On NPR today there was a piece about some studies that show that men who habitually sexually harass women tend to hold some common beliefs.
They believe their victims, however emphatically they reject the perpetrator’s advances, want to have sex with the perpetrator.
They believe that victims of harassment who report it are lying.
They also tend to have no empathy for someone who feels that her back is against the wall and that she has no choice but to tolerate being groped or to accept performing degrading sexual favors in order to get or keep a job she needs to survive.
The suffering of their victims is all a big locker-room joke to the perpetrators.
Short version: the monsters believe that all woman are oversexed, lying bimbos without feelings or rights. In the view of the perpetrators, the victims deserve to be harassed, groped, even raped because of who they are.
If you are “out” as a trans woman on social media, I guarantee that you will receive unwanted advances, some of them incredibly crude and ugly and graphic, from guys who think that trans women are freaky sluts who exist only to serve as sex toys in their disgusting, ridiculously adolescent sexual fantasies. It is inconceivable to these “men” that we might be on a social media site to seek others with common, non-sexual interests with whom to interact in a friendly manner.
They become furious and verbally abusive when you ask them to please go away. (I default to polite, which I quickly learned is a mistake in dealing with these characters.) It’s one reason I got off Facebook. But that isn’t where I am going here.
I would like to focus on one element of this: not being believed.
A key theme in anti-transgender propaganda being pushed by the bigots is that we are lying when we describe our experience of a long-term, at-the-core-of-our-beings, distressing-to-the-point-of-despair disconnection between the gender we are behind our eyes and what other see.
To hear them tell it, being transgender is a faddish notion we picked up last week from the “liberal media” as part of the sinister media’s plot to destroy America for no reason.
The first step in denying a person their humanity is to make them the butt of a joke. See straight male “locker room humor” that degrades cisgender women. See how trans women are often the punch lines of cruel “jokes” where the alleged “humor” is contained in the supposedly ridiculous idea that a straight man could find one of us attractive and enjoy our company. Yuk. Yuk.
Trust me, though, straight men being attracted to and even falling in love with trans women happens more often than you might think. Yes, Virginia, reality is terribly messy and complicated!
Sometimes those relationships even work out. Really.
Men who are attracted to femininity sometimes pick up that vibe coming from us and respond strongly to it. The external packaging is a major factor, but there is more to it than having breasts and long hair and wearing makeup.
It’s about the person inside.
That is why bigots work so hard to ridicule and dispute and dismiss what we transgender people tell you about what we experience in our inner lives. It’s the same toolkit of tactics that male sexual predators use when they do everything in their power to destroy belief in the competence, autonomy, and dignity of cisgender women.
One thing the monsters get right is their fear that once you accept the idea that all persons should have what they say about their preferences or private experiences–“I don’t want you to touch me!” or “I have always experienced myself in my inner life as a woman,” for example–respected, all their vile games go away.
Imagine that. Everyone entitled to dignity. What a crazy idea.