Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mayor Mel Kuhn Dolls Up In Drag and Black Face: Isn't He Lovely?

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When I came across this story at Pandagon I immediately wanted to check the year on the calendar.  Seriously WTF.... Mayor Mel Kuhn of Arkansas City Kansas, won a beauty pageant fundraiser last weekend, dressed in drag with black face. 

According to the NAACP, Kuhn participated in the Men in Tights, drag queen contest that has become an annual fund raiser for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates. The agency supports foster children in the court system.
Kuhn named his character "Smellishis Poon," and the name appeared on programs and was announced during the event. He also had back up dancers for the talent portion, and called them his "Red Hot Puntangs."

This is yet another example of the greater good ideology.  He was fundraising for a worthy charity; and therefore in his mind it was okay to be racist as well as display trans bigotry.  This kind of thing is quite common in our society.  PETA is the perfect example of a good cause that routinely resorts to sexism, or racism. The ends do not justify the means if the end result is that segments of society are demeaned. 

Blacks and specifically black trans people are a particularly marginalized group in society.  They are subject to gross personal violations, violence and economic disparity.  To make a mockery of their life struggles to make money for a charity further places them in a position wherein their social position is reified.  One social injustice does not trump another and to utilize racism or trans phobia in this way creates a hierarchy of oppressions.

When confronted by the NAACP, Mayor Mel Kuhn offered the following apology.

"It has been brought to my attention how offensive this was and I absolutely agree that it was shortsighted of me not to see that in the first place. I am sincerely sorry and I sincerely apologize for the offensive nature of my actions. This was not CASA, this was of my own volition, and I take full responsibility for my actions. The buck absolutely stops here". - Mayor Mell H. Kuhn

The fact that it had to be brought to his attention is particularly problematic.  How is it in the year 2008 someone needs to be told that it is not appropriate to dress in drag and black face to make a mockery of someone else's lived experience?  Of course to a man existing with cis and race privilege the 'other' can be deemed comedic because they have not been normalized.  Everything around him daily affirms that his existence, and way of life are to be envied, while anyone else falling short is less than is some way.  It is time we begin as a society to move beyond our individual privileges and recognize the degree to which the maintenance of said privileges constitutes the violation of the rights of other beings.  As I have said on many occasions all people matter and until we can socially agree on this we will always have a society where injustice is the norm. 

 


59 comments:

mzbitca said...

It just boggle my mind the lack of awareness or complete saturation of privilege that would allow someone in political office to think any of this is okay.

Queers United said...

i hear you out on the peta equated with sexism even though i politely disagree. but, how do you see PETA as being racist?

Renee said...

@Queers United...Here you go check this link, and this only one example.

HR Wench said...

I'm really irritated that CASA allowed this in the first place. I'm in CASA training right now and their diversity courses are especially well done. So...WTF?

MiamiBeach 33139 said...

People get far too worked up about stuff. Have you never seen drag shows at the gay bars? They are all about humor, exaggeration and making sure everyone in the audience is having a great time. I think the bigger story here is that a small town mayor in Kansas was OK with doing drag, blurring the line of sexuality and having fun doing something that is typically reserved for the gay community. Kudos to the man who is willing to leave his comfort zone for the sake of a better cause.

Joan Kelly said...

The whole thing is gross on top of gross. Black face and "women-have-smelly-private-parts" stage names ("Smellishis Poon"), tee fucking hee!

I wanted to ask you, Renee, about the drag part being anti-trans people.

Since professional drag queens are historically about caricaturing non-trans women, and to my understanding it's a dismissive (not by you, I'm saying in popular culture when this is done) conflation to refer to trans women as "drag queens," plus with the your-vaginas-stink! name he chose, this sort of "drag performance" seemed like viciousness towards black non-trans women, to me.

Unlike the commenter above me, however, I am not prepared to assume that the mayor isn't also trans-hating just because what this looked like to me was not a comment on trans identity or experience but on non-trans, black woman-hating.

Also, to said commenter, re: "making sure everyone in the audience is having a great time" - everyone in the went-there-on-purpose *audience* of any given drag show does not equal everyone who is affected by things that go on in drag shows, nor does it equal everybody who's feelings on the matter, matter.

justicewalks said...

