“Nice Guys” and a Dead Woman

I haven’t written in a while.  I’ve had a lot going on, financially and emotionally.  Something would come into my head, and I’d want to write, but I just couldn’t make myself do it.  However, I finally felt like I had to write today.  I’ve been giving a lot of thought to women I used to know.  Women who “worked” in the sex trade.  Women who died there.  There’s one particular woman who has been on my mind a lot lately, because the anniversary of her murder just passed.

My friend was a mom.  She had two sons.  She was also a hardcore coke freak.  I mean constant use of cocaine.  She felt like she had it “under control”, though, because she just snorted it.  She supported her use through sex, trading either for drugs or money to buy drugs.  I knew a couple of her johns.  One was a beautiful young African-American man who dealt a lot of drugs.  He seemed super nice.  He was polite and friendly.  He was physically extremely attractive.  She called him “Daddy”.  Another was a younger white man who often bragged about all the girls he “turned out”.  He loved to talk about being a pimp.  He wasn’t as charming as “Daddy”, but he wasn’t someone who would have been thought of as untrustworthy or dangerous in our world.  Both were considered nice guys.  Lots of the women trusted them.  She certainly did.

After I quit using, I stayed friends with her.  I would visit her on a fairly regular basis.  I visited her on the day she was murdered, in fact.  I had taken a phone cord to her house.  Her boyfriend had just left her, and she was terrified.  She needed a way to stay in touch with her mom that night.  These two “nice guys” she did business with had been saying some stuff that had started to scare her.  She meant to run the next morning.  It would be the last night for her and her sons in that apartment.  Yet, she was going to let one or both of them come over that night, and try to talk things out and maybe do some business.  I left that night, thinking that they were no real danger to her.  It would all get worked out.  After all, I had never felt threatened by either of them.

The next evening, I sat watching TV.  A news break came on.  A body bag coming out of her apartment.  Her brother screaming in the parking lot.  Talk of her sons being there when she was shot to death.  I don’t know which of her “nice guys” was there, or if both of them came over for business that night, so I’m not certain who pulled the trigger.  I know at least one of them was definitely supposed to be there, though.

So, was her killer(s) one of the “nice guys” we’re told sometimes buy sex?  Well, she would have thought they were.  She talked about how much she loved them.  She talked about how great they treated her.  As a woman and a “whore”, she didn’t mean much to them, though.  When they were done with her, and she held no more use for them, they got rid of her.  After all, she was just one of the faceless many, right?  I guess they were nice guys until they weren’t.

Of course, I’ve heard other stories about “nice guys” who buy sex.  There were the ones who would buy sex from a couple of friends who were later diagnosed with HIV.  They would often talk about their families, the wives and children.  I wonder how many of those nice guys might have taken that home to wives and girlfriends before my friends’ HIV statuses were known?  When you’re buying from someone on the street, someone who’s desperate and addicted, you have to know that’s a possibility, right?  Are you still a “nice guy”, since you didn’t commit legal rape or beat anyone, but just endangered others?

In the clubs, the “nice guys” are a bit different.  They are the ones who get a dancer fired because they become obsessive and weird.  They then track her down at the next club and do the same there.  People say they’re just lonely, and you shouldn’t hold it against them.  They’re actually really nice guys when you get to know them.

They are the ones who won’t take no for an answer when you say you won’t have sex with them, following you home in the dark and confronting you.  People ask you why you’re so upset.  After all, the fact that they know where you live and are willing to track you down shouldn’t be of any concern, right?  They just didn’t understand because of the language and cultural barriers.

They are the ones who demand you engage in illegal acts in order to get paid, even though it would mean you get fired.  They are the ones who spend time in the club, then talk shit about “strippers” and “whores”.  That’s just boys being boys, right?  What do you expect?

They are also the owners, who don’t pay you any salary, but require you to give part of your tips to the bartender and DJ, whom they do pay.  They are the bartenders who get pissed if you won’t drink with customers, even though it will get you fired if you do.  They are the bouncers who think it’s perfectly acceptable to perform strip searches on the dancers when some asshole loses his money.  They are the managers who are just fine with hiring women with track marks, as long as they cover them before work.

I have lived in a dangerous world.  I have seen dangerous men.  Most of them are considered “nice guys” by those they know.  Even by the women they exploit.  Even by the women they end up stalking.  Even by the women they end up killing.  I have worked in a lot of shitty industries in my life.  I have hated most of my jobs.  But there’s only one that would strike terror in my heart if my daughter followed me into it…and “nice guys” are the reason why.

A Gender Critical Response to: A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

Another important article by Elizabeth Hungerford addressing the circular logic of genderists.

Liberation Collective

This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.

We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.

First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a…

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GUEST POST: I am a grown ass woman….not a male child: The Enigma of “Boi”

“The whole ‘bois’ movement is based on a fantasy that at some point one is really ‘male’ or even ‘male minded’….forget the fact that these women are grown with major tatas and vaginas, let’s live the fantasy of male privilege and patriarchy. Notorious bois are known for telling their hurt buddies to ‘man up’ and ‘think like a man.’ I have heard ‘bois’ say they have never really thought as girls. I have also heard ‘bois’ disrespect, to the utmost, the women that love them, making Ike Turner look like St. Francis.Who wants their woman to call them ‘b*tch’ to their face?”

