Tag Archives: male suicide

If gender is a social construct, why do transgender people KNOW they are the wrong gender?

23 Sep

Hey, remember last year when I complained about all the boring whore costumes women sport on Halloween?


For the record, I went as Lara Croft, and I was awesome!  This year, just to prove that pretty much nothing I write makes any sense at all (ha!), I have selected one of the sluttiest costumes I could find at our local Halloween Superstore:


Yes, I am dressing as Sexy Gretchen, the trampy beer maiden!  You know what made the decision for me?  This particular store is one of the only costume emporiums that CARRIES PLUS SIZES in ALL the “sexy” categories.

And you know how much I hate fat shaming, right?




Giant ladies have every right to cram their butts into skimpy costumes and continue on with their delusional belief that having massive tits makes up for the rest of the body.

Ah, that was mean.  Fat people are still people, but seriously SIZE 18 SEXY GRETCHEN COSTUMES!

That can only mean one thing:  yes, Mr. JB and I are going to wear the SAME COSTUMES!

The reaction from our friends has been pretty interesting.  Mr. JB actually has a long history of cross-dressing for Halloween, beginning with his award-winning turn as Carmen Miranda in the 9th Grade.


He has also taken his turn as Wonder Woman, Little Red Riding Hood and Little BoPeep, all of which have been absolutely hilarious, given his size and how normally conservative he is in appearance and dress.

Our younger friends all think matching costumes is an outstanding idea, and a few of them are even hatching plans to acquire their own sexy Gretchen costumes.  The Monster Ball may be awash in sexy beer maids this year. Clever Guy was over last night and he insisted on donning the costume and the blonde braids to pose for pictures which we immediately sent out to family and friends.  Clever Guy’s mom gets exceptionally giggly over her son dressed in silly costumes.

It’s really not that big of a deal, right?  Well, our older friends get downright hostile.  BigDaddy from down the street, who has two sons of his own, was actually rather angry when he saw the costumes.  Of course, his own sons dressed as Marilyn Monroe and The Evil Queen (from Snow White) last year, and they were totally gorgeous, but there is definitely a generational divide when it comes to the whole idea of cross-dressing, even when it’s done in jest.

Younger men don’t feel the slightest bit threatened by donning the wardrobe of the opposite sex, while older men seem to feel that wearing a dirndl and some sheer stockings with cute little bows somehow hurts men and masculinity.

I think there is a happy medium, and it comes down to how fiercely we believe that gender is something that can be consciously determined.  The men who are angry and threatened by Mr.JB’s antics are reacting to a certain concept of gender that is 100% rigid, and while I can agree that certain aspects of masculinity have been carved too deeply into the concrete of our social psyche, I do NOT believe that the extreme alternative of believing NOTHING about gender is innate or inherent is a better way of understanding how gender works.

Some ideas about masculinity really are very destructive. Men are more naturally stoic and less likely to allow their emotions to govern their actions than women are.  That has all kinds of benefits when it comes to demonstrating leadership qualities and accurately assessing risks and being willing to shoulder a disproportionate amount of work and responsibilities.

Being stoic and governed by rationality is a net positive, but it becomes destructive when men believe that is the ONLY acceptable way to be.  The most brutal consequence of defining masculinity so rigidly is suicide.  When men get staggered by life, and decide they no longer wish to continue, they tend to be extremely good at making effective plans to end their own lives.




Male suicide is a public health crisis reaching epidemic proportions, yet it still receives very little in terms of funding or attention.  Pink ribbons line the landscape from one side of the country to the other, despite the fact that the mortality rates are pretty much the same.

Deaths from suicide (mostly men) in 2010:  38 364

Deaths from breast cancer (mostly women) in 2010: 40 170

http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/f861009final90809pdf.pdf (p.2)

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf (p.58)

It’s really kind of sickening that masculinity itself gets blamed for male suicide, when the problem has far more to do with a broader society that defines men only in terms of the utility they can provide for others. Here’s an actual quote from a study exploring why men commit suicide so much more frequently than women:

One way of taking back one’s own masculinity is to take one’s own life.


Yes men, if you really want to prove you are a man, please do it by killing yourself.

The majority of the report examines how working class men have lost their traditional manufacturing jobs, how divorce devastates men in particular, how downsizing squeezes male middle managers out of the corporate structure, how schools and colleges are failing to provide men and boys with the training they need to take their places in the new economy and then comes to the conclusion that masculinity is the problem.

Yeah, that must be it.


Let me think for a minute:  is there a  particular ideology circulating in the culture that claims masculinity is something you can just choose to do or not to do?  Is there some sort of political philosophy that claims one gender’s ways of doing and being are acceptable and the other’s is not? Is there a view of education that sneers at training and vocational skills, which tend to be the domains of boys?

