Doublethink Nation

Quite some time ago now, I wrote a piece entitled Queer2Trans about what I saw as the increasing dominance of trans politics within queer ideologies.

Interestingly, I came across this call for papers recently, and to me, it very much shows in action an example of exactly the sort of take-over I have been imagining.

The title of the proposed event is AGender: Female and Transgender Masculinities. In a sad and ironic but hardly unexpected twist, it claims inspiration from two lesbian artists of the first half of the twentieth century, Marlow Moss and Claude Cahun; women who refused to live their lives within the narrow constraints their society placed upon their sex.

In earlier times, such women might have been incorporated into narratives of feminist resistance, of lesbian resistance, of female resistance, to the grinding and never-ending forces of male oppression that seek to belittle and destroy all women, especially those who refuse to conform.

No longer, however. These days such women must be understood within a framework of ‘queer resistance’, of ‘female masculinity’ and transgenderism. In other words, the only reason they did what they did was because they were somehow exceptional, internally different from all those other women who were ‘cis-normative’ and happy with their lot as men’s subjugated slaves.

‘Normal’ women are happy to remain slaves; therefore, women who refuse to do so, who aspire to ambition and humanity, must obviously have something male about them, because male is human and female is not. They must practice ‘female masculinity’; they must be transgender, they must not be understood to be the same as other oppressed women who very likely long on some level for exactly the same autonomy and respect, unless they have been so broken and brainwashed they have lost any semblance of self.

It seems the understanding of lesbianism this event is pushing is nothing but a new revolution of the invert identity for the twenty-first century. It’s not a coincidence, perhaps, that both the lesbian artists selected as inspiration for this event, themselves lived during times when the invert identity was in vogue with the medical profession. But of course we can’t talk about how misogynistic and lesbian hating ideologies might have impacted these women’s sense of identity and self-definition. We can’t talk about how that’s still happening now with woman-hating and lesbian-hating concepts like female masculinity and transgenderism that draw correlations between non-conforming lesbians and men.

This is the erasure of lesbians, and more particularly the erasure of lesbians as women. Lesbians are not permitted to be female, to connect with or represent female culture. Somehow, because we reject subjugation, we are seen not as women seeking to redefine ourselves as free females, but as women who emulate men, or who wish to emulate men, women who worship men and male culture (because women never produced anything of value), or who indeed become men.

This is hatred. This is fear. This is erasure. And it’s happening in the name of progress.

Sex Positivity! It Works (Not)

A nice woman I know recently gave me some zines to read, mostly zines written by young, third wave type feminists talking about their experiences of sex, sexuality, rape, trauma and other related issues. A lot of what they related will be pretty familiar to many women – too many of them were used, abused, raped, taken advantage of. Too many of them internalised that self-hatred and replayed it repeatedly in destructive relationships.

All of these women were trying to write themselves towards some kind of healing, towards a greater understanding of what they experienced and why; a lot of them were trying to untangle their own self-destructive behaviour and develop a more positive sense of self, a better relationship to their own body.

So what happens when you throw sex positivity into the mix, which all of these women also identified with/as?

You pretty much get a train wreck.

You get women using the very thing that is going to re-traumatise them as a tool to try and get away from trauma.

There was one woman who related how upset and betrayed she felt when she found her boyfriend watching porn.

“But you’re sex positive!” he said, “you can’t criticise me.”

And actually – according to the rhetoric of sex positivity – he was right.

And yet this woman still knew on a basic, instinctual level that her boyfriend was doing something that was degrading to her, and degrading to other women. And she felt that. Despite supposedly believing in and following an ideology of sex positivity that made it all okay. What sex positivity didn’t give her was the political language with which to explore and discuss her discomfort at knowing her intimate partner with whom she was having sex was getting off on viewing images of objectified and degraded women.

There was also a lot of confusion around the issue of sex – with a lot of them the belief seemed to be the more sex the better – and yet they would also relate how alienated they felt by a lot of the sex they had, how a lot of it happened because of abuse/dependency issues, or an unhealthy need for sexual validation, and that actually it was part of the problem not part of the solution.

But if you’re working within a sex positive framework, then what other solution is there?

Well, I suppose(?) there’s the option to make better sexual choices – talking only on an individual level of course – but there’s not the option to call the whole sorry mess into question. And by the whole sorry mess I mean the entire fucked up structure of hetero-patriarchal relations in which (in the west anyway) enthusiastic sexual availability is demanded of women at all times, sometimes with the caveat of consent (which is meaningless in a culture that is already going to enforce consent through, amongst other clever ploys, the very concept of sex positivity itself).

Why could that be I wonder?

Gee, I bet it doesn’t have anything to do with that smug boyfriend wanking off to porn and saying, “but this is sex positive, and you’re sex positive, so you can’t criticise me!”

Gender Based Violence

I really dislike the terms “gender based violence” and “gender based oppression”. They are locating the oppression in the wrong place. It is our female bodies that mark us as acceptable targets for oppression, and the violence that is done to us very frequently targets our female parts: through rape, through genital mutilation, through enforced pregnany and childbirth, or enforced sterilisation.

This is oppression based on sex, not gender. To say “gender based violence” locates the oppression in our identity as women – an identity which is not even ours, but which is forced upon us as part of our oppression. Gender is in fact a large part of the violence that is done to females. To say our oppression is based on our “gender” implies that we are the ones responsible – if only we would change our “gender identity” to one that society found more acceptable, we would not be targeted. But there is no escape. No matter how we identify our female bodies will still be targed for violence. “Gender” will still be forced upon us whether we want it or not, and those who resist can expect to be punished in female-specific ways.

