This is an argument I hear from the anti-trans madfems a bunch. Apparently this here socialisation thing really matters and its why people like me who were born and lived a lot of our lives as males can never be women. Muh male socialisation strikes again. The most frequent use of this idea I’ve seen is where they see you saying something slightly aggressive or banter-y and so they reee “nice male socialisation BRO”. SO WHAT IS IT!?
Everyone is socialised and socialisation varies across cultures hugely. The way a Japanese girl is socialised is very different to the way an American girl is socialised for example – though there is likely some overlap. In essence, socialisation is all the messages and information you’re told about how your sex should be. This is the very basis of how stereotypes are perpetuated.
Socialisation is also apparently part of the reason why women tend to be quieter, less likely to want to be noticed, take up less space and fail to negotiate higher salaries in job interviews. Women are socialised to believe that’s their role and so its no surprise that most women aim for that. Ditto, men are socialised to be competitive, aggressive, to value strength and emotional fortitude – boys dont cry etc.
These ideas can be very damaging to people, not least because they hinder people from really reaching their potential but also because if you’re not able to fit the mould of what is expected of you – you could go to extreme lengths to achieve it. External pressure to conform to a certain way of being and looking is to blame for a lot of issues men and women face in our world. Not least of which include things like eating disorders, or the ridiculously high male suicide rate. So there’s a lot of things I agree with the madfems on in regard to socialisation – I definitely think it is a thing which exists and I definitely think the way we socialise people can have huge effects on their lives – but does it invalidate trans people’s womanhood? I don’t think so.
See, the analysis of socialisation by the madfems seems to stop at what the messages are – not how they’re communicated to us and received by us. I grew up around females all my life. My dad has two sisters, my mum has 4 sisters and one brother. I have a sister and a female cousin who I was really close with. I went to mixed sex schools and didn’t really hang out with one particular sex or the other at all exclusively. I watched the same films, listened to the same music, played the same games, and lived in the same culture as females. At what point is it possible for females to have received a different set of messages to me?
Its not, we both received the same messages from society about how men and women are because that’s how socialisation works – it couldn’t possibly work if we were only giving one set of messages to each group. How could they ever cohesively enforce the stereotypes if they aren’t aware of them?
Both sets of messages are passed down to us and we interpret them and relate to the different parts. For example, when a male watches a Disney film he’s taught a bunch of stuff about how men should be – but also about how women should be. He relates to the parts which apply to him and tries to mimic them, and expects women to react the same way as the woman in the fantasy cartoon and vice versa for females. This, combined with all the other constituent parts of our society which make up socialisation as a whole is how we get the alpha male stereotype, or the petite ditsy cheerleader stereotype and all the other stereotypes of men and women that exist too.
Trans people tend to relate to the messages which match our sex identity. This is how and why we feel like these things are entirely internal, but they aren’t – and its pretty sexist to suggest that because you’re a woman you’ve got some kind of natural inclination towards wearing skirts. However, most women have an inclination towards wearing skirts via socialisation – and this isn’t an invalidation of womanhood for them, so how can it be for trans women? The same goes for trans men – most of them tend to get really muscley and buff, they might think that’s an internal part of them but it isn’t, its largely something they’ve learnt about how men should be. It again doesn’t invalidate their manhood, its just something to think critically about.
I bet there’s some radfem reading this thinking “wow they’ve just debunked trans, look its all seterotypes!” buuuuuut. This doesn’t even cover how there are aggressive and competitive females, or shy and quiet males who aren’t trans. There are plenty of women and men who are counter-typical to what you’d expect given how socialisation is set up in our societies. If merely picking up on the ‘wrong’ messages in media and relating to the wrong characters, messages, etc was enough to make someone feel trans – surely all these people would feel trans too right? But they don’t?
Clearly there’s a lot more to why people think they’re trans and we can reasonably assume this has a biological basis, based on the increasing amount of evidence for such claims. This neatly ties up how even if trans women do have male socialisation aspects and enjoy things like “lad banter” – this still isn’t an invalidation of their womanhood, because it wouldn’t be for a female woman either.
I waffled a bunch but those are my thoughts on this whole socialisation shit, hope you enjoyed. 🙂