May We Dance Upon Their Graves

Incest Survivors, Spirituality and Ceremonies of Justice – the story of a woman living a rich, fulfilling life while waiting to dance on her sociopath father's grave.

Missing the Freakin Point! Same-Sex Boundaries and Sexual Abuse Survivors

Apparently, at a recent Pantheacon, there was a scuffle between trans activists and women who want to have a women’s skyclad (nude) ritual without penises and testicles. The theoretical  penis and testicles in question that so many people were up in arms about women excluding from pagan ritual would belong to a transwoman who had not yet (or did not intend to) have them altered.  I don’t know if an actual transwoman was excluded from ritual, or just the idea that some poor penis-enhanced and vagina-challenged woman would be excluded from a ritual by feminists that got people’s knicker in a twist.

I think this is very much a sexual abuse survivor issue. The vast majority, although of course not all, of us were sexually assaulted by people with penises, who had more power than us not only because they were adults, but because they had male privilege.

There need to be sacred places where naked penises are not welcome.  There need to be places I can be energetically open without my inner survivor child freezing and fearful. I needed that a lot more when I was younger than I do now, but it’s still very healing. I’m not saying that a transexual woman who has fully transitioned (hormones, genital surgery) should not come to a skyclad women’s only ritual. Personally, I think she’s very welcome.

Below is the full comment I wrote on a pagan blog about this issue. The character limit cut me off so I only posted the first part. Here is the rest.

I want to add some perspective here. The first time I was raped by a person with a penis, I was five years old. Over a decade of my childhood, I’ve been raped several more times, always by a person with a penis, who had male socialization and attitudes, and believed he was allowed to rape me because he was a man. The culture around us permitted and condoned his ongoing rape of me implicitly because of his status as a male.  As a young woman, I had my body violated by grabbing, leering, rape threats and unwelcome comments several times, all of which by someone with a penis who had male privilege, and who got away with it because of that.

I am very concerned that tearing down women’s healing places comes from a place of mysogyny and discounting women’s actual reality under sexism. I have seen this process in effect with rape survivors and the battle to end rape is not over.  I am not a victim. I am strong, but I needed women’s space, completely and utterly free from penises and internalized male sexism, to heal. Feminism has been very important to me, and so has spaces that feel safe because I cannot be raped there. The Goddess has healed me, and I could not have experienced that healing without women’s mystery ritual. 3 out of 5 women are sexually violated by the time they are 18. We don’t talk about it much in public, and  we can’t enter into arguments like these without exposing something painful, private and often misunderstood, often to a culture that discounts the importance of what we have experienced. This is not right or fair.

A woman would understand the fear, and the need for body safety at a skyclad ritual. A woman with a penis should also understand this and respect this. If she doesn’t, she misses an key part of the experience of being a woman, and until she gains it she will likely not be experienced as an an ally of women like me who have survived rape.

No, I don’t even remotely think all men are rapists or potential rapists, or that men are evil. In Canada, where I live, a person needs to have bottom surgery to legally change their sex to female on their birth certificate and drivers licence. I think this is a good and clear boundary. I’d like to see pagans holding an equivalent of menarche rituals for transwomen who have taken this step, and the reverse for transmen who had completed physical transition. Once a person had had this ritual they would be considered their target sex and would be welcome in same-sex ritual of their target sex only after that.

The tool of air is discernment and boundaries, as represented by the knife that cuts the circle, so that some are in and some are out. There needs to be a place to draw a line and I don’t think a person’s declaration that they think of themselves as female alone, followed up with nothing permanent, is enough of a commitment to justify the harms to sacred healing space women like me would experience.

  • What about people who do not think of themselves as either female or male? Should they be in the boundary of a ritual designed for women if they do not even include themselves there?
  • If a trans-specific ritual were held, could ciswomen and cismen crash it?
  • If a person of colour specific ritual were held, could a white person with a black ancestor ten generations back crash it?
  • If specific ritual was held to connect with biological ancestors and gods from a particular pagan tradition practiced in a particular place and time, would that be racist? (Eg: a ritual to the Greek gods open only to people of Greek heritage?

