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Author Topic: male-bodied
evilstrawberry
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I have a terminology question. I have been engaged in a discussion with someone concerning abortion (and the entire conversation is a whole other story) but in one of my comments I used the term "male-bodied" in the context of "Ultimately, while the male-bodied person involved can give input, the woman is going to be carrying the brunt of responsibility and whether she can or wants to do so is mainly up to her."

While the person I was debating with took issue with almost every part of my argument as well as all questions posed to him, I did find out that he ended up using my use of the term against me: "statements concerning me as a "male body" instead of the "father" in the hypothetical situation abhorrent, implying that I would not have the rights of the father in that situation. That is wayyy out of the mainstream - hence, "FemiNazi, shithead, etc." She insulted me directly and purposefully, so I returned the favor."

He's clearly proved himself a bigot as well as a loose cannon, but it did make me think about the term "fe/male- bodied" I used it without a second thought, simply to refer to anyone with male genitalia and the ability to contribute sperm to create a pregnancy. I probably just picked it up as part of my lexicon from various blogs on sexuality as well it being used often here.


I assumed it appropriate to use as a gender-neutral term when discussing sex/sexuality since it is possible for a male-bodied person to cocreate a pregnancy but to identify as female-gendered (not as a man), as might be the case for a transsexual person. Should have know better to use inclusive language with this one.

I'm just curious what other people think since I would hate to be saying something inadvertently offensive or inaccurate. (Edit- offensive to the people who actually matter and care about transgender/ any gender references- I'm not concerned about the guy in said conversation.)

[ 02-02-2011, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: evilstrawberry ]

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Heather
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Terms like this are in a constant state of evolution, especially over the last ten years. That's good, because so many we've used have been so problematic.

I do think male-bodied (or female-bodied) are problematic and have had it explained to me by others as well, that they are, and I can certainly see why. The biggest issue is simply about assigning gender to a body, period. This is a problem around there being more than two sexes and way more than two genders, but also a problem because gender identity doesn't always "match" a given body or set of body parts.

I don't think there are easy language shortcuts yet, and that's probably for the best. So, I'd suggest just thinking about context. What you were talking about what simply people who cannot become pregnant, and I think that's the best choice here, with something like this. So, you could say, "The person who is, themselves, pregnant, is the person who bears the greatest burdens and responsibilities of a pregnancy."

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evilstrawberry
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I understand it would probably not be appropriate as a blanket term that all people would agree with. As I said I used it without a second thought and probably picked it up from here in the reference that I mentioned.

I do like your version better:
"The person who is, themselves, pregnant, is the person who bears the greatest burdens and responsibilities of a pregnancy."
and wish I had used that, not that it would have made any difference in reasoning with this person.

So do you think in the future I should refrain from using it for that meaning, or even for any meaning? In my mind it was a rather benign way of conveying "the one with the sperm"...

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evilstrawberry
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For example, this context

"Female-bodied people have some testosterone in their bodies too. Theirs is produced mostly by the adrenal glands, which are an additional source of testosterone in male-bodied folks."
via
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/anatomy_mans_best_friend_male_sexual_anatomy

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Heather
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...and you found a place we need to update! Thank you, I'll edit it today. This is an area where because of changing language a lot as we all have and evolve this cultural conversation, we have to frequently make edits. [Smile]

I think the tough thing is that someone a given person would consider male-bodied a) may or may not consider themselves to be so and/or b) may or may not be just because we're assuming they are.

For example, I have a couple who are friends where one partner is in an MTF transition. They've also been trying to become pregnant, using her sperm. If and when that happens, who knows where she will be at with her transition, but at that point, while she already is not male, she also may not be anyone's definition of male-bodied, certainly not hers. Know what I mean?

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Heather
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By the way? I talk about this stuff for my living, and I'm always changing language and also often fall back on old language out of habit and use terms or framings I'd prefer not to, or later realize weren't appropriate or sound.

If and when I do, when I can, I just apologize and move forward. It's okay for you, like any of us, to stumble with this stuff and to be in process. The fact that you even think about it already puts you pretty far ahead of most folks.

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evilstrawberry
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If you're looking to update, I also found the term at the following links:

"What's masturbation (female-bodied/identified and/or male-bodied/identified)? "
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/whats_sex

" male-receptive anal intercourse (where the intercourse is in a male-bodied person's bottom, not a female-bodied person's)"
http://www.scarleteen.com/birth_control_bingo_no_pregnancy_risks

as well as in "Yield for Pleasure," "Disability Dharma," and "Where DID I Come From? A Refresher Course in Human Reproduction," as well as several polls and advice responses.

