02 February 2011

Backlash Against Whom And What?

What I said yesterday about the un-funny Saturday Night Live sketch brings to mind a conversation I had with a colleague.

She remarked that she sees more violence against women in the media as well as in the real world.  While I could say that I'm simply noticing those things more, I would have to say I agree with her.  And, according to her, pornography has also grown more violent against women.  I'll take her word on it, if for no other reason that it makes sense.

Some would call the violence a "backlash."  Against what and whom?  I guess some people (mostly men but, surprisingly, some women as well) think that women who assert themselves and do the things they want to do are somehow transgressive.  Transgressive against?--I could insert the usual suspects here:  the established order, the boys' club or any number of other manifestations of the same thing.  But, also, it violates some ideas some people still hold, however covertly, about family structure and roles.  

Calling it a "backlash" implies somehow that the women who chose to become engineers and lawyers are in the wrong.  It certainly is a reaction--almost a Newtonian one, really.  It's true that any time someone tries to push forward, someone else pulls back.  Beatniks and hippies came to be during the repressive social and political atmosphere of the 1950's, and the first feminist movement came to be during the Victorian era.  And the Tea Party gained steam, if not traction, as the first black President and Hispanic female Supreme Court justice were being sworn in.

Substitute "transgender" wherever I've used the word "woman," and you'll understand why, although there is greater and broader acceptance of transgenders than there was in my youth (one reason why I'm glad I made my changes during the past few years rather than in my youth), there also is, or seems to be, more violence against us.  And we're being ridiculed more and more in the media as well as in person-to-person encounters.  Some would argue that it's a good thing if for no other reason that it means we're more visible.

Yes, we're more visible.  But too many don't see us as people; we're still seen as trans or, worse, guys in dresses or women in overalls and flannel shirts.  So, in that sense, we're as invisible as the man in Ralph Ellison's novel.  That's how the SNL producers make things like that sketch I talked about.