12/17/2016 1 Comment
I try to see the bright side of things, which is why I sometimes say that Everyday Feminism is an endless source of amusement. (See also: I Changed "Men" to "Black People" in an Everyday Feminism Article, and Here's What Happened.) But, as someone who cares about equality for women, it's also a source of frustration -- the shit they say reflects badly on all feminists.
For example, in a recent video, trans activist Riley J. Dennis said that if you wouldn't date someone who was trans, black, fat or disabled, you're an -ist or a -phobe; you need to "think critically" and change.
Let's "unpack" this.
Riley says in his/her/their/zheir (the Everyday Feminism crew didn't provide Riley's preferred pronoun):
I think arguing that you would only like a trans person if you didn’t know they were trans is a poor argument. I think you could be attracted to any trans person, whether they "pass" or not.
I agree -- you can definitely feel an initial attracted to someone without knowing what's between their legs.
But it's extremely weird and unscientific to pretend that what's between someone's legs has no bearing on attraction. I find my boyfriend's face attractive, and I find his personality attractive, and that would be true no matter what he had in his pants. However, I also find his huge, hard boner to be incredibly attractive. Even when it's just hanging out all floppy, I like looking at it and thinking about what an interesting organ it is, and how different we are.
Likewise, it's commonly said that some guys are "boob men," and others are "butt men." There's a third category that's often overlooked: "vulva men." My boyfriend is a vulva man. He like boobs and he likes butts, but he loves the cipka.
It turns out that, although it's important to acknowledge that people are more than their genitals, you can't really separate the person from the genitals. It's kind of a package deal. Sexually, a moist vagina just doesn't do it for me.
And that doesn't make me a bad person.
Later in the video, Riley says:
We know that sexual orientations are more innate than learned – they’re more nature and less nurture. Gay "conversion therapy” has been proven not to work. But you can unlearn your own prejudices; it just takes time and conscious effort.
Hm. So your sexual orientation is innate. Conversion therapy can't make a gay man straight. But... cis men can train or force themselves to be attracted to penises?
This logic is inconsistent and makes no sense.
It's also not scientific.
A man being attracted to and wanting to stick his penis in a vagina is a trait that conferred significant evolutionary advantages. For most of human history, IVF and adoption weren't really a thing. People made babies by sticking a penis in a vagina. That is why most people are heterosexual -- there was strong evolutionary pressure for heterosexuality. Heterosexuality is not something we "learn." It's just a part of us.
Speaking of evolution, here's another reason being trans is a dealbreaker for many (most?) people:
They want to have kids.
Illogical objection 1: Yeah, but there are so many kids who need homes! Just adopt!
I would rather have no kids at all than adopt someone else's kid. Call me a bigot, but I want my children to look like me. I want to see myself in them. I want them to be tall and gorgeous, and not potentially a crack baby. I want them to be as smart as possible. I want them to have athleticism and musicality and other skills and interests I do. Genetics are big predictors of these things.
(Fun fact: people like to pretend that intelligence is entirely social and environmental. In reality, scientific estimates suggest that intelligence is as heritible as height.)
Plus, adoption is an expensive and frustrating journey.
Illogical objection 2: Yeah, but they could just have IVF.
Couple of fun facts about IVF:
1. It's super expensive, super stressful, super invasive, and often fails.
2. Just getting to the part where you're pregnant requires daily injections of fertility drugs, which confer risks like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and ovarian cancer, as well as egg retrieval risks like bleeding, infection, and damage to bladder, uterus, bowel or blood vessels.
3. Then there's the part where you're actually pregnant -- IVF pregnancies have an increased risk of being ectopic (about 2-5%), resulting in abortion or miscarriage.
4. Finally, there's the fact that the first IVF baby was born 38 years ago. Thirty. Eight. That's not a very long time. We've been giving breast implants longer than we've been implanting embryos in wombs! And because of that, not much is known about the long-term consequences of IVF vs. natural conception.
If you can actually afford IVF and are okay with these risks, good for you! You must be crushing it at work. But not everyone has the cash for that, and not everyone is willing (or able) to accept unnecessary health risks -- so check your privilege, man.
Illogical objection 3: It's selfish to have your own children.
Good thing we live in a free country, where it's okay to be selfish as long as it doesn't infringe upon other people's rights, huh?
The next "discriminatory" "'preference'" Riley accuses listeners of is not being attracted to fat people.
The way we talk about potentially dating trans people has a lot in common with the way we discuss other “preferences.” Saying that you’re not attracted to fat people isn’t innate; it’s informed by a society that tells you that being thin is ideal.
Once again, Riley seems to miss the fact that attraction is based on more than physical attributes. Perhaps the reason I won't date a fat person is because fat people can't climb mountains and mountain bike and do eight-day backpacking trips with me.
Your partner isn't just a set of physical characteristics. They're a lifestyle. Someone who's super fat is someone whose lifestyle is not compatible with mine. Someone who's super fat could never make me happy.
Also, Riley, what does "fat" even mean? Are we talking someone who's a little overweight, but still kicks ass on the basketball court? Or are we talking about those people who ride the electric carts at Wal-Mart? Because there's a huge difference.
Same with disabled people. Are we talking about someone who walks with a cane, but still explores the backcountry on the weekends? Or are we talking full-on Steven Hawkings? Big difference.
But similar concept. A boyfriend isn't a set of physical traits. He's a lifestyle. A partner in crime. An adventure buddy. And, maybe someday, a father to my child.
These dating “preferences” are ultimately harmful to people who don’t fit into your box of what a conventionally attractive person looks like. It makes people feel isolated, alone, and unwanted to hear that they’re universally unattractive to people.
I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but it really sounds like you're trying to guilt and manipulate people into having sexual contact with partners they're not attracted to. At some colleges, this would be considered sexual coercion. Not saying I agree with that definition -- just that that's the definition in some places.
Let's wrap up by finding a little more common ground. Yes, I believe hearing they're unattractive makes people feel isolated, alone and unwanted. But. That's why I don't tell disabled people, "Hey, guess what? I don't want to date you because you're disabled!"
I don't run up to fat people and say, "Hey, fatty! I would never date such a Fatty McFatster!"
Why would I do such a thing? That would just be mean.
But there's a difference between being mean, and being true to myself. Making fun of trans people is bullying. Not dating trans people is my sexual and romantic preference. No quotes -- it's not "preference." It's preference -- a very real thing that we talk about in biology all the time.
So, Riley. I'll give you an A for effort. It takes balls to put yourself out there. But before you make another video like this one, you might want to read a biology textbook.