Redefining Realness by Janet Mock: A Book Review

Originally posted at Liberation Collective

Janet Mock is a transwoman author who has strong opinions on gender and the sex industry shared in this memoir. Mock discusses many topics, but this review will cover five: essentialism, the term “cis”, the term “fish”, hormone blockers for children, and the sex industry.

In the memoir, Mock’s discussion of childhood frequently delves into ways that parents or circumstances threatened or validated “the girl” within. Being punished for wearing a dress was “hammering the girl out” (p 22); a haircut would “cut the girl right out of me” and cause “irreparable damage” (p 32). Being molested “validated the girl-child inside of me” and involved being treated “like a girl” (p 45). It is profoundly sad that Mock subscribes to the same anti-feminist rhetoric that tells us that the purpose of females is to be violated, and that expressions of femininity are natural for women.

Feminists have faced accusations of essentialism for our belief that socialization into a particular gender has lifelong consequences for women, yet Mock is here expressing a different type of essentialism— the type that feminists have long fought against, and the type that Paul Ryan and other religious conservatives or brain-sex advocates espouse.

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