A contemplation of the “trans women are women” mantra from 2014, again from the excellent Culturally Bound Gender.
“I used to use “she” to describe MTF trans people. I used to use “he” to describe FTM trans people. I will no longer engage in this practice, except for when directly speaking to trans people who could conceivably direct violence toward me. Make no mistake, trans folks: many people outside your movement, even the ones who nod in agreement with the statement “trans women are women,” don’t really believe it. When they are women, they have been trained to spare your feelings and to avoid potential conflict with males—especially those who are backed up by other males with violent tendencies. I hope your pronouns feel like a hollow victory, wrested as they have been from the mouths of women who know the wrath they face for saying any other words but the ones you told them to say.”
Another very good post from Culturally Bound Gender on the outrageous claim that women have ‘no shared girlhood’ and therefore may not organise without men:
“Women shouldn’t have to prove anything, including a “shared girlhood,” to be able to meet and organize with other female-born persons without being harassed. The fact that liberal feminists are buying into this idea–that without a universally shared experience, it’s illogical and bigoted for a group to be able to define itself and exclude non-members–is a sign of how far feminist analysis has fallen since feminists started “doing” feminism online.
Why has this happened? Because the internet’s the ultimate proving ground that women talk differently when they have to talk around men and be subject to men’s criticisms all the time. The changes that have occurred to feminism since feminism became part of the blogosphere have been the exact kinds of changes you’d expect to see when women are having to do feminism in front of men. The environment that the second wave operated in was, in some ways, shitty for what it excluded, because the fact that feminist monographs, zines, and so forth were being distributed primarily among white, middle class women left a lot of women out. However, men also basically didn’t give a fuck (except when they were reacting with horror to out of context bits of Intercourse), so women in academia were left to talk and debate about feminist issues without constant comment and intrusion from men declaring a need to be heard and dialogued with.
The internet changed all that. Now, everything has to be released male-ready–or else. Positions determined to be too radical are sanded down, and it’s de rigeur for third-wave feminists to angrily declare that they’re not like those other feminists who are mean and nasty to men, the man-haters, the bra-burners, the TERFs, the Andrea Dworkin, whoever’s the boogeyman identified by men in the comments sections and subreddits where women are trying to do feminism today.
So again and again, you see women taking pains not to offend any men with what they write, because we know what happens to women who write on the internet–especially, gracious me, under their own name!–and who don’t toe the party line. Talk about sexism in video games, get rape threats. Talk about feminism and the oppressiveness of gender roles, get rape threats.”
I’d forgotten how good and thought-provoking a blog called Culturally Bound Gender is. This post discusses autogynephilia from the point of view of an ex-phone sex operator. I can relate to this; I used to be a hotline counsellor, and we got our fair share of men phoning in to masturbate, including many who wanted validation of their femininity. (That there were rapes, DV cases and other traumas in the call queue didn’t seem to bother them).
“When someone who idealizes women in this way transitions to living as a woman, they often talk a lot about losing privilege. What they are actually doing is, very often, nothing of the sort. The trans activists who started out as Silicon Valley nerdy “forever alone” types (who comprised a huge number of callers over the years!) were economically and racially privileged men, but when it came to the patriarchy, they were being shit upon by traditional masculinity. Instead, they’re seeking to move up, not down. They want to move into women’s spaces, where their male socialization will make it easier for them to get ahead, be assertive, and be at the top of their social hierarchy with other women talking to them and ensuring that they don’t feel lonely. Instead of hating the gazed-upon, this kind of person decides that the only freedom from the gazer’s existential loneliness is to become the gazed-upon. Once in the territory of the gazed-upon, the person who has been socialized as a gazer can switch at will in their relationships with women, both sexual and otherwise, a privilege not afforded to female born persons.”
The always-excellent Meghan Murphy has written a great article on prostitution and the myth of choice for Verity magazine.
“The argument against prostitution is fairly simple: Women should not have to have sex with men they don’t desire. Women should be able to survive and thrive without having to accommodate male desires and abuse in order to pay their rent or feed their children.
It’s worth thinking about what it says about a society that believes sex is something a man should be able to buy—what does it say about our culture? Continue reading
One of the things that happens to you if you run a radical feminist, gender-critical page or blog, or even if you just comment on articles from this perspective, is that some dewy-eyed young third-wave ‘feminist’ will turn up and explain breathlessly that you just need to read some Judith Butler, or perhaps some Halberstam, and the error of your ways will become clear. It’s all just a misunderstanding, you see.
It’s a bit like long-time atheists, who are often experienced and critical refugees from early doses of religion, being told to read the Bible. It’s not that the assumption of truth may not be questioned; it’s that the well-meaning evangelist has no idea that the questions have long since been asked, and answered. Continue reading
Helen Saxby has written an excellent summary of the state of play around the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, and the way that transactivists are silencing debate.