Rather than attack women creating spaces for ourselves, can we please attack rapists, mysogynists and pedophiles and their apologists? Once those are gone, we will have no need for this debate.

I was at a first nations gathering where there was a moon lodge (a secluded space for women who are currently menstruating, where they are tended by other women. Menstruating women are regarded as being too energetically powerful to include in co-ed rituals, so at large gatherings, a moon lodge is built for them to do menstrual time specific ritual together instead.). The tradition held that the only people allowed to build or enter the moon lodge were women who had already menstruated or who were menstruating. I was honoured to be invited (as a white person) to help build the lodge. There was another white person who was transgendered (but not transexual by hir own report- more of a stone butch) who frequently would wear a penis prosthesis under hir pants. The elder crone in charge of the moon lodge said this person, who menstruated, was welcome to help build the lodge provided they did not wear the prosthesis, considered themself a woman and participated as a woman. This person agreed, respecting the culture and it’s gatekeeper. I do not think the elder would have permitted a naked person with a penis and testicles in the moon lodge. I do not believe it is possible to participate in a women’s mystery skyclad ritual with a penis and testicles, and not change it to co-ed ritual energetically. If a transwoman has had bottom surgery, that demonstrates commitment to being a woman, and I believe she should be included.

Feminists are easy targets in a culture that already hates women. Would we be so judgemental about a men’s ritual that excluded a female-bodied transmen who had had no hormone treatment or breast reduction? The reason this doesn’t happen is that a transman in such a situation would run a great risk of violence in participating and probably wouldn’t risk participating until he passed. Women like Z are used as the straw feminist to attack, so that women like me, who are wanting to have a reasoned dialogue about the actual impacts of including people with penises in women’s intimate spaces are silenced. I am beginning to very much resent it.

 

NOTE: By the way, before commenting on this post, please read the comments already posted. Reasoned and nuanced discussion of ideas are welcome.

20 comments on “Missing the Freakin Point! Same-Sex Boundaries and Sexual Abuse Survivors

  1. kate1975
    February 29, 2012

    Hi SDW,

    I agree with you.

    I have been very offended and triggered when being forced to have men in the room, in situations that I was told her women-focused, and that was with their clothes on. I see no need for that. I just don’t.

    It is so common that there are men rituals and men spaces that women still have not been allowed to be a part of, no women Catholic priests, men’s clubs, the old boys network, etc etc. Most men say nothing about them. Most men say nothing about the fact that most sex offenders in every category are males. Most men do not fight against the rape culture that we all live in. Then they can turn around and get pissy about something like this. The gall.

    Although I was sexually abused by a female, my mother, there were many male abusers in my life as well. I mention this because mysogyny was a huge part of my mother’s life and her thoughts were always to put males first and females last. She hated herself and she hated me. She totally believed in the male dominated party line. Even though I was abused by females, I don’t fear them and I feel safe around most of them. I would feel comfortable in a women’s space, but not with a male there.

    I marched in a take back the night march. I was in the women’s only section of the march. After a short period of time walking, men, who were walking faster than our group at the front of the line, overtook us and started walking in our group. There was a huge banner behind us showing we were the women’s only section. It was a huge violation to me. They were told of that section. They were aware that it was a women’s only section and why. And they violated that. Yes they had clothes on, but they proved that they were unsafe, that they did not have proper boundaries and that they did not respect us or our rights to make a women’s only space that was safe and healing. They acted as though they knew what was right, what was better, just because they were males and had penises, and they did not care what we wanted. I’ve never marched since.

    I belonged to an online group that was supposed to be women only, a message board that was owned and run by a therapist. She admitted a person who had been abused while a girl but who now lived as a male, though not post-operative. I found this intrusive. His beliefs and thoughts about everything was male. It was jarring there and interferred, I believe, with safety and group cohesiveness, as well as interferred with a healing process of members. The group was never the same for me.

