Name: K. Athena Brown
Sex: Transgender female
Orientation: Attracted to women
Location: Portland, Oregon
Background: biomechanics, nutrition science, mental health
Country of Origin: United States
I got involved in feminist research in the later part of 2013, when I was transitioning. I was getting told all sorts of bizarre things about what life would be like as a woman – mostly from other women. I was told that men were going to “objectify me”, that I had to be careful when I went out at night, that I’d be earning less than men, and all the usual jazz I’m sure you’re probably familiar with. I was prepared to face these challenges as a woman, as I wanted to be treated just like any other woman… but they never came. Men never “objectified” me. They were certainly attracted to me! They were always so nice, and asked me out frequently – usually working up the courage first, and being all nervous when they finally did… so I started to think, who gets nervous talking to an object? Who works up the courage to ask a household object out on a date?? This didn’t make any sense. Also, my paychecks started going *up*, not down.
I started reading about some of these things, and wrote some of my preliminary ideas in an email to another trans friend. That just opened up the flood gates, because the exchange quickly went south. Very soon after the discussion began, I was suddenly a “rape apologist”, and being brainwashed by this thing called “patriarchy”. That exchange nearly ended a 20 year friendship with this person, and at that point, I was determined to learn all I could, and write an email back responding to all these points. I still wasn’t sure what patriarchy even was – but I knew I wasn’t brainwashed, I knew I didn’t walk around being oppressed everywhere, and I certainly knew I wasn’t a rape apologist.
I seriously wanted the last and final answer in the question for how, when, where, and why this whole “patriarchy” thing got started, because that seemed to be the cornerstone for all Third Waver theory. I wanted to know at precisely what point a caveman hit a cavewoman over the head with a club and dragged her back to his cave, and then turned that into a system of government. I wanted to know exactly when it was decided that women were worthless, and forever relegated to scrubbing things – until just recently, when, through centuries of unrelenting hard work, wome FINALLY taught those big bad men to stop beating them and treat them like people, all thanks to feminism.
I also wanted to learn about male privilege. I spent 30 years as a male and was homeless during most of that time. I faced going hungry over and over again. I frequently worked 2 or more jobs just to have enough to eat while studying science in a parking lot, hoping to educate myself into something that would lead to me being housed. I kept myself healthy by never using drugs, drinking, or smoking, and stayed in shape doing pull ups off street signs and pushups with my packs on. I became suicidal more than once. And this all changed the day I became a woman. Suddenly I had housing. I had people giving me things, and treating me immeasurably better. So I really was curious about that privilege I was supposedly having! And that I now do not have.
This is what lead to me spending around 8 hours a day, for a year and a half, studying everything I could find on the subject of feminist theory, using the skills I developed during years of biomechanics research to help me in the process. I wrote up a rough draft of a book, and sent it out to numerous individuals with a variety of backgrounds to critique and scrutinize, asking everyone if they could find any flaws in what I presented.
The result was a book on feminist theory – which I wanted to make free and available to anyone. So I uploaded all the contents online, where each topic covered in the book was turned into it’s own webpage. The site is now www.4thwavers.net