Janet Mock‘s recent autobiography, Redefining Realness, embodies Simone de Beauvoir’s famous quote “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” This is not because Mock is a transgender woman, but because her story converges with those of so many women who have encountered abuse, poverty, drug use, and body image issues as they struggle to own their sexuality and be comfortable in their own skin. Mock’s path is nothing but extraordinary, and it is with great respect that we read her tale and note these 5 Feminist Truths within its pages.
1. WOMANHOOD “There is no universal women’s experience.” (xii)
2. FEMININITY “[Our world] frames femininity as artifice and fake, in opposition to masculinity, which often represents ‘realness’.” (124)
3. PASSING “Examples of people ‘passing’ in the media, whether through race, class, or gender are often portrayed as leading a life of tragic duplicity and as deceivers who will be punished harshly by society when their true identity is uncovered.” (155)
4. SEX WORK “Our society criminalizes underground economies like sex work, and deep moral biases and stigma make even the most liberal folk believe that these actions are a moral failure of the individual rather than the workings of a system.” (206)
5. IDENTITY “Living by other people’s definitions and perceptions shrinks us to shells of ourselves, rather than complex people embodying multiple identities.” (249)