    I totally believe in everyone’s rights, but equal rights do not mean that you have no personal rights to exclusion for valid reasons. I know, I believe that every group that has ever practiced prejuidice and racism has used that justification/rationalization. However accusing women of genderism or male hatred, if you will, is sickening and disgusting. Women are inclusive. There is no reason or justification why they should inclusive at all times. Males throughout history have not.

    I believe that in religious circumstances this is even more important.

    Thank you for writing this brave post. Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  2. butterflysblog
    February 29, 2012

    This is an interesting conversation, and I have no right answers. I would offer my thoughts though, if it is ok?

    1) it’s my understanding that close to 85% of trans people do not or cannot have the surgery. Some don’t have the money. Some aren’t good medical candidates for such an extensive surgery. with or without the surgery, trans women identify much more closely with women than men, and generally always have.

    2) I once watched an episode of Dr. Phil where he had a group of survivors in a closed circle. One white woman was paired with a black man, on purpose. She said she has been terrified of black men her whole life because a black man raped her when she was a child. She said she was afraid of the black man in front of her. The black man told her that he too was a child rape survivor, but by a white man who repeatedly raped him. He said that the first time this man raped him- “I died that day.” I thought there was something beautiful about bringing survivors together.

    3) I, too, am afraid of those with penises. I’m not sure what to do with that fear in any situation.

    Thanks for this post; very thought provoking.
    -Butterfly

    • sworddancewarrior
      February 29, 2012

      That’s a good point, I’m of course speaking as a Canadian, where bottom surgery is available at no cost to transwomen who require it.

  3. Ethereal Highway
    March 1, 2012

    I am a survivor as well. Though I understand the fear of people with penises on one level, I don’t agree with it in some others. Women are just as powerful as men. We have equal means to abuse. A penis is not even necessary in order to abuse. And if you think about it, the penis is always exposed and vulnerable to attack. Not to mention silly-looking. :-) I don’t say this to discount your experience, but only to offer you my own view next to it.

    • sworddancewarrior
      March 6, 2012

      Hey EH,
      A penis is generally necessary to rape in the most conventional sense (although of course people rape with objects and hands). If you’d read my blog you’d know that I have tearing scars stretching from my vaginal opening across to my clitoris that were inflicted by a penis, accompanied by chronic discomfort I feel almost every day due to the vascular damage, and have fortunately learned to manage. If you’ve given birth, imagine that kind of vaginal tearing inflicted on a five year old with a blunt object, and no medical attention following.

      Our experiences are different, and what I need is going to be different than what you need. I need the right to have penis free sacred space. I require it, and the Goddess seemed to think so too, because she made it available to me. I am one of the few women with my history willing in some contexts to speak of it. And when survivors speak, the reception isn’t always good, and often minimizes the severity and importance of what we say and need.

      Of course I circle with men from time to time, but it makes me angry that women meeting with women without a penis present is such a threat or, more likely, easy target. I’ve been at pagan festivals with fertility trad wiccans (boy/girl only circles, with goddess/god polarity magic the only working) that were outraged at the thought of a ritual where even cismen weren’t included. I was at one led by a woman priestess with those views, who made a point of invoking a male god to balance the energy because she couldn’t imagine a ritual without gender polarity. We are a very diverse religion, we have room for all kinds of different ways of doing things. There are lots of coed and ‘mostly women’ rituals that women, men, cross dressers and pre-op transwomen can go to. There are clothed women’s rituals that pre-op transwomen can go to too. This was a skyclad women’s ritual. It’s interesting that the issue of women’s mysteries is so threatening. I don’t think it’s just a trans inclusion issue, its internalized witchaphobia, and internalized mysogyny too.

      (and yes, I agree, they are funny looking too, aren’t they?)

