Skepchick recently added a couple of women to their team. Natalie has been writing up a storm since she joined, all of it good, but this morning’s post on privilege is a must-read.
Men and women alike only ever have their own specifically gendered experiences to draw from, and can’t make any direct comparison between how they would be treated as a man versus how they would be treated as a woman. This makes it very difficult to isolate sexism for the purposes of holding it up to examination.
Well… most men and women can’t make any direct comparison.
There are us trans people who have lived as both genders. Back in October, I found in one of Jen’s quickies a fantastic article about the experiences of trans men in the workplace, and how they noticed that they were taken more seriously, were listened to with greater interest, and felt more respected after transition. It made me realize that people who have transitioned are uniquely well positioned to observe the disparity in how our society treats men and women. We have the differing points in our lives as comparison. We have our new lives as experimental group and our memories as the control. It’s not in any way hard science, but it gives us more to go on than most people get, at least in terms of drawing from our own experiences. Hard scientific data is pretty scarce in sociology anyway, but qualitative research and ”soft science” is still whole lot better than no science, and anecdotal evidence is better than no evidence.
When someone claims “Women have it way easier than guys”, I get to confidently say, “No, we don’t”. And I have something pretty substantial to base that on.
The first comment, of course, suggests that Natalie’s experience doesn’t make for a decent comparison because trans women are treated worse than trans men. That is, also of course, pretty much the point.
Go read the whole thing. It’s fascinating.