Help me out here.

Over and over again, reports into the issues and challenges facing men come up with the same solution:  masculinity is the problem, so let’s get rid of it.

book 3

book 1

book 2


All of which rests on the assumption that masculinity isn’t something you are born with, it’s something you learn.  Something you perform. And with the right social programming, you can unlearn it.

man book

Which brings me to the title of today’s post:  if gender is something you learn, not something you are born simply knowing, how is it that some people KNOW they were born the wrong gender?

True story:  a member of Mr. JB’s distant family (his mother’s cousin) has two children.  The daughter was born with something called Turner Syndrome, which is a chromosomal abnormality in which all or part of one of the sex chromosomes is absent.


The daughter has no ovaries and she has a strangely masculine look to her.  She suffers from something called “neck webbing” and the disorder has obviously profoundly affected her life and understanding of herself as a person.  She very much considers herself a woman.  She is female.  She is 100% a she.


By all appearances, the son was a perfectly normal little boy, suffering from no disorders or problems anyone could detect.  But for as long as he can remember, he has harbored a terrible secret.  He is really a she, too.  The son is transgender.


I very sincerely doubt those two conditions, being transgender and having Turner Syndrome are unrelated.  Something having to do with sex hormones is very fucked up in the mother and she passed that along to her children.  They have different fathers, so it is almost certainly a problem with the mother. I absolutely believe that transgender people are suffering from a very serious illness, and they deserve all the compassion and treatment options that we would extend to anyone else suffering from a severe birth defect.

We are born knowing that we are a particular gender.  The idea that gender can be “performed” is true, to the extent that we can don the clothing and markings of our opposite sex.  That’s so trite an observation, is scarcely seems believable we need to acknowledge it, but something very malignant has happened in that intersection of feminism and playing dress-up.

Judith Butler is perhaps the most famous of the “gender is a social construct” theorists, and also one of the worst writers you will ever have the pain of attempting to understand.  The obfuscation that marks her writing is not a mistake, though.  It’s a very deliberate strategy to disguise the real agenda behind the “gender is a social construct” philosophy.

When Simone de Beauvoir claims, “one is not born, but, rather, becomes a woman,” she is appropriating and reinterpreting this doctrine of constituting acts from the phenomenological tradition.’ In this sense, gender is in no way a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts proceed; rather, it is an identity tenuously constituted in time-an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts. Further, gender is instituted through the stylization of the body and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements, and enactments of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.


One gender is acceptable.  One gender is laudable.  One gender is to be preferred.  One gender is favored.

One gender is unacceptable.  One gender is detestable.  One gender is to be eradicated.  One gender is hated.

The idea that gender is something you choose is the very essence of feminism, and it’s the most perfect expression of how much feminism hates both men AND women.  Feminism is an attempt to redefine HUMAN as feminine, thereby eradicating any meaningful distinctions between men and women.  It’s kind of like insisting that everyone bleach their skin white and voila – racism disappears!  We’re all equal now!

Equally white.

Halloween is one of those great holidays that challenges the idea that gender is something you choose by deploying the irony of dressing up as the opposite gender.  Performing gender in the form of a costume doesn’t challenge gender difference:  it confirms it.

wonder woman

Seeing men dressed as women is hilarious precisely because you can’t just change your clothes and presto, you’ve changed your gender.

Younger men seem to get that we are all humans who exist on a continuum, clustering mostly in the tails with some important overlapping characteristics that allow us the opportunity to relate to one another and love one another.  I think we can credit early feminism with freeing us all from overly rigid expectations about how men and women “are”, but we can also condemn modern feminism, very loudly, for not being satisfied with equality and chasing down supremacy.

When there is room in our culture to tell men that one way to capture their masculinity to kill themselves, something has gone very, very wrong. Inciting people to kill themselves is the very definition of hate, isn’t it?  When a transgender girl in California is crowned homecoming queen, and then trolled mercilessly on YouTube with exhortations to “kill herself”, we quite rightly respond by condemning the people who hate her as bigots.



And I personally feel no compunction whatsoever calling out feminists who think masculinity is something that can be chosen, or more importantly NOT chosen, as bigots in the exact same vein.

This Halloween, consider dressing up as the opposite gender.  Or in a really trashy slutty costume, as long as you can find a date who will wear the matching costumes.

I highly recommend “Sexy Gretchen”.  Who doesn’t like sexy beer maids?  Even the ones with hairy chests.