  4. kate1975
    March 5, 2012

    Hi SDW,

    I left a message the day you posted this, but it didn’t look the same at other times that I have submitted a comment and I thought it might have gotten lost. I wanted to say it again, in case it all got lost, men have no compunction about denying women access, but one small group of women ask for it and it is a big deal and is fought against. I believe women have a right to have penis free areas and spaces.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

  5. michellelianna
    March 24, 2012

    Hi, I came across your post and thought I would add a few comments. I’d like to state right up front that I’m not here to attack you or your opinion, but simply add to the dialog of a very tricky issue. I’m a transgender woman and frequently blog about issues pertaining to the trans community. This issue is a difficult one, and as a trans person, can say it pushes our buttons for a number of reasons. I do, however, understand your position, so I think it’s worthwhile for me to take a deep breath and see if there is a middle ground to be had, or at the very least, add to your body of knowledge on the subject.

    On the idea of exposed male genitalia at a female only skyclad event I think we can come to some agreement on. Not at all a big fan myself, oh for so many reasons. It is distasteful, threatening, and a potential horrible trigger for a CSA survivor. No one wants that. We can all agree that since the dawn of humanity penises have been used as terribly destructive weapons, more so than guns, arrows or anything else wielded with the worst of intentions. The trans community understands that as well, and we have our share of CSA and other abuse survivors among us as well. So what is to be done in the case of a woman who could greatly benefit from such a gathering, who had the gross misfortune of being born with one?

    The simple answer seems to be, “can’t trans women have their own gatherings of this nature?” It looks good on paper, but in reality there are a lot of problems. For one, there really aren’t that many of us. I’m active in my community, an area that including city and suburbs has almost 2 million people, and I know less than 12 others. As the condition of our existence is a cross section of every demographic, many of us don’t have a lot in common aside from our transgender status. On top of that, you don’t find many or any of us in the 1%. Actually the majority is just scraping by or impoverished. Organizing large events that don’t appeal to everyone has proven all but impossible.

    There is another layer of complexity involved as well. We are labeled trans women, and go along with it because apparently everyone different has to be labeled something, but in reality we just consider ourselves women, screwed up development or no. We tend to associate with other trans women as people do when pigeonholed into a “special” class, but given a choice, we would all rather just blend out into the general population and form our friendships based on personality and common interests. When we are excluded from this, it’s a painful reminder we aren’t welcome at the reindeer games having been born different. We understand this is our lot in life, but it still really sucks at times.

    I also understand that everyone would feel better if we had SRS already. I believe the majority of us, given the option, would immediately jump at the opportunity. I wish it were that easy. There is a long and painstaking process of attempting to prove who we are (we, like CSA survivors, have sustained credibility damage by the extremely rare examples who change their story for whatever reason). It’s also very costly and almost never covered by insurance in the US. It’s invasive surgery, so many lingering and often minor health issues can eliminate candidacy. Then there are some who are just petrified of surgery and are forever caught in the wretched vice of terror and bodily discomfort. A scant few are lucky and manage to both fully transition and pass as cisgender women. Very few.

    Anyway, I wanted to share my thoughts and maybe provide new insight. It’s a shameful process to have to put it all out there and still beg to be accepted, but given our numbers and obstacles, we rely on acceptance into the greater demographic of womanhood to snatch a semblance of normalcy and esteem. If the nature of our medical condition is just too much to overlook, I understand and don’t hate you for it. We all have mountains to climb; it remains a man’s world, at least for now. I just think it’s better when we can find a way to climb together.

    Much love and peace in your journey, and may it be all the easier here on out. ~ Michelle

    • sworddancewarrior
      March 25, 2012

      Hi Michelle,
      I don’t disagree with you on any of what you said. I think we’re actually on the same page, and I appreciate having a discussion about this that doesn’t begin with “you’re a bigot/feminazi” or the threat of that. Thank you.

