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http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/12/10/and-this-is-the-part-where-i-stumble-in-kinda-late/
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20 Responses

  1. Jessica
    Jessica April 29, 2008 at 8:44 am |

    Thanks for the link, Holly! We’re always thrilled when Julia contributes something; she’s a total rock star.

  2. Torri
    Torri April 29, 2008 at 9:45 am |

    I had a look at the handling pain article, only thing I want to nit pick is “It takes a lower temperature for a women to tell you that this feels painful” there’s a big difference between knowing something is painful as opposed to that pain being too much to bear as the opening lines described. I’d say a man would be more likely to hold off on saying something is painful because of macho socializations. But like I said it’s a nit pick.
    But I am familiar with with the myth (who isn’t) since I was little and my mother explaining the ice cube pain test where you squeeze an ice cube in your hand until you can’t take it anymore. Personally I’m more inclined to bring pain tolerance down to a personal level rather then by gender.

  3. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm |

    Well, in general my response to the endemic sexism of TV advertising is to just bail. About the only thing on TV that is not better covered in text form or available commercial-free after a few months is sports, and even THAT is not worth it.

    Perhaps its just me, but I see drag as being very different from trans. Not that there are not a heck of a lot of issues associated both with drag as performance and the association of drag queens with transfolk. It’s just that most of the drag queens I’ve met clearly identify at the end of the day as men engaged in a specific form of cultural performance.

    But to that end, I think Serano’s insight about the all or nothing dichotomy imposed on transgender people also applies to cisgender (for lack of a better word) as well. There is a limited respect for people who can do drag very well as performance, as long as they revert back to a full red-blooded masculinity when stepping off the stage.

    So yeah, on the one hand, it’s cool that a drag queen is getting used in advertising. On the other hand, it doesn’t do much for those of us who are targeted as queer, and have no desire to do performance or pass.

  4. Astraea
    Astraea April 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm |

    I’m not very educated about all the issues involved, but I had similar mixed reactions to the commercial. In the end I guess it felt like as fantastic as it is that someone other than a straight, cissexual woman is being represented in a way that isn’t humiliating or a joke, it’s still basically reaffirming the two boxes that we’re forced into.

  5. Terra
    Terra April 29, 2008 at 6:39 pm |

    This isn’t a myopic portrayal of transwomen because its not a portrayal of someone who is either trans or identifies as a woman.

    It is a rather accurate portrayal of drag queens.

    The feeling that an accurate portrayal of one culture is necessarily tearing down ones own culture is incorrect in my opinion.

  6. laura
    laura April 29, 2008 at 8:51 pm |

    Transgender is a umbrella term. It is anyone who crosses gender lines (I personally include the rest of the queer community in that, but I -might- have an agenda). Transsexual is specifically someone who ID’s as ‘the gender opposite’ the sex they were born (a problematic definition in itself).

    That said.

    Its fucking awesome that they show someone is other-gendered. Despite that, which, I reiterate, is -fucking-awesome- –it plays into the gender dichotomy. And it totally plays into all of the stereotypes of what it means to be trans–that if you’re biologically male and you dress like woman that you’re a) not really a woman and b) feminine (and by implication, gay). Plenty of transwomen are butch. Plenty of drag queens are straight. Whether or not it ‘accurately portrays’ (all) drag queens is incidental to the fact that it reinforces the idea that no trans-people are truly the gender that they are ID’ing as, and at the end kind of gives you that ‘well at least he knows he’s a boy’ feeling.

    Furthermore, it implies that to be a ‘real woman’ you must be feminine. Because although -he’s*- obviously not going to make it (as set up in the commerical) the closest he can come to is by doing all these sterotypically feminine things. Do I know from the article that he wants to be a woman? No (granted its a 30 second commercial) but it feeds into those cultural assumptions and the cultural confusion about what it means to be a transgendered person.

    I feel like I’m reiterating what Julia said, and not really expanding on it. *sigh*

    *I am assuming that this person ID’s as male and uses he because that’s the language that the person used.

