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"It Doesn't Affect Me"
- A man who is moments away from calling me a TERF or a Nazi
I’ve been having a lot of fun on Twitter lately and seem to have found favor with the algorithm, which has put my tweets before many eyeballs. Unfortunately, some of these eyeballs have belonged to men that are quick to scold me for caring about the trans issue because, you see, it doesn’t affect them, and why can’t I be a little nicer?
Here are some examples of this sentiment, both directed at me and at others:
English singer-songwriter Billy Bragg is also a good example of a man who phrases the gender debate as something that wouldn’t really be all that big of a deal if only women realized it didn’t affect them, despite constantly being told how it does.
(Yes, women say this too, and they disappoint me even more deeply when they do, which is why that particular topic deserves its own treatment, and I may do just that one day).
Anyway, having encountered this attitude so often while in this debate, I was delighted to come across an excellent article by Victoria Smith: “Starbucks Dad solves the gender wars.” (You can follow Smith on Twitter here.)
In the piece, she discusses a recent Starbucks commercial where
we see a man and woman waiting to meet their adult trans child for coffee. The father has been distant for years — he’s had issues with the whole trans thing, as shown by the fact he keeps an old, deadnamed photo on his phone, and by his wife’s plea with him not to “get angry this time”… The moment of truth comes when Dad orders coffee, using his child’s new, female name (Arpita) rather than the male name (Arpit) that was stored on his phone. #ItStartsWithYourName, we are told. If Starbucks Dad can do it, so can you!
This is the way many people with a shallow understanding of the issues see the gender debate, especially men with little to lose, especially the kind of men who say, “it doesn’t affect me.” Why can’t you annoying women just let these poor, sad men *live*?
All this fuss over hair length and a name on a coffee cup! When you look at it this way, all those raising objections to gender self-ID seem insane. If only radical feminists, lesbians and women on Mumsnet could be more like Starbucks Dad. The trouble is, they can’t, and the reason they can’t isn’t because they are less open-minded.
Many of us will be familiar with the “progressive” man who, after years of making transphobic jokes on social media, suddenly pivots to denouncing women as “terfs”. Incapable of realising that his way of experiencing the world is not the only one, he cannot imagine that women would do anything to upset trans people for reasons other than his own — namely, because he was being an arsehole. He got over that, didn’t he? Why can’t they?
This is one of the most galling things about this debate. So many of those calling feminists fascists do not seem to realise that these women are not lagging behind them in overcoming moral disgust.
Smith really hits it on the head with that last point. Women as a whole are far more willing to accept gender non-conforming men than men are, to the point that today we are often blamed for all of the harms of gender ideology today. We were the first ones to say, “live your life however you want if it doesn’t affect me.” But our acceptance was rewarded with an incursion into every aspect of our lives.
These progressive men, these Starbucks dad types, these men who lose nothing by typing “it doesn’t affect me” on Twitter—they have taken only a basic, rudimentary, stumbling step towards acceptance of their fellow gender non-conforming men, and they dare to moralize over women who their trans-identified brothers are trampling because we gave more than they could ever dream of.
As Smith so eloquently puts it:
All men have to do is become au fait with the updated terminology; all women and girls have to do is give up everything.
As I’ve always held, gender ideology fundamentally affects everyone. It came for women and children first, but it is destructive to all of society and everyone in it, grown men included. Still, it stings when a man whose life has so far been blissfully unaffected by gender ideology and who may never be affected on a personal level at all comes along and calls women hateful because it doesn’t bother him that some men demand to be seen as women.
Yes, we know, you don’t think anyone else matters. We are unfortunately going to have to disagree. We matter too.
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