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Casting a woman as a transwoman

(207 Posts)
Hazchem Fri 06-Jun-14 10:33:15

So there is a show about to air on the Australian ABC about Carlotta who is an incredibly well known and important entertainer in Australia. She Les Girls, was the first transexual in an Australian soap opera. An icon, someone whose very being has made changes to the Australian cultural landscape. She was original born male and very early on had surgery

So the person they have picked to play her is a ciswomen. Surely there was a trans actor who could have taken the role. My feeling is that a women has been cast because she can be sexy in the Les Girls numbers without making people feel uncomfortable about seeing her as sexy.

Am I over thinking this? Is it gender equality to have a ciswomen plan a transwomen?

Hazchem Fri 13-Jun-14 07:07:09

Just in case I haven't driven you to distraction already!

I've found a term and wondered if it would be more appropriate.
The term is de-privleges. It is used in paper about distance students and how there use of the term distance means students are not the norm of being on campus.

Would that be a better way to the sort of thing I was trying, and failing to get across. So rather then women being privileged trans women become deprivleged because they are not the norm?

Hazchem Tue 10-Jun-14 23:05:28

Almondcakes A discussion on how Feminists discuss stuff would be really interesting.
I interpret the Go for the jugular as be spirited and heated in debate rather then killing someone.
Ellie Mae O’Hagan sounds like an amazing person! There is grace, strength and intelligence in her words. I thought your reply were harsh but actually they weren't. You were not personal, you didn't question me "person" but rather my thoughts and ideas.

Calmet Have you managed to read the article I was referring too? "Being a teacher suggests that as individuals we are totally right and have the answers, and we simply have to teach someone else what they should think." Pretty much sums up what the authors was saying students expect and are then confronted by when they have someone who teaches using feminist methods.

There have been a couple of thread on this board of late that have really gone to the center of who I am. This one, which started out in my head as pretty light and off the cuff discussion, has become one of them.

calmet Tue 10-Jun-14 12:23:51

As feminists, there are a wide range of views on this board. I put forward my own view on different topics, and read others. But taking a nurturing approach suggests teaching, and I don't as feminists think we should be teachers.

Being a teacher suggests that as individuals we are totally right and have the answers, and we simply have to teach someone else what they should think.

Instead I think women here can make up their own minds about issues. So my aim is purely to put forward my viewpoint, which is different from mainstream liberal feminism. If someone wants me to explain my views in more detail, i will. If they totally disagree and think something different, then fine.

But that does also mean challenging. so if someone waxes on about how feminist they think the feminist porn awards are, I will say quite clearly why I think those awards have nothing to do with feminism at all.

almondcakes Tue 10-Jun-14 12:04:44

Hazchem, I think that how feminists should discuss something is worthy of a whole thread in itself (although generally those threads get derailed really quickly).

I also spent some time (yesterday) reflecting on the way I talked to you on this thread, and wondering if I could have responded in a less confrontational way.

I don't think it is about going for the jugular. I think it is about presenting a point of view clearly to respond to why you disagree with someone or extend on their point if you agree in part. After our posts while you were pondering if you should accept people going for the jugular, I was pondering if I should be aiming for this, from trade union activist Ellie Mae O’Hagan:

'I will continue to voice disagreements with other feminists, but I will do so in a spirit of solidarity and respect, which recognises that ultimately our aims are shared.

I will not be rude. I will not be condescending. I will not turn debates into a kind of theatre by ensuring they are as public as possible.

I will be civil. I will be kind. I will approach debates remembering that all feminists want independence and equality, even if we disagree on how to get there. I will recognise that I don’t have all the answers myself.'

And I think that is important. Neither of us have all the answers, and we both want equality for women and recognise oppression. It is that we have, at that moment in time, different perspectives on the nature, scope and causes of that oppression and how to gain equality. It isn't that you are right or wrong about privilege or oppression or trans women; it is that we disagree. And I'm pointing out why I disagree and asking you questions about what you mean because it helps me work out and develop what I think and helps me understand what you think. There are feminists who agree on your perspective on privilege, but I want to understand why and how you and they think that and how it actually helps understand the world.

And I am not criticising you as a person or considering you sexist or oppressive; it is just a disagreement over ideas.

And I'm sorry if I was too harsh in my replies, and part of that is because I'm not sure how to be like Ellie Mae O'Hagan, and part of it is because I was typing in the street on my phone, so did a 1,2,3,4, of my points rather than having a more conversational way of responding.