I think I would like some further clarification on whether my using it in that context was justified...since I was using it generally and it was not directed to any specific person? While again, your rewording is better, would saying male-bodied in the context that I meant it be better then just saying "man"?

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evilstrawberry
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I think it is probably better that I am learning this under the circumstances of not actually offending someone who identifies differently because I would feel way worse. In this case, the guy is just mad that he thinks I hate men and reduce them to "male-bodies," as well as being offended by the fact that my reasoning behind it was to include...well I'll just say he was not sympathetic to my trying to include anyone other than just "man and woman" in a discussion [Frown]
Lesser evil?

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Heather
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In other words, he was offended because he felt like you were thinking of him the way he likely thinks about women? [Razz]

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evilstrawberry
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Pretty much... [Roll Eyes]
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Saffron Raymie
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Haha I love that, some people that objectify women really do act like the world is collapsing if they hear anyone do it about them. I saw it happen the other day, but right after, he went back to speaking about how awesome 'wet t-shirt competitions' are...

The English language really isn't helpful with this. I try to say Double X people for women and XY people for men, and anyone else...hmmm problematic because I can't really guess *anyone's* chromosomes.

Those who cannot become pregnant is an awesome way round it. It's not really revelent unless it's about having sex or reproduction, or anything medical to do with sex organs.

I LOVE Delusions of Gender btw Hev! [Big Grin]

[ 02-03-2011, 09:28 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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evilstrawberry
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Other than my questionably-interpreted use of "male-bodied," there was nothing I ever said to him that was demeaning of objectifying. My radical notion of the person who is the one physically becoming pregnant being the main decision maker in whether to carry to term was basically just the most infuriating idea to him.

I am most annoyed that after he blew up and resorted to name-calling and deleted his comments (luckily I had already copied and saved them), he basically emailed my boyfriend (they were friendly prior to this event) and informed him that he did not "hold him accountable" for what I said to him or what I may actually believe. Really. You can't make this stuff up. They went back and forth for a while, with this guy arguing over my words with my boyfriend, and I'm like, hey, how did this conversation get taken away from me and given to my boyfriend, who was not involved other than as an onlooker? Boyfriend agrees with me, yet he was not insulted, dismissed, and his opinion utterly rejected. He was commended for his chivalry in defending me however....

The bigot blocked me on facebook, and honestly, I just about had a party. When someone that hateful and intolerant hates my guts, I think I'm doing something right.

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Saffron Raymie
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Sorry Strawberry, I really didn't mean for it to sound like I was accusing you of objectifying anybody, of course you weren't, I say 'male-bodied' all the time. I just get so hyper and excited when anyone hints at critercizing objectification.

Hmmm, does it make you feel better that by going to your boyfriend about you, he's just prooved himself to be really ancient in his views, thus invalidating any ideas about choice?

I just got blocked on Xbox live by another sexist bigot, we could have a party together? [Big Grin]

[ 02-03-2011, 11:53 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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Heather
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Oh, wow.

So, he doesn't hold your boyfriend responsible for his unruly little woman? Wow, that's big of him. (Note, levels of sarcasm off the charts over here.)

Sounds like you ran into someone who you couldn't have said anything right with, evilstrawberry. It also sounds like he probably DID get the gist of exactly what you were saying, but simply was one of those guys who is really threatened by and unhappy with the fact that pregnancy isn't about him and is outside his control.

Thankfully, there are many men who aren't like that. Would that more of those guys were the ones voting on policies about reproduction!

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Djuna
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Wow. This guy sounds like a massive jerk. I can't believe he "told on you"! I'm glad that it sounds like your boyfriend wasn't impressed by this guy's behavior.

quote:
So, he doesn't hold your boyfriend responsible for his unruly little woman? Wow, that's big of him. (Note, levels of sarcasm off the charts over here.)
That's exactly what I was thinking, Heather. I yelled "excuse me?" at my screen when I read "he did not "hold him accountable" for what I said to him."

I am hearing that in what you originally said, you compared "woman" to "male-bodied person", which to me seemed to be privileging womanhood for little apparent reason. Why not "female-bodied person?" I agree with what you said about the choice being the woman's, though.

