"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Women as Property and Trans Hate, Esquire Style

Nine times out of ten, when I open my Internet browser at work with the intention of moving right on to my blog reader, I end up being sucked into the headlines I see on msn.com (the default homepage). The gendered "advice" articles that come from magazines like Marie Claire and Esquire are especially enticing. I know they're going to be ridiculous, but my curiosity always gets the better of me. The one I couldn't help clicking on today was titled:

For Guys: When It's Okay Not to Pay

Although I wasn't expecting any sort of serious commentary on the patriarchal (and misogynist) custom of chivalry, I really wasn't prepared for how offended I would be at their suggestions. Here's Esquire's list of times "when it's okay not to pay" (I've bolded the two that really pissed me off):

On your birthday or any other day celebrating you.

For a wedding gift for one of her friends, or the expenses accrued during said wedding.

If her father is at the table.

When you are too ill to physically lift your wallet.

When she orders the $600 La Mondotte Saint Emilion while you're in the john.

If, between the primi and the secondi, she reveals that she was once a man.

If you traveled more than six hours via Greyhound to see her.

When she absolutely insists.

Okay, now let's just talk about these for a minute. "If her father is at the table." Seriously?! If this doesn't demonstrate what's fucked up about "chivalry" in heteronormative dating, I don't know what else could. It sends the clear message to men that the reason they're expected to pay for their dates is because women are property. That, during dating, women are out "on loan" from their rightful owners (their Daddies), until ownership can be transferred to them upon marriage.

As maddening as the notion of this little "agreement" is, however, it is even more offensive to find out what makes it null and void. There is, of course, no expectation for a man to pay for a woman if she "reveals that she was once a man." I barely even have words for this. I'm sure that whomever wrote this thought they were being really funny, but it makes me absolutely livid. It feeds right into the rampant -- and frighteningly socially acceptable -- ideology that transsexual individuals are somehow deserving of scorn, abuse, and even murder just for existing.

Fuck you, Esquire.