Debating ‘Females’

Kay Gabriel at the LARB:

Whether or not she believes them, Chu’s initial theses lead her into a series of chapters in which she theorizes, among other things, gender transition according to the recuperated principles of her personally curated second-wave feminism. Chu quotes her icon Solanas on Candy Darling (1944–1974), an actor and trans woman associated with Warhol’s Factory scene: “[A] perfect victim of male suppression.” (Chu says the epithet was spoken “admiringly”; it’s hard to see how.) Females inclines toward this view, with a twist. Trans women come across as the dupes of patriarchal gender norms, consuming and reproducing the stereotyped and anti-feminist images of the beauty industry. In that mode, Chu describes the YouTube makeup artist Gigi Gorgeous as “in the most technical sense of this phrase, a dumb blonde.” She only recuperates this, frankly, sexist jeer by universalizing its principle: “From the perspective of gender, then, we’re all dumb blondes.” Trading on an alt-right lexicon borrowed from The Matrix, she refers to hormone therapy as “plugging […] back into the simulation.” The charge that gender transition reinforces sexist stereotypes and retrograde gender norms is an old accusation; it doesn’t get more convincing when the person saying it happens to be trans herself. Chu updates this anti-trans feminism by generalizing its theses: she agrees with the accusation that transition sustains the objectification of women, and submits that there’s no way out, for trans people or anybody else.

more here.