      I think the skyclad ritual thing could be overcome within the context of a personal coven, where the women there had gotten a chance to know the woman with the penis, form a close relationship and experience her energetically as a woman over time first. I think skyclad public rituals at relatively impersonal pagan conferences are not an effective way to go about giving a woman with a penis the sisterly experience she’s needs and deserves. It’s a lot to expect from relative strangers. Forcing one’s way in violates so many unspoken female rules that it’s just never going to get a good result.

      I know that sex reassignment surgery is expensive and that even when it is completed, women don’t always pass that well. I personally would prefer to just call transwomen women too. I would like to hold menarche-type rituals for women born with penises at stages of their womenhood, perhaps mirroring the myriad rites of passage other women experience. I think it would meet needs on both sides of this. I think that could and should be a bit of a process though, and not immediate. Initiation is not easy but it’s worth it. It’s how a culture draws sacred circles around ourselves. I would like to be in a space where it was okay to lovingly call women on irritating and alienating male socialization gaffes she may not be aware of, and give women the education about women among women culture that she would have missed, to have a route to earning (and I’m sorry I’m using that word, but I think it might be necessary) a place within women among women culture. Women can be quite nasty to one another, and we tend to shun people who don’t obey the rules. I’m not defending it, and it hurts me too, but it seems to be part of women’s culture and I try to be literate about it and avoid being attacked by the herd. It’s an intensely social culture (not unlike what I’ve heard about social mores in Japanese cultures) which has a lot of learn by osmosis rules, taboos and socially lubricating rituals. Knowing them ‘marks’ you as female to other females. I missed out on a lot of women among women socialization myself while I was busy trying to stay alive and sane while being tortured, which I’ve written about a bit here too. I’m not always welcome at the reindeer games either, which is a pretty common experience among women. We tend to form cliques and get exclusive, as power is ranked among us by who we’re connected to and how popular we are. I’m a very assertive, powerful, intimidating, frank woman who has had some horrible experiences and surpassed them, which even if they don’t consciously know about them makes me a little scary. When women get threatened they sometimes gang up, and it’s very painful, I know from experience.

      I know this is a bit off topic, but I thought I’d mention this too, because unfortunately, I think it bears on the fear and need for boundaries in women’s community. What I get confused and a bit irritated about sometimes (and have experienced), is when people transition to a male body and/or identity and then want to continue to be included in women among women space. I can understand that it’s hard for a trans man to fit in among men, and men are very hard on each other (another rite of social acceptance), but if a person doesn’t consider himself a woman, why should he be allowed to intrude on specifically women’s space in the name of trans acceptance? We wouldn’t put up with that from any other guy, so it seems both wrong and disrespectful of his identity to treat him differently than another man by putting up with it from him. I’ve been part of women’s organizations which have taken the word ‘women’ from their title and marketing because they’ve chosen to include one or two men with vaginas and don’t want to offend them. This ticks me off to no end, as women’s organizations are rare and necessary refuges from sexism and it seems like a step backward. I’m sure other women feel like this, feel silenced from saying so, and carry resentments that might spill over on women like you. A cis man would never expect us to rename the whole dang organization if we let him hang out, he’d just understand he was an anomaly, a man in a women’s group, like a white woman in a woman of colour group would not (hopefully) ask them to change their group name and not be considered racist. I know this isn’t your area of experience but I am interested in your thoughts.

      Love and peace to you as well, Michelle. I am glad to make your acquaintance. May you find the women’s community you deserve.
      SDW

      • michellelianna
        March 26, 2012

        Hi SWD,
        Very pleased to make your acquaintance as well! I’d like to start by saying that this is the most thoughtful and intelligent response I’ve ever received on my commentary. Thank you! You not only addressed and validated my point of view, but further elucidated in a way that significantly enhanced my understanding of the situation. You made some truly excellent points I hope you don’t mind if I speak to for a moment as I can’t let them go unacknowledged.

