did you hate my last post on rose mcgowan? you're probably gonna hate this one, too.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to respond to readers who didn't like what I wrote about Rose McGowan, including this excerpt:


I thought this was a pretty even-handed evaluation...

Some readers interpreted my criticism of McGowan as a character attack.

Some misgendered and flat-out insulted trans women in an attempt to defend McGowan as their leader of choice, and felt disappointed in what they read as an unnecessary "takedown" or "hit piece" of a "feminist icon."

Some readers accused me of "caring more about a male sex predator than a feminist rape survivor."

I wrote four posts in response to these readers.

All were true. None were complete.

I won't publish all four in full because seriously, TL;DR.

But here are excerpts from each of the four pieces. They sum up and begin to flesh out how I feel about these readers, their comments, and what makes a woman a woman.


1. The Jesus, Please Just Be Nice Post


Imagine them as little kids. They're scared and confused. Not just because they're small, but also because they have to silence their instincts because they learn too early that who they are is not okay.

From the outside, we have no idea how hard that little kid had to work to figure out how to become an okay person:

What was expendable?
Not their parents' love.
Not their friends' acceptance.
Not their physical safety.

So what could they give up to become okay?

The only thing left was their loyalty to themselves, their self-love. That's something they could give up without getting abandoned or hurt. If they felt mismatched or broken, well, that was their own shit to deal with. Their parents didn't have to know and neither did their friends. They could be sad. Everyone's sad sometimes. It's okay. It's okay. I can do it. I can handle it.

I'm devastated to learn how many of my teammates have weaponized body ownership and narrative control against trans women.


Please try to recognize the voice coming out of your mouth when you tell these women that their experiences aren't what they perceive them to be, or that you know better than they do what their bodies should be.

You tell me that McGowan hasn't done anything wrong. Yet I can play you a video clip or a podcast recording of her dismissing and minimizing trans women and not only do you not recognize it for what it is, you tell the trans women who were dismissed and minimized that their perceptions of what it's like to be a dismissed, minimized trans woman are ACTUALLY WRONG.

Jesus H. Balls, you don't let Chad tell you that he wasn't mansplaining; you don't get to tell trans women that they don't understand when you're shutting them out.

If you are a cis woman and a queer ally in 2018, 
it's uncomfortable but mandatory 
to hold these two thoughts in your head 
at the same time

Just by existing as cis women,
we are oppressed by misogyny, 
and we are oppressors in transmisogyny. 

We are beneath and above at the same time.

(I think that's what the cool kids call "intersectionality.")

Yes, we are afraid of the guy in the parking lot. We are also, for trans women, the guy in the parking lot, too close to another woman who can't trust us yet.

We're not safe to trans people. We are a threat to people that we care about. That's a shitty fucking feeling to have among people you want to trust.

Transphobia and trans-exclusionary feminism show exactly how far our compassion goes, and it's not far enough to include some of our most vulnerable women. We can't be bothered to stretch our arms out enough to embrace one more kind of woman. Shame on us.

You might be upset when you see Caitlyn Jenner thrive as a trans woman who benefited from so much that the patriarchy has to offer, as a wealthy, famous male-appearing athlete in early life and middle age. "What, she just gets to... pick?" From the outside, it might look like cheating. To you, it might feel unfair.

I keep hearing this idea that trans women were protected by the patriarchy when they "were boys," so they can't join our club now. What, do we practice "last in, first out" feminism? Is that who we are? Did I miss a memo?

Quick question:
What if you were the expendable one?


2. The Call-In Post
aka
Hey Girl. Let's Talk.


Let's lay it out. Nothing left to lose here.

We agree on so much. But we disagree too.

You think I'm tearing down a leader for being imperfect; I think you're willing to sacrifice marginalized women's inclusion to give Rose McGowan's mythology fewer ingredients to digest.

Are those fair characterizations? I don't think mine is. Do you think yours is? I'm guessing you don't.