Gender Fatigue

I am a grown ass woman….not a male child: The Enigma of “Boi”

by Carmen O’Day

I am a Black Lesbian. Born and bred in one of the largest cities in this nation, I have seen alot. I have seen my loved ones die due to violence and AIDS. I have seen the strength of young Black gays and lesbians coming out, and getting thrown out of their homes, only to emerge as hardy and determined adults. Witnessing the victories has given me hope despite rampant racism, sexism and homophobia. With all that,we have along road ahead of us and a lot of the demons we must struggle against lie within our own gay and lesbian communities.

So imagine my conundrum of a whole group of  lesbian women referring to themselves as “bois.” Boi this, boi that….I thought it was cute at first, and drank the Kool Aid. Then I woke…

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The Violence of Gender

Recent reports  out of Greece reveal a campaign of terror being waged against the trans community.* The horror of this campaign is a prime teaching moment for the actual dangers posed to the gender non-conformists of both sexes, as opposed to the misstated dangers that are projected onto those who critique transgender theory and its implications for both gender non-conforming people and female-born and socialized people. This is an important time for all of us to stand up and condemn the violence done to other people. However, it is also an important time to ask the questions of how to stop this, of how to move beyond oppression associated with gender.  As a feminist who rejects current transgender theory, I abhor this violence.  I want to see folks who currently identify as trans living in a world where gender isn’t a thing, so there is no basis for the fascists to use to attack or oppress those who don’t comply with gender…because there is no gender.  No one looks at anyone else and associates ways of thinking, ways of acting or ways of being simply because of their sex.

Those who target the trans community for the type of violence currently occurring in Greece are doing so because of a deep, intractable commitment to gender and gender conformity. Not only do these groups believe gender exists and is natural, they are willing to go to extremes to enforce conformity. This is not the position of people who want to see gender abolished altogether, as is the case of those who criticize current transgender theory because of its reliance on the continuation of gender—whether it be binary or otherwise.

Unfortunately, transgender theory does not stand in opposition to the philosophy of those who carry out the type of violence occurring in Greece; it also holds to the idea that gender is a natural, in-born characteristic. It does hold that there is a naturally “feminine” way to experience the world and a naturally “masculine” way to experience the world. It just holds that gender isn’t tied to the biological sex of the individual; that a person’s “brain sex”** may contrast to that person’s “genital sex”. Sadly, I believe this insistence on perpetuating gender can only lead to more oppression and violence against the gender non-conformist, whether that person identifies as trans or not.

We already know that people who do not conform to gender stereotypes are treated as outcasts within society. For those who seek to enforce conformity between “brain sex” and genital sex—such as the fascists in Greece—this means violence or discrimination against them. For those who hold to transgender theory, this means labeling anyone who doesn’t conform as trans–whether that person identifies that way or not. Indeed, we are seeing very young children labeled trans by their parents simply because these youngsters prefer the dress or activities stereotyped as “belonging” to the other sex. The idea that we should simply celebrate and support these children as gender non-conformists is harder to come by.***

I believe that we can only hope to defend both the gender non-conformists of both sexes and the female-born and socialized by abandoning the defense of gender altogether, by destroying gender completely. We must encourage the gender non-conformist to refuse to comply. In fact, we should encourage (insist upon?) gender non-conformity as a revolutionary act, especially by men. That is, men should “refuse to be men”, to paraphrase John Stoltenberg.  We must also encourage the female-born and socialized to refuse to comply with the limits, roles and behaviors forced upon them by society and the gender hierarchy. We must make it safe for both the non-conforming and the female-born and socialized to do so. We must not ignore the very real differences between the oppression of the female-born and socialized (whether she is gender compliant or not) and the oppression of the male gender non-conformist. It is not the same.**** What’s more, the oppression of the gender non-compliant male is the doing of patriarchy, not the doing of feminists, as some would claim.  In fact, we must look hard at the interplay between trans theory and the oppression of the female-born and socialized.  Adopting the stereotypes of the other gender or even the genitals of the other sex doesn’t get us to the point where all people are free of the tyranny of gender hierarchy and conformity. Only the complete eradication of gender will do that.

