How To Be A Strong, Independent Man

How To Be A Strong, Independent Man

Women, you oppress yourself through your own language.
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How strange does that sound? A strong, independent man.

How normal does this sound? A strong, independent woman.

You will never meet a man, hear of his career and successes, learn he is single and think, “Damn! What a strong man who is providing for himself. And he’s doing it all alone, he’s so independent. What an inspiration! You do you, boo!”

But if this situation is reversed to a woman, those thoughts are very easy to come into our minds.

The answer for this “phenomenon” is simple, in the rigid categories that make up our society, women are seen as lesser than men. Women aren’t seen as independent as often as men are. Men are expected to be independent and strong. This is not groundbreaking news, everybody knows this fact of life. This limits men as much as it limits women.

Masculinity is an idea created by our society, for men to be seen as the providers, the strong ones, the brave ones, the rough and tough ones. For femininity, women must be nurturing and take care of the home and they must, most importantly, find a man to marry who will provide her with a great abundance of disgusting, snotty children who she must slave over and it’s her husband’s duty to bring home all of the bacon.

I like to think we live in a progressive country where most of this is changing or being worked on.

Because these definitions of “masculine” and “feminine” and the roles of men versus women in life are so intense and socialized throughout our lives, many times the “oppression” of women or the undervaluing of women isn’t even noticed.

We unconsciously support these ideas of masculinity and femininity. No woman wants to be forced to live a cookie cutter life, but our own language limits us and degrades ourselves.

“Just” and “sorry” are words which women use too often and they limit us.

I personally discovered this trait in myself first before realizing it was a widespread issue.

Sometimes people get upset, with themselves or others, or in my case, with a significant other. There were serious issues and when attempting to confront them and be open with my own personal feelings, the word “just” would be the first thing to come out of my mouth. It was almost like I needed and wanted to downplay my own legitimate emotions to be sensitive to my significant other.

After realizing this, I found through various researchers and articles that this isn’t an issue with myself. It’s something women have been taught.

By saying, “It’s just that, you do this and it makes me feel this way,” my emotions aren’t being received in full as they should be. Following the “just,” “sorry” is often in the same sentence.

I know I’m not the only woman to do this either. Too many women are downplaying their emotions and their human rights to feel by using these two little words far too often. It begins with small things like somebody bumping into you and you apologizing instead, then it grows to apologizing for feeling a completely natural way.

Take a hold of your emotions, your thoughts, your feelings, your wants and continue with them boldy. In a way any man can.

These two words socialize those around us by showing them that women must feel completely irrationally if they must apologize for it often. It shows women must be in the way or a burden if they have to apologize for something that is not their fault.

Things like our language are things we don’t often question. Seeing a woman as independent is great, but it makes you think twice why we can’t describe men as so. Apologizing is polite, but it makes you question why women must be so much more polite.

It’s the smallest, easiest change. Apologize less. Be yourself, completely unapologetically. You’ll be surprised how empowered you feel.

Cover Image Credit: Tracy Moore

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No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.
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In 2014, Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipina woman, was brutally murdered after having sex with a U.S. marine. The marine in question, Joseph Scott Pemberton, strangled her until she was unconscious and then proceeded to drown her in a toilet bowl.

Understandably, this crime triggered a lot of outrage. But while some were outraged over the horrific nature of the crime, many others were outraged by a different detail in the story. That was because Jennifer Laude had done the unspeakable. She was a trans woman and had not disclosed that information before having sex with Pemberton. So in the minds of many cis people, her death was the price she paid for not disclosing her trans status. Here are some of the comments on CNN's Facebook page when the story broke.

As a trans person, I run into this attitude all the time. I constantly hear cis people raging about how a trans person is "lying" if they don't come out to a potential partner before dating them. Pemberton himself claimed that he felt like he was "raped" because Laude did not come out to him. Even cis people that fashion themselves as "allies" tend to feel similar.

Their argument is that they aren't not attracted to trans people, so they should have a right to know if a potential partner is trans before dating them. These people view transness as a mere physical quality that they just aren't attracted to.

The issue with this logic is that the person in question is obviously attracted to trans people, or else they wouldn't be worried about accidentally going out with one. So these people aren't attracted to trans people because of some physical quality, they aren't attracted to trans people because they are disgusted by the very idea of transness.

Disgust towards trans people is ingrained in all of us from a very early age. The gender binary forms the basis of European societies. It establishes that there are men and there are women, and each has a specific role. For the gender binary to have power, it has to be rigid and inflexible. Thus, from the day we are born, we are taught to believe in a very static and strict form of gender. We learn that if you have a penis, you are a man, and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. Trans people are walking refutations of this concept of gender. Our very existence threatens to undermine the gender binary itself. And for that, we are constantly demonized. For example, trans people, mainly women of color, continue to be slaughtered in droves for being trans.

The justification of transphobic oppression is often that transness is inherently disgusting. For example, the "trans panic" defense still exists to this day. This defense involves the defendant asking for a lesser sentence after killing a trans person because they contend that when they found out the victim was trans, they freaked out and couldn't control themselves. This defense is still legal in every state but California.

And our culture constantly reinforces the notion that transness is undesirable. For example, there is the common trope in fictional media in which a male protagonist is "tricked" into sleeping with a trans woman. The character's disgust after finding out is often used as a punchline.

Thus, not being attracted to trans people is deeply transphobic. The entire notion that someone isn't attracted to a group of very physically diverse group of people because they are trans is built on fear and disgust of trans people. None of this means it is transphobic to not be attracted to individual trans people. Nor is it transphobic to not be attracted to specific genitals. But it is transphobic to claim to not be attracted to all trans, people. For example, there is a difference between saying you won't go out with someone for having a penis and saying you won't go out with someone because they're trans.

So when a cis person argues that a trans person has an obligation to come out to someone before dating them, they are saying trans people have an obligation to accommodate their transphobia. Plus, claiming that trans people are obligated to come out reinforces the idea that not being attracted to trans people is reasonable. But as I've pointed out, not being attracted to trans people supports the idea that transness is disgusting which is the basis for transphobic oppression.

The one scenario in which I would say a trans person should disclose their trans status is if they are going to have sex with someone and are unsure if their partner is attracted to whatever genitals they may have. In that case, I think it's courteous for a trans person to come out to avoid any awkwardness during sex. But even then, a trans person isn't "lying" if they don't come out and their partner is certainly not being "raped."

It is easy to look at the story of Jennifer Laude and claim that her death was due to the actions of one bigot. But it's more complicated than that. Pemberton was the product of a society that told him that disgust towards trans people was reasonable and natural. So when he found out that he accidentally slept with a trans woman, he killed her.

Every single cis person that says that trans people have to come out because they aren't attracted to trans people feeds into the system that caused Jennifer Laude's death. And until those cis people acknowledge their complicity in that system, there will only be more like Jennifer Laude.

SEE ALSO: Yes, You Absolutely Need To Tell Someone You're Trans Before Dating

Cover Image Credit: Nats Getty / Instagram

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