Why is the lefty hatefuck in effigy so exclusively a liberal-dude-on-right-wing-woman phenomenon? Even if you agree that women have a harder time using their bodies to sexually degrade people, surely citizen scrota everywhere can be dangled in the faces of wingnut dudes for the sake of entertainment and justice. Why can’t Sean Hannity get any love from the loyal otters of the opposition? Why hasn’t Glenn Beck been invited to a special tax day striptease? Is there no political premium in demanding that male pundits nuzzle progressive taint?
Is it just less funny?
There is one problem still, though. I don’t think either of you guys are trans. So I’m not sure where the deep level of trust required actually comes from here. Maybe you are embedded and in touch with trans people in your lives enough that it’s second nature, but even the most trans-connected allies I know would kind of think twice before making jokes about trans people between themselves. I mean, for a lot of people who are concerned about having and showing “good progressive politics” or whatever, they’re too uncomfortable to joke around with me, and I end up making all the jokes. But like… the Ann Coulter joke? Of course senses of humor differ, and it’s quite possible I’m not getting what’s so funny about it between the two of you. Even if one of my most trusted friends said that to me, I’d be like… “wait, what did you just say? Was that supposed to be funny?” It’s weird because it’s the same joke that totally clueless libuhral dudes have already been making for years about Ann Coulter, and everyone knows it’s not funny. I get that maybe “libuhral dude caricature goes a-teabaggin” is the schtick here, but the punchline is… exactly what real libuhral dudes say?” That is a very thinly sliced irony indeed.
I thought I’d talk a bit about the “Ann Coulter is a tranny” thing, and why it’s transphobic. It’s based on a bunch of transphobic ideas. Trans women all look alike. Trans women all look like men. Trans women all look totally different from “real” women. Trans women are obvious, and oblivious to their inability to blend in: cis people are much more perceptive about gender cues than trans people: trans women are delusional. Trans women are ugly and pathetic. Women who look like trans women are ugly and pathetic.
Now, some people argue–as Bitch PhD did argue–that transphobic jokes about Ann Coulter are not transphobic because Ann herself is deeply transphobic. I don’t think this works. For one thing, the many layers of ironic subtlety will tend to get lost, especially in an audience that probably is not much less transphobic as most “mainstream” Americans. The distinction between trans women (good!) and Ann Coulter (evil! and also mannish!) will just disappear. Most people simply agree with most of the last paragraph–those assumptions were part of BPhD’s apology:
I’m perfectly aware that everyone has decided that calling Coulter a cunt–or saying she looks mannish–is terribly sexist. I don’t buy it. As I said in the thread, her shtick is *founded* on the whole “I’m so feminine and pretty” crap. She makes comments about how democrats and lefties generally are ugly. Her self-presentation is high-femme. Underlying the “she’s a maaaaan, baby” reactions, I think, is a critique of her invocation of rigid gender norms to market herself.
Is this what her boyfriend said? Well, no:
Sex and protest has its ups and downs though and I was compelled to write back, thanking her for her interest and confirming that she did in fact, look pretty much exactly like Ann Coulter but that things probably wouldn’t work out for us. I didn’t admit, because I know people can be quite sensitive about these things, that I know I wouldn’t be able to work it, no matter how appropriate with a pre-op T-girl. Pity, she was a pleasant enough fellow.
He–or the teabag troller, but I’m not sure it’s supposed to be untrue–said that Ann Coulter looks like a trans woman. Why did so many people–BPhD included–make the immediate leap from “looks like a trans woman” to “looks like a dude?” Because there’s no difference. “Looks like a trans woman” is based on the idea that trans women all look a certain way: like men in dresses. That they really are men and not women. That’s where the writer is by the last line of the email.
(Oddly enough, the pretend reactionary asshole–you know, the guy from the transphobic side–is totally copacetic with getting hit on by a trans woman.)
It’s not really possible to say stuff like “Ann Coulter is mannish” without dumping a whole lot of deeply transphobic crap all over the place. You’re setting up a standard for proper womanhood, one that has been used to hurt trans women in all kinds of ways. Real women aren’t “mannish.” Tall, bony, strong-featured women are ugly. It’s weird when they try on femme. They have no business trying to be womanly. You can’t keep those assumptions and not create a toxic scrutiny loop for gender difference that dovetails really neatly with a lot of really nasty stereotypes specific to trans women. It’d be nice, but it’s not possible.
And like a commenter said, it’s just not about highlighting Ann’s transphobia. It’s about insulting her by implying that she looks like a trans woman. No matter how personally she might feel that, or how horrified she would be to have anything in common with the gender trash, we can’t use that assertion without accepting it. It also doesn’t really touch Ann. She doesn’t read progressive blogs. Trans women–and a lot of women who are otherwise told that they’re female failures–do. Jokes like this reinforce the ideas that keep the real Ann Coulter current. They ensure that morally bankrupt assholes everywhere can collect paychecks for spitting at easy targets.