*An interesting and telling aspect of this campaign is that it is an outgrowth of a campaign that also targets prostituted women. Trans folks are being accused of being prostituted, and forcibly being taken in for HIV/AIDS testing. At this point, they may be sent to detention camps. This campaign has been waged against prostituted women with little notice, it appears. I only heard about it from this article.
**The entire concept of “brain sex” is misogynistic. It holds that the behaviors of the male and the female are genetically programmed. It is pseudo-scientific essentialism. It is also one of the more recent attempts to use science to justify the subjugation of and discrimination against those born female. Any theory of social constructionism is incompatible with the concept of “brain sex”. It is precisely the kind of thinking that allows someone like Lawrence Summers to claim that women don’t hold as many positions in the sciences due to a lesser innate “aptitude”. MRA claims often fit well with theories of “brain sex”, which is another reason feminists should look long and hard at such theories and anyone who touts them.
***There does appear to be a smaller movement to do just this, however. More of this, please. Don’t label your child; just let that child be. Fight gender by allowing your child to be a male who refuses to be masculine or a female who refuses to be feminine.
**** Socialization begins at birth, and discrimination against the biologically female often begins even before birth (e.g. sex-selective abortion). To insist that the oppression of the gender non-conformist is the same as the oppression of the female-born and socialized is to ignore that. To insist that those born and socialized as female not be allowed to discuss that in female-only spaces is flat-out misogynistic.

A Response to Pilger

Ginny Brown wrote a great piece in response to John Pilger’s recent attacks on feminism entitled “Leftist Men Aren’t Born to Lead Radical Struggles”.


Importantly, Pilger is not displaying eccentricity here, but is echoing a growing habit amongst left sexists for deploying different criteria for political assessments of feminism than other radical struggles. Feminist women constantly find ourselves held to a different standard – by men who appear not to understand female oppression – than other activists.

The “Unruly Mob” vs. “Democracy”

As anyone on social media knows by now, the draconian anti-abortion bill in Texas, SB5, was defeated last night.  It is truly a great thing for all of those who fight for women’s bodily autonomy.  The law would have closed down all but five clinics in the state of Texas, which is one of the largest states (in both population and area) in the U.S.  The most affected would have been poor and working women, who could not afford the travel or time needed to travel to find services if they did not live in one of the areas where those five clinics were located.  This would include a significant number of women of color, as well.  Some say it would have virtually ended access to abortion in the state.

The proposed legislation, SB 5, would have criminalized abortion after 20 weeks and forced all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to close their doors. Because of Texas’ size and population, Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards warned that SB 5 would amount to a “virtual ban” on abortion services in the state.

I watched the live stream online and followed the proceedings on Twitter last night, hoping against hope that it would turn out the right way.  I was so relieved that it did. Despite my unmitigated joy today, I am having a major problem with the narrative around the struggle.  Those who advance this narrative engage in both the celebration of bourgeois party politics and the cult of personality.  This narrative holds that one woman, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, beat back this bill.  It ignores the throngs of people who flooded the Texas capitol in Austin, shouted down the Texas senators, and demanded to be let into what should be their house of law when the doors were locked against them.  It ignores the countless women who sent in personal stories of abortion for use in the filibuster.  It ignores those arrested and those who protested those arrests, at one time screaming at the cops to “let her go” as they arrested an older woman who would not (or could not?) rise from her seated position.  I prefer the “people’s filibuster” narrative, because it recognizes these facts.  It shows us the power of direct action.  Sadly, even that term is being misapplied to include only Wendy Davis.

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), much of the coverage of and outrage over the events in Texas have been focused on the Democrats vs. Republicans “get out the vote” pseudo-movements.  When it was thought that the Republicans were going to ignore the time deadline and claim to have passed the bill, many liberal groups immediately began to declare that they would not forget, that people needed to get out and vote Democrat.  Even after the caucus declared the bill dead, this has been a major liberal rallying cry.  In fact, it’s the supporters of the bill who have recognized the power the people wielded in their legislative halls, blaming “unruly mobs” for the defeat.  While liberals “stand with Wendy”, conservatives recognize that they could have used parliamentary rules of “germaneness” to kill the filibuster and push the bill through, were it not for the crowds of people who shouted them down to run out the last 15 minutes of the clock.

What do we take from Texas?  We certainly should not believe the fight is over.  In fact, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is hinting that another special session might be called to bring the bill to the floor again, saying, “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”  To put our trust in elected Democrats to protect us is misguided.  After all, when convenient, they have sold women out before.  Even more than that, simply supporting Democrats doesn’t change the underlying problems:  patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism and the corrupt structures of U.S. pseudo-democracy.  Controlling women’s reproduction, to push out more workers and soldiers, is a necessary function of patriarchy, imperialism and capitalism.  The corrupt structures of U.S. pseudo-democracy mean that our elections are bought and sold, and exercising control via elected representatives of either bourgeois party is bound to fail as often as it gives us minor successes.  I say the only true democracy in action in Texas yesterday was represented by the “unruly mob”–the people directly taking control.

UPDATE (6/26/2013, 3:49 PM MST):  Texas Governor Rick Perry has called another special session to reintroduce this bill.  The session will convene on the 1st of July, 2013.  This is why it’s so important that we have a movement, not just rely on a politician here or there.

UPDATE (6/27/2013, 6:31 PM MST):  I added a link to an article and video of the 72-year-old woman who was forcibly removed from the capitol.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:  I need to thank Navdeep, a poster on  TLSOF’s Facebook page.  He made a statement regarding putting trust in politicians that I originally misunderstood.  After thinking about his comments for a while, I realized what he was saying and how right he was.  His comments, along with many other things that unfolded during and after the filibuster, led me to write this piece.