“It’s sometimes difficult to remember, amongst all the arguments, exactly what women stand to lose here. The sex category ‘female’ is being asked to absorb the sex category ‘male’. What women are being forced to accept could literally not be any more extreme.”
Read the whole thing here – it’s excellent.
And probably non-binary too.
These days, it comes down to who owns the word ‘woman’. It might all matter a bit less if ownership of the word did not imply access to spaces, housing, social facilities, and if the word itself didn’t say so much about personal identity. But it does, and we are where we are. Continue reading
This is the full text of Andrea Dworkin’s speech to a Men’s Movement group – at the time, supposedly a group combating sexism. It was written 35 years ago, and things have only gotten worse since then, particularly since porn and prostitution have become completely mainstream. Reading it from the perspective of 2017, it reflects the overwhelming failure of third wave feminism to combat the abuse of women in a sexist society. Text is taken from here.
This was a speech given at the Midwest Regional Conference of the National Organization for Changing Men in the fall of 1983 in St Paul, Minnesota. One of the organizers kindly sent me a tape and a transcript of my speech. The magazine of the men’s movement, M., published it. I was teaching in Minneapolis. This was before Catharine MacKinnon and I had proposed or developed the civil rights approach to pornography as a legislative strategy. Lots of people were in the audience who later became key players in the fight for the civil rights bill. I didn’t know them then. It was an audience of about 500 men, with scattered women. I spoke from notes and was actually on my way to Idaho–an eight-hour trip each way (because of bad air connections) to give a one-hour speech on Art–fly out Saturday, come back Sunday, can’t talk more than one hour or you’ll miss the only plane leaving that day, you have to run from the podium to the car for the two-hour drive to the plane. Why would a militant feminist under this kind of pressure stop off on her way to the airport to say hi to 500 men? In a sense, this was a feminist dream-come-true. What would you say to 500 men if you could? This is what I said, how I used my chance. The men reacted with considerable love and support and also with considerable anger. Both. I hurried out to get my plane, the first hurdle for getting to Idaho. Only one man in the 500 threatened me physically. He was stopped by a woman bodyguard (and friend) who had accompanied me.
I have thought a great deal about how a feminist, like myself, addresses an audience primarily of political men who say that they are antisexist. And I thought a lot about whether there should be a qualitative difference in the kind of speech I address to you. And then I found myself incapable of pretending that I really believe that that qualitative difference exists. I have watched the men’s movement for many years. I am close with some of the people who participate in it. I can’t come here as a friend even though I might very much want to. What I would like to do is to scream: and in that scream I would have the screams of the raped, and the sobs of the battered; and even worse, in the center of that scream I would have the deafening sound of women’s silence, that silence into which we are born because we are women and in which most of us die. Continue reading
Here is a really solid analysis from Anti Porn London of why gender performativity, the concept so beloved of queer theorists, is misogynist victim blaming. I’m quoting the last four paragraphs in full because they’re so good, but you can read the whole argument here.
If gender was performance, then there would be a way to perform that didn’t result in rape for women. But men rape housewives. Men rape butch lesbians. Men rape quiet women in dresses and lipstick. Men rape snarling punks in leather jackets and safety pins. Men rape every type of woman. There is no way for a woman to be that doesn’t risk rape. There is no way to perform that lets women escape the confines of gender because gender is not performance; it’s the designator of who can rape – us, the people called men – and who can be raped – them, the people called women. Performance has nothing to do with it.
When gender is a violent, unnatural hierarchy we are born into, the abuse of females is understood as a brutal result of a power structure that subjugates one class of people to another. When gender is an internal, subjective choice we make, the abuse of females becomes a hazard of identification, a set of circumstances implicitly welcomed by anyone who puts on a particular performance – or even an “affirmation of femininity”, in the words of a particularly noxious figure in the trans community.
Conversely, linking the massive privilege bestowed on men to an internal state erases the structural and political institutions that give power to males at the expense of females – and, shockingly, the ideology that does this is being largely pushed by males with the hopes of gaining access to female spaces, female resources, and female identities. This should be troubling to anyone who seeks to challenge actual, real male supremacy – not male-identified supremacy, not cis-male supremacy, not person-with-this-certain-set-of-feelings supremacy. Male supremacy. You know, the violence men do, to women, because we can.
The heart of gender performativity as a concept is a twin project of blaming victims and excusing perpetrators. By obscuring the brutality of our sex-caste system in a postmodern mist that privileges the internal identifications of men – the oppressors – over the material conditions of women – the oppressed – any attempt to throw the strongholds of patriarchy into focus is immediately neutralized. On queer theory, men win, women lose. What a surprise.