Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman's Reviews > Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Whipping Girl by Julia Serano
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Jan 21, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: everyone-must-read, social-justice

My original review is below. My viewpoint has changed as trans activism have become much more personal to me, and this book is the best "education for trans allies" book that I know of. Furthermore, it's really good if you've ever felt constrained by social gender constructions. Seriously--it's a lot of good thinking about where stuff comes from and how to deal with it.

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A friend recommended it to me; one really has to process her ideas a lot before dissenting, I think. I say this not because she presents things badly--indeed, her prose so far is quite organized and elegant--but because a lot of the value in the book so far is in absorbing her perspective.

So far I've learned one thing that surprised me, but whose truth is evident: the way many men are squeamish about wearing feminine clothes, makeup and so on, is directly from a misogynistic fear of appearing feminine. It's as if we're the "untouchable" caste. I thought of it as practical, dismissive of excess, and so on, but never realized that women and queer people of all sorts would be "untouchable" because we're another species (because hey, I don't think of myself as less than a person even when I want to be pretty). The way people assume her femininity is a sexual fetish, among other things, says a lot about how society really thinks of women (and she does point out that trans men are largely ignored). More later.

Later: Actually I don't know what else to write about it: it says so very much. One thing that really surprised me is the revelation that transsexual people who went through sex reassignment surgery and hormones were for a long time encouraged to hide their assigned sex (probably decided genitals at birth, not chromosomes). Which means that if every transsexual in society were to come out at once, people would probably not think they were so rare, and might be less inclined to be afraid of them. Also, Serano recounts horrible interactions with doctors and researchers, so much media *and* academic bias; it's all explained and I find the explanation convincing even before reading more sources. She does *not* focus on hate crimes.

You could read this book, or ask me about it, if you want to know more (and I own a copy you could borrow). Julia Serano is in the San Francisco area, so maybe someday I'll see her give a workshop (yay SF!).
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Reading Progress

January 21, 2010 – Started Reading
January 21, 2010 – Shelved
March 15, 2010 – Finished Reading
October 17, 2011 – Shelved as: everyone-must-read
October 17, 2011 – Shelved as: social-justice

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