I’m aware that, when I say that “I’m a woman”, I am partly basing the meaning of that statement on what I was raised, and still am told by the surrounding culture, to believe about that concept. Hell, I myself have repeatedly argued against the TERFs’ notion of “natural” vs. “constructed” women by saying that all women are constructed women.
I know that my femininity, love for such, and understanding of such, are all informed by culture, and by patriarchy. I know that my preference for long hair on myself comes from the idea that women are “supposed” to have long hair, which in turn comes from that passage in 1 Corinthians that long hair must be worn “as a sign of authority”. I know that dresses and skirts come from the idea that women are supposed to be “modest”; I know that, at the same time, short skirts (hilariously enough) come from the idea that women are constantly supposed to perform for the male gaze. I know that makeup is about impossible beauty standards; I know that heels are about a particular form of “attractiveness”; I know that the whole “pink is a girly color” thing is arbitrary bullshit that somebody invented in order to sell something. And I know that, had I been raised in a different culture, I would probably attach entirely different meanings to all of these things, and probably have very different likes and dislikes.
I know that my sexual tastes didn’t simply spring forth from the ether. I know that — as queer as I like to think they may be — they are informed quite a bit by stunningly fucked-up ideas about sexuality, what it is, what it means. I know that the things I want, the things I dare want, are informed both by ideas of what women “can”/”should”/”must” do, and by ideas of what one “can”/”should”/”must” do with a penis. I know that at least one of my fetishes was pretty much invented wholesale by mainstream porn. I know that my love for S/M likely has something to do with having been spanked/slapped/beaten as a child.
I know. I know I know I know I know. Okay? I know.
So it kind of annoys me when people bring these things up to me as if they’re new information, as if they’re things I need to start examining rather than things I already examine every minute of every day. Usually, it’s because they want to get me to do/wear/desire the things they would do/wear/desire, because they think their ways are the only ways to truly be “conscious” and “radical” and shit.
And it’s like, look, I’ve already been shattered into a million pieces by all kinds of people and institutions who wanted to mold me into their image, and I spend basically my whole life scrambling to put myself back together in a way that makes sense to me and that will ensure my survival (wearing makeup to hide facial hair shadow, for example), and then you wanna come along and impose your own meanings, etc. onto me? Fuck that shit.
Show me a person who believes themself to be free of sociocultural influence, and I’ll show you a person who’s merely exchanged one set of coercive constructs for another.
You don’t have to like everything I do to try to survive and make sense of myself. And absolutely let me know if I’m doing something heinously oppressive. But really, you don’t have to preach at me that I am a social construct influenced by problematic things. I mean, hell, you might as well be telling me that the sky is blue.