because that is not who I am, and learn about transition. It fits me better than anything else I can imagine, so I do it. I could fit in, take a role which is almost acceptable. I could be me.

Years later, I look down at that child. It would be nice not to be laughed at, not ever, but it might not be possible. Good enough: I work out how best to be me, and now am still working on that, but more precisely.

Now I decide it does not fit, so create a new role. This takes a long time, but I get there. I see more clearly who I am, accept that, and can live it; less conflicted, resentful, but incrementally. Would that the work was done!

After meeting I drank with H, and told her I was populating the word “pansy”. It means effeminate male, but has no other baggage I dislike, unlike “sissy”. She said, so, you are identifying with masculinity? No, maleness. Definitely not masculinity. Masculinity is cultural, maleness physical. I should have asked her why she used the word.

Being a soft male is OK.
Being a soft male is OK.
Being a soft male is OK.

I don’t know what defiance would look like or what I would defy. I am happy with the names I use and the way I dress. If I can admit I am a “man” would the pointed scrutiny of that small child have less effect? What she sees, thinks, even says is part of the world I cannot control, which does not hurt me really.

In the pharmacy, I ask for “Prescription for Clare, please”. It makes me sound like a disease! To see it another way, I could be an elixir or universal tonic, inspiring merriment everywhere.