Repeal the 19th?
Last week Nate Silver from the marvelous site fivethirteight.com posted an image to Twitter. It was a mat of what the coming election would look like if only women voted, and another showing what it looks like when only men voted. He made the point, between those images, that it was clearly women who were defeating Donald Trump. What happened next was startling. Before long #RepealThe19th was trending and conversations were breaking out across social media about whether or not it would be best for our country if women lost the right to vote.
Stunningly, a lot of those enthusiastically arguing “Yes!” were, themselves, women.
It strikes me as a testimony to the ever-increasing gap in, well, rationality in our culture. To be sure, those who support irrational candidates and irrational positions are a minority of the overall population, they are a significant and sometimes powerful minority. For example, in the majority of cases when you see a local political body act against trans persons in 2016, it’s because they have counted the cost of upsetting the ill-informed and often irrational constituents who get to decide whether they, the politician, keeps their job. Not because the politician themselves is so ignorant and irrational (albeit, to be clear those exist too – Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton for example).
Anyway, back on topic, eh?
When we are interacting with those around us, and we think we are being or can be persuasive, it’s helpful to remember that there are actually women around us who think it’s a good idea that women not vote (which makes me wonder, do they abstain?) and that such people have, apparently, a thought process that goes so adrift from rational thought, at least on the subject of equality, that there’s no point in even discussing it.And they will pop up in random places. One might argue that it is in a way the flip side of the coin from Radical Feminism – the opposite extreme along a spectrum where both ends strike out into that uncharted territory where facts can find no purchase.
Still, this becomes ultimately a values judgment. I realize that I’m treading somewhat afield from trans issues on this one, but as a woman I have standing to comment. I’m all for a woman, any woman, choosing of her own accord to submit herself to any belief system or way of life she is happy and comfortable in, even one that makes her subject to the man in her life. IF it is freely chosen. But it so very seldom is. The cultural gravity towards the patriarchal structure is massive. This story exemplifies that. Here are women who think they are reaching their own independent judgment that it is a good idea for them to be without a voice in the government they live under. I suggest they did not come to this conclusion independently, but rather as a twisted derivative of ideas found commonly in the culture.
Here, though, is where I come back to discussing things relevant specifically to trans people. We should be careful in our public and private moments to consider – how much of what I’m thinking right now is my own independent reasoning, and how much of it is me allowing the culture to think for me? We can’t completely escape that, of course, entirely. But it’s a valuable process to at least be aware of the possibility. As we consider our appearance, our weight, our manner of dress, our role in whatever situation we find ourselves, our view of others not like ourselves – are our thoughts entirely our own, or are we prisoners of some patter of thought we’ve been indoctrinated into without our even knowing it? I know that I spent most of my life condemning and hating myself for my condition, over which i had no control, because the culture around me hated people like me. It was the work of years to overcome that sort of thinking enough to claim my own legitimate identity. I suspect most of you had a similar experience. I hope that from now on I remain vigilant to, so often as it is possible, think my own thoughts, and never be so brainwashed as to voluntarily vote to give up my natural rights.
Photo by: Janet Lindenmuth