Guest Post: I Am Not – Your Hipster Punchline
Guest post from Staticnonsense:
Why hello there! I am a being, having been born into existence. But since that is a very long way to address me, you can simply refer to me as Static Nonsense or SN. I like pandas, kitties, Pixy Sticks and Linux. On an actual serious note, I am a young adult with disabilities and of queer and trans* identity – but who cares about that?! Pandas and kitties are better. Indubitably. If you are at all interested in what else I have to say (short of pandas and kitties, regretably they have no spotlight at the moment), take a gander at my space over at I Am Not. In the meanwhile though, enjoy. Or rage. Feel free to take your pick.
Note: I am aware that this post is more than a month late. It had been originally started on March 29th, and since then I have not had the spoons to continue working on it. Like I mentioned on Twitter, I am aware that me choosing to post this despite it being so late could be seen as done in poor taste. But problematic behaviors and attitudes are still problematic even if time passes, especially if no adequate closure to the situation is achieved. Especially if that lack of closure is given through silencing techniques. I’m not going to let myself be silenced. Take that as you will.
I was reading a web comic the other day. I thought it was pretty neat, very kink-friendly seeing as it was about someone learning the ropes (pun not intended) of professional dominance and submission in a dungeon environment. But, unfortunately, everything has its problems.
Currently running is a short story arc about trans* people being denied employment at the artist’s work place. This in itself isn’t what’s problematic. What’s problematic is how this is being addressed.
First was the portrayal of the trans* person in the comic. The artist drew the character in a fashion that would purposefully give away them being trans*. Being portrayed as MTF, the most defining characteristics the artist included was stubble from where the character had to shave, and chest hair. So when the character asked the main character for an application, she was turned away immediately.
This is stereotyping to the extreme. First of all, being trans* is not necessarily “obvious”. Plenty pass (I dislike this term but know of no other. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!) as the gender they are presenting as in society, and you would have no idea. Likewise, there are plenty of cis people that have mixed secondary sexual characteristics such as facial and chest hair. Second, not all trans* people are MTF. There are FTMs and nonbinaries out there as well – what would have happened if they had tried to apply? If an FTM that didn’t “pass” to these people applied, would they be permitted to?
After this, we have how the trans* woman was turned away. Specifically, by insistence that she is not a “real” woman.
Yes, these specific words were used.
When called on this, the artist commented on how if she had used anything else, there wouldn’t have been any punch line. That she could have gone with “women born women”, but then it wouldn’t have been funny, no one would get it, it wouldn’t have the same ring to it, etc etc etc. Because clearly, her punch lines are more important than not giving in to social pressure. Because clearly, when put into comic form, the situations that happen to trans* people every day when trying to find employment to survive are funny.
That’s awfully hipster of you, dontcha think? Can you hear me laughing?
Then, moving away from the comic itself and instead the artist’s specific behavior, we have the use of the slur tranny in reference to trans* people. Not only that, but the defense of said usage of slur word when called upon it by multiple people in the comments of her strip. Including “the people I know refer to themselves that way!”, “I didn’t intend anything negative!”, “I’m not politically correct!” and “you can’t please everyone, so if you don’t like it don’t read it”.
All while ignoring the reasons why these defenses are a problem, reasons that were pointed out to her.
Now, before people point this out – problematic usage or portrayal can be forgiven. The direct problem is not necessarily in the usage itself, but the attitude behind the original usage and any further defense of it.
People, there is nothing wrong with owning up to mistakes. All you have to do is listen to the reasoning people are giving you for why your behaviors might be problematic, understanding them and apologizing. Put the ego down for a second, especially if the people calling you out are trying to do so in a polite and reasonable fashion.
Either way, this scenario could have been salvaged. All it would have taken was a moment of humble humility and respect. Scripts can be written months in advance, yes. But scripts can also be changed, unnecessary story arcs can be removed or even just an apology posted and quick edits to previous news posts. Hell, I would have appreciated any effort put into rectifying one’s mistakes.
Needless to say, I will not be recommending this comic to people in the future, especially to other trans* folk. Mistakes happen and can be forgiven. But silencing techniques and the defense of one’s actions further feeds the cycle of systematic oppression that is all too familiar. And when someone is specifically trying to point out to you that your actions are feeding into this systematic oppression? The irony isn’t funny or cool. It really only further proves the point being made, even if you yourself can’t see it.
Filed under: guest post | 13 Comments
Tags: cissexism, fuck this fuckery, marginalization, privilege, transgender