  7. Terra
    Terra April 29, 2008 at 11:07 pm |

    Whether or not it ‘accurately portrays’ (all) drag queens is incidental to the fact that it reinforces the idea that no trans-people are truly the gender that they are ID’ing as,

    I’d disagree. To me it just portrays a drag queen and says nothing at all about trans women.

    The boy in question was very specific that he enjoyed emulating feminity and that he ided as a boy. I think he does a good job of drawing a very clear distinction between himself and transwomen.

    And thats actually an important issue as people who think the line is blurry can often push feminine men towards surgery and horomones and push trans women away from those things. Both of which tend to have pretty bad consequences.

  8. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 29, 2008 at 11:11 pm |

    laura: Transgender is a umbrella term. It is anyone who crosses gender lines (I personally include the rest of the queer community in that, but I -might- have an agenda). Transsexual is specifically someone who ID’s as ‘the gender opposite’ the sex they were born (a problematic definition in itself).

    The inclusive definition bothers me because from my point of view, I’m not “crossing,” or moving, or trying to violate boundaries. Instead, what I find is that all of a sudden, someone will draw a line around me for reasons that strike me as utterly arbitrary and rather silly. From my point of view, I’m male, and a man, and all of my existence, behavior, and “spirituality” (now there is a problematic term) must therefore be masculinity. It’s not a problem until I end up in someone else’s game of Calvingenderball and they call foul or try to appropriate my experience in ways that make me uncomfortable.

    And a part of me is deeply baffled as to how a definition that includes all of human existence is all that useful.

    Holly: Yeah, there are a couple points to be made there, I think. Laura already made one — that most people watching this commercial aren’t necessarily going to understand the distinction between gender expression and gender identity, between someone who’s performing a gendered role on stage (and apparently all sorts of other places, at least in the clips) and someone who lives their entire life being perceived as a particular gender. “Trans” is an umbrella term not just for political convenience — it’s also an umbrella perception.

    A big question is, why should their perceptions be the driving force behind our discourse and political identities? I mean, on the one hand we share a common cause in that those arbitrary gender rules are used to justify all kinds of political, economic and physical violence against us. But on the other hand, I think my experience of gendered oppression is radically different from that of a person whose gender expression AND gender identity is considered “wrong” by gender bigots.

    I also know some people who identified as transgendered and genderqueer and used drag as a safe space. But for others, it was just a hobby that gave them a certain level of status in the gay men’s community. And that ability to just walk away from it, when it became too much work and expense for the satisfaction, or moving to a new job, or because an SO wasn’t into that scene, strikes me as a very powerful kind of privilege.

  9. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 30, 2008 at 8:36 am |

    I’m not saying that those common perceptions don’t matter. What I’m saying is that it’s not wise to dismiss the fact that many drag queens identify as gay men 24/7. And their ability to take the drag off in the dressing room and pack it home with them in a bag is a significant privilege, as is their ability to use drag performance as a vehicle for misogyny.

  10. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 30, 2008 at 10:58 am |

    You know, I think we are close enough to a consensus, and just are disagreeing over nuance.

    My feeling though is that there is a cultural space for elite drag performers (which is what seems to be portrayed in this commercial) that doesn’t necessarily translate to acceptance of “feminine” men.

  11. amandaw
    amandaw April 30, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    There is just something that bothers me about public representations of pain. I don’t know if it’s another case of “it’s not you, it’s me” but it always rubs me the wrong way when pain is used to sell — a product, an ideology, whatever. I’ve been meaning to dig through my thoughts on the “pain is weakness leaving the body” cliche that’s on a USMF poster I walk by every day on my way to work, which comes down to the same essential objection. But I haven’t been able to really clearly find the words for it yet.

  12. ineffabelle
    ineffabelle May 26, 2008 at 12:34 pm |

    “the hardest part of looking like a woman is hair removal!?”

    Well, I think that was supposed to translate as “the hardest part of passing is hair removal”, which would be kind of true if you were talking about facial hair. No one I know is going to epilate their face though.

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