Lots of love,


People need to stop being dicks on the subway by taking up way too much space. Oh wait. No, just men need to stop doing that. More equality!

16 Sep

I’m a bit cranky today, owing to the fact that I am suffering from a wicked head cold thanks to the filthy, germ-ridden little creatures who live here with me.  Kindergarten plague. Ugh.  Even so, this tumblr has pissed me off royally.  It’s called Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train.

bag guy


Having spent a good deal of time on public transportation in Shanghai, Melbourne, Manchester, Toronto, Athens and Seattle, I know a bit about how to travel with a few manners.  I also know how to travel with a modicum of sense when it comes to protecting personal belongings.  And when I looked at these pictures, for the most part, I saw people taking reasonable precautions not to get their bags stolen, and not to trip people moving past them.


Almost all the men taking up too much space have large bags or backpacks between their feet, meaning that A) they aren’t taking up the seat next to them, and B) they can smush the bags against the lower portion of the seat so that people walking by don’t get tangled up in the straps.

bags 3

Why is this even an issue?  Well, duh, it’s because people men who sit with their legs apart and bags between them are trying to send a message to fellow travellers that they have really big dicks and that the entire world needs to stop spinning on its axis and accommodate said ginormous dicks.

fuck you week

Maybe these fucking idiots think we women are impressed when they act like their penis is so fucking big that they can’t even try to make room for you next to them on the bench. Because if there’s one thing we ladies like, it’s a monster dick the size of yule log (Happy Holidays!) and a man who won’t offer us a seat because it makes him slightly uncomfortable.

Anyway, these dudes aren’t going anywhere. They’ve been around forever (your pilgrim dick is not that big) and they’ll stay around forever (your cyborg dick doubles as a gun), so all we — women, children, the vast majority of men who understand the basic concepts of space and sitting down — can do is quietly rage and occasionally work up the courage to ask you to move your fucking legs. But that doesn’t mean we’re not glaring at you with the power of a thousand fuck yous when we see you treat the service that we all pay the equal amount to use like it’s your own fucking castle. Trust us, the major dick here is not in your pants — it’s you. You’re the fucking dick, so close your legs or go fuck yourself.

That little screed was part of the delightful Fuck You Week at Jezebel, and demonstrates the usual level of vitriol, bitterness, stupidity and hate we have come to expect from the ladies at good ole Jez.


Because you KNOW it’s only ever men who sit with their legs apart on the tube, right?


And women never, ever keep their bags between their feet.


And they certainly never collapse over into someone else’s seat.

Fat woman in subway, Fat Frau in U-Bahn, Grosse femme dans le métro, Tlustá ¸ena v metru

Nor do they ever take up an inordinate amount of space giving each other pedicures on the fucking train.

women 7

They never fall alseep with their legs splayed.


And they never, ever sport asses so huge they have little choice but to take up two seats.

bus 3

They don’t take up the seat next to them with their bags.

bus 2

Women never carry giant bags you just know are gonna end up shoved in someone’s crotch.


They don’t spread out their legs at the bus stop, cramming Doritos (or whatever healthy snack that is) into their fat maws while airing out the lady cave for passerbys.  Nope.  That neeeeeeeever happens.


This kind of idiocy and first world problem bullshit makes me so angry because it seems deliberately designed to encourage women to get on trains or other forms of public transportation, ignore all the women doing the EXACT SAME FUCKING THINGS, and just spend the journey “leaning in” to perfect their hatred of men.

It irritates me because there is no reason for it. Everyone can be as asshole on the train or bus, and sometimes the things that we consider “asshole” behaviour actually have a pretty good reason behind them.  One of my pet peeves is parents with monster strollers on public transportation.  Or anywhere for that matter.  Strollers are not required.  The number of times I took a stroller on public transportation and forced other people to trip and squish themselves against an ugly, wheeled monstrosity:  ZERO!

Hello, baby sling.

baby sling

Strollers are not required equipment, and taking them on public transportation makes most of the stroller brigade assholes.

Now, having said that, I travelled with Pixie on public transportation with 5 year old LittleBear in one of those gigantic jogging strollers that everyone had to contort themselves to get around.  LittleBear has had his abdominal muscles cut through 63 TIMES, and he isn’t very good at standing up on the subway, so fuck all the haters – he was in a super comfy stroller that maximized his comfort and forced everyone else into some momentary discomfort.


So sad, too bad.  LittleBear had a good reason to be in stroller.  Most kids have no reason.  Their parents are just dicks.