I am so glad to see Joan decrying blackface drag as the slur against black *women* that it is. Non-trans women. Saves me all that typing I was about to do.

Renee said...

@Joan why because you consider black trans women non women? Clearly there is a link to transphobia here as he is a man dressed in a drag making a mockery of ALL aspects of the black womans experience. He certainly isn't subverting gender in any way just pushing the idea that a trans woman is less than. I believe that this is relevant when we examine the bigotry that trans women of color face. You cannot in this case bifurcate racsim and transphobia they are equally combined elements. There is no reason for a cis, hetero man to appear like this unless he intends to demean. Since we have a desire to see the world in binaries it is clear that is mocking his cultural opposite, a trans woman of color.

Lisa Harney said...

I would like to ban blackface from drag. I seriously would. I mean, wth?

I don't think that drag, by itself is misogynist against cis women or trans women, as there's other stuff going on there in relation to the gay community (and a lot of trans women are drag queens at some point and it's hard for me to outright condemn something that serves as a safe pre-transition space for trans women), but drag can be misogynist (as is the case here - Smellishis Poon? WTH?) and blackface is never okay.

Renee, do you know about Shirley Q. Liquor? Another blackface drag show.

Lisa Harney said...

And yeah, the idea that someone can be misogynist against cis women of color but not trans women of color at the same time doesn't really make sense to me.

Lisa Harney said...

And also, straight men doing drag carries a much different weighting to me than gay men doing drag (I mean, the difference between privilege and oppression), but my own analysis of drag is pretty thin as I said above.

This kind of thing does promote negative images about trans women because we are so often coded as "men in dresses."

Renee said...

@Lisa I have heard but I will check out your link.
@Justicewalks To be clear this is not a drag show in a gay bar. This is a mockery and has nothing to do with safely transitioning or blurring gender in any way. He is making a mockery plain and simple.

justicewalks said...

That was not my comment, Renee. I didn't say anything about drag shows in gay bars. I don't care where drag shows are being held; they're all misogynist to me.

Renee said...

@Justice sorry comment was misdirected it should have been aimed at Joan.

The Link Back Project said...

This clown isn't even worth me typing as much as I am here now.

Unacceptable... No wonder POC wonder about some of us fool as* crackers.

Drakyn said...

Offensive, misogynist, racist drag like this is bigoted against trans* women, not only because trans* women are women just like cis* women, but because in the public mind trans* women are all drag performers. So when someone, including the performer himself, sees acts like this they conflate the performers with trans* women; they aren't just playing a drag queen, they are playing a trans* woman.
Trans* women are seen as drag queens who have chosen to live in their act; rather than the truth, women who have not always been correctly gendered as such.
So in a way, he wasn't just playing a black cis* woman, he was playing a black trans* woman as well. Khun was making fun of black women --trans* and cis*-- with his act.

Lisa Harney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Harney said...

I don't care where drag shows are being held; they're all misogynist to me.

Drag's not comparable to blackface in the sense that the people who did blackface were doing so as a way to express aspects of their own personalities or lives, but as a way to supplant black voices. Drag queens are already marginalized people, typically being a part of the gay community (and femininity isn't really valued more in the gay community than it is anywhere else).

Drag queens do not supplant and eclipse women's voices - nor do they set out to do this. They don't really have the power socially or systemically to affect how women are perceived in society, since society already hates gay men (and all drag queens are wrongly assumed to be gay men).

Are there misogynist drag performers? Yes, of course there are, and they should be called out for that. But I reject that this makes drag inherently misogynist.

It really doesn't help to analyze any situation without considering intersectionality, and the assumption that a group of people that includes really feminine gay men who dress like women for entertainment purposes, trans women in various stages of transition trying to make a living, and even cis women who are exploring drag queen-style femininity are somehow positioned on the same level of privilege as cis straight men in general (or even cis straight white men in specific) ignores the realities of their lives and the oppression they experience.

Renee, I made the comment about transitioners and such because I got the impression from some comments that drag was being positioned as ultimately misogynist and completely unacceptable, and I think these statements tend to come from heteronormativity and looking at drag queens through a heterosexual lens (like Nezua's white lens), and in many (but not all) cases, heterosexual privilege.

