Friday, 30 January 2015

A tale of vaginas and how some expect us to behave

Just don't
It’s been a wonderful couple of days for vaginas.

In the meantime, news – and admittedly I use the word lightly – reached these shores that Gwyneth Paltrow is promoting the steaming with herbs of said vaginas to keep them nice and fresh and the owner ‘energised’.

Then today, the hashtag #NoHymenNoDiamond appeared on my Twitter timeline.

Although this appears to have actually started at least as early as last autumn, it’s today picked up a lovely head of steam (though there’s no evidence that steaming breaks or heals a hymen).

There’s also no evidence that those who tweeted it actually thought about how they’d check such a thing before the wedding day.

But then again, we’re not talking about people with big brains.

And as if all that wasnt enough, it’s pretty much a racing certainty that life at the Daily Mail this past week has seen editor and champion of women everywhere, Paul Dacre, illustrating his notorious talent for ‘double cunting’: there’s a reason his editorial meetings are known as ‘the vagina monologue’.

So, is there a common theme here – beyond, yknow, stuff about cunts?

Well there’s certainly a steaming pile of irony.

Greer’s views on trans women are not themselves news, but although she slammed the views of some other feminists in the same speech, she shares with many radical feminists essentially the same attitude toward trans women (I don’t know if they have any opinion on trans men).

More than one rad fem has suggested that not having a womb discounts trans women from ... well, being a woman.

In other words, these feminists do precisely what they supposedly object to – and create an idea of womanhood that comes down to biology and sexual organs.

It’s no coincidence that rad fems in the US in particular have made unholy alliances with reactionary, Christian fundamentalist political groups and individuals. They are a form of reactionary fundamentalism.

I can’t answer for anyone else, but I know that I don’t want to be defined by whether I have a womb or whether my cunt is smelly.

Who would?

And who would imagine that those doing precisely that would, at the same time, equally want to say that women should not be defined in such a dreadfully limiting way by others?

I have no more right to define anyone else’s experience of their sex/gender than anyone does of mine.

As someone who has been described, by a long-time friend, as a “gay man in a woman’s body,” I’m well aware that there are many ways in which I do not personally conform to any conventional idea of womanhood.

But surely it’s precisely those ‘conventional’ ideas – and expectations and, with them, limits – that feminism seeks to combat?

If you want women to be able to escape lives based on restrictions imposed because of bodily functions, then it hardly seems sensible to use these same things to define women.

Many have found the obituary of best-selling author, and acclaimed scientist, Colleen McCullough, in Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, to illustrate precisely what still faces many women.

It opens thus:

COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”

There’s so much wrong with this that it’s would be difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, Twitter users came up with #MyOzObituary to illustrate the insanity.

But choosing to remember a successful and talented woman in such a fashion is no different in its limiting terms to claiming that her sexual organs are what defines a woman.

And this, perversely, has something in common with the idea of the vagina – via the hymen – of that previous hashtag.

That’s about ownership. It’s about defining a ‘good’ woman on the basis of sex and an idea about what identifies a woman who has had sex. Commenting on her looks is about defining her by them.

The #NoHymenNoDiamond hashtag is particularly dumb, of course, not least since many things can break the hymen, from tampon use to riding a bike.

But that’s the point: none of this is sensible. None of it employs common sense. None of it employs the matter between the ears.

According to the biological definition of a woman, anyone born with Mayer Rokitansky Küster Hauser syndrome (ie without a womb) would not qualify.

So it serves – once again – to illustrate a number of things.

One, that rad fems are not, for the main, really interested in women as a whole and in overcoming the limits that our society does place on them.

Two, that said radical feminists push an agenda that is yet another form of intolerant, bigoted and limiting reaction against progress, and we should not be suckered in to treated it as an intellectually-sound matter.

Three, that radical feminism is a form of secular fundamentalism that has nothing whatsoever to do with what the majority of women think and experience.

And four, that whatever some claim, the main issue that faces us today – that is, ALL of us – is still a class-based one, with a ruling class/supra-national corporatocracy etc using all its weight to gain yet more wealth, and damn everyone else, whether male or female, straight or not, trans or cis, black or white etc etc.

Just look at TTIP – and the ISDS clause in particular – to see this.

Dividing human beings along lines of sex and/or gender, into whether or not they have a cunt that smells or not is idiocy and ignores all the really important questions that face us ALL.

But hey: what a vagina of a few days it’s been!

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