It happens.  People are assholes.  They act as though the whole damn world belongs to them, and everyone else should just put up and shut up.  What this tumblr blog is claiming is that MEN, and ONLY MEN are assholes on public transportation, and that really, really annoys me.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m in a really foul mood today owing to the fact that I despise being colonized by the snot virus, but it seems to me that the level of hate has been ratcheted up a notch lately.  Hannah Roisin, in a recent Slate column, proclaimed that the patriarchy is dead, and that it serves little purpose for women to continue to blame their problems on a nebulous at best entity that hasn’t been in evidence in North America for at least the last 70 years.

Marble Gravestone


Critics responded by creating a list of 39 things the “patriarchy” is responsible for, including vajazzling, juice cleanses, cardio pole-dancing, peak fertility and the fact that women can’t seem to nail down those pesky Nobel Prizes in any meaningful category.


Yeah, peak fertility is totally the fault of patriarchy.  And so are cupcake shaped vibrators.  Totally rapey patriarchy.



Really? That’s your fucking argument?  You’re oppressed by vibrators shaped like cupcakes?

Meanwhile, in the real news, boys continue to slide behind girls in academic achievements, which has profound consequences for our whole society and economy because boys are the ones who grow up to actually MAKE SHIT THAT WE USE.   You know, when they’re not cooling off their gonads on the train.

The achievement gap has life and death consequences for working class men, and men of color, in particular.

“Nearly half of young men of color age 15 to 24 who graduate from high school will end up unemployed, incarcerated or dead.”

Nearly half!   We are throwing away nearly half of our young men of color and the shape of your vibrator is the key issue feminists want addressed?

fuck off


It’s not like the problem is even difficult to remedy.  Bring back vocational and technical training at the high school level – areas of education traditionally dominated by boys, who have this weird little quirk that makes them want to DO USEFUL SHIT.

shop class

The American system for preparing young people to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults is clearly badly broken.

Failure to aggressively overcome this challenge will surely erode the fabric of our society. The American Dream rests on the promise of economic opportunity, with a middle class lifestyle for those willing to work for it. Yet for the millions of young Americans entering adulthood lacking access to marketable skills, the American Dream may be just an illusion, unlikely ever to come within their grasp. If we fail to better prepare current and future teens and young adults, their frustration over scarce and inferior opportunities is likely to grow, along with economic inequality. The quality of their lives will be lower, the costs that they impose on society will be higher, and many of their potential contributions to society will go unrealized. This is a troubling prospect for any society and almost certainly a recipe for national decline.


For all the impressive gains women have made in education and labor force participation, they are incapable of preventing national decline, and indeed, may even be hastening it.

Girls don’t typically grow up to do useful shit that we NEED as an economy and society to survive.  Boys are the ones who grow into the men who do the hard, dirty, difficult, challenging work of creating our machines and keeping them running.  Work that typically doesn’t take place in an air-conditioned office, and tends to be hell on manicures.


The skilled trades sector is in precipitous decline, with few workers in the pipeline to replace the aging workforce.


The majority of those workers are men, and no doubt, will continue to be men, who express more interest in the skilled trades than women.

employment sector


We’re throwing away half of our young men of color, denying all young men the opportunity to learn the skills they need to contribute to society in the way they WANT TO which happens to coincide with the way we NEED them to, and the problem we’re gonna talk about is that they take up too much space on the trains?

trains high

The trains that men designed?

Most engineers are men.


That men built?

Most manufacturing, especially heavy manufacturing jobs are held by men.


That men drive?

Most train conductors are men. In fact, the 2010 census shows 0% of women working as locomotive engineers, which means there are a few, but not enough to reach 1% of the total workforce.


That men maintain?


Another 0% of women work as railroad brake, signal, and switch operators, while a whopping 6% of conductors and yardmasters are women.


I have an idea.  How about until we have a rail line with trains that were designed by women, built by women, maintained by women, driven by women –  how about women shut the fuck up about how much space men take up on the train?

And try taking up a little less space yourself.

women 5

And perhaps, just perhaps, we should start talking about just who is going to continue to run our national transportation network when we throw all our public resources into educating more baristas of arts and ignore the boys who will grow up to design, build, operate and maintain our basic infrastructure?

The patriarchy may be dead, but the matriarchy certainly isn’t, and it looks poised to bring the whole world to a standstill.


Force boys into smaller and smaller spaces, and you destroy us all.

How very clever.

Lots of love,


Of course you can blame the victim. Who else are you going to blame?

25 Feb

Do you have diabetes? Is that because you’re 200 pounds overweight and you maintain your heft with a steady diet of donuts, hotdogs and big gulp sodas?


Gosh, that’s too bad. It’s not your fault, though, sweetie. A nefarious plot between corn producers, the government and convenience store owners caused you to walk by that bag of unsalted almonds and bypass the bottle of water and head straight for the squeezy cheese and nachos. Nothing you can do about that.

