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“There has been little acknowledgement of the way in which trans politics demands far more of women than it does of men, perhaps because this would require an acknowledgement of the fact that male/female remains as much, if not more, of a dominant axis of oppression as trans/cis. Why aren’t we claiming that “men” needs to become a more inclusive category? If men can get pregnant too, why aren’t men’s rights activists campaigning for abortion rights? Why does pregnancy become a de-politicised “people’s” issue while testicular cancer remains a men’s issue? If sex is irrelevant, why are female people always the ones expected to cede linguistic and physical ground?

Pregnant with my third child, I faced more than one self-righteous male informing me that “biological sex is a construct.” The arrogance of this is staggering. Every single human being on this planet exists because of the reproductive labour of female bodies. Around 830 women die every day due to preventable pregnancy complications. The world is missing an estimated 90 to 100 million women due to the extermination of female – not feminine – infants. In such a situation, to boldly declare that you “see no sex difference” reveals both ignorance and privilege. We’re back to the idea that female people cannot be credible witnesses to their own lives.

If men were genuinely invested in supporting trans women, there’s an obvious thing they could do: stop pretending it is inevitable for “masculine” men to respond with violence to the idea that those who wish to socially transition to womanhood remain biologically male. As feminists have been arguing for decades, maleness and femininity can coexist. If the thought of that makes some men violent, then the problem lies with how men see maleness, not with feminists refusing to treat womanhood as a catch-all category for anything men don’t want to be.

Andrea Dworkin suggested when it comes to justifying misogyny, the right has religion while the left has nature. Trans politics has offered up a suitably postmodern amalgam of both. Are we dealing with scientifically verifiable proof of the “gendered” brain? Or with some mystic, soul-like essence known as “gender identity”? In many ways, it doesn’t matter which, as long as both are reinforcing a male view of how masculinity and femininity work.

I am tired of men posing as more open-minded than feminists, when in fact they’re behaving in the exact same way men have always behaved towards women. If you’re a male person telling a female person to be silent about her experiences of gender and power, you’re not only doing feminism wrong, you’re exemplifying the very values you claim to undermine. “

*slow clap*

At first blush, it seems a bit quaint and slightly repulsive to think that a communal bathing facility would be a good thing for our society.  I do however, recognize that my initial distaste for the idea is centred on what here in the West we like to call our ‘rugged individualistic’ impulse.  But, as Jamie Mackay writes, “It is often forgotten that the Roman baths were a space where people of different social classes would wash side by side. Throughout the Empire, the bathhouse played a democratising role in which different races and ages were brought into contact”.  The nascent egalitarian in me likes the idea of the classes of society having a spot in which to mix and mingle and perhaps soften the hard divides of race and class that cause so much strife in our society.  Mackay also touches on the humanizing aspects of communal bathing to which promptly started my feminist antenna twitching.

Is there a more perfect way to counteract the bullshite imagery (mostly) women are fed by our society?  The experience of being with and seeing other women in their natural state, how people actually are without photoshop, would be a potent bromide against the destructive social and media normative experience that we’ve saddled the female half of the population with.  Mackay touches on this thought, “Directly experiencing other real bodies, touching and smelling them, is also an important way of understanding our own bodies which otherwise must be interpreted through the often distorted, sanitised and Photoshopped mirrors of advertising, film and other media.”  What an important avenue to reestablish a connection with the tangible, and the actual ‘real’ of society.

“Living in a society where actual nudity has been eclipsed by idealised or pornographic images of it, many of us are, independently of our will, disgusted by hairy backs, flabby bellies and ‘strange-looking’ nipples. The relatively liberal attitude towards such issues in countries such as Denmark, where nudity in the bathhouse is the norm, and in some cases mandatory, exemplifies how the practice might help renormalise a basic sense of diversity and break through the rigid laws that regulate the so-called ‘normal body’. 

The bathhouses of the future, by reinventing the historical social functions of their ancient originals and combining their most attractive aspects to build a new model, would compensate for the erosion of public spaces elsewhere. They could serve as libraries or performance spaces, or host philosophical debates or chess championships: they might, like the Moroccan hammam, have gardens, allotments or other green spaces, to bring urban dwellers in touch with plants, flowers and animals.

[…]

It’s churlish to simply disregard the public bath as an object of classical nostalgia. Communal bathing is a near-universal trait among our species and has a meaning that extends far beyond personal hygiene. There are pragmatic reasons to re-invent the practice, to be sure, but its anthropological diversity suggests that there might be a more fundamental need for this ancient and deeply human art.”

I’m thinking that trying out this model may well be worth our time because isolation in our individualistic society is the root cause of a bevy of social ills ranging from loneliness to unrealistic body expectations.

A Hammam

Hammam

Sento in Tokyo Japan

I’m getting fatigued with my #femaleexperience tag. Then I think that if just describing the situation is fatiguing then living it, with no respite, is demonstrably worse. So yeah, off I go, not renewed, but persisting anyways. How society interacts with you depends on which classes you happen to inhabit, because the treatment is not equal. More importantly, this differential spans all experiences in society, moral, legal and familial – egalitarians take note of this feature because the baseline you are experiencing is not necessarily the one others are experiences so things are not ‘fine’ or in need of minor tweaking. Reformation, if not revolution is required to rewrite the base norms of our society to we can say goodbye to the shitty behaviour described below.

Growing up female in society is a terrible gauntlet to navigate.

More of the female experience of living life in our society. Sounds like fun, no?

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