QotD: “That’s the fundamental difference between liberals and radicals; one destroys truth to avoid confronting power, and one confronts power to avoid destroying truth”
Radical feminists are so often painted as being unfriendly or unaccommodating towards intersex people because radical feminists are the ones consistently naming the social and political structures that actually do oppress intersex people, and liberals have a nasty habit of confusing someone naming the reality of an oppression with someone propagating that oppression.
They seem to think that saying Hey folks, our violent gender system currently separates people into two absurd and inhuman classes based on genital shape means the same thing as Hey folks, wouldn’t it be great if a violent gender system separated people into two absurd and inhuman classes based on genital shape? And thus, radical feminists and gender abolitionists more broadly are pegged as the reason for intersex people’s oppression, when in reality that oppression is being propagated by the very system that radical feminists and gender abolitionists oppose – you know, gender.
Gender abolitionists work to (surprise) abolish gender and, with it, any society that determines its social arrangement around genital shape. In a post-patriarchal, gender-free society, male, female, and intersex people would exist quite a bit like blue-, brown-, and green-eyed folks do now; one might be comparatively rarer than the other two, but no system would exist to put massive social value on one biology over the other.
Male and female (and intersex) people would still be recognized as distinct categories, and sex-specific medical care – as well as sex-specific spaces to deal with things like pregnancy and menstruation – would still obviously exist, but only in the way that we currently treat different blood types or left- and right-handedness. The current pressures on intersex people to “pick” manhood or womanhood would not exist, and the coercive genital surgeries and hormone treatments given to intersex children would be considered a barbaric cruelty of the past.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? A world where individuals can live, male, female, or otherwise, as human beings first and foremost, pursuing their dreams and desires in a way that isn’t constrained by two artificial gender boxes? Where your genitals matter when they actually matter (reproductive health and other sex-specific considerations) and not when they don’t (99% of every human being’s life ever)? That world is possible, and it doesn’t require closing our eyes and pretending that male and female don’t exist as discreet categories. In fact, rejecting male and female as discreet categories smacks a little of admitting defeat.
After all, if you met someone who had the bizarre belief that the only solution to white supremacy would be dyeing everyone’s skin purple at birth, you would assume that they have adopted this strategy because they can’t imagine a world where people could have different skin colors and still be equals. And when I see queer theorists saying that the sex binary is inherently oppressive, I can’t help but think it’s because they can’t imagine a world where male and female could exist and not dominate each other. Radicals see the material reality of biological sex and reject a system that uses those facts to organize its oppression of females; queer theorists, on the other hand, can’t separate the two – the non-oppressive reality and the oppressive fiction constructed in relation to that reality – so their only option to avoid the resultant abuse is to deny the facts.
Queer theorists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression, and they react by dismantling the notion of biological sex; feminists see the intimate connection between biological sex and oppression, and they react by dismantling oppression. That’s the fundamental difference between liberals and radicals; one destroys truth to avoid confronting power, and one confronts power to avoid destroying truth.
(emphasis is red added by me)