Renee said...

I tend to view drag shows as gender blurring which can be a good idea; however this little performance is not meant in the same vein. I think that some have the great ability to transcend gender in that there is no distinct way to be female or male. We need to do more of this sort of blurring not less.

Lisa Harney said...

Yeah, I agree with that - I wasn't trying to equate what I was saying to what Mayor Mel was doing. Mayor Mel and that show need to not do that.

justicewalks said...

You can't just compare male-bodied gays/trans*/drag queens to white straight men and say that because they are oppressed in comparison to those straight white men that they aren't capable of oppressing/being used to oppress the female-bodied people on the bottom of the hierarchy. Male-bodied people have privilege with regard to female-bodied people, period, and, yes, in male supremacy, drag queens and other celebrators of femininity, which has been women's oppressed role in society, are adding to women's oppression.

justicewalks said...

And how is a reference to "smellishis poon" in any way a reference to transsexual women whose altered male genitalia don't produce the same secretions and odors that female genitalia produce?

justicewalks said...

"Smellishis Poon"

Joan Kelly said...

"@Joan why because you consider black trans women non women?"

This question confuses me. I actually said in my comment that I do not consider misogyny against non trans women and misogyny against trans women to be either/or conditions. I asked what I asked because evoking supposed smelly vaginas is not anything I have ever heard as a slur against trans women. Of all the horrible things that get said and done to and about trans women, "your vagina stinks" is not something I have seen.

I don't understand why it is assumed when *I* refer to any possible difference between trans and non trans women's experience/misogyny, that I am doing so out of saying trans women are "not women." I, as a non trans woman, do not experience trans-hatred or any oppression that gets directed towards trans people. Is that me saying that trans women are not real women, too?

I honestly don't understand what's with that reaction to me.

I don't feel, nor did I say, that someone being hateful towards black non trans women is a distinction that needs to be made because it is somehow worse or more important than hatred towards black trans women.

Is there anybody who would explain to me why this is not the first time that people have assigned meaning to me that isn't there, when it comes to any discussion of trans and non trans women's experience?

Is it because I have ever been seen publicly agreeing with things Justice Walks says, regardless of it not ever being the things she says about trans-ness? Or am I being paranoid?

Oliver FP said...

The phrase "WTF" is overused on the interwebs... but seriously, WTF???

I mean, the fact that nobody *stopped* a politician from doing this... It's not just him, then, it's a load of other people who are going "Ah, a mayor doing misogynistic racist drag. That's nice, and not problematic in any way...".

What can anyone even say about this? I'll say "wtf?" again, shall I?

Also, I actually believe that most drag by cis men is transphobic - and misogynistic, but attitudes from seeing drag shows obviously affect trans women more harshly, because of the relevant conflation.

Justicewalks - the name in particular isn't transphobic, obviously.

And, viewing your post, do you think that a trans woman needs to be reminded that her genitals were originally assigned male? We understand that about trans women, and you obviously understand that about trans women. So repeating it over and over again is a little disrespectful. If you want to write about trans women's post-surgical genitals, try... "trans women's post-surgical genitals".

justicewalks said...

Surgically "altered" and "post-surgical" are synonyms. So I don't see any reason to prefer the use of one phrase to the other.

And, yes, it does seem as though trans-advocates need to be reminded that sometimes female-bodied people are implicated in slurs and insults where male-bodied people are not. And that male-bodied people are not implicated in those slurs and insults BECAUSE they are male-bodied and the slurs and insults target the female-bodied.

Queers United said...

Thanks for the link Renee about the PETA & racism claim. Again, I have to disagree. I think PETA is trying to illustrate a connection between all forms of oppression whether they were against blacks, jews, gays, etc they are not saying it is exactly the same. Every oppression is different but clearly there is an animal holocaust going on and they are trying to draw parallels between the different struggles for equality.

Renee said...

@Justice
Clearly there is a link to transphobia here as he is a man dressed in a drag making a mockery of ALL aspects of the black womans experience.

