A good friend of mine, a highly intelligent cisgender woman in her 80’s who was a leftist radical back in the day, recently remarked to me that, “You’ve personally experienced homophobia, transphobia, and anti-woman sexism. What a perspective!”
While I have certainly had a few nasty encounters with cisgender women who perceived my identity in ways that made them dislike me, most of the really hateful and frightening attention–that has left me with long-term emotional scars–has come from cisgender boys and men who feel that their masculinity, often amplified by their religious faith, entitles them to brutally police the lives of others.
It’s called cisgender male privilege. They experience this as a birthright empowering them to use women as disposable sex toys, to keep women in their place, and for their amusement to destroy the lives of queer or trans folk like me.
“We got to where we are because men, specifically white men, have been afforded a disproportionate share of power. That leaves women dependent on those men — for economic security, for work, for approval, for any share of power they might aspire to. Many of the women who have told their stories have explained that they did not do so before because they feared for their jobs. When women did complain, many were told that putting up with these behaviors was just part of working for the powerful men in question — “That’s just Charlie being Charlie”; “That’s just Harvey being Harvey.” Remaining in the good graces of these men, because they were the bosses, the hosts, the rainmakers, the legislators, was the only way to preserve employment, and not just their own: Whole offices, often populated by female subordinates, are dependent on the steady power of the male bosses. When a prominent alleged abuser loses his job, he’s not the only one whose salary stops; it often means that his employees, many of them women, also lose their paychecks, which are smaller to begin with. When men hold the most politically powerful posts, people who are less powerful than they are depend on them for advocacy and representation; complaints that imperil these leaders immediately imperil entire political parties, and ideological agendas on both the left and right.”