        On your exploration of transitioning the impersonal skyclad ritual into an idea of a far more personal and fulfilling menarche-type ritual for transwomen as a rite of passage. I’ve heard many well thought ideas both within and outside of the trans community and this is the very best I have heard so far. Simply brilliant. My experience may not be universally true, but in my own local community there is not even a semblance of such a thing. We fumble in the dark, certain of our gender identity, but constantly struggling to understand and adapt to what it means. Transition is series of medical milestones that mean so little in terms of socialization; celebrated only by the sense of personal satisfaction. Corporeal checks-in-the-box with little or no outside emotional or spiritual meaning. Your idea is immensely appealing and I would love to advance it further.

        To put it delicately, when I write in representation of the trans community, I tend to get defensive on a global level. That said, your comments well mirror some of my own observations and concerns about others like me. I have noticed that a great number of transwomen, appearance aside, tend to come across, well, a little or even a lot mannish. Honestly, I often find myself cringing when watching some of my sisters attempt to interact with and fit in with cisgender women. I’m no paragon in this area; I have no doubt that I mark myself in this area as well. I do, however, recognize we often do this and tend to take a very passive position and no doubt overcompensate. As a born introvert, this isn’t hard. I think you are exactly right on the reasoning.
        To mirror your observation, transwomen lack the lifelong process of female socialization cisgender women experience. Many people, cis and trans, men and women, like to roll their eyes at the notion of patriarchal domination of females, but I would be hard pressed to deny it is there. Whether overt or subtle, all or at least the majority of women experienced this growing up. Women raised as males did not. We lived under the benefit of male privilege and often gained a strong sense of entitlement from it. Of course the first thing an entitled class tends to do is deny such inequality exists. Many transwomen coming from this paradigm have a difficult time letting it go, and often experience a negative reaction to not being immediately conferred with the same rights of womanhood as those who not only had transverse the challenges of girlhood, but who in many cases did so under belittled, disempowered and even horribly abusive circumstances. I concur that your use of “earned” is correct, and regret that I didn’t give this understanding the full thought it was due when making my original comment.

        Your overall description of female only culture shed some illumination of my own incomplete understanding. Attempting to navigate the hierarchy is many years away. At present I’d be very happy to be considered a tolerated neophyte, and understand even doing so requires significant adaptation to the culture to be considered a newly realized woman instead of a very feminine man. I’ve noticed this difference at some of my meetings where cisgender female partners attend. When the cisgender women talk amongst themselves, there is a marked difference in body language, the pace and complexity of the conversation, and tone of voice. When speaking to a cisgender woman, at least now I can tell the difference between her speaking to me as another woman or a feminine man. It is frustrating at times, but I agree that culturization through osmosis over time is really the only way.

        I believe I understand the purpose and salient points of your post now. There were aspects I was not taking into full consideration and I really appreciate the time you took to highlight and explain the deeper meaning behind your words. Transwomen, including myself, can get a bit prickly when it comes to areas of acceptance. At the same time it is not a reasonable expectation that the world should change simply because we have made a declaration of womanhood without necessarily understanding the complexities that accompany it. My overall goal is to transition fully into womanhood and everything that comes with it, and not just a physical semblance. If I can help my trans sisters do the same, as I think this is nearly everyone’s goal, all the better. It’s clear, however, that we do need the patience and understanding of our cisgender sisters as we stumble forward. Your insights provide enormous value and again, thank you for sharing!

        On an unrelated topic, I like to say that greatly admire what you are doing here. I will be honest and admit that the abuse and torture you suffered are outside my experience. I simply can’t imagine. I do, however, greatly admire your ability to not only have survived, but overcome the horrendous complications that must have been spawned along the way. On top of all that, to share your thoughts and experience in such a way that can only help others to feel less alone and heal. I only hope your way is full of the peace, light, and laughter you deserve.

        Love and peace, with many heartfelt thanks,

        Michelle

      • man with vagina
        April 20, 2012

        Hi. Man with a vagina here. I’m trans. I’m a man. And I wouldn’t go to a women’s event. I would feel terrified to go to a nude!men’s event, but some men are comfortable in their bodies and want to be accepted for who they are, regardless of the parts they were born with.

        tl;dr – some women have penises. Get over it.