This is what I said, All aspects this means I am not ignoring the oppression aimed at cis women. While you may not see the smelly vagina thing as aimed at trans women, I don't believe that the distinction is refied in the mind of the oppression. To these kind of people vaginas are vaginas period all smell and are foul. How they came into being is irrelevant. I would also like to point out that just because someone has not had the surgery does not make them less female and therefore there may be a specific attack in terms of genitalia but I am sure that we can agree that gender is about more than specific genitalia, thus under the umbrella of all women this is offensive.

@Queers United...I don't want to do this on this thread as it is a derailment of the discussion. From now on lets just place our new comments on my latest Peta Post. I will say that if you cannot see why a black person might find it offensive to be placed in chains and reminded of the evil of slavery your whiteness or internalized racism is showing. It is racist and furthermore it is disgusting.

justicewalks said...

My point is that it is a direct insult/slur against female-bodied black women - the whole notion of stinking female genitalia is premised on the existence of actual oozing, secreting. bleeding, un-douched female genitalia. If all the women on the planet were transwomen, there wouldn't be any jokes about the way we smell, because we'd smell just like men down there. Now, if black transwomen would also like to joint female-bodied black women in offense at this display, that's great. However, if black transwomen think that drag show minstrelsy is in any way an attack on them BEFORE, OVER, and ABOVE the fact that it is first and foremost an insult against black female-bodied women, then, they are simply being narcissistic.

justicewalks said...

And if you really thought it was just as much an insult against female-bodied black women as it is against male-bodied black women (which assertion I wholeheartedly disagree with), why tag this as an example of "transphobia" but not as an example of "misogyny" (presuming you have a tag for misogyny)? Why privilege the indirect offense a transwoman might feel at the insinuation that she has altered or wants to alter her genitalia to resemble the stinky genitalia women ALREADY HAVE over the offense of the female-bodied black woman upon whose body the the insult is most directly targeted?

Renee said...

And if you really thought it was just as much an insult against female-bodied black women as it is against male-bodied black women (which assertion I wholeheartedly disagree with), why tag this as an example of "transphobia" but not as an example of "misogyny"

The tags are based on what I think people will enter into google to find this post on not on my personal feelings about the issue. Tags are a reflection of SEO period.

Now, if black transwomen would also like to joint female-bodied black women in offense at this display, that's great. However, if black transwomen think that drag show minstrelsy is in any way an attack on them BEFORE, OVER, and ABOVE the fact that it is first and foremost an insult against black female-bodied women, then, they are simply being narcissistic.

All drag is not necessarily offensive or misogynistic. This is not about privileging one oppression over another but recognizing that it is an attack on all women. I find it telling that you continually feel the need to attack the inclusion of trans women into this debate.

justicewalks said...

An attack on all women is called misogyny. Not transphobia. You can't call something "transphobic" in one breath and then say that it's really about "ALL women." It's either misogyny and it's about all women OR it's "transphobia" and it's only about male-bodied women.

justicewalks said...

Also, either it's offensive all the time for people higher up in the hierarchy to dress up like/mock people lower in the hierarchy than they are, or it's only offensive when it's done by the people at the very top of the chain. If you're saying that drag is only offensive when males at the top of the chain do it, you're also saying that it might be OK for Chinese people to don blackface, or Mediterranean people to don yellowface, while only white people are prohibited from doing either.

Oliver FP said...

No, JW... it was the repetition of "male" "scrotal" and "penile" in your post.

(Sorry, don't want to derail the thread).

Renee said...

If you're saying that drag is only offensive when males at the top of the chain do it, you're also saying that it might be OK for Chinese people to don blackface, or Mediterranean people to don yellowface, while only white people are prohibited from doing either.

No a drag show is about blurring gender and can also be viewed as a piece of performance art, whereas this was done as a form of mockery. The two are not the same at all.

An attack on all women is called misogyny. Not transphobia. You can't call something "transphobic" in one breath and then say that it's really about "ALL women."

The transphobia was immediately obvious to me because of its absence in the complaint issued by the NAACP, which has a history of exclusion when it comes to trans people.

@Oliver no derailment was done by you. Clearly there is a need by some to push a CIS only angle though clearly this is a wider conversation.

justicewalks said...