My friend who's a feminist and a lecturer finds she has the men in her class being quite aggressive to her when she speaks about women's oppression. If she's talking about gender roles that impact negatively on men, it's fine.
It kind-of reminds me of the way that if I challenge a racist comment in a group, I'm likely to be ignored or listened to and responded to positively. Whereas if a friend who's Black challenges a similar comment or the same comment she's aggressively questioned/vocally dismissed/patronised and straw man arguments are constructed to effectively gaslight her.
Like if you're speaking out about your own oppression you're going to be given a hard time from those who benefit, whereas if you're 'studying' an oppression you don't experience, it's either seen as irrelevant or very objective and interesting.

Yeah I'd have been the same 10 years ago. ::shudder:: (some sense here from Julia Long) I don't know if you've seen this talk by Gail Dines but it seems relevant (is long but you can watch in sections).

I can only find the beginning of Ellen Carillo's article here -

Hazchem Tue 10-Jun-14 08:40:34

Calmet Reading the article was hugely reveling to me. As I was reading it I was like oh my god that is exactly what I have been doing. Expecting nurturing support rather then challenging support. Lots of people have put lots of time into this thread and this very supportive.
One of the points the author was making is that students expect feminist teachers to mark less harshly then men. I know I have been guilty of that thought too without having thought about it in that way.

The article is "Feminist Teaching/Teaching "Feminism" by Ellen C Carillo I don't know if it's freely available as it's behind my uni's paywall thing.

Super Is there really a feminist porn award? Although ten years ago I probably would have thought that was great step forward. I like the if it doesn't hold deeply held assumptions it isn't likely feminism. It's a great marker I think.

Feminism itself is incredibly challenging - to the status quo of men having power over women.
If it doesn't challenge deeply held assumptions it isn't likely to be feminism (for example, the feminist porn awards - not feminist)

calmet Tue 10-Jun-14 07:57:58

That is interesting Hazchem that you felt unconsciously, that feminists shiuld be supporting you in a particular way. I think feminists here have been supportive of you by answering your questions, but yes some of the answers have been challenging.

Feminism is political, so of course feminists are going to be challenging.

Hazchem Tue 10-Jun-14 04:59:53

I’ve just finished reading an essay on Feminist teaching methods and the impact that has on how students view feminist lecturers. It’s made me reflect on this discussion in quite a critical way. I think here I have been guilty of, like the students in the essay, assigning feminine values to feminists. I have become defensive when people have disagreed with me rather than seeing it as a point of sharing and exploring, I felt unsupported in my thinking because people weren’t supporting me in the way I thought they should. My unconscious assumption being that I was in a female space that should have a kind and supportive way about it.
I have read and reread a set of rules about feminist philosophy many times thinking I understood her final rule “go for the jugular” but I don’t think I fully understood her final rule until now because I had thought it meant I should go for the jugular but really she is saying we all should do that. That we should challenge and also be prepared to be challenged.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 23:22:15

I have never thought about it like that Almondcake. I think I will need to think on that for a while.

I have however thought of another word rather then privilege and was wondering if it makes more sense but in light of your last post I'm not sure.
Would Advantageous be better in the context I've tried to use it?

almondcakes Mon 09-Jun-14 10:23:47

Hazchem, I do need to change it. I need to completely change the whole of the female gender role because it is wrong that I have been assigned a gender that is not true about me or the vast majority of other women on this planet. That is why I am a feminist.

I will not cast off my assigned gender role and refer to myself as agender or similar and therefore trans because I have solidarity with the billions of other people who would still be stuck in the gender of woman, whether they like it or not.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 10:13:30

It's not the womenness its the need not to change it that is where the privilege comes from.

almondcakes Mon 09-Jun-14 10:09:17

The first one I said. A woman can be more privileged than another woman. I am privileged compared to a black woman.

But the fact that I was born with a female body and then somebody assigned me the gender woman cannot be a privilege. Gender is a system which appoints sex roles to people, and I have been appointed the subordinate role. How can I be privileged by that?

I can be privileged and be a woman, but being a woman in itself is not a source of privilege.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 10:00:49

Here are some quote that have led me to believe that people were saying women can not have privilege

What priviliges do women have as a consequence of being assigned into the subordinate gender at birth?
Compliance with patriarchal requirements can bring rewards but this is not privilege.
I can see privilege from being in a higher class, being white or straight but there is no class privilege from being female.
because that means there is female privilege and I don't accept that.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 09:56:04

I'm really confused now because so much of this thread has been taken up with saying women can not be privileged. The reason I've brought on things such as marriage or what ever is I've been trying to find concrete examples of places that some women might be privilege.

so when I asserted I felt that I might not understand transwomens of experience because I am privilege in some ways how is that wrong? Because as far as I can work out that is what people have been saying is wrong.

motherinferior Mon 09-Jun-14 09:37:52

The fact that some women are more privileged than others has been a basic tenet of what one can broadly term the women's movement for bloody decades. Go and read some issues of Spare Rib from the 1970s, to start with.

almondcakes Mon 09-Jun-14 09:35:37

I think feminists do accept that some women are more privileged that others. I don't think I've ever heard anybody say otherwise, and certainly not on MN.

