Guest post by Solveig Lehmann
Everyday feminism wants the women’s liberation movement to be terribly worried by the alleged anti-feminist harm done by little penis jokes.
Once again, they have confused feminism with women spending all our time wondering if our words make men feel bad. No. Men feeling that it’s abusive for women to not be nice enough about their penises is just patriarchy, if not outright men’s rights activism.
Men’s performance of anxious masculinity, especially efforts to publicly overcompensate for insecurity through displays of aggression and dominance, can often be observed to have nothing to do with the actual shape of any part of their bodies. Though it’s certainly centered on the penis, and often phantasmic fears that theirs is too small.
We can know that men obsess over the size of their genitals in particular because they tell us. Oh, how often they tell us. Most women learn to see the particular intensity and quavering fear underlying male genital self-obsession from a mile away. They may even talk instead about honor, or respect, but they’ll make it painfully clear to the women in their immediate vicinity that all these words stand for is a demand that we be considerate of their penis.
It may not be nice to make fun of people, but this article simply encourages men to continue putting their insecurity at the forefront of women’s concerns, and to demand that women be even more reverent and accommodating towards them. This is a perpetuation of patriarchy.
, Gender Critical
, Patriarchal Institutions
, Women's Liberation
Guest post by Keely Emerine-Mix
Under no circumstances, ever, at any time, is it appropriate to compare the legitimate, factual, courageous, moral imperative that spurred the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s with the attempts by transwomen to access intimate female spaces. Ever.
Do not conflate Jim Crow and the segregation of public spaces by whites against Black people with attempts to open women’s bathrooms, shelters, prisons, locker rooms, and other female-only spaces to male-born people. Don’t cry that this is “the New Civil Rights frontier!” Don’t suggest that the injury to men correctly barred from women’s private spaces is anything even remotely like the humiliation, hatred, and hurt caused to people of color during the years of legal public segregation. And whatever you do, do not suggest that the preening belligerence displayed by men who demand entry into women’s spaces is really just the same bedrock courage, dignity, passion, and righteousness of those who occupied lunch counters and public toilets to win for others basic civil rights.
It’s not simply incorrect. It’s delusional; more than that, it’s ignorant in the extreme and criminally, obscenely, arrogant.
Guest post by k8 monsta
Editor’s Note: Horton is a Women’s Holiday Centre set up in England in 1979. It offers low-price holiday accommodation, in a friendly and supportive environment, for women and children who were otherwise restricted by their circumstances. It was made possible by donations from women and many hours of women’s volunteer time. Thousands of women, children and groups have used the house and it has become a well-established and well-used resource for women in the north of England and beyond. The House has been sustained successfully since then through a combination of income from visitors, donations and fundraising, and many hard working volunteers.
As a women’s holiday centre, Horton’s policy says “we are able only to welcome women born women and living as women.” So it is unsurprising that it has attracted the attention of those who support “trans women” i.e. men, who want to be able to go there. A petition has been created which states “We are 65 women who have either visited or would potentially like to visit the Women’s Holiday Centre, and who feel strongly that you should change your Gender Identity policy.”
This has sparked much discussion on Horton’s Facebook group. This post is based on a comment by woman about her views about Horton and the need for truly women-only space.
Here we have a woman saying that these men are “more of a woman than me”…
I’m thinking of the Brit guy, the bloke who was a boxing promoter for twenty years… He was a father to several kids, a husband, obviously a son and quite possibly a brother…
Trying to get my head around this geezer being “more of a woman than me”….
Are we plumbing new depths of masochistic self abnegation here?
Is this altruism raised to a new power of lunacy?
Guest post by Karen Thompson; cross-posted on Listening to Lesbians
Editor’s note: This post by Karen Thompson is in response to an episode of the television program Transparent, which disdainfully and contemptuously parodied the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and the women – mostly lesbians – who called it home for 40 years.
(1) One of the things about festival that is so fucking amazing is the sheer magnitude of female competence. The stages, the sound, the tents, the everything is put together with such care and consciousness and that everything — made out of spit and bandaids — can look like something so polished, so professional, so ON POINT. It’s not that we make nutloaf; it’s that we make nutloaf for THOUSANDS OF WOMEN over OPEN FIRES in all weather. For free.
So the general fucking HINKINESS of the look of the “Idlewild” shit pissed me off because it looked jacked up and like someone threw a camping party in someone’s backyard instead of the sheer magnitude and scale of ability that is demonstrated at fest the minute you walk in the gate. And that lack of attention to that sort of detail (when the slickness and smoothness of everything else on that show is never skimped on), once again ignored female competence and what we can do without males.
Which was one of central liberatory aspects of Festival for me.
Guest post by Syd Mutschler, cross-posted on Listening to Lesbians.
Editor’s Note: This commentary by Syd Mutschler is originally from June 2014, not long after the Indigo Girls reneged on an agreement to play at MichFest in August of 2014. At the time, they made quite a public show of their sudden boycott of an event that the Indigo Girls as a group and Amy Ray individually had played many times. They gave the organizer of the event very little notice that they were pulling out and did so well after brochures, posters, and other materials had been printed and women had bought tickets expecting to hear them at the Festival. Treating women who had supported them financially and in other ways over many years this badly would be ugly enough, but they undertook this boycott after many years of the exact same controversy, yet it hadn’t stopped them from playing and spending time at the Festival at any time in the past. This was very likely a decision based purely on finances (they were afraid that they would be boycotted, yet they continued to play at a venue with an owner with extremely questionable ethics), not deeply-held beliefs about “inclusivity.”
