One of the most widely used TG web sites has – believe it or not – a “top babe” contest that runs monthly based on scores that members can give to photographs on the profiles of other members. (As if any other evidence was required that this was a site run by men and for men – a league table based on how hot you are!) I won’t name the site because I’m a member and it does still provide a valuable service to members of the TG community – especially those who are just beginning a journey along what can be a difficult path.
But every time I visit I am challenged again by the notion of the “TG Community”. Here are some quotes from the profile of this month’s top babe:
“I am bi sexual, i have many outfits to wear, all slutty. i love dressing like the slut i am.
I love heels, hose, pantyhose,panties,thongs,garters,short mini’s heels.
I love to please, and be pleased. I keep in shape.
I love to bike,hike walk. I keep my body in shape.
Its fully shaved and smooth.
I love being clean in appearance But dirty in my mind and bed LOL.
I love to clean and am a good cook.”
I have written elsewhere a detailed analysis of Ray Blanchard’s theory of autogynephilia. I have taken a great deal of effort there to make the case that not all people with gender dysphoria are autogynephiles. But every time I visit this site, I’m struck by how well Blanchard describes so many of its members, and how difficult it is to deny that so many of them appear to be in love with themselves – not just in love with themselves as women, but in love with themselves as darkly misogynistic fantasies about what femininity is.
An article in the Times by Woman’s Hour presenter Jenny Murray caused a stir last year. She said:
“The first time I felt anger when a man claimed to have become a woman was in December 2000, when the Rev Peter Stone announced he had undergone the radical surgery to transition from male to female and was now called Carol. Her primary concerns, she told me, were finding the most suitable dress in which to meet her parishioners in her new persona and deciding if she should wear make-up or not.”
Fortunately Rev. Stone is not self-identifying as a slut; her parishioners may take umbrage. But the concern raised for a feminist is much the same: is this about becoming a woman, or is it in fact about becoming a masculine fantasy about what a woman is? I don’t know Carol Stone personally. But every time I visit the web site I have referred to, I find myself aghast at the blatant misogyny that is passed off as femininity there. I am prepared to believe that a small fraction of it may represent the ignorance of an older generation. But a very high fraction of it is self-aware and nasty; its the sort of behaviour that ought to horrify anybody who really identifies as a woman, or a feminine man, or even just a man who claims to be able to empathise with women.
Its not a question of a difference in emphasis, or being further to one end of a spectrum; rather, its about whether or not I have anything in common with people who feel that femininity is defined largely by masculine sexual fantasies about what a woman should be. I don’t: I have to conclude that I’m really not the same thing at all.