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Re: Human Plasticity and Trans Issues
2009-06-25 11:15 pm (UTC)
I didn't read the section in Manland as being about trans issues at all. My understanding was that Russ was illustrating problems with culturally defined femininity: that 'feminine' gets defined in terms of what the ruling (male) class wants from us, regardless of how far that departs from reality. So women are supposed to be slim, busty, big-eyed, long-legged, deferential and passive, but sexually eager, even though most women are not any one of those things and practically no one is all of them at once. But people (especially men, and especially back in the seventies), told each real woman that she was failing to be womanly.
I think Russ was parodying that when she showed the Manlanders separating from women because they disliked real women so, but forcing some of their own to fake femaleness (to indulge the men's egos and sexual desires). They didn't want real women, but they wanted the social role of women.
And we, in the real world, get told that there are evolutionary reasons why men just naturally desire women of a certain physical appearance ... but actually the 'ideal' changes every few generations, and is different in other parts of the world. So we know it's not natural, it's cultural conditioning.
Russ illustrated that by having the Manlanders periodically ask the Womanlanders for physical specifications for their fake women. The Womanlanders, as a joke, sent the Manlanders specifications that were less like real women every time. The Manlanders never caught on, and conditioned themselves to desire the fakes, and perceived real woman as subpar.
Which reminds me of Shakesville's "Impossibly Beautiful" series, and Photoshop Disasters' examples of photos edited to show limbs in impossible positions, or a woman with no bellybutton because it's not 'sexy'. And I heard that the reason high-definition television has been slow to catch on is that you can see tiny wrinkles, sometimes even pores, and generations of men who've imprinted on (lower-res) porn now find that repulsive. Human beings have bellybuttons and pores and tiny wrinkles around their joints, but some men have been conditioned to where they apparently can't be turned on by real people, only by unreal images.
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