Guest post by Liz Waterhouse
When an article on Germaine Greer was posted by the Star Observer recently, I noticed that the comments were aggressively misogynistic. Distressed by how much this excluded and insulted women in the LGBTI community, I asked posters to stop using such hurtful and upsetting language. As a lesbian, I expected that my community would be a relatively safe place, and I expected a degree of solidarity. What resulted was hours of increased insults, ridicule and finally personal abuse. It left me wondering why the community would attack a request for basic respect and why any woman would speak out if this is how they were treated.
Most responders were male and they used crude, aggressive and dismissively sexist language to attack first Greer, and then me, in post after post, correctly assuming that their comments would be tolerated by other posters.
Eventually, the Star Observer intervened and deleted the worst of the comments, but there remained a steady stream of insulting posts, eventually escalating to personal messages of abuse and lesbophobia.
Particularly upsetting were comments like this one:
Modern feminism is increasingly focused on the concept of allies, both within mainstream feminism, and even within some elements of radical feminism. In mainstream feminism, women often proudly declare themselves allies to women of colour or to Trans people. In radical feminism, being an ally takes a slightly different course: men are encouraged not to see themselves as radical feminists, but as allies who support radical feminists in their work.
The aim of declaring yourself an ally often, although not always, comes from a well meaning place. It is usually motivated by a desire to support the fight against oppression that another group experiences when you are not a member of that group. But it is, at heart, a neo-liberal philosophy. Read More
, Gender Critical
, Patriarchal Institutions
, Women's Liberation
-Janet Mock, Author of Redefining Realness-
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.
Huffington Post and Autostraddle both ran articles on January 27th, 2014 about the hashtag #protransprochoice and a petition started by three young adults: Beck Martens, Alice Wilder, and Calliope Wong–a transwoman who caused a media flurry in 2013 about being denied application for enrollment at a female-only college while Wong was still legally and anatomically male. The Autostraddle article is entitled #ProTransProChoice: Launching A New Reproductive Rights Movement. That’s right, a whole New Movement to accommodate gender identities! I consider this a particularly disturbing example of conflating ‘gender identity’ with physical sex and a stark reminder of what “sex not gender” means.
The #protransprochoice call for a New Reproductive Rights Movement demands that NARAL and Planned Parenthood spend their precious, limited funds on media campaigns that explicitly cater to the gender identities of trans* people:
The rhetoric of the pro-choice movement is typically based around the assumption that only folks who identify as women are hurt by restrictions on reproductive health care – such as abortion and contraception. #StandWithTexasWomen took the stage in 2013; “Trust Women” has been the mantra of this movement for decades. This language excludes trans* and gender non-conforming (GNC) people and thus, the movement has failed to address our reproductive and sexual health needs.
The offense is that speaking of “women” generally does not affirm or validate the identities of trans* people. Referring to abortion as a “woman’s” issue is unacceptable because, one, it does not include reference to female-born transmen who might need abortions and, two, not all “women” have vaginas. It makes trans* people feel unimportant and left out of the conversation. The #protransprochoice hashtag is just the latest iteration of on-going attempts from the pro-trans lobby to de-sex the way we speak about reproductive rights.
This post is based on a comment to another post, but because the commenter didn’t even bother to make it about sexual orientation (which is the topic of the post where it came in as a comment), I’m not addressing it there. I am addressing it because this person demands that we “stop conflating transsexuals with transgenderism.” While that is a divergence from the very common, “trans women are women, so just get over it” variety of counter-argument, the support for that demand is no less full of lazy reliance on tropes and common, but discredited beliefs:
TransSEXuals do not transition to gender roles. They transition their SEX.
Here is the real-world, scientific definition of “sex” when applied to humans:
“The sum of the characteristics that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive function and either of the two categories, male or female, into which organisms are placed on this basis.”
Many feminists object when I say that the sexualization of dominance is anti-liberation. While I analyze BDSM practices through a feminist lens, they see me as stomping into their bedrooms and wagging my finger.
But none of my writing or conversing on the topic is done with the goal of “shaming” people who practice BDSM, though I am frequently infuriated by men who use BDSM culture to push women beyond their stated limits.
Rather, I am compelled to analyze the sexualization of dominance and submission through a feminist lens because radical analysis is as I see it central to dismantling oppressive systems of power. Read More
This is my response to the reactionary and misguided “A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism” (The Statement) posted at FeministsFightingTransphobia.wordpress.com.
We can all agree, I think, that people’s actual lives are more important than theoretical abstractions– including those related to “identity.” This is precisely why, as feminists, we demand acknowledgement for the lived realities and material conditions of women’s lives, including the social mechanics of sex-and-gender-assignment that ultimately give rise to women’s oppression. But beyond this, there are a truly alarming number of misrepresentations, inconsistencies, and logical errors in The Statement. I will address many of them below.
First things first, I want to point out that characterizing gender critical feminists as “transphobic feminists” remains unsupported where “transphobia” is not defined. Repeated use of this term to demonize a certain kind of political speech or political actor is clearly intended to be insulting rather than instructive; it serves as a way to shame us and any of our potential supporters into silence. Personally, I have no intention of insulting other feminists and escalating hostility by using similar epithets to describe them or their political views.
Throughout this response I will refer to myself and others who share my general view of gender as gender critical feminists (no acronym). Because that’s what we do. We are feminists who criticize gender as a harmful social construct that distributes power unequally.