And I suppose you're saying, then, that since the transphobia was so conspicuously absent from the NAACP complaint, the absent misogyny was... what? Commonplace? Unmentionable? Why are female-bodied women being left out of the discussion? That's not to say that transwomen should not be included in the discussion, but merely to say that it's wrong to jump over all the directly affected, directly insulted female-bodied women in order to talk about the indirectly affected transwomen.

A person's maleness is static, Oliver. And penile/scrotal tissue doesn't magically become "something else" just because you've altered the external shape of it. The molecular structure of penile/scrotal tissue maintains the molecular structure of penile/scrotal tissue no matter what you’re doing to that tissue surgically.

justicewalks said...

A drag show is not about BLURRING gender! It's about upholding it. It's about reinforcing the oppositional polarity of masculinity and femininity - that males should be masculine and females feminine. What makes drag show minstrelsy funny to the people who enjoy it is the fact that men aren't *supposed* to be feminine, so when men don feminine accoutrement for laughs, they are playing up this male supremacist dichotomy. Dressing up as the opposite gender isn't transgressing anything if it's only done for fun and laughs. You show me a male-bodied person who knows he's a man, isn't appropriating femaleness, and still demonstrates traits or appearances that are associated *with* the femaleness (aka, femininity), and I might be willing to consider the transgressiveness of it. But men on stage only acting out femininity for a joke, then going back to being masculine men when it comes to getting/keeping jobs/housing and you've only reinforced the notion that to be taken seriously, you've got to masculine, while femininity is nothing but a joke.

Renee said...

@Justice
That's not to say that transwomen should not be included in the discussion, but merely to say that it's wrong to jump over all the directly affected, directly insulted female-bodied women in order to talk about the indirectly affected transwomen.

Transwomen are not indirectly effected by this. As I stated the NAACP commented on this from a black woman perspective and ignored the trans angle. My commentary was to fill in a hole that was clearly missed. I am certain not excluding the oppression aimed at Cis women.

A person's maleness is static, Oliver. And penile/scrotal tissue doesn't magically become "something else" just because you've altered the external shape of it.

This only true if we reduce gender to genialia and gender is made up of so much more than that. Does your vagina say everything there is about you?

A drag show is not about BLURRING gender! It's about upholding it. It's about reinforcing the oppositional polarity of masculinity and femininity - that males should be masculine and females feminine.

What you are ignoring are the bodies themselves that are performing in the show. Some drag shows are done by people who are in the process of transitioning who identify as female, some are done by people who are gender queer or gender butch. You cannot assume that the person performing is male and making a mockery of what you understand as woman. This is why it has the potential to blur gender. The body is not necessarily coded in the male/female binary.

J said...

***This only true if we reduce gender to genialia and gender is made up of so much more than that. Does your vagina say everything there is about you?***

I am not concerned with gender because gender is not something that actually exists. I am concerned with sex - of which male and female are the two most common categories. Sex actually does exist.

And while my female genitalia don't have anything to do with my personality or sexuality (a mishmash of which is what I presume is intended to be covered under "gender"), it does actually say just about all one needs to know about my *sex*. People with vaginas are ALWAYS going to be either female or, very rarely, intersex. They aren't going to be male, though. And a vagina isn't something a surgeon can create. One either has one or one doesn't. Surgically altered genital tissue that wasn't originally a vagina doesn't ever become a vagina.

Joan Kelly said...

So I guess that's a no. No one's going to tell me why the completely-devoid-of-trans-bashing comment I left - in which I also flatly stated that I DON'T consider misogyny and anti-trans bigotry to be mutually exclusive - has been responded to as if I wrote:

"Hey everybody, trans women are not real women, and also anybody who is misogynist is by nature not anti-trans women, plus this is bad cuz it happened in a gay bar." ????

Thanks for not-showing me the same basic respect that I have always shown all of you.

Renee said...

@Joan sorry I missed your second commentary..It was never my intention to ignore you.

Since professional drag queens are historically about caricaturing non-trans women, and to my understanding it's a dismissive (not by you, I'm saying in popular culture when this is done) conflation to refer to trans women as "drag queens," plus with the your-vaginas-stink! name he chose, this sort of "drag performance" seemed like viciousness towards black non-trans women, to me.

I honestly believe that it was aimed at both trans women and cis women. I think when we exclude trans women from the debate we are showing cis privilege. Clearly they are also women and therefore any sexism aimed at cis women is by default also aimed at trans women.

justicewalks said...