The other problem with “gender based violence” is that it conflates sex and gender – it invisibilises the fact that gender is a construction, and that the enforcement of “gender” is in fact a tool of oppression that is used against females.

Meanwhile in the Fatherland…

Women are banned from feminist political assembly, but meanwhile mandatory ‘gender identities’ are being imposed on the entire population via questions on the UK’s Equal Opportunity Monitoring forms and the category of biological sex has disappeared…

gender

I refuse to have a ‘gender identity’. According to the society in which I live, being in possession of a female ‘gender identity’ means that I am naturally submissive, that I like make up and pink frilly clothes, that I love dicks and babies, that I am a helpless and vulnerable creature who exists to be raped, abused, made fun of, dismissed and otherwise taken advantage of by anyone with a dick who comes along, with or without a male ‘gender identity’.

Fuck that shit.

Fuck your gender identity.

The fact that I reject harmful cultural stereotypes does not mean that I reject my femaleness. My rejection of patriarchal femininity and the conditioning it entails is what allows me to love myself and other women.

Is the UK Denying the Human Rights of Radical Feminists?

Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the State.

There’s an interesting document produced by the Human Rights Review here all about Article 11, which discusses how the UK may not be meeting its legal obligations to allow peaceful freedom of association, particularly with regards to protests.

According to this document:

Article 11 imposes two different types of obligations on the state:

• a negative obligation, which means that public authorities must not prevent, hinder or restrict peaceful assembly except to the extent allowed by Article 11(2), and must not arbitrarily interfere with the right to freedom of association

• a positive obligation, so that in certain circumstances public authorities are under a duty to take reasonable steps to protect those who want to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. The state must also take reasonable and appropriate measures to secure the right to freedom of association under domestic law.

The document also says,

Article 11 protects the right to peaceful assembly. This means that, unless there is clear evidence that the organisers or participants will use, advocate or incite imminent violence, public authorities have a positive duty to take reasonable steps to protect peaceful assemblies.

The right to peaceful assembly is not taken away even if violent counter demonstrations are possible, or if extremists with violent intentions who are not part of the organising group join the protest. Similarly a protest does not fall outside the protection guaranteed by Article 11 merely because there is a risk of disorder that is beyond the control of the organisers.

*

Do radical feminists not have the right to hold our political beliefs and gather peacefully with other like-minded women? Where is the evidence that radical feminists promote violence against others, or that we are gathering with the intent to share violent rhetoric which will result in crimes being committed against others? Merely having hurt feelings over some of the things radical feminists think is not grounds for denying our human right to have a peaceful political gathering. The law actually has an obligation to protect our right to freedom of political association, and one has to ask what the consequences will be for women and girls all around the world if a powerful western nation like the UK declares that politically marginalised women who are survivors of multiple forms of violence and oppression DO NOT have the human right to gather peacefully with one another in order to build political networks and discuss strategies to end male violence against women. What a wonderful precedent to set.

Do You Understand What Being An Ally Is?

Okay, so I’m seeing  a lot of arguments going around that say because (some) transwomen have been active within the feminist movement and within feminist campaigns, this means that they are entitled to enter any and all women’s spaces, including the few (very few!) spaces reserved for women born women, or FAB women, or biological females.

This is a bullshit argument. Being a good ally to women does not entitle you to acceptance into private spaces of an oppressed class when that class doesn’t want you there. Women are a class oppressed on the basis of our biological sex, and this happens to us regardless of how we present or identify. We have the right to set up and maintain autonomous spaces for those of us who are oppressed along this axis.

Transwomen who argue that they have earned the right to enter women only spaces because of their feminist activism betray evidence of the common nice-guy syndrome. You know, that nice guy who gives his female friend a lift late one night so she gets home safely and then, at some later date, believes he has earned the right to have his dick sucked or whatever else, because he did her a favour. It betrays a sense of entitlement. It betrays an inability to understand that it is not your automatic right to have access to all and any spaces you desire.

White people being political allies to Black people does not give white people the right to enter spaces reserved for people of colour. Men being allies to women does not give men the right to enter women only spaces. Straight women being allies to lesbians does not give straight women the right to enter lesbian only spaces. Are you seeing the pattern here?

Biological women as a group do not have systematic societal power over transwomen as a group. We are not accorded special privileges that transwomen are not. Even stupid ‘cis privilege’ arguments like saying, no one will question your womanhood, is not the case for many non-conforming biological women (especially lesbians) who are frequently accused of not being real women. When biological women organise together on our own behalf, we are not hoarding power and resources that we intend to keep for ourselves to give us an unfair advantage over other groups in society. The fact that transwomen also experience discrimination and oppression does not mean that their situation is in every way the same as that of biological women. Recognising difference is not hatred. Asking for spaces in which to organise around issues specific to biological women is not oppressing anyone. Not going along with the views expressed by another group is not hatred.

Hatred is stalking and harassing those who disagree with your views. It is sending death threats and rape threats to your political opponents. It is disregarding, again and again, the voices of those who are asking for their own spaces. It is shutting down events whose politics you disagree with.

It is the trans* and their allies who are doing this, not those of us trying to maintain the integrity of our own political spaces.