Casting of trans women is a women's issue, and three trans people have been on this thread (as far as I know). But most women are not going to have enough knowledge of how a range of trans women feel about it to give an informed opinion.

I would say that some main issues are (to trans representation, not your point about sexuality)|

1. The feelings of the person being portrayed (as she is a real person, not a fictional character).
2. The range of trans women represented.
3. Trans women characters who happen to be in something rather than their gender status being the actual plot.
4. Representing women with a range of different physical appearances.
5. Recognising that some trans women after transition see their identity solely as woman and not trans woman, and so may not feel a trans woman character should be played by a trans woman actor.
6. Recognising that some trans woman see their identity as trans woman, and would want a trans woman character to be played by a trans woman actor.
7. Job opportunities for trans women actors.

Kim did raise quite a few of these points.

The sexuality element LRD did discuss in an interesting way but she hasn't been back.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 09:15:21

So that is how I have used it and meant it. I understand, now, that many feminists do not think that sort of prividlge can be held by a women but I think it can. Just as I think casting of transwomen is a women's issue not 'just" a trans issue.

And on thinking about it further this wasn't the right thread to say human rights was bollocks. It certainly has help make anything clearer. It was a bit throw away rather then moving a discussion forward.

almondcakes Mon 09-Jun-14 09:09:49

My responses are to points you've made about women and privilege.

There's nothing wrong with having interests in things that immediately impact your life or that you have a personal connection to.

I agree that someone running a charity with access to politicians is in a position of privilege and will have to hold themselves to a really high ethical standard to make sure they use that privilege for the benefit ot others.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 09:01:02

I just wrote a massive post and it's lost.

I haven't used privilege in the way you think I have. I have used it or intended to use it a bit like this (fictitious)
"I'm in a privileged because my local MP is involved in the charity I run" The privileged means I have access to an MP to discuss my grievances , it also mean my charity has easier access to power makers, and funders.

I'm not a social justice blogger or much of a reader of them. I am interested in women and women's rights and I admit I am mainly interested in things that effect me or I have a personal interest in.

almondcakes Mon 09-Jun-14 08:30:01

Hazchem, I think my posts were very clear, but I'll repeat to answer your questions.

You have used the word 'privilege' as a catch all term to include basic human rights like the right to marry who you like.

Actually, not only is forced marriage a human rights breach, it is also considered a form of slavery by abolition charities. It is pretty repulsive to say that some women (and if we are talking about women in comparison to trans women then your some women is 99.7% of women) are privileged by the right to marry who they want.

Responding to me pointing out that freedom to choose who you marry (and other very basic human rights) by saying that human rights are bollocks and biased is bizarre. Human rights conventions were actually written up and agreed upon by the nations of the world, as opposed to 'privilege' which is a nebulous set of checklists agreed upon by nobody apart from some Western social justice bloggers on the Internet. 'Privilege' in the sense you are using it, lumps together the right not to be tortured with the right to control a million workers or the right to rape someone without their being any strong likelihood of you being convicted. The former is a human right and the latter two are a privilege, unless of course you think the idea that people shouldn't be tortured is also a bollocks, biased idea invented by white Western males.

This masks power structures.

The other masking of power structures point was you comparing trans to race, which is why I pointed out the use of military power to enforce racism, which I then put in the context of global media, as you were talking about tv representation. I can't really make that clearer than I did the first time around,

As for what word should you use to describe for things you take for granted without realising, I don't know. There are a million and one negative experiences you will never have that happen to various different groups who each make up 0.3% of the population or less. There is no way of anybody in the whole of society avoiding that. It is very different to not recognising and understanding racism or sexism which happen to most people globally.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Mon 09-Jun-14 07:55:59

Gender affects us all.

Hazchem Mon 09-Jun-14 07:53:26

See I love the word community but it's what I'm studying but id doesn't and shouldn't mean homogenous group. A community is a network of connections that have a boundary to them (physical or not, real or not).

I guess I assumed that trans portrayal was a women's issue because it is about gender portrayal and that I think effects women.

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Mon 09-Jun-14 07:48:06

Kim, I agree re having characters to whom the minority characteristic is incidental, but as this is a biopic, if I understand correctly, this probably isn't going to be one of those! Though there may be background characters who that applies to.

People do say "the feminist community" or "feminists" - sometimes it's annoying, sometimes it's not.

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