  6. sworddancewarrior
    March 30, 2012

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks again for your very thoughtful post, and for your own insight into entitlement and male privilege. I have certainly heard people deny that women like yourself were raised with male privilege and am glad to agree with you that they do, at least to begin with. Perhaps women who have been raised as males will have some useful tools to counter male privilege in men through unlearning it themselves. I think that the Goddess does nothing without reason. Even the abuse I suffered was perhaps in the interest of creating a warrior who understands the necessity of standing up for what is right and does not go into denial easily. So perhaps there is also a reason why women like you were born with a form that did not fit your hearts, or if not a reason, a way to make something good come of it.

    I’ve been thinking about the transwomen menarche rituals ideas for some time, on and off. I think it’s a big project. If you are a Pagan yourself, you may wish to find some other women to practice with long term in coven and complete your own initiation in that way. Coming to it, as you do, with humility of any person undergoing initiation, and the understanding that the ways of women among women are complex and learned through osmosis, as you do, will surely help. May that journey be blessed for you should you choose it.

    Thank you for your acknowledgement of my survival and thriving. I’m very proud of it too. I just broke a woman rule there, bragging about myself, which gets me into trouble among women, I must say. I worked for a long time with mostly men, and learned to brag and interrupt in order to be taken seriously by them, but then have to turn that off to be thought well of by women. Sigh! It’s not easy being a women as you know. Linguist Deborah Tannen has some great books analyzing women’s communication patterns. I also found the book In the Company of women (http://www.amazon.com/In-Company-Women-Workplace-Alliances/dp/1585421154) to be immensely helpful in figuring out how to avoid being attacked by other insecure women for achieving and being strong. I’m not sure I agree with all of it, but the trading of ‘chips’ with one another insight really did help me.

    Thanks again for the helpful discussion,
    SDW

  7. sworddancewarrior
    April 23, 2012

    Hey folks. Just logged in and saw a bunch of “you’re a bigot” “transwomen don’t have male privilege or sexism” “It’s bullshit to want penis free space”. comments. Reminded me in tone very much of the virulence of the religious right. I think it’s what happens when you get secure that your opinion is a majority opinion and then hear something that challenges it. This is why it’s sometimes impossible to talk frankly about how trans politics affects women who have survived extremes of violence by people with penises. Discounting the reality of child sexual assault survivors is alive and well.

    I’m not posting approving them because I’m choosing not to publish hate, particularly hate against me. Obviously, a nuanced discussion isn’t possible with some folks. Extra kudos to Michellianna for particpating in the spirit this was offered.

    I’m very willing to publish comments that address these issues in a respectful way, even if they’re divergent from my own, but these didn’t qualify.

    • michellelianna
      April 23, 2012

      Hey SDW, first off, thank you so much for the nice words! Really, it was a true pleasure discussing this with you and you gave me some wonderful ideas to think about. I’m working on developing many into posts of my own and I have you to thank for it.

      I’m sorry if some in my community are giving you a hard time. It’s not right. What I like about your blog is that you are able to express your thoughts on a truly horrific set of experiences you had, but without trying to establish a primacy in ‘bad things that happen to good people’. Please don’t think I’m trivializing your pain by that comment; I am familiar, though not first hand. Where I was going with this was to say it bothers me when people in the trans community try to do just that. “You can never know how terrible it is to be trans”. Yeah, true, but seriously, it seems like such a male thing to do, in a “bigger penis contest” kind of way.

