The One Where I Get Teary

This has taken me two months to publish. It has sat in my draft box for so long mainly because I thought I didn’t have the words to convey the depths of my gratitude, the highs of my joy and the source of my sorrow. And, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. But here it is. From the heart. Dedicated to those I shared the experience with, to those who never had the chance, to those who helped me get there (you know who you are), and to those who I know will rise again.

I have spoken before about how one of the hardest thing for me to deal with during my time with the torturer was my disconnection from women. Self-imposed exile as it was, it was a source of immense pain.

I truly love women.

I hadn’t really appreciated exactly how much. Or understood exactly how much we need each other, and that females are each other’s life-force.  Literally. This love is visceral, and inhabits me with deep and abiding passion. Some days, reading and hearing about women who are being exploited, oppressed, or otherwise hurt is overwhelming, and I need to take a break from the internet, switch off the television, and bury my head in a pillow. Some days, all I want to do is embrace every woman on this planet and clutch them to my breast, snarling at anyone who would dare harm us. I feel like I would die for women. And yes, I know how dramatic that sounds, but this is my truth.

Nothing is more nourishing to me than time spent in women-only space. The opportunities for that are rare and precious. The opportunities to gather publicly (as opposed to privately, in each other’s homes) shrink each year as men (and their supporters who would ignore female-set boundaries on the basis that they claim to “feel like a woman”) gain influence in the public sphere, and invade every last corner of our hard fought-for spaces. Even though every day, most of the world and half the sky moves aside to let them to the table, they want nothing less than our complete colonisation. Nothing less than to rob us of our words and thus our ability to describe our material reality as human beings born into the class “female” – our very real biology, and the uncontroversial evidence of the consequences of that. I know of no other group that seeks human rights while at the same time robbing others of their ability to describe their condition. None. When my daughter was born, I wept. Wept with joy that my body had given me a tiny human being with whom I will forever be connected with, and also pain at knowing some of the path that would be marked out for her in a world that revolves around men and their whims. Yes, I see you men. I have seen you for a very long time. From the fumbling in my knickers at four years old as I sat on my great-uncle’s knee, to the hands round my neck when I refused to call the torturer “she”. I spent a lifetime dodging, accommodating, excusing, and hiding from your violence. No more. I’m a straight up “NOT OVER MY DEAD BODY” refusnik to the cult of the dick.

So I went to Michfest.

And it was glorious.

And now I “get”, at a heart level, what Mary Daly was on about when she spoke about be-coming, and the exorcism and ecstasy of breaking through what she names as the “Male Maze”.
There are few words I can think of that capture what it was like to be swept up into female be-ing. To feel myself unfold and blossom. To Rise. And there are lots of achingly beautiful blogs out there that have captured the experience far better than I ever could…

It makes me heartsick to think of how for years this event, this gathering of female souls, this *intention* that this be a space where females find respite from the brutalities that hurt and diminish us from birth, where we find ourselves in each other, where we bond and nurture and grow our selves, where we spin and weave a new be-ing, where we are seen,  where little girls run free in the woods, where women are welcomed home, where radical self-acceptance is possible, where the sweat and toil of females who built a community from scratch each year for forty years will be no more. Lisa Vogel’s message to us was that we must go forward and create those spaces in our own back yards, that we are an unstoppable force of our own creation, and that we can rise again. And again.

So I have a message to all of you (be you men who colonise “woman”, or their many helpmates) who worked so hard to spread your lies and false songs of oppression against the Michigan Womyns Music Festival, who rejoiced at the sorrow of women who spent forty years of their life dedicated to creating a space each year for the sole purpose of uplifting females and opening doors into an understanding of exactly what we are and where we come from,  and who petitioned and lobbied and threatened and boycotted and hated and hated and hated…

                                                 You    have     not     won

We may temporarily no longer have a land to gather each year, to raise our girls and show them the joy of being female, to celebrate our elders, to love and nourish and tend to each and every one of us, to revel in our female diversity, but we have something a lot more dangerous. A collective memory. And a love that never dies – for each other, for our shared intention.

We are the dandelion seeds in your manufactured lawn. We are the itch you just can’t ever quite reach. We are your worst nightmare. Because we know exactly what we are and where we come from.