As the yearly debate about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival heats up, I have been having a lot of thoughts around boycotts, artists pulling out from the line-up, or artists who have stated they will not play again until the intention of the festival is changed from a gender/sex separate space to only a gender separate space. Artists and trans activists such as Red Durkin have made a lot of statements about why they will not play or why the festival should be boycotted, but I find them to be vague, condescending, emotionally manipulative, and intentionally inflammatory.
I just read more commentary about the midwife controversy over who gives birth and breastfeeds babies, while having to look at the arrogant mug of the breastfeeding transman who has attacked women for wanting to use the word “woman.” It reminded me of Elizabeth Hungerford’s brilliant three points about “if transwomen are women” and I decided to adapt it.
The maxim “trans men are men” is either a false equivalency or we’re going to have to re-write every dictionary and encyclopedia and medical textbook and pretty much all of recorded human history, science, and language.
I maintain that the maxim is false, for at least these three reasons.
Guest post by Kate Leigh
I couldn’t honestly tell you when I started following a liberal intersectional feminist philosophy. It was simply part of my thought process and by extension, my life, online and off. I followed all the blogs and pages. I contributed comments and shares. I told people to check their privilege and men need feminism too. Liberal feminism was the only feminism of which I was aware. In fact, I never called myself a liberal feminist while I held those views. I called myself a “Feminist” without realizing there were other types.
With a fresh memory of what went through my own mind as I held these beliefs, I endeavor to describe my experience of the liberal feminist point of view in the next section. In the final section, I explain how and why I changed my mind.
The Liberal Intersectional Feminist Mindset
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.
, Gender Critical
, Lesbian Community
, Lesbian Feminism
, Liberation Collective
In a recent anti-radical feminist screed, published prominently on several leftist blogs, a trans* activist attempted to equate gender critical analysis with homophobia. This is the latest twist on the conflation of the lesbian and gay rights political movement with the trans* political movement. And it’s the latest indication that it will be lesbians, other women, and girls who are most harmed by that conflation.
Though there are claims that our groups have reason to have a strong political alliance, it’s arguable that Gay, Inc. – the large, well-funded and influential political groups – created this conflation simply to increase funding and reach. There doesn’t seem to have been a period of time where lesbians and gay men were allowed any discussion or input about this decision. But there are obvious reasons to question the unholy alliance.
The media was horrified when Christina Aguilera appeared on stage in 2012, with what appeared to be menstrual blood running down her leg during a performance at Etta James’ memorial service. The barrage of tweets that followed described the incident as gross, embarrassing or speculated that it was really fake tan. But whether the comments were negative or supportive, the uniform assumption was that any woman would be embarrassed to have menstrual blood running down her leg in public. And yet, this would not always have been the public view.
, Patriarchal Institutions
, Women's Work
IDENTITY VERSUS SOCIALIZATION
I want to explore what “woman” means when male-born persons can be “women” just the same as female-born persons.
Most significantly, the term “woman” must be disconnected from the socio-historic context that gives the term coherency in the first place. Without any material or experiential framework “woman’s” origin becomes irrelevant; she can be anything or nothing at all.
When male-born persons can be “women” just the same as female-born persons, the skin-deep veneer of social identity is being substituted for the complex, lifelong process of class-based socialization. This is neoliberal individualist choice-theory masquerading as the politics of liberation.
Guest Post by DragonDyke
A trans-abled person is someone who wishes they had a particular disability, and, as much as possible, lives their life as if they actually had that disability. This could mean using a wheelchair whilst being capable of walking, not using a limb that feels alien or any other number of variations. Often individuals will think of self-harm or actually attempt it in the hopes of bringing about the desired disability and some trans-abled people seek surgery from professionals.
Those who see themselves as trans-abled believe they have the right to live as if they had the disability they want. This is viewed as their right to personal freedom which doesn’t harm anyone else. They also point to the condition of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) – described as a psychological condition where an individual would feel happier e.g. living as an amputee – as a reason for their condition.
Margaret Thatcher has died. The very famous Conservative British Prime Minister enacted a number of controversial policies from 1979 – 1990. She was rightly criticised for, amongst other things, destroying the British coal mining industry, weakening the trade unions through various legislation, and increasing unemployment to over 3 million people.
She is not a likeable woman. But this is not justification or excuse for those in the left to spew misogynistic insults. The word bitch is being frequently used to describe Thatcher. Memes and videos stating “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” are being shared over Facebook and insults used such as “ugly cow.” And it is not simply men reveling in sex-specific insults. Radical feminists are also using words like witch, reblogging misogynistic memes, or excusing others who choose to do so.
Women give men implicit permission to use misogynistic insults against Margaret Thatcher when we do this.
Guest re-post by Maggie H.
This post is the final part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.
Definition: As this is the final part here, I would like to make it clear by what I mean by BDSM for the purpose of this series. BDSM is ‘Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism (formerly known as ‘sadomasochism’); a form of patriarchal sexuality involving the eroticisation of the symbols of slavery, misogyny, captivity, rape and torture. It is a sexuality that involves the most egregious dynamics of domination and subordination (a.k.a. ‘dom/sub’) and the sexualisation of pain and/or danger.’
So what happened to the woman-identified woman nowadays? Let me first go back to the origins and causes of the mainstreaming of BDSM within contemporary lesbian culture and communities. I will then elaborate more on how BDSM prevents revolution.
Back in the 1970’s, Radicalesbians released a statement saying that “a lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion” as a feminist call for woman-loving lesbianism. During the 1990’s, the lesbian pornographic magazine On Our Backs gave this statement an odd twist with proclaiming that “a lesbian is the lust of all women condensed to the point of explosion.” This was the beginning of lesbianism being socially defined solely on sexual terms. This was the end of woman-loving lesbian feminism.