That was me up there, by the way. I'd signed in to a different email account.

Renee said...

@justice
I am not concerned with gender because gender is not something that actually exists. I am concerned with sex - of which male and female are the two most common categories. Sex actually does exist.

Your desire to exclude gender exists so that you can express your cis privilege. The body does not just exist as an entity without meaning. It is acted upon and disciplined in the social world. It only becomes real in the corporeal sense when we (society) acknowledge its existence and therefore how it is encoded is essential to understanding the body.

People with vaginas are ALWAYS going to be either female or, very rarely, intersex.

People will be vaginas are always going to be understood by the different meanings that society gives the body. If you don't agree with that statement then you don't agree with the power of discourse.

justicewalks said...

I'm not "excluding" gender. I'm simply saying that maleness and femaleness are indicators of sex, not gender. And when I talk about maleness and femaleness, I'm talking about sex. That I personally also don't care about gender as anything other than a social construct that has been used to oppress women doesn't have anything to do with the fact that sex is definite, no matter how permeable the boundaries may be between different genders.

Joan Kelly said...

Okay, thanks Renee.

I do believe that in fact hatred of trans women is about hating all women - it's not either/or to me. I asked my original question not because I thought trans women should be excluded from this conversation or any other, or that they *would* be excluded from attack by this guy.

I just didn't get why it looked like what he was doing was anti trans women specifically instead of anti non trans women specifically. To me, there are things that happen to trans women as trans women (transphobic violence, for one thing), things that happen to non trans women as non trans women (assigned to sex class at birth, for one thing), and things that happen to women as women - trans and non trans (rape, domestic violence, woman-hating, for a few examples).

And to me, the reason it looked like it was specifically aimed at non trans women was not because I thought it was pro-trans, or that trans women are not also affected by woman-hating. What it looked like to me was - this dude was making fun of black non trans women because he was in black face and he was bringing up the slur of smelly vaginas.

The fact of someone specifically directing misogyny at non trans women in an incident is, to me, more a matter of like - just because he was in black face does not mean he is NOT racist against Latin@s, for instance. But saying that black face is *about* directly slurring a Mexican man, for instance, would confuse me.

Someone saying "hey lighten up, Mexicans, because this dude wasn't talking about *you* and anyway what he did was just in good fun in the first place" would be fucked up. I felt like a couple of people responded to my original comment - or else incidentally left their own comments that just sounded like they were a response to what I said - as if the fucked up framing is what *I* said. That's why I was like, what the eff?

Anyway, thanks again for responding to me.

John Sullivan said...

Hi
Well lets just say that stunt was stupid and offensive.But how about a new scope of direction.For example I'm the only white guy
where I live.I may go weeks without seeing a white person.I have been prejudiced many times.
Now I could write a blog about all these thing but guess what who wants to hear that.
Why don't you slip in some of the progress that all these issues have made.
When Gays,whites,blacks,whoever play the victim role no one cares.When you build on positive you have more of a chance of people coming to a new awareness and things actually continuing to change and get better.
I can write all day about bloggers not supporting each other but guess what no one cares.I do like your blog and the issues you raise are important but so is the positive:)

SjP said...

And this man is a public elected official in the United States! And folks wonder why we're angry! When officials think it perfectfully fine to act in such an overt and blatantly racist manner under the guise of fun or good humor it only sets the stage for their true colors to come out. This is simply horrible.

Lisa Harney said...

"male-bodied women" is misogynist against trans women, and is biological essentialism.

The assumption that trans women's vaginas have no odors is wrong. The assumption that a slur against vaginas somehow doesn't include trans women's vaginas is wrong.

Lisa Harney said...

Justicewalks,

But men on stage only acting out femininity for a joke, then going back to being masculine men when it comes to getting/keeping jobs/housing and you've only reinforced the notion that to be taken seriously, you've got to masculine, while femininity is nothing but a joke.

You're not talking about drag queens here. I don't even know who you're talking about - all the drag queens I've ever known acted feminine pretty much 24/7, and I didn't see them living particularly prosperous, privileged lives. They weren't white middle-class men. Many were working class men (white and of color), some were trans women (white and of color), and a few were cis women (white and of color).