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A Further Letter to the Girlfriend

Hi.
So how is it all working out for you? Been over a year now, eh? I notice that you have been getting into some pretty dark stuff. The fetish club? The one with the old men in rubber maid costumes? What a rollercoaster you must be on. It’s exiting being a “bad girl”, isn’t it? So much more exciting than your boring life before. The drudgery of rearing a young child on your own. Average and un-noticed. What a world of wonder you have entered. The delicious frisson of “If only they knew…”.Did you really think that a rainbow wig would disguise you? What did you think of your “girlfriend’s” choice of gear? (Pardon me, but it looked a whole lot more expensive than the stuff you had on, but I digress). Maybe it was exciting to walk around with him (sorry, “her”!) decked out in head to toe latex, complete with full head and face hood and huge inflated “boobs”. Just as well you were wearing your glasses – those rubber nipples could have had your eye out.
I don’t really know you, but it strikes me how you never showed any interest in BDSM, kink, “fem-dom” before your new “girlfriend entered your life. And I sincerely do worry about you. I have often considered contacting you directly rather than just penning these imaginary letters. I want to tell you to flee. To run for your life and never look back. To tell you that throwing yourself entirely into his world will drain you of self-worth and leave you smaller and even more vulnerable. That there is *no end* to his pit of porn-obsession, self-absorption and self-pity, and that there isn’t a compassionate bone in his body, no matter how many corsets or how much kinky gear he buys you, or nights out with him “en-femme” he pays for – try asking him for rent or money for food or even just to take you out to a cinema or do something “normal” with you and you will learn your worth to him.
I wonder if you know about the ad he has running looking for a “dominant lesbian who likes to humiliate Transsexuals” to join you and he to “teach you both about BDSM”? Hmmm, seems like you are not quite making the grade in the old fem-dom practices, sweetheart. Don’t take it personally, he used to ask me to get involved in that kind of stuff too. He told my naïve self that there are “dominant lesbians” just itching to join me and him to “teach” me how to dominate him. I told I knew plenty of lesbians, thanks very much , and they wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole. Besides, I wasn’t too keen on meeting someone to act as the third person in a scenario of his own porn-informed imaginings. Of course, this was presented to me as for *my* benefit…Oh how I laughed. After I stopped crying. I didn’t want to look at his collection of “hung angels” porn either.
Maybe you really have hankered after a “dominant lesbian” to teach you the fine art of “humiliating transsexuals”. Apologies if I have got this all wrong. But I can’t help noticing the same obsessions that gripped his imagination when he leeched off (pardon – “lived with”) me, this time being played out on you and I thought it worth noting.
Or maybe you don’t know about that ad? Or the other one where he doesn’t mention having a girlfriend. The one where he is looking for “a possible kidnap scenario” by two women? Where he offers to re-locate for the right woman, willing to turn him into a “living sex-doll”. No? Haven’t seen that one? How odd…
Perhaps it’s all very innocent. I’m sure he wouldn’t just be using you as an unwitting prop in his raging autogynephillia. Would he? No. He’s a “transsexual” with “gender dysphoria” and stuff. He did a questionnaire online – it must be true.
And now you are a lesbian. Just like that. And he (sorry, she!) is a “kinky trans lesbian”, just like “she” says in the numerous ads “she” has floating round on the internet. And we mustn’t evah evah kink-shame! Goodness me no! It says so on his favourite feminist Facebook page, Everyday Feminism, and they are the arbiters on everything. Cos you are a feminist too now, aren’t you? I see your name on the Facebook pages. Not the one’s I turn to mind you. Like he has told you, I know fuck all about feminism…. Aren’t you glad he introduced you to “proper” feminism? The feminism he knows so much more about than I do – according to him (sorry, her!). So don’t you listen to those evil TERFs with their “biology” and “patriarchy” and stuff. You listen to your girlfriend.
“She” is one of the “protected categories” enshrined in Equality Legislation and Hate Crime laws. Of course he isn’t just some creepy heterosexual man with a porn addiction! No sirree. Your girlfriend is the real deal. A woman, cruelly trapped inside a male body. Suffering untold agonies. Feeling all those womanly feelings and stuff since forever. Not the womanly feelings that are about housework or taking responsibility for stuff mind you – but womanly feelings all the same! The sexxaayy-lady-in-a-latex-face-mask-and-inflatable-boobs womanly feelings. The spit-on-me-and-call-me-slut womanly feelings. The pretend-you-are-nurse-and-tie-me-down-and-give-me-an-enema womanly feelings. The don’t-call-me-a-pervert-and-tell-me-I-can’t-come-in-your-changing-room-or-I-will-have-you-done-for-a-hate-crime-you-fucking-bitch womanly feelings.
So anyway, just checking in.
POst