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evilstrawberry
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quote:
he probably DID get the gist of exactly what you were saying, but simply was one of those guys who is really threatened by and unhappy with the fact that pregnancy isn't about him and is outside his control.

I'm thinking that was the case here, especially since he seemed to be particularly stressed over how abortion takes away a man's right to father. (those were his words, almost verbatim). He also compared pregnancy to a contract: "if both parties are to have equal rights - which I support - then the man's opinion needs to carry just as much weight as the woman's, no more, no less.... If agreement after the fact cannot be reached, then they have no choice but to honor their prior status of agreement, since it cannot simply be voided by one or the other wanting out. It's like a contract - a MUTUAL OBLIGATION."
-facepalm-

He conveniently ignores all cases where pregnancy was actually trying to be avoided in the first place. Actually, he ignored all cases other than his created scenario, of a man and a woman, who are married, and the woman has a mental breakdown and up and decides to have an abortion. I attempted to explain that this was an unlikely situation and people do not typically randomly decide to abort after going through various preparation for a wanted pregnancy, but to no avail.

quote:
I am hearing that in what you originally said, you compared "woman" to "male-bodied person", which to me seemed to be privileging womanhood for little apparent reason. Why not "female-bodied person?" I agree with what you said about the choice being the woman's, though.
I can see where that may have been misleading. I used the term ONCE in the way you might substitute "man" with guy/father/"male-bodied/etc, simply as a textual thing where you're trying not to use the same word over and over. Didn't even cross my mind that it would or could be take so negatively (though keep in mind, he did not EVER say directly to me that he took offense to that term particularly- I only found out through his subsequent emails with boyfriend. Had he actually asked me about it or brought it up in our conversation, I would have clarified my usage of it, which was obviously not meant to demean.

Now I'm kicking myself for letting it slip either way though, since A)I've since learned that it's not a completely accurate term to be using, B)He latched on to it as something irrelevant to the conversation to use against me and C) You're right, though I only used male-bodied once, pretty much for the sake for not sounding repetitive, I didn't use "female-bodied" at all, which, to someone already predisposed to wanting to think I hate men, could be taken as inequal.

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Heather
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Facepalm indeed.

The really sad thing, for me, about people who talk like this guy was is that he's making statements that make it clear he wants to parent, but likely with some motives that tend to contribute to poor parenting and poor co-parenting.

Not getting it, or refusing to accept it, when one parent bears burdens or has risks another does not is a pretty huge big-bad, and suggests that person is probably going to be just as blind to any other scenarios with a co-parent where there are inequities or with their child when there are inequities.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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evilstrawberry
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Out of curiosity, and actually related to what you're saying, I made word clouds for both this guy and I from our conversation, and it occurred to me that the word "wife" was one of the major words he had used. He claims to be all for equality, and yet seems to massively overlook that he framed all of this in the context of HIS wife, HIS child, HIS rights...it really does sadden me, especially this part:

"If someday I am married and my wife and I decide to have a child, and once she becomes pregant she has a mental breakdown and wants to legally abort the baby, I'm not going to agree.... However, society will FORCE ME to accept my wife's change of heart about MY CHILD regardless, resulting in my child being taken away from me without any wrongdoing on my part, simply because my wife would hae decided to go back on that commitment. You want to talk about RIGHTS? Apart from the fact that I would NEVER forgive my future wife for that, what part of that societal intervention is justifiable to you?"

Are these kinds of people fixable?

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Heather
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One thing that stands out to me is that he talks about society forcing some of these issues to be out of his hands when really, it's biology that forces that. And I think it's fair to say that a whole lot of women would rather that wasn't the case, and that biology didn't create that group of inequities.

Do or can people thinking like this change? Yep. Not all of them will, but they certainly all have the capacity to change and plenty likely will, especially if they really pay attention to and get involved with the people in their lives who can/have become pregnant and their realities. (That is, if they let him: someone like this can tend to obviously feel pretty unsafe to be real with about pregnancy, and when I was working in the abortion clinic, patients with partners like this tended to keep their pregnancy and termination secret, even when it was due to things like severe health reasons.)

But I think folks like this are more likely to shift their thinking due to life experiences rather than compelling arguments, so personally, I choose to limit how much I engage with someone like this, both for my own sanity, but also because I know whatever I say is likely to only do so much.

[ 02-07-2011, 12:32 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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