And a vagina isn't something a surgeon can create. One either has one or one doesn't. Surgically altered genital tissue that wasn't originally a vagina doesn't ever become a vagina.

This is outside your experience. You're still engaging in biological essentialism, and you're eliding points such as the limits of medical technology (it's not yet possible to create a vagina identical to a cis woman's vagina) in order to hold those limits of medical technology against trans women as if we have any control over the advancement of that technology, or as if our existence is somehow dependent upon that technology (and it is not).

Joan Kelly,

And to me, the reason it looked like it was specifically aimed at non trans women was not because I thought it was pro-trans, or that trans women are not also affected by woman-hating. What it looked like to me was - this dude was making fun of black non trans women because he was in black face and he was bringing up the slur of smelly vaginas.

If he's being misogynist, he's mocking women of color - cis women of color and trans women of color. I don't see how it's possible to be misogynist without that misogyny being against trans women as equally as cis women.

Why is anyone taking Justicewalks' word as to how trans women's vaginas function and what they supposedly smell like? She's not an expert on the topic, and is making assertions based on cissexist assumptions.

Renee said...

@Lisa

Thank you so much for weighing in. I have been attempting to point out the errors in Justices commentary but I will admit that a lack of complete knowledge has made some of my arguments weak. I did not comment on the state of a trans womans vagina simply because I have no experience with it.

Though I have allowed open commentary on this blog I will admit that quite a bit of this thread is hostile. There is clear cis privilege at work and I thank you for commenting to help dispel some of it.

My purpose in writing this post was to point out not only the racism that is obvious but the ways in which trans women are ignored when the black community seeks to assert that someone has been biased. I fear I may have committed an error of judgment by allowing such clearly cissexist commentary under the guise of open discussion.

Lisa Harney said...

I was mainly aiming that at Joan Kelly's comment, not at anything you've said.

Thank you.

Joan Kelly said...

Lisa - my comments are not about Justice Walks' essentialist views, nor are my views in line with hers. The only actual thing I agree with her about when it comes to this post is that the way I originally read it, it seemed to me to be about saying this man was aiming *specifically* at insulting blackness and trans-ness, rather than blackness and female-assigned-at-birth-ness.

I don't know how to explain more clearly that I am not saying what Justice Walks is saying, that I asked what I asked because not-mentioning the specific misogyny towards non-trans women was confusing to me.

That is not saying anything about people who have transitioned. That is saying that the meme of vaginas-stink-and-are-gross is not a meme that originated as a way to dehumanize trans women. That's all! And because of that, and because the original post read to me as leaving out that fact, I asked about it.

That is not the same thing as saying trans women never get hate slung specifically their way because of their vaginas also. It is saying that there is a cult of vaginas-are-gross that is not about trans women. The fact that trans women who surgically transition are automatically then included in that insult does not make it specifically about trans ness.

The fact that it is not specifically about trans ness does not make it pro-trans women, nor does it make me anti-trans women for simply stating that fact.

I feel like the fact that Justice Walks agreed with my original comment is being used as a reason to assign meaning to *my actual words* that are not there and never have been.

I know that there is a great deal of hostility between JW and other bloggers, around several things, including and especially trans women's realities. The fact that I agree with her about her analyses of racism, and some of what she has to say about sexism - I'm not allowed to do that openly without others deciding I agree with everything she says? Especially when I've written on my blog and commented elsewhere that I specifically DON'T share her views about transsexuality/transgenderism?

justicewalks said...

***It is saying that there is a cult of vaginas-are-gross that is not about trans women. The fact that trans women who surgically transition are automatically then included in that insult does not make it specifically about trans ness.***

Well, frankly, that's all I was saying also. Slurs like "smellishis poon" are not specifically about transwomen. It's about female-bodied women. If transwomen are implicated, it's an extension of the original plain-old nontransphobic misogyny.

justicewalks said...

Lisa, if it's biological essentialism to point out that a penis doesn't become a vagina, whatever else it does become, after surgical modification, then I reckon it's biological alchemy to claim anything else. I refuse to suspend a disbelief in magic/superstition in order to buy this notion that surgery turns penile tissue into vaginal mucosa.

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