Gender Wars History Series: Woman as a Relaxing Hobby
Just a fun costume to unwind in
Since I started this Substack I have been writing about the history of the “gender wars,” particularly the attitudes of the men who wish to be seen as women, especially by other women. I’ve been taking an even more in-depth dive into the history of the gay and trans movements over at The Distance.
One thing that has really stuck out to me over the course of this research and writing is the propensity of trans-identified men (of the autogynephilic variety, I think it is safe to say), to view “woman” as a relaxing costume they can wear to unwind in after a hard day of being a man.
This is something I’ve been aware of since I entered into this debate, but it was really impressed upon me just how often, over so many decades, it is a key component of why these men do what they do. And I find it incredibly insulting.
To start by playing devil’s advocate—I think many women have an idea that life as a man is much easier because they have all the privilege. I’m allergic to sweeping and oversimplified discussions of “oppression” and “privilege” and my own thinking is in line with Norah Vincent's on the matter: “Men have different problems than women have, but they don’t have it better.”
Still, while both sexes have what I believe is a skewed perspective on how “easy” the other has it, I am uniquely bothered and perturbed by the AGP’s view of women. Part of that is because it’s sexual. It’s creepy—I think for good reason—to know that a man is turned on by the thought of being your sex. Furthermore, this sexual motivation is what has led these men to invade women’s single-sex spaces.
It adds insult to injury when these men claim to be women because the reasons that they think women have it so much easier are completely laughable and proof positive that they won’t have the slightest inkling of what being a woman is actually like.
The best example of this attitude that I’ve had the displeasure to come across was in the essay “Conservative Men in Conservative Dresses” that appeared in The Atlantic in 2002.
In one particular section the author, Amy Bloom, describes a poignant interaction with the chair of a crossdressing group Tri-Ess:
Jane Ellen told me, "Men are still being trained--well, you know, as Virginia Prince [the founder of Tri-Ess, and one of the godmothers of cross-dressing] says, ‘Men are always trying to become what women are content to be.'"
"What is it that women are content to be?" I asked.
"Oh, you know, they know when to give it a rest. They know when and how to quit. They can relax and be themselves."
I did know. He meant that in his vision, idealized and old-fashioned, women are like oceans, or like fields, or like horses, and men are sailors, farmers, and cowboys, and that is their curse and that is women's blessing, although women may not realize it. It is exhausting to be a man, and delightful to kick off those demands and slip into something more comfortable.
As I wrote on The Distance: “Bloom’s is a natural reaction virtually all women would feel to a man telling us that we are ‘content’ to give it a rest and relax, to simply be ourselves, and that men don’t have such a luxury.”
The comments made by “Jane Ellen” weren’t a one-off; they were an expression of a common sentiment that had been made by crossdressers for decades. In a later piece for The Distance where I wrote in greater depth about Tri-Ess, I found a pamphlet from the 1980s that tried to sell the wonders of crossdressing with this lovely passage:
Regardless of when or how, the impact is usually the same. It FEELS nice, both emotionally, sensually, and perhaps even spiritually. And often, especially among newly emerging Tv's [transvestites], it is a sexually stimulating feeling. Whatever the feeling, it's a potent magnet, drawing the Tv back time and time again!
At least they said the quiet part out loud and admitted that the reason crossdressing is so “nice” and “relaxing” is because it’s sexual.
In more recent times, these are the sentiments that were expressed by Alabama mayor and preacher Fred L. “Bubba” Copeland, who committed suicide after his fetishistic online activities were discovered. Though the progressive media tried to spin Copeland’s activities as harmless and even painted him as “transgender,” the reality of the situation was much darker.
What was discovered was not just some pictures of Copeland dressed up as a woman but snuff erotica in which he murdered a real woman who lives in his community. He had also shared the names and photos of local women on pornography sites.
When trying to explain away the situation, Copeland told the media that:
It’s a hobby I do to relieve stress. I have a lot of stress, and I’m not medically transitioning. It’s just a bit of a character I’m playing.
A hobby to relieve stress.
At every turn, the men who get a kick out of dressing up like my sex view being a woman as a fun hobby to distract themselves from the burdens of being a man.
Now—people do many weird sexual things that I don’t write or care much about. Have at it. Neither would I generally be interested in writing about these men and drawing attention to the way they view women (which I think is unsavory at best and psychopathic at worst).
The problem is that men like these are increasingly claiming to be women. They are by and large the ones demanding access to women’s washrooms and changing rooms, women’s sports teams, and women’s prisons.
It’s very hard to live and let live—and to laugh at but ultimately ignore people’s sexual proclivities—when those sexual proclivities are driving them to pull such stunts. When these men are given the leeway, which they have been unfortunately given largely by women, they take it.
Women need our boundaries back, and we need to stop buying in such large numbers into the relativistic, postmodern philosophy that enabled the erosion of our boundaries in the first place. A bit more spine in the space of emotional manipulation will go a long way, too.
Men are not women, least of all the ones who think our sex is nothing but a relaxing and sexually satisfying costume, and there’s nothing unkind about saying so.