A moment of honesty from Everydaymisogyny.com

THIS. . THIS..THIS

Men who demand that women acknowledge their pathetic delusion that they are *actually* women aren’t just killing our souls as women with the misfortune to find ourselves lumbered with one of them. The whole movement is KILLING FEMINISM. The very route to our liberation from their domination. And the women who enable this …SHAME. ON. YOU.

A moment of honesty from Everydaymisogyny.com.

Some thoughts on MichFest

Yes. We see each other. And I too will be damned if I will acknowledge men as women.
And I too will be there in August, with a heart full of love for you, my sisters.

Hypotaxis

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Owing to the extreme generosity of a dear friend, my wife and I will be able to attend MichFest this year. My wife has attended before, but for me, it will be the first, and – as it turns out – last time to visit the land.

All I know about MichFest is what I’ve heard from others who’ve attended before. Most are rendered unable to articulate the experience adequately. “It’s just . . .” women often say. “It’s hard to describe . . . you have to be there.”

Because there are no words, there is no language, I suppose, for what it feels like as a female human being to exist for six days among other female human beings, to celebrate our existence, to talk to one another without protecting the delicate male ego, to exist outside of the male gaze, to walk in the dark without fear…

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On the Sovereign Violence of Women

We are fighting against a feminist discourse which positions women as the oppressor, and repeats the foundational patriarchal gesture of denying us the affirmation of our needs, and an explanation of why we are wounded by this world. Feminism – the practice of love and understanding, passed between women – has saved many of us from lives blighted by the violence drilled into our bodies and souls by the needs of men. And so, above all, we are fighting to ensure that this healing is not denied to the women that come after us. That when their youthful confidence in (neo)liberal empowerfulment and the shock of the new – their absurdly Platonic belief in the possibility of neatly dismantling an age-old structure of material appropriation with pronouns – runs headlong into the implacable violence of domination, we, the dried-up hate-spewing bigots they have been schooled to despise, will still be there for them. And for them, we will not give up.”

This is quite beautiful.

Jane Clare Jones

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Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion

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Judith Butler, The Future of Sexual Difference

I am trying to understand – I have been trying to understand – how, having steeped ourselves in a similar tradition, we could come to such different conclusions.

It is claimed that certain women should not say certain things. That a woman who finds healing from male violence in the company of other women should be silent about the power of that healing. That she should not try to protect that space (or even raise questions about protecting that space). That she is wrong to be concerned that it will no longer be there for the women who come after her. Because that healing comes at the expense of others. Because that healing, therefore, is violence.

I understand something of the logic. I have spent my life thinking the resistance to sovereign violence, unpicking the way…

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When feeling better leads to an identity crisis

This is an important new blog documenting the insidious nature of Trans “support” groups.
I can testify that this absolutely is the nature of the circular reasoning and pressure to conform to the narrative that is the core of this “transition or die!” cult.
My torturer joined one of these groups “in real life”. He went from “maybe I want to” to “I have to!” in the space of three meetings. He went from “maybe I would be OK with no surgery and this is something I can just accommodate into my life” to “I must have srs”. His online activity (porn, presenting himself as a “fully transitioned” “trans lesbian”, dating and hook up sites) escalated ten fold. His secretiveness drove me mad with paranoia. His utter dismissal of my worries, needs and emotional meltdown left me broken, isolated, bereft. Everything (for me) got much, much worse. I became so ill I could not work. My pain was immeasurable, but invisible to him. The trans world became his entire universe. When I looked for help, I was told that it was “selfish”, “transphobic”, “bigoted” for not jumping for joy for him. For refusing to see him as anything else than a sick, entitled, manipulative bastard.

