A single incident of male violence has gripped me emotionally the past few days. There are so many instances like this one, happening all over the world, to men and women, boys and girls. Maybe the fact this brutal attack occurred within an hour of where I live and maybe the details of the attack itself, made this story have a greater impact on me.
Maybe it just comes at a time when my own journey is making me face related fears, and I’m feeling more emotional at the same time due to shifting biochemistry from halting HRT.
A 15-year-old boy was viciously raped while alone in a cabin with older boys, members of a basketball team notorious for hazing, casual beatings, and sexual abuse. The adults knew about this. They knew the boys were alone in that cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and they knew that 15-year-old boy had told on the other, older boys for beating another teammate. The same boys he was with. He had told on them. They knew this.
The boy was alone with the boys he’d told on.
Now he’s in the hospital, traumatized in a way I understand, but to such a greater degree that no, I don’t fucking understand. His body will never be the same. His mind has been injected with an unwanted, horrible experience. Authorities are looking into the “culture of violence” that was woven into the Ooltewah High School’s basketball and football male sports teams. This is, of course, an isolated incident. Despite it being some sort of large-scale conspiracy within this high school to institute a “culture of violence.”
They didn’t make this up. The culture of violence is already there, and it’s plain as day in the way boys are indoctrinated to become men. The culture of violence is masculinity. I know, because I was brought up in it – boys see it around them, and they either participate or become victims of the game. What happened to that poor boy is not an isolated incident – it’s the inevitable end-result of a larger impulse to mold boys into certain kinds of men. This kind of shit happens in high schools across the country.
“Don’t want no pussies, now…this is what we do to freaks around here.”
Random convo with random dude the other night, he’s talking about one cellphone service versus another, like service A “bends you over and fucks you in the ass like once a month but [service B] bends you over every week” and I’m like “well if I’d known that I mighta stayed with [service B],” and he pauses for a long moment then suddenly nods and says “took me a second.” Silence.
Ok, maybe a bad joke…but I simply can’t ignore it when I hear other men using anal sex as a general description for something terrible and coercive. It’s a perversion they’re creating… something that to me is the most physically intimate way I can connect with another man, is flipped inside-out to become a symbol of violent male dominance over another human being.
I just want to scream at them, “but it’s not supposed to be like that!”
Its ideal is an expression of love to me, not a horribly violent act used to teach compliance. Like what happened to that boy for speaking out about abuse…and like what I heard when I was growing up happens to gay or feminine boys in order to turn their bodies and minds against them. And what happens with especial frequency to women and girls the world over. The bad men will violently pervert you. The “good” men will stand by and brag about not being the bad men, but will still spread the same sickness because they do not confront the roots of male violence. Mind is subjected to images and experiences of violent men; mind is told to become like those men; mind balks at finding myself a member of the class of violent people; mind hates them; mind hates self for being them.
Maybe it’s not a surprise that I’d hate being a man. What also doesn’t surprise me is the realization that the forced programming of masculinity, the violence it teaches, simply cannot be a separated from my physical dysphoria. The influence of violent masculine expression cannot be separated in our culture from the idea of male love. Maybe it’s not a surprise that even though I can critically analyze the ways growing up male under patriarchy has influenced my physical dysphoria, I still have a fucked-up relationship with my body.
Not that this is something other people don’t experience. Don’t let all this talk about dysphoria let you think that people with body issues of all sort don’t have it comparably bad or way worse. Society molds us in many ways and it makes us hate ourselves for who we are, and this feeling can get projected onto the body. Especially if society is literally telling you to hate your body, as is the case for women and girls.
Thirteen days since stopping hormones and this morning that male part was awake when I woke up, active and waiting for me. It’s a normal part of having a penis. You wake up relaxed, and so is that organ, but for it “relaxed” means erect. I dealt with the fact of it since puberty because I had no choice in the matter. Aside from forcefully removing the organs, of course. Which had occurred to me, and became a more pressing idea over the years.
Those thoughts were still there throughout transition, but goddamn have they cropped up something fierce today. I once employed dissociation and other techniques to deal with it, but I let go of those tactics after realizing the harm they’d done. Now, it’s like I’m raw with these feels, no protection. But it’s just a feel, and I’ve come this far by force of trying and not by accident. I’m not the same person I was two years ago. I can find a better answer to dysphoria than something violent.
The irony of utilizing male violence – self-castration – to de-masculinize myself in an attempt to become physically separate from the culture of male violence is not lost on me. Blood being injected into my penis to make it hard without my control brings images of male coercion to my mind. The two became connected. The body itself becomes a catalyst of male coercion, inseparable from its social programming.
I’m trying to separate them.