This didn’t go in yesterday’s post because I only saw it the once, but while we’re on the topic of the terrible arguments that happen when cis feminists insist on using trans people as their springboard for gender theorizing, let’s talk about this:
Bruce Jenner told Ms. Sawyer that what he looked forward to most in his transition was the chance to wear nail polish, not for a furtive, fugitive instant, but until it chips off. I want that for Bruce, now Caitlyn, too. But I also want her to remember: Nail polish does not a woman make.
That’s from that horrible New York Times article that I don’t feel like linking again. Instead, have a link to a piece by a trans man who does a good job of bringing many of the assumptions buried in that article to light.
Why is this argument bad? You don’t have to understand biology or sociology to know. You don’t have to be familiar with political arguments. Frankly, you just have to be a storyteller. Or listen to a storyteller.
The women of Wales came in for special commendation for their work, with Bangor Women’s Patriotic Guild branching out to make mosquito nets and and sunshields for soldiers in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Above all else, women knitted socks; some of them unusual in size and shape.
In the sodden mud of the trenches, on long marches, or even bogged down in training camps, soldiers found clean, dry socks to be a luxury.
They weren’t equating clean socks with peace.
They say it kicks in about 2-3 months after you move abroad. The excitement and newness of where you are wears off. You are hit with the revelation that you aren’t on vacation, but that this really is you’re life. “It won’t happen to me,” I thought. Alas, it hit me almost as hard as John Bonham could hit the drums. When I look back now, with a rational mind, I know it was inevitable that I would feel something other than 100% bliss. But at the time, I just pushed all those feelings to the back of my brain. “I am so lucky,” repeat, repeat….I have no right to feel anything but happy.
One day I couldn’t push the feeling away anymore and I remember rushing home after work because I could feel the tears. The moment I opened the door to my apartment my face flooded. I collapsed on my sofa, put on music and just let myself cry. I cried until the tears stopped, but still, I felt no better. The following 2 weeks weren’t easy. I was homesick, end of story. I wanted a DD iced coffee. I wanted a cheeseburger (I’m a vegetarian.)
She isn’t telling us that New York City is defined by iced coffee and cheeseburgers.
“I miss him so much Sal. I miss his smile, his laugh, I miss his stupid jokes. I miss how he kept telling me to ‘grow up sis and act your age.’ Oh, that used to irritate me so much when he said that…now I would give anything to hear it again. Just the every day things you know?”
She doesn’t miss him because he told stupid jokes and tried to make her act differently.
Clean socks became a luxury because war made them difficult to get. Coffee and cheeseburgers represented home because they were concrete experiences she was denied in China. Being irritated by someone became desirable when everything that person had done and been was out of reach.
Wearing nail polish becomes a dream when it’s a denied act, when it’s dangerous. It’s one triviality that looms disproportionately large in a broader scenario of deprivation. It becomes important precisely because it’s small, graspable, comprehendible by a mind that doesn’t have the resources to deal with the whole situation at once. It becomes a metaphor, not for everything that is lacking in a person’s life, but for being able to control one’s own circumstances again.
It is incredibly human, characteristic of a human being in distress. And if we put that person’s humanity first in our minds, it’s very easy to see.