I want to slam the door on you.
Do you want to slam the door on me?
I'm guessing you do.

There we go, agreeing again.

Perhaps we should just part ways.

But what if we don't? 
I feel certain that the way through this
shitty, shitty place is not,
"I don't understand you. Get the fuck out."

I feel sad, and defensive, and disappointed. When I wrote the Aziz Ansari piece I worried that I'd be crucified as a fake feminist or assault apologist by people who didn't actually read it. But you liked it. You read it. You valued its nuance, and I thought that we found each other based on our common appreciation for discussions that don't consist of neatly checked boxes.

I imagine you feel sad and defensive too. You read a piece from a feminist writer that you were starting to trust, and that piece included a nuanced depiction of a flawed public figure that you love and admire. That piece identified that public figure as trans-exclusionary, which is not a nice thing to be called. Maybe you felt attacked by my point of view. Maybe you felt I was being too hard on her.

We agree. We disagree. Does that mean we're broken?


3. The Fuck This and You, Not Necessarily in that Order Post 

If you choose to read what I wrote as a mean-spirited character attack, and think that my piece was an impassioned argument to replace Rose McGowan WITH ANDI DIER whom I OBVIOUSLY think is a MUCH BETTER PERSON than McGowan is, then... well... 



I can only assume you have a raging case of "I only read the words I want to read-itis," and you should see somebody about that. After you've finished your course of anti-confimation-bias-otics (and you should take the whole pack, even if you start to feel more open-minded after the first 2 or 3), come back and read my piece again.

If you don't like what I wrote about McGowan, fine. 


If you want to unfollow my FB and unsubscribe from all things Katie, rock on. Live your life. 

Join the hundreds of millions of people
who share your lack of fucks to give about what I think. 
It's a big club.
There's a chapter in every city
ON EARTH.


But I am one woman with two kids to raise. I'm here to talk and listen and grow and learn but not here to have a tummyache internet fight with you 24/7/365.

Bottom line: if I have to choose between making my tiny little spaces on the Internet safe for trans women or safe for trans-exclusionary women, I choose trans women. I hope you aren't the kind of person who's going to force me to make that choice.

Catch you later, maybe. 


4. The "So What Do We Do Now" Post
aka
The Peek Inside Katie's Head Post

This is what goes through my head when I read a comment like,

Nice, way to pick a male sex predator over a feminist icon. SMH.

Do I delete the comment and ban the writer? Misgendering a trans woman is offensive. The comment isn't thoughtful and doesn't suggest that the commenter is open to a discussion. She's trying to pick a fight. Maybe I should just delete it.

Buuuuuuut maybe this person misunderstood my piece, or maybe didn't even read it yet, it wouldn't be the first time in the history of the internet that someone commented without reading. Maybe she's simply joining the comment chorus that has made the entire discussion about whether Katie picked Andi over Rose. Maybe I should respond to clarify that's not what my post is about.

After all, these conversations are as much about the people who read them as they are about who conduct them, so maybe I should engage on this comment, not just for this person, but for the people who will read it later. OK. so... reply. And say what?

I could explain that we are both disgusted by Dier's abuse of children, but we can be disgusted without falling back on transphobic misgendering. If she were a woman of color it wouldn't be okay to use a racial slur, either. If she were a cis lesbian I wouldn't let you use homophobic hate speech. We don't get to pick our messengers, and Dier's disturbing and awful past notwithstanding, she was right about McGowan's trans-exclusion. Fuck me, she's gonna hate that.

But the walls that guard our decency have to hold.

But does responding to a transphobic comment give a platform to ignorance and hate? Shouldn't I have zero tolerance? Plus, it's pretty arrogant of me to assume that I can change this person's mind. She's not an egg. I can't crack her. Maybe I should just delete it.