      Thanks again so much for engaging me in a positive way and I really hope I didn’t come
      across attacking when I first commented. Very glad to make your acquaintance. :-)

      Be good to yourself,

      Michelle

      • sworddancewarrior
        April 26, 2012

        Hi Michellianna,
        No, you didn’t come across as attacking at all, just engaging with the ideas, which was great. Thanks for your insight.
        Survivors do a ‘competitive pain’ thing too, mostly when we’re early on in our healing. My standard response is “get off the cross, we need the wood”. We also do a victim thing where we bargain with our inner child’s desire to be rescued like we weren’t rescued back then. These two seem to tie together. It’s normal, but annoying. Ultimately, we have to be our own good parent and rescue ourselves. Nothing else works long term. What happened to me was pretty bad, but I’ve heard about worse. How well people do in healing depends a lot on luck and the social support they find and create for themselves.
        There’s probably a lot in common between the two groups – something people say is all in your head, you have to do things that make other people uncomfortable in order to become whole, people minimize the importance of doing what you need to do and discount your reality, or label us as extremists. Survivors have perpetrators which is different, and gives us an obvious (and correct) target for the anger about that, and the anger that is part of grieving. Still, some of us don’t even know who our perpetrators even are (I do, but not all of us do, due to traumatic amnesia, fragmented memories or other factors) so it can be easy to generalize that anger (and fear) on others.

        SDW

  8. butterflysblog
    April 23, 2012

    Warrior – I too have received some comments about how I am transphobic. I have read such comments about me on other people’s blogs, when they are discussing my blog. It’s pretty shitty when people judge me, especially when they do so stupidly. Good for you for not publishing such nonsense.
    -Butterly

    • sworddancewarrior
      April 26, 2012

      Thanks. I thought about publishing the comments, but then realized if people were that rude in my house, they’d be out of my house pretty quickly, and this space is no different. I think Michellianna says it pretty well. It was validating to realize that yup, I’m not paranoid, my more nuanced opinion on these issues would be attacked.

  9. sssatan13
    May 6, 2012

    i find MYSELF very torn by this post – not because of anything you wrote, really, but the idea of feminine spaces, and how transwomen fit into them.
    i am a CSA survivor, and i ALSO date a transwoman. so on one hand, i COMPLETELY understand the need for penis-free space.
    on the other hand, i would feel sad if my partner weren’t included, because she has a different body.
    what also made me think, was that many transwomen don’t intend to have bottom surgery; my lover doesn’t. she is comfortable with her genitalia, and her body. and she is DEFINITELY a woman! sure, with different genitals, but really, that doesn’t matter to me (although i understand why that can be completely different, for others).
    what really made me think, was that under these circumstances, my lover wouldn’t ever be accepted into a woman-only space like this, even though (minus genitalia) she is just as much a woman as anyone else.
    thoughts to ponder.

    • sworddancewarrior
      May 7, 2012

      Hi Ssatan13,
      Nice to hear from you. I get what you’re saying for sure. I’ve met women with penises who energetically feel/seem like women and ones who don’t. I think it can be a long transition process. I’m not saying that the latter ‘aren’t’ women, just that my internal ‘this is a woman’ sense isn’t registering them as such. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to respect their choices, either, but am I going to feel like I’m in women’s space with them naked? Maybe not.

      Did you read the comments back and forth with Michelliana? She has some interesting and probably spot-on analysis. I think having your girlfriend at a skyclad ritual with total strangers is a very different thing from having skyclad women’s coven ritual with women who know her. I think it takes people a while to get to know a woman with a penis and come to their own felt sense of her as a woman, the way you have with your girlfriend. Expecting that from total strangers with our own CSA/life under mysogyny baggage isn’t realistic I think, unless she passes incredibly well both physically and energetically/socially. I think the answer to this is to end CSA, rape and mysogyny, so that we have less need for barriers and protection. It’s so much easier but so much less productive to fight with our allies with different needs than with bigots, paedophiles, mysogynists and rapists. We need to resist that temptation and focus on the true enemies.

      SDW

      • butterflysblog
        May 17, 2012

        Warrior – what an excellent point, about focusing on the true enemies. I spend so much time being afraid of the world, I am pretty sure I lose sight of a lot. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

  10. Pingback: New Year | May We Dance Upon Their Graves

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This entry was posted on February 29, 2012 by in Info for non-survivors, Sexual Abuse.

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