Imagine a world where people with blue eyes are not allowed to enter buildings. There are many strategies blue-eyed people could adopt to survive in this situation. They might listen to all the reasons blue-eyed people should stay out of buildings and decide that’s the right approach and be okay with it. They might hate it, but decide they can’t change anything, so they just have to accept it. They might decide that blue-eyed people should start awareness campaigns so that everyone understands that blue-eyed people are like them and do well in buildings. They might just start making their way into buildings. They might decide to blow up buildings.
Let’s say that, in this thought experiment, blue-eyed people have made progress, and while they aren’t often found in office buildings, you’ll find them crowded into hallways and teeming in common areas. But it took decades and generations of hard work, and even now podcast hosts, preachers, and politicians speak openly about the need to get blue-eyed people back on the outside.
In this scenario, where blue-eyed people have made life-enhancing gains but are still under pressure to abandon those improvements, there is another strategy that blue-eyed people could use: actively working for the exclusion of people blue-eyed buildings. while sitting in said buildings. The strategy here is to personally take advantage of all the advances that blue-eyed people have made, while indulging with people who hate blue-eyed people so that when blue-eyed people’s periods of oppression become really intense, you have some protection. oppressors, because you say what they want to hear. Blue-eyed people in buildings are wrong, but you, a blue-eyed person, stand in this building taking advantage of all the benefits of rooftops and air conditioning to keep blue-eyed people out.
It’s a movement we could call “The Marsha Blackburn”.
This week Blackburn decided to poke fun at a trans TikTok star, Dylan Mulvaney, while tweeting, “Dylan Mulvaney, Joe Biden and the left-wing radical crazies want to make this nonsense normal.” She included a video of Mulvaney doing her TikTok thing.
Y’all, before we continue, let’s take a moment to laugh at this crazy old man watching this 25-year-old’s TikTok videos. I am old. I’m not the age of Marsha Blackburn, who is old enough to be my mother, and I have no idea who Dylan Mulvaney is. It’s the luxury of getting old. You don’t have to pay attention to the young stuff. If it’s really good, someone will tell me about it. But I’m not sitting around crawling on the social media accounts of people young enough to be my grandchild. The video Blackburn is so mad about? Mulvaney posted it in May. May! It’s almost November.
Is Blackburn so outraged by Mulvaney that she watched six months of his videos? Blackburn is like the preacher leafing through women’s magazines to see if each one is as guilty as the last. At some point — long before “I Watched This Kid’s Tiktok Videos For Six Months Just To Make Sure She Was As ‘Absurd’ As I Think” — the outrage turns suspicious.
But let’s talk about making absurdity normal.
Marsha Blackburn has an education. Not just the eighth-grade education that the most privileged wealthy white women have been able to achieve for most of educational history, but a full college degree. She speaks in public. She holds the position. She votes. She is a business manager. She wrote a book. She wears pants. Shit, her husband is alive and her name is “Marsha Blackburn” instead of “Mrs. Chuck Blackburn. She only has two kids. And she plays sports! A well-known way to ruin your uterus.
At any other time in the past 500 years, Marsha Blackburn (and let me be clear – me too) would be considered to have rejected her biological sex. His way of being in the world would have been understood as his “trying to be a man”. Blackburn has taken so much advantage of the gains that feminists have made to convince people that women who do things like, oh, public speaking, don’t make us “men”, and here she is trying to chart a hard line between “real” women like her and women like Dylan Mulvaney. If we take the perspective of all of modernity (see, for example, how Lady Macbeth changes her gender) and not just of the past century and a half, Marsha Blackburn may look like a woman, but she is a man on the inside. She is what she perceives to be Dylan Mulvaney.
It is only because of the sweeping changes we have made to our understanding of sex and gender over the past 150 years that we all (mostly) accept that women can ‘act like men’ and still be women. ; that leading religious services, holding a position or having personal opinions does not change our sex; and that regardless of all the manly things we do (like having a career or our own bank accounts), we are women because we recognize ourselves as women. Our internal knowledge of our own gender is our gender, whatever “manly” things we might do.
I would argue that because we women here who do “masculine” things have benefited so much from these shifting notions of gender, we should extend that same grace to other women who may have “masculine” traits. We who know how painful it is to have “you act like a man” or “you look like a man” on our faces while we are simply trying to live an authentic life should not reproduce our trauma on others.
And look, I don’t want this to be taken as making the argument that cis women were trans women all along. This invalidates the experiences of trans women. But what I want you all to understand is that most women here live lives that for most people for most of modern history would not be recognizable as women’s lives. Some people would deal with this dissonance by understanding us as secret men, and others would deal with this by understanding that being a woman is not what they thought it was.
But we cannot cement our position as women with culturally “manly” features who deserve to be recognized as women by labeling ourselves as the gender police. Well, I take that back. Of course we can. Marsha Blackburn did. But going back to our original storyline, we’re all standing in a building that a lot of people think we don’t belong in. If we admit that some women really don’t belong here, it might strengthen the positions of individual women who are willing to impose such non-belonging, but it makes it acceptable to get rid of women who are “wrong” d one way or another.
And most of us are “wrong” in some way. Including Marsha Blackburn.