An effective way for men to limit the success of individual women is to ensure they feel in competition with other women, according to male dictates of desirable female appearance and behaviour. Feminism speaks of the “sisterhood” necessary for women to thrive for precisely this reason. If women unite with each other to oppose oppression by men, rather than competing on terms dictated by men, they break the shackles of patriarchal control which significantly limit their lives.
When men attempt to create a hierarchy of women, where the pinnacle is a woman who is sexually pliant, domestically servile and aesthetically conforming to a female beauty stereotype (with big breasts, long hair, high heels etc), they encourage women to measure themselves against that ideal and fight it out accordingly. It is bad enough when women fall victim to and internalise this misogyny, but it is doubly irritating when men pretending to be women enter and encourage this unwanted and damaging competitive arena.
India Willoughby the trans activist tweeted earlier this year, “I’m more of a woman than JK Rowling will ever be.” Willoughby is not a woman because “woman” is not a scale to slide up and down according to age, dress sense or perceived beauty. You are never more or less female than the day you enter the world from a female womb; you are born and remain female until you die.
These men are willing to hop into the female stereotype with glee
Encouraging women to compete with other women is an act in favour of men. Willoughby, and others like him, enthusiastically measure themselves against actual women and find the women lacking. Trans-identified men see being female as an act they can perform, a costume they can wear, more effectively than female people. Ironically for these men, the women they are most frequently in an imaginary battle with are feminist women, who reject the imposition of sex stereotypes. In the current position women find themselves battling the historical confines of how women should look and behave, ingrained over centuries by men with more power — only to find that the new men with power are the ones who say they are women. These men are willing to hop into the female stereotype with glee and point at women who refuse to do so accusingly. Willoughby is fond of the word “frump” and regularly tweets such things as:
You and the other terfs are a bunch of socially conservative uptight frumps. Screams out from everything you do. Your discos, your protests, your rallies — everything. From a different age.
This is an attempt to dismiss and devalue the bonds women form with each other to fight for female empowerment. Willoughby has regularly used terms such as “old trout”, “relics” and “bag” to describe women who reject patriarchal stereotyping. This comes alongside demands for everyone to genuflect at the altar of trans identity and its endless demands on women’s rights. If a man says he is trans then pulls on a wig, dress and high heels, he is lauded as “stunning and brave”. If a woman says she can’t be arsed to wear the heels or put lipstick on, then she is somehow failing at being a woman according to those men. Feminist women fought for decades against harmful sex stereotypes, not least in the media. Now men are fighting back by wearing the stereotype and attempting to zip us back into it.
This would be laughable, if it weren’t leading the country by the nose. Willoughby has just been nominated in the “Women of the Year” awards. Dylan Mulvaney, whose performance of being a woman is as humiliating to women as it is prescriptive and constrictive, has been awarded the first “Woman of The Year” by Attitude Magazine. Man after man lines up for the media to drape them in cloaks of appreciation intended for women, simply for performing a caricature of women. It is a patriarchal master stroke, and women are right to be furious.
The media, sycophantically eager to pedestal trans-identified men, go wild when there is a chance of a “first”. As the reality TV show “Married at First Sight UK” is drawing to a close, it is clear that few of its characters have grabbed as much headline attention as Ella Morgan, the trans-identified male character. In the show a series of individuals are “matched” into couples and then “marry” as part of a lengthy experiment to see which couple makes the most successful marriage match. It is as bizarre as it sounds, heftily structured and edited.
In the current series Ella has been referred to throughout as “she” and “her”, and there has been a huge focus on the trans “journey” he has made. His appearance is alarmingly hyper-sexualised; a female stereotype performed to excruciating levels. He has huge breast implants, always scantily clad in tiny dresses, which at times appear cartoonish and at others almost painful. He struggles to effectively form words, prevented by extreme cosmetic lip filler. His pronouns are respected by all, and an entire show dances around the pretence that he is female.
It is dangerous to excuse misbehaviour because a person is trans
Ella was initially matched with Nathaniel who has since alleged he was manipulated by the show’s producers into accepting a “trans woman” as a match. (Channel 4 rejects this allegation.) He claims that he wanted a male partner. He got one of course, but was allegedly expected to view him as female. Ella whined frequently about the fact that Nathaniel did not want to have sex. It was uncomfortable for many viewers to watch what appeared to be verging on sexual coercion, yet excused by the show who brought in sex toys for them to use rather than intervening to prevent Nathaniel’s discomfort. He finally left.
Ella’s outbursts of temper towards other participants have been accepted as a part of how difficult it has been for him because he is trans, rather than anyone daring to hold his behaviour to account. Tears streamed regularly at convenient moments where this should have happened. Ella has consistently been reframed as a vulnerable victim whilst displaying unsettling behaviour. The fear of naming the elephant in the room is palpable.
In the show’s plot twist the hapless, slightly dim JJ was so obsessed with losing what he saw as the ideal woman embodied in his ex (a Victoria’s Secret model), that when he was matched with Bianca (a woman who whilst beautiful, did not utterly conform to the required hyper-sexualised stereotype of such models), it was Ella to whom JJ gravitated. Bianca left the show, and JJ was handed his “ideal woman” in Ella. The message transmitted loudly was that a performance of a woman was seen as more authentic and desirable to a man than an actual woman. India Willoughby must have cheered with joy.
Ella’s behaviour with JJ has been just as difficult for viewers to watch, however. He reported Ella coming home after drinking to be “spiteful” towards him. When he expressed discomfort to the relationship experts, rather than helping him and challenging Ella, Presenter Paul C Brunson reprimanded JJ. He instructed him, “You have to continually affirm Ella. This is every day and it doesn’t stop.”
Women will recognise these words as the commandments we must live by every day where pronouns are compelled and men invade our spaces on the back of them. The producers however, seem to have been so heavily invested in their trans character that they were unable to deal with his unacceptable behaviour. JJ was framed as faulty if unable to accommodate Ella’s needs. It is dangerous to excuse misbehaviour because a person is trans, but we see this repeatedly in society.
Meanwhile Willoughby tweeted, “My heart’s breaking for Ella. She’s so misunderstood.”
On the contrary, women understand perfectly well. As Andrea Dworkin wrote, “Women are brought up to conform: all the rules of femininity — dress, behaviour, attitude — essentially break the spirit.”
Men performing a version of “woman”, idealised by other men, are trying to break the spirit of women who won’t conform to those male-dictated notions of femininity. The media shouldn’t assist them, and women won’t stand for it when they do. We know that only women are the best at being women.
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