Maloney, who believes ‘she’ has always been female, nonetheless feels a need, or perhaps an obligation to resort to invoking a raft of feminine stereotypes in order to satisfy society’s expectations of said female-ness: dressing appropriately ‘feminine’, high heels and coiffure; adopting a suitably ‘female’ name…
One can scarcely miss the irony that Maloney dedicated his former life to a profession that, the armed forces aside exemplifies more than most, pure, unreconstructed masculinity. If one accepts the broad feminist analysis of ‘femininity’ as ritualized submission; then boxing surely represents its counterpart as ritualized domination. The prostitution of the male gender rôle. In this context, Maloney, where once he pimped others; now pimps himself: and it’s telling that he felt it necessary to ‘take a step down’ to do it.
In the former Maloney‘s world, you can beat the shit out of a guy and still adopt a position of ‘respect’. It’ll be interesting to see how he will fare in the face of the inevitable brickbats; whether from sexist reactionaries or feminists.
Can you imagine me walking into a boxing hall dressed as a woman and putting an event on? Can I (as a man) imagine Maggie Thatcher’s parliamentary career; or Rosa Parks taking her place on that bus? Well, no: but they did it, as women; unlike this chap; who clearly fell headlong into Orwell‘s memory hole.
What he has done in effect is to substitute one gender stereotype for another; a move which certain pundits describe as brave. Whether one accepts that or not, there’s surely an imperative to interrogate the nature and substance of said bravery?
Popular liberal doublethink rejects the notion of gender dichotomy in favour of a ‘spectrum’, fluid and various. What this spectral model fails to adequately address is why men – or former men, if you wish – are praised for said bravery upon coming out (i.e. rejecting their masculine rôle and affectations) whilst so many women are harshly-criticized, threatened and abused for rejecting the trappings of femininity. Second-wave feminism has largely lost what political currency it once had precisely because it demands what so few politicians – and pundits – nowadays live in fear of doing: taking sides. Intellectual debate and heartfelt emotional commitment are subsumed in the mud of the political mainstream; the desperate grab for the vote; the popularity contest. A Bush-esque ‘with us or against us’ mentality, facilitated by social media has filtered down to the hoi polloi. ‘If you disagree with me, you must be a hater – and it’s never been easier to shoot that load of egotistical bile into the electronic ether, uninhibited by social conscience.
He certainly demonstrated little conscience with regard to his wife of 15 years, which in itself is unremarkable: unfaithful men rarely do.
We’re all sexist to some degree, because the socio-political environment in which we’re raised is. We start soaking it up long before we’re even aware of the fact. The ‘hardest’ of men, imprisoned for their criminal violence recreate gender – both deliberately and at least in part, subconsciously – within captivity, complete with female slurs and pronouns. The softest still rail – or not – against an internalized sense of entitlement and inadequacy, even as we try to do good.
In this context, it’s hard to entirely blame ex-boxers and ex-servicemen who abruptly announce to the world that they’ve really been female all along. They’ve been raised in a toxic environment where taking blame or otherwise exhibiting weakness is ‘other’. Feminine. Female. But the truth is out there, to quote X Files; and the reality is that ‘Frank Maloney‘ did make a handsome living from training young men to beat the shit out of each other: he’s exploited his position of ritual dominatrix in a way that makes his latterday ritualized submission a decidedly comfortable prospect compared to many less-privileged folk; and if we let him identify out of that responsibility we’ll be letting ourselves down.