But if we can't change each other's minds when it counts, what the fuck are we doing here? Just... agreeing? Just saying "YEAH" to each other all day? At some point, we will run out of shit in common. At some point, we're all going to have to disagree. I don't know what to do.


Final Thought:

Did you see Remember the Titans? It came out in 2000.

based on a true story
of how a coach taught a football team
in virginia
in 1971
in its first year of racial integration
to work together
goddamnit
It doesn't reinvent the wheel as a triumphant underdog athlete story, and rolls along predictably: At the beginning, the team is dysfunctional and de facto segregated, with racial tensions running high. By the end, the players have learned to respect each other, work together, and win fucking games together. Also, there was a dance number with a practically fetal Ryan Gosling.

i call this piece
"gosling
as gosling"


So here's my question for you. 

Which team do you want to be on:
the one at the beginning of the movie
or the one at the end?

Because only one of those teams thought that there was some arbitrary demographic box you had to check in order to be considered worthy of respect and inclusion.

And it wasn't the team that fucking won.

Y'all might not like the people you find yourself playing alongside, but goddamn it if we're not all on the same team.  We win together or we don't win at all. Open up.

I wrote that piece about Rose McGowan. I stand by every word I chose to include in that piece, and I stand by every word that made it through the eleven edits I did on it over the course of six days. That's a lot of hours into a blog post. I don't fuck around. I respect you enough not to take your readership lightly.

When I published that piece I volunteered for this conversation. I knew it going in. I am fair game.

But I will not have or host a conversation that debates the value of trans women. I wouldn't have or host conversations that debate your value, either. I would delete a comment calling you a hateful name, and I will delete transphobic comments, too. I reserve the right to ban users from my Facebook page for using slurs and hate speech.

Trans women are women. It's not enough to just say that, like a password, like a flashed badge. You have to actually work to include their experiences of womanhood in your definition of womanhood, even if you can't personally relate to them.

A year ago if someone had asked me what makes a woman a woman, my answer would have included the word "vagina." But shit, is a woman still a woman
if she doesn't have breasts or ovaries?
I know a bunch of em.
What about long hair?
What about a pervy swim coach?
What if you're from a farm in Idaho
and she grew up in the Bronx?
What if she's skinny and you've got curves?

Is she still a woman
if her life looks almost nothing like yours?

What a stupid fucking question.
Of course she is. 

Trans is not a choice. Trans is not an ideology. Trans is not an agenda.

Trans women are YOUR TEAMMATES.

Nonnegotiable.

I have about 5,000 followers on Facebook and if 4,999 of them can't get behind the idea that trans women have as much of a right to be here as anyone else, then I will happily write blog posts for an audience of one until the day I die. (Hi, Mom!)

I'm certain that won't happen. Because far more readers reached out to embrace trans women than reached out to push them away.


As I wrote before,
it's ludicrous to think we could live through a seismic shift
without exposing fault lines we didn't know where there.

There are times I'm wrong.
There are times you're wrong.
There are times our leaders and figureheads are wrong.

If you want me to ignore any of those times,
then I guess you were right
when you called me a disappointment.
I'm gonna disappoint you.

What I'm not gonna do
is give anyone a pass
or a rejection
based on shit they didn't get to choose.

What I'm not gonna do
is excuse anyone from responsibility
for their choices. 

I reject Dier's choice to abuse children,
not her identity as a trans woman.

I reject McGowan's choice to exclude trans women,
not her identity as a survivor.


Agree with me or don't.
But either way, I feel certain that the way forward is not,
"I don't understand you. Get the fuck out."


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this, all your writing. I look forward to your pieces and they help me learn and grow and give me language for my own thoughts and make me question my own assumptions. In a world full of chaos and violence, the care you create with your insights and writing and hard fucking work make a difference. Care is deep reflection, honesty and continuous commitment to values through action and you do that with your writing. So thanks for making the world a bit more caring. And thanks for writing awesome shit I can send to my "liberal" and at times completely clueless family members.

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