There, there.

We can’t blame the victim, now, can we?


Did you grab your boyfriend’s phone and hit him in the face with your shoes and then he beat the shit out of you?


Not your fault. We’re not blaming the victim.

Did you get shit-faced at a football party and chase after some star players and then pass out and get treated like a little tramp?


That was completely unpredictable and you cannot be held responsible. No victim blaming, people!

Victim-blaming is MEAN! It’s an expression of privilege and an advantageous position in a hierarchy of power and it must never be used to further wound or injure people who have, by definition, already been hurt: that’s what VICTIM means.



Are you a working class male suffering from depression and a sense that your life has no meaning or value or direction? Did you deal with your crippling sense of dislocation and detachment by putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger?


Oh. Well, in that case, it IS your fault. You’re the sort of victim we CAN blame.


This is actually very upsetting.

Public policy needs to respond urgently to the problems that men and boys create and the problems that they experience, according to a new report by the Coalition on Men and Boys. This must take place alongside efforts to improve the position and status of women.

Taken from a report called Men, Suicide and Society: Why Disadvantaged Men in Mid-life Die by Suicide.


You can read an excellent critique of the article at A Voice for Men, that highlights some of the key problems with the whole report, but I want to address a slightly different issue.


The report links men’s suicide rate to masculinity and identifies that as a problem. Masculinity, or the idea of “manliness” is a destructive force in society that must be eradicated, thereby “solving” the male suicide problem. If men could just stop being men, they wouldn’t feel the need to kill themselves.

More accurately, they wouldn’t be so good at it.

That’s what I want to talk about.

While men commit suicide more often, women ATTEMPT suicide in greater numbers.


Once again, men are better at identifying a problem, isolating a solution, and carrying through. Part of that has to do with the fact that women attempt suicide as a cry for help. When the weight of their lives becomes too great to bear, they cry out for help.

save me

Save me, please.

I am in no way suggesting that women do not feel the same kind of despair or pain or emotional agony as men, but rather that they respond to that by seeking help in the form of “attempted suicide”. Women surrender themselves to the idea that their lives are out of control and they cannot manage anymore, and they take actions to ensure that someone will notice their pain and intervene.

Men take a completely different approach.

They identify a problem:

my life has become unbearable.

They isolate a solution:


They carry it out.


In the case of suicide, the results are maddeningly, saddeningly tragic. The fact that so many suicides occur amongst veterans is even more heartrending. More men have died by suicide than combat in the recent conflict in the Middle East. Soldiers, who risked their lives to carry out our government’s mandates (whether we agree with that mandate or not), who went at OUR BIDDING, return to confront pain so profound, they take their own lives.


This is a crisis not in masculinity, but in health care. Self-inflicted gunshots are a major and almost always lethal threat to men’s health. The idea that we should address this crisis by identifying masculinity as a problem is laughably, tragically stupid.

Men identify a problem, isolate a solution and carry through. With resounding and incontrovertible success, in most cases. Every single piece of technology, every tool, every device, every object or service we have in our modern world is a result of someone identifying a problem, isolating a solution and carrying through.

Those “someones” are almost always men.



Seeing masculinity as a threat, and something that needs to be undermined is a strategy guaranteed to take us back to the dark ages. It’s nihilism, pure and simple. The death of our culture.

The correct strategy to address the tragedy of male suicide is to intervene at the point that a “problem” is identified. Men who see themselves, their lives, their value, their contribution, their intrinsic worth as a human being as a “problem” ARE NOT HELPED by ideologies that define them as, yes, a problem.

I truly, deeply wonder if the researchers who wrote the report on male suicide are just blindingly stupid, or if they really do want men to die? Most suicides occur amongst middle-aged, white working  class men, the group hardest hit by dramatic changes in our economies and culture. Their jobs have been outsourced, their families have disintegrated, their livelihoods have disappeared and their ability to get the job done is no longer the machine that drives our society.

They’re not particularly useful, are they?


Oh, but they’re good at one thing: dying.

I usually try to end my posts with some smart-ass comment that mocks whatever it is I’m talking about, but today I just can’t do that.

All I really want to do is cry. I wish I could find every man sitting in a room with a loaded gun, wondering if anyone would even notice if he pulled the trigger and tell him:

I would. I would notice. Please don’t. The problem is not you. The problem is not that you’re a man. The problem is a world that has decided you’re useless. A world that exists BECAUSE of men, finding solutions to problems. It’s what men do. They solve problems.

Don’t solve this problem. Not this way.

Please don’t.

Lots of love,


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