So anyway. Read this blog. See the harm done to those who come in contact with the Church of Trans. If you are not already familiar with that world, it is illuminating. If you are, follow this blog and send a big thanks to those who are finally documenting this.

Transgender Reality

A female (AFAB, assigned female at birth) who calls herself “genderqueer” and wishes to take testosterone to become more androgynous has started taking wellbutrin (an antidepressant), and her feelings of gender dysphoria have significantly lessened. She posts to r/asktransgender:

Ok, so I’m AFAB genderqueer/genderfluid and I’ve been experiencing an insane amount of dysphoria on and off (corresponding with fluctuations in masculinity/femininity) since about June. I realized I was genderqueer about 3 years ago, but decided not to anything about it until this summer because, as I said, my dysphoria got intense. I came to the conclusion that I needed a low dose of T to be more androgynous and more able to pass in boymode… and after much angst came out to my mother and brother and asked my PCP for T. She said she’ll look into it (she’s never had a trans patient before) and possibly start…

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More Nightmares Dressed As Fantasy

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So I went with a bunch of friends to protest at the UK premier of 50 Shades of Grey. This book/film glamorises the abuse, rape and torture of women, dressing it up as “kink” and calling itself a “love story”. Those of you reading this who have intimate experience of men who fantasise themselves to be women may be well aware of the practice of BDSM within these relationships*. The female “heroine” of 50 Shades is portrayed as naive and “submissive”, her sexuality being “awakened” by a powerful, rich, sadistic man who stalks, isolates, tortures and ignores her personal and sexual boundaries to the point of rape. The author of the book and director of the film claim that the heroine’s journey is one of “empowerment”, as she submits to Mr Grey’s sadism and finally “heals” him from his inner “torture” that drives his sadistic impulses. It is said that since she “consents” to such abuse, then there is no harm being done. Except that the glamorisation and eroticising of dominance and submission normalises the power imbalance of male/female relationships (and all inequalities). It portrays women as “naturally” submissive or “secretly” wishing to be dominated – even when they don’t realise it (!) – and contributes to rape culture and the gender-role stereotyping at the heart of female oppression.

So what do men who fantasise themselves to be women make of these pervasive tropes about female submissiveness and otherness? In my experience, and that of many of the women I speak to, the sexual fantasies of such men revolve around them not just “playing the part” of a woman, but specifically a woman who is “submissive”, “eager to please”, willing to be dominated, moulded, created for pleasure. A fuck toy. A thing. An object. The sexual preferences and comfort of their female partners are by-the-by – irrelevant to the workings of their inner fantasy. Intimate connection on an emotional level with these men is impossible. How can anyone emotionally connect with someone who is merely playing a role? Someone so dissociated from reality, from authentic intimacy.
These men talk about finding “a dominant woman” to play the domme to their sub. Their personal ads are full of “seeks woman to sissify and control me”, and other such lurid fantasies. Fantasies that include being bound, gagged, made to perform sex acts, forcibly injected with hormones, humiliated, kidnapped and even raped. All things that I presume they think are “natural” for a woman to endure.

The fact is, that an actual “dominant” woman is the last thing they actually want outside of their all-encompassing paraphilia. A woman who would actually say NO to them is not an attractive proposition to these vampiric men, with their offensive and misogynistic ideas of what a woman *is*. Their ideas about women are shaped by their reading of pornography, their observation of sexist and woman-hating media portrayals of women, and the stench of their own male privilege. Women, initially lured in by these men’s pledges to cater to their every whim as their “sub”, quickly find out the nature and reality of being “topped from the bottom” (to borrow some BDSM speak). Their ideas about what a woman “is” would be ludicrous if they weren’t actually horrific.
So standing waiting for an opportunity to raise our banner and make some noise at the 50 Shades premier, we were subjected to scenes from the film being shown on a large outdoor screen. As I watched scenes of “Mr Grey” preparing his torture equipment, or “Anastasia” simpering or crying, doe-eyed and vulnerable, I began to shake and fat tears rolled down my cheeks at the memories I hold inside, at the cheering crowds of women believing the lie that this represents “love”.

*Please don’t bother trying to defend BDSM, or accuse me of “shaming” or “phobia” of one sort or another. I won’t publish such comments so you will be wasting your time.

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