QotD: “both the snake oil merchant right & the zanier reaches of the rainbow left are currently tripling down on the idea that women have a social duty to fuck men”
You can tell me horseshoe theory is nonsense all you like, but both the snake oil merchant right & the zanier reaches of the rainbow left are currently tripling down on the idea that women have a social duty to fuck men & that to refuse is to either cause or perpetrate violence.
I think we need to boost Catherine Bennett, for making the connection, in a mainstream newspaper, between the male violence of MRAs and ‘incels’ and the male violence of trans activists (This article is published in the Observer, which is editorially independent from the genderist trash-heap that is the Guardian).
In the days since the Canadian man murdered 10 people, a good deal of attention, including glossaries of special terms, has focused on the peculiarities of “incel” online behaviour. Here, the standard misogynistic repertoire – “you deserve to be raped”, etc – is ornamented, a bit, with coinages such as femoids. But actually, so what? To many social media users, neither the language nor the sentiments expressed in posts such as the one above, however far along the woman-hating continuum, are likely to look radically out of the ordinary.
Apart from anything, Jack the Ripper, who would now be the toast of angry celibates, had the disembowelling idea 130 years ago. And further demonstrating that misogynistic tropes are by no means the monopoly of resentful male virgins, curators at San Francisco library are currently staging an exhibition featuring a display of dissident-silencing weaponry (axes and bats) and other hate-advertising artefacts.
Photographs of one vitrine, featuring a red bespattered T-shirt reading: “I punch terfs!” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists/women who disagree with me), may have struck a chord with anyone following the current UK debate about the government’s self-ID proposals. To date, threats, from one side, which echo, inescapably, some of those in the pro-Rodger playbook (“die in a fire terf scum”) have yet to generate comparably widespread concern, even after a woman was punched. Her assailant had earlier expressed the wish to “fuck up some terfs”.
For many prominent women, the violence threatened by Rodger fans must sound especially familiar. Caroline Criado-Perez, to whom we owe the new statue of Millicent Fawcett, is just one brilliant woman to have been rewarded, on Twitter, with sexualised menaces (”choke you with my dick” etc), which attracted nowhere near the appalled interest that now surrounds “incels”, as we should surely agree not to call these men, and not only because it implies that involuntary celibacy represents a special condition. It’s often called, for instance, “being single” and is what dating websites were invented for.
To agree to use the lads’ pet terminology, is, moreover, to suggest that something distinguishes them from legions of other threatening men expressing a similar wish to control, punish or just silence women and, critically, in similar language. Such as, to non-compliant sexual targets, “choke on my dick”. A glance at Twitter confirms how generously such abuse has been accommodated, even as the repetitive insults and threats indicate gendered hostility to women in general.
If sexism does not explain how rapidly the language employed against dissenting women (including some trans women) in the UK self-ID debate, degenerated, in some quarters, into generic-sounding obscenities (eg, to unco-operative lesbians, “choke on my ladydick”), perhaps it’s because social media has for so long facilitated the delusion that hate speech, as applied to women, is simply part of the landscape.
The very odiousness of the misogynist language that has become, according (pre-Rodger) to one academic, Emma Alice Jane, “a lingua franca in many sectors of the cybersphere”, may help explain, she argues, why the “ethical and material implications” of this form of hate speech have been so under-studied. Hate speech that persists unchallenged, by both – for their different reasons – reactionaries and progressives, is unlikely, anyway, to be corrected.
Maybe women should skim the Elliot Rodger plan for subjugating their sex, if only to appreciate that, once non-subservient women are expected to live with obscene online threats – and axe exhibitions and punching – at least some elements of his vision have surely been realised.
You might have thought that the #MeToo campaign, in which women have been speaking out about the universality of sexual assault and rape, would make people more sympathetic to concerns about female safety. You would be wrong: nothing makes you look more liberal these days than shouting at women who express anxiety based on their experiences.
But then, as with experts, apparently we’ve all had enough of lived experience now. When a 19-year-old trans woman was elected a Labour woman’s officer last year, a Labour councillor explained that “lived experience as a woman” was not a pre-requisite to be a woman’s officer. Biology, too, has been deemed terribly passe. “Inclusive feminism,” Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood wrote when considering why self-identifying trans women should be allowed into women’s refuges, understands that “gender is a complex and deeply personal thing, and is about so much more than outdated ideas of biology.” On the day of this year’s Women’s March, trans model Munroe Bergdorf tweeted that to “center reproductive systems” at the demonstrations was “reductive and exclusionary”.
