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You know, I have all these ideals, but I don’t think I’m very good at being a good human being yet.
I admit this post has a pretty inflammatory title, even though there is an important qualifier. I’m gonna leave it the way it is, though, because I think trans women need to seriously consider this notion. And the qualifier is this: Trans women need to step away from feminism if our engagement has the intended or unintended effect of decentering issues that affect women born female and/or otherwise harming the ability of women born female to accurately name, describe, heal from, and strategize against the patriarchal oppression they were born into and still live under. When trans women (all of whom were born male) insert themselves into feminism and demand that the focus be centered away from issues uniquely affecting females, this is the ultimate derail. It is anti-feminism and indistinguishable from patriarchy as usual. Here are some egregious examples.
Vice just published an essay by Paris Lees titled ‘I Love Wolf-Whistles and Catcalls - Am I a Bad Feminist?’. In this article, Lees pays lip service to the idea that not all women need to enjoy street harassment but always as a deceptive veneer of ‘balance’ to her strongly implied point that women who do have a problem with catcalls are overreacting. She mentions not feeling threatened by men who approach her with sexual propositions, while failing to place this comfort within the context of her male upbringing. This is deceptive because males do not grow up and spend their developing years being taught that they are to keep themselves sexually appealing and available to men the way that females do. Incredibly, she acknowledges that street harassment can and often does trigger women still carrying trauma from rape and/or assault, but then expresses doubt that the normalization of street harassment reinforces rape culture. So to answer Lees’ question, this position doesn’t make her a bad feminist, it makes her an antifeminist.
Jos Truitt, an executive director at Feministing.com, routinely derails from females’ issues to switch attention to matters affecting male bodies. In this video for instance, she refers to state requirements of genital surgery as a prerequisite to changing state documentation as ‘eugenics’ and insists that this is a women’s reproductive issue. Calling such genital surgery requirements eugenics is inaccurate and hyperbolic, and this rhetoric harms trans people, especially since transsexuals who undergo genital surgery to alleviate dysphoria willingly exchange reproductive capacity for bodily integrity. But framing this issue as a women’s reproductive rights matter takes the focus away from men’s efforts to control female bodies and switches the focus to male bodies. Trans women who have to bank sperm before genital surgery does not constitute a female reproductive rights issue in any way. This is especially reprehensible considering that women’s reproductive rights are under constant attack. Contributing to this phenomenon and calling it feminism is unacceptable.
Jos Truitt and Julia Serano both call themselves feminists while derailing from women’s reproductive issues (Julia Serano complaining about women’s contraception conversations here). They both also push the anti-lesbian Cotton Ceiling meme (here and here). This insistence that females are bigots if they do not wish to perform sex acts with or upon a penis is homophobic. It is eerily similar in tone to the ways heterosexual males who feel entitled to sex with females demonize women who say ‘NO’. This displays a flagrant, cocky disregard for the sexual autonomy of females that is fully consistent with the campaign of Serano and other trans women against the rights of females to draw their own boundaries.
Cristan Williams is a huge proponent of the slur ‘TERF’ (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), using it as a weapon to silence and smear females who disagree with her trans platform, while insisting that the term exhonerates females who accept Williams’ words without complaint. To be clear, this is an example of a male entering a female movement and claiming the power to decide who is a good feminist and who is a bad feminist. This is not only male entitlement by definition, but it is an attempt at destroying feminism from the inside. The TERF meme has caused huge, bitter rifts in feminism and many feminists find themselves constantly sideswiped and distracted by arguments about this contrived, purposely devisive term. Williams also fights against safe spaces for women by continually denying the possibly that overly-vague gender identity laws open the door for abusive men to purposely trigger or victimize females in spaces designated safe for them. Williams routinely reacts to reports of these instances by trying to poke holes in the complainants’ stories, discredit the sources and blame ‘TERFs’ instead of entertaining the idea that a more nuanced and balanced approach to legislation and policy would benefit both females and trans women.
There are tons of other examples just from Cristan williams alone (demonizing groundbreaking, vital feminist thinkers for their views on transsexualism and encouraging feminists to boycott important female-empowering texts in the process). There’s Laurelai Bailey popularizing the hashtag #dearcisfeminism to smear and silence trans-critical females. There’s Sophia Banks encouraging trans people to appropriate, attack, and discredit the hashtag #sharedgirlhood, robbing females of the language to describe and bond over their oppressive experiences growing up under patriarchy.
These are the contributions of trans women to feminism. It needs to stop. I say this not because I hate trans women, but because I care about women born female. I care about taking on the patriarchy instead of using its reversals against females. Feminism is not something we can simply claim. If we’re not approaching feminism with empathy and respect to learn and support, we are doing harm and need to leave.
Are you PMSing?
Yes. Yes I am. I am in my pre-main-sequence… soon I shall light up the sky and become a STAR!!!!!
You on the other hand will be subjected to living the rest of your life as a brown dwarf… have fun.
I’m told by my femme friends that there are cosmetic lines that exist specifically for black women, especially of darker complextions. So, this #LupitaForMac shit got me thinking, amongst other things, that this is yet another centering of whiteness. Why ask for her to be a part of Mac when she could model for a make-up company that exists for Black women as is?
I mean i don’t wear make-up, although i’ve done some light reading, so let me know if i’m full of shit
no, exactly. It’s like saying, ‘hey, you guys exist as a sideline, we’ll give you this sideline because we want to cash in on Lupita’
You guys, the casting for Annie isn’t racist. It’s just that Quvenzhané Wallis was the best actress out there to play that role.
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