An excerpt from Janice Raymond’s brilliant “The Transsexual Empire” (1979).
Finally, and I think most important, there are more male-to-constructed-female transsexuals because men are socialized to fetishize and objectify. The same socialization that enables men to objectify women in rape, pornography, and “drag” enables them to objectify their own bodies. In the case of the male transsexual, the penis is seen as a “thing” to be gotten rid of. Female body parts, specifically the female genitalia, are “things” to be acquired. Men have always fetishized women’s genitals. Breasts, legs, buttocks are all parts of a cultural fixation that reduces women not even to a whole objectified nude body but rather to fetishized parts of the female torso. The Venus de Milo symbolizes this as well as the fact that it has never been restored to its original integrity. “Cunt, ” “ass, ” “getting one’s rocks off, ” “balling, ” are all sexist slogans of this fetishized worldview where even “chicks” and “broads” are reduced to the barest essentials. Male-to-constructed-female transsexualism is only one more relatively recent variation on this theme where the female genitalia are completely separated from the biological woman and, through surgery, come to be dominated by incorporation into the biological man. Transsexualism is thus the ultimate, and we might even say the logical, conclusion of male possession of women in a patriarchal society. Literally, men here possess women.
Definitions of fetishism are revealing in this context. Webster’s Dictionary defines fetish in several ways: First, as an object believed among a primitive people to have magical power to protect or aid its owner; broadly: a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence; an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion; an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression. Second, as a rite or cult of fetish worshipers. Third, fetish is simply defined as fixation. From these definitions, it is clear that the process of fetishization has two sides: objectification, and what might be referred to as worship in the widest sense. Objectification is largely accomplished by a process of fragmentation. The fetish is the fragmented part taken away from the whole, or better, the fetish is seen to contain the whole. It represents an attempt to grasp the whole. For example, breasts and legs in our society are fetish objects containing the essence of femaleness. Thus the fetish contains and by containing controls.
However, the other side of fetishization is worship or reverence for the fetish object. In primitive religions, fetish objects were worshiped because people were afraid of the power they were seen to contain. Therefore primitive peoples sought to control the power of the fetish by worshiping it and in so doing they confined it to its “rightful place. ” There was a recognition of a power that people felt they lacked and a constant quest in ceremonies and cults to invest themselves with the power of the fetish object. Thus to worship was also to control. In this way, objectification and worship are two sides of the same coin. In this sense transsexualism is fetishization par excellence— a twisted recognition on the part of some men of the creative capacities of the female spirit as symbolized and incarnated in the usurped female biology. This usurpation of female biology, of course, is limited to the artifacts of female biology (silicone breast implants, exogenous estrogen therapy, artificial vaginas, etc. ) that modem medicine has surgically and hormonally created. Thus transsexual fetishization is further limited not even to the real parts of the real whole, but to the artifactual parts of the artifactual whole.