I’m trying to think of anything more patriarchal than telling women to stop fussing about vaginas at a Women’s March. A biopic about the Old Testament God starring Mike Pence? Because none of this is about making feminism inclusive; it’s about policing the way women talk about their lives. No one – male, female, trans or not – has the right to do this. Inclusivity means campaigning for the greater good of the group, not catering to each individual’s differences – can someone please tell Bergdorf that Irish women are still fighting to repeal the 8th? Female biology has been used by men to oppress women for millennia, and to tell women not to talk about it now is another form of oppression.
Intriguingly, some of the most passionate arguments I’ve had about this have not been with trans people, but with liberal men. I surely speak for all of us ladies when I say I love nothing more than when a man explains to me, at some length, what a woman now is. I only have 40 years’ experience but, as we all know, experience is old hat now. There is something, shall we say, revealing about the way these “woke bros” take such glee in calling women (older ones, especially) who talk about their rights and bodies “terfs” – trans-exclusionary radical feminists – and insist they shut up or risk ostracism.
Women have had to fight so hard for a place at the table, for the right to define themselves, for spaces where they feel safe. Any man who sneers at them now for worrying about the shifting paradigms, offering only meaningless platitudes or accusations of bigotry, is showing his male privilege.
There is understandable concern about being on the wrong side of history. But I’ll tell you what has never put anyone on the right side of history: shouting women down. Gender is a feeling and biology is a physical fact, and the reason women-only spaces exist is not to protect some special inner feminine essence, but because there are significant physical differences between male-born bodies and female-born ones, and the latter have long been at a disadvantage.
This is something women and trans women will have to work out between themselves, because this is a woman’s rights issue. Any man, who has no idea what it’s like to be oppressed as a woman or self-identified trans woman, and who comes riding in on a white horse and tries to shut down the debate with inflammatory language, is not helping. There is no simple solution to accommodating both the rights of self-identified trans women and other women. In some cases, they’ll share spaces, in some they won’t, and sometimes a third option will have to be found.
Contrary to what some men think, the feelings of self-identified trans women are not the only ones that matter. There are a couple of four-letter words for those who insist otherwise. But “woke” ain’t one of them.
I do like Hadley Freeman’s writing, and I do find it amusing that the most radical feminist Guaridan journalist started off as a fashion reporter (Julie Bindel is an independent journalist, and hasn’t written for the Guardian on trans issues since 2015).
The Guardian does not report on trans/gender issues fairly or honestly (there have been so many propaganda-type articles recently that I’m saving them all up in the hope of writing about them sometime soon-ish), and I can’t help but think this article has been ‘allowed’ so that it can be pointed to as proof that the Guardian is ‘fair and balanced’ on this subject (all news is click-bait now anyway).
There are pro-trans pieces in the Guardian every week; Sheila Jeffreys had an article published back in 2012 (a response to an article by Roz Kaveney calling radical feminism a cult).
The Guardian is, for lack of a better alternative, still my ‘daily’ paper, but, while there are individual Guardian journalists I trust, I do not trust the Guardian ‘brand’ as a whole, and I sure as hell won’t be giving them any money.
QotD: “I would love to know, if it’s not the artificially constructed social status bestowed on them due to their biological sex under patriarchy, what left-wing men think makes any of them *not* women.”
I would love to know, if it’s not the artificially constructed social status bestowed on them due to their biological sex under patriarchy, what left-wing men think makes any of them *not* women. What do they assume they have/feel/think that women don’t?
I honestly don’t see any essential difference between me and these men beyond a) my female body and b) their social privilege. But obviously they have some magic qualities they just can’t bear to reveal.
i hope you hit your limit yesterday.
yesterday, male people told you precisely how pathetic, worthless, & contemptible they find the female experience.
to them, any attempt to organise as female people is laughable & shameful. no matter how abstract your slogans (“no uterus no opinion” makes no attempt to exclude anyone from womanhood), no matter how obfuscatory your circumlocutions (”dfab”, “dmab” in reference to unambiguous sex). any solidarity between female people will be ridiculed as the enterprise of “cis women”, i.e. members of the female sex who have not dissociated from it.
i hope you listened to them & i hope you saw their tantrum for what it was: the same entitlement, the same ego, the same contempt for female people, the same ignorance of female experience.
engels said that: The first class antagonism which appears in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between man and woman in monogamian marriage, and the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male.
patriarchy, male supremacy, institutional sexism, whatever you want to call it: it is the sex-class system through which male people subjugate female people, first & foremost to assert control over reproduction.
bell hooks said that: “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.
feminism is the movement to dismantle that sex-class system. feminists must speak lucidly about sex, sex-class, socialisation, & reproduction.
& yet that speech & movement is condemned as oppressive, exclusionary, & cruel to male people, because sexist male people will never be happy with feminism. never. it’s not worth it to try to appease them.
the whole “abortion is too exclusionary to bring up at a women’s march” thing makes no sense regardless of how you define woman (i.e. “female people” vs. “anyone who identifies as a woman”).
is rape an appropriate topic for a women’s march? not all women are raped. not all rape victims are women. is bringing up rape at a women’s march oppressive to women who haven’t been raped? if never-been-raped women protested that anti-rape activism “excluded” them & hurt their feelings, would we take them seriously? if never-been-raped women proclaimed that anti-rape activism “reduced women to rape victims”, would you take their side?
so is female reproductive autonomy an appropriate topic for a women’s march? every person that suffers under the exploitation of female reproductive capacity – denied abortion, forced abortion, forced impregnation, etc. – is a member of the female sex. the vast majority of those people consider themselves “women” (or the equivalent word in their language).
so what if members of the male sex feel offended & excluded by discussions of male exploitation of female people? their bruised egos don’t need to be assuaged by women.
if rape can be discussed at a women’s march, why not female reproductive autonomy?
it would actually be great to discuss white feminism with respect to white women uncritically expecting black women to take over their domestic roles when white women “empowered” themselves in the workplace in the 60s and 70s or, like, white women CEOs exploiting women of color globally in sweatshops so they could join the boy’s club of millionaires, but no…. alas……. it’s not to be……… instead we get to say that referencing menstruation is the pinnacle of white feminism
Those on the frontline of this rage know it is there. Millions of us marched last Saturday. This has rattled Trump, who is obsessed with size, with ratings and with reviews. But let us now pursue clarity and strategy, and name what is happening.
Patriarchy is the sea in which these sharks gather. I am glad to see that people are using this word again. It went out of fashion for a bit when feminism was portrayed as a series of tedious personal choices over shoes, shopping and sex toys. But the concept of patriarchy is essential to understanding what is happening right now. It is a system by which men hold power over political leadership, moral authority and every kind of social privilege, over women and children.
Patriarchy is not some men-only affair. Many women play a role in sustaining it. The far right, by the way, is not afraid of using this word. It claims it as the basis for all that is good in western civilisation. The elevation of Trump is absolutely patriarchal fundamentalism. He has swept up a lot of the Christian vote because of it. The adulation of Putin is the worship of another white power based on patriarchal rule: unapologetically anti-women, anti-gay, anti-black and anti-Muslim. It is obsessed with displays of masculinity to the point of fascist camp. The right promises the restoration of a time when men were men and women were sanctified mothers or whores. Such authoritarianism may be delivered by both men and women. As the American author and feminist bell hooks says, patriarchy has no gender. It is not situated only within the individual – which is why screaming “Sexist!” at someone only gets you so far. Were the women who voted for Trump furthering patriarchy? Yes, obviously. They may believe it can protect them.
The dismantling of this power cannot possibly come from those who won’t name it and spend the entire time shoring it up, largely reaping its benefits: that is, much of the liberal establishment. By assuming the culture war had been won, the myths of impartiality and neutrality have allowed far–right voices to go unchallenged. The assumption that we all believe in equality, are anti-racist, love an art gallery and some heated debate turned out to be wrong.
Patriarchal power asserts itself through cultural as well as economic resentment. And that is everywhere. The oft-repeated sentiment that feminism is itself an extreme movement is evidence of how liberalism bows down to authoritarianism.
So much more important now than whether dullards profess their allegiance to women’s rights while refusing to listen to women is understanding who will get down on their knees to service the new man-child patriarchy. And those of us who won’t. The power of telling it like it is is ours.