Playing Nice Here With Radical Feminists

January 9, 2007 ·

In category:Opinion
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More Thoughts On The Gender Binary and Feminism

For the past week or so, I've really had my mind rapped around the "gender binary" and feminism. (maybe it's because I'm reading Jen Burke's "Breaking The Binary)." I'm no expert on either, so I'm looking for some direction on…
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Carnival of Bent Attractions: Now Playing at Mombian

At my personal site, Marti Abernathey.com, I hosted "The Carnival of Bent Attractions." The Carnival of Bent Attractions is published monthly and is made up of submitted blog posts on articles of interest to the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans and…
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Transgender YouTube Sunday

I don't know why I didn't see this earlier, or why it just now hit google alerts, but I think it's a pretty good interview. ------- I love this video. I'm going to burn it to DVD and start giving…
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Boycotts, hypocrisy, and the Christian Right's favorite scare tactic

As many readers may be aware, the American Family Association (sponsor of conservative Christian news site OneNewsNow) has organized a boycott of McDonald's. (At various times during the past decade AFA has also boycotted Ford, Target, and Disney.) According to…
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“Lesbian Erasure” as Code Talk for Trans Bashing

On WMST-L (a large Women’s Studies Listserv with over 5,000 members from around the Globe) there has been a thread with quite a few responses about the so-called issue of “lesbian erasure.” Apparently, some radical lesbian feminists feel that their…
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#TERFweek: Let's not repeat our history

The following article was published in 1974. Note the way the overall public held anti-trans views in contempt. Note the dismissive way the author of this article reported on TERF bigotry. I think this article serves as an important cautionary tale because I…
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  1. […] It was New Years Eve when I got the but when I learned of this post, and I’ve spent the last 13 days digging around the radfem blogosphere reading all the posts that sprouted from that initial post. One post in particular caught my attention. As the thread developed you could see each side digging in for the long haul. As of Thursay morning, I stopped posting there because I could feel the negative energy building, which started to wear on my physically and mentally. I’ve been thinking about why it was so important for me to post there after the post went extremely negative. […]

  2. Can’t I kick out the silly separatists from “radical feminism”? I predate most of the posters, in all likelihood. Or do I have to rename my outlook “systems analytic feminism” or “trans-inclusive feminism”? Or “anti-patriarchy-ism”?

    However, I am all for the binary, it’s how we got here in Networld in the first place:

    000101111010101000010111010110001101010 (no clue if this spells anything in ascii)

  3. Can’t I kick out the silly separatists from “radical feminism”? I predate most of the posters, in all likelihood. Or do I have to rename my outlook “systems analytic feminism” or “trans-inclusive feminism”? Or “anti-patriarchy-ism”?

    However, I am all for the binary, it’s how we got here in Networld in the first place:

    000101111010101000010111010110001101010 (no clue if this spells anything in ascii)

  4. Marti – good i’m glad that I inspired pissedness and inspiredness. Also my grammar was shite in that comment. Sorry. nice to meet you!

    Binary…..i’m so sick of that word.
    Can we start anti-binary campaign? Around the world? Stickers? Slogan? T-shirts? IF I come up with the design can somebody make the T’s ?
    Binary and gender language is not integrated into mass media. Surely there’s a way.

  5. Marti – good i’m glad that I inspired pissedness and inspiredness. Also my grammar was shite in that comment. Sorry. nice to meet you!

    Binary…..i’m so sick of that word.
    Can we start anti-binary campaign? Around the world? Stickers? Slogan? T-shirts? IF I come up with the design can somebody make the T’s ?
    Binary and gender language is not integrated into mass media. Surely there’s a way.

  6. “I don’t know why I was linked on this post but I certainly didn’t mean any hard. i just thought egotistical whining’s listing of events was amusing. if i’ve said anything you disagree with please let me know, i’m interested.”

    Actually, I was just pointing out the huge number of posts that I was reading. I think the actual number of comments I read that branched from the original post was something like 1,000. After reading that many comments, I have to say I was left feeling very pissed… and inspired.

  7. “I don’t know why I was linked on this post but I certainly didn’t mean any hard. i just thought egotistical whining’s listing of events was amusing. if i’ve said anything you disagree with please let me know, i’m interested.”

    Actually, I was just pointing out the huge number of posts that I was reading. I think the actual number of comments I read that branched from the original post was something like 1,000. After reading that many comments, I have to say I was left feeling very pissed… and inspired.

  8. “what’s the most frustrating, is that *most* women i know support the binary, yet most transwomen are actually quite gender variant in their presentation and behavior. as a percentage, it’s been my experience that women (and men for that matter) in general are the worst enemies, in that the majority of their members are supporters of the binary. trans people, on the other hand, have a much higher percentage of members who upend gender.”

    Supporters of the binary? WTF does that mean? If you want to get down and dirty, unless you pass as male and have a vagina, aren’t you a “supporter of the binary?” What exactly does a binary antagonist look and act like?

    I just went by a mirror, and I think I I just saw one!

    😉

  9. “what’s the most frustrating, is that *most* women i know support the binary, yet most transwomen are actually quite gender variant in their presentation and behavior. as a percentage, it’s been my experience that women (and men for that matter) in general are the worst enemies, in that the majority of their members are supporters of the binary. trans people, on the other hand, have a much higher percentage of members who upend gender.”

    Supporters of the binary? WTF does that mean? If you want to get down and dirty, unless you pass as male and have a vagina, aren’t you a “supporter of the binary?” What exactly does a binary antagonist look and act like?

    I just went by a mirror, and I think I I just saw one!

    😉

  10. I don’t know why I was linked on this post but I certainly didn’t mean any hard. i just thought egotistical whining’s listing of events was amusing. if i’ve said anything you disagree with please let me know, i’m interested.

  11. I don’t know why I was linked on this post but I certainly didn’t mean any hard. i just thought egotistical whining’s listing of events was amusing. if i’ve said anything you disagree with please let me know, i’m interested.

  12. “What makes me so mad is the insinuation that we are upholding the binary.”

    many radical feminists i know believe that we support the patriarchal binary gender schema. and you know, some of us do. what’s the most frustrating, is that *most* women i know support the binary, yet most transwomen are actually quite gender variant in their presentation and behavior. as a percentage, it’s been my experience that women (and men for that matter) in general are the worst enemies, in that the majority of their members are supporters of the binary. trans people, on the other hand, have a much higher percentage of members who upend gender.

    the thing is, jerry springer is not making shows about us – he’s making shows about trans people who *do* support the binary. so that’s the message that gets out there.

  13. “What makes me so mad is the insinuation that we are upholding the binary.”

    many radical feminists i know believe that we support the patriarchal binary gender schema. and you know, some of us do. what’s the most frustrating, is that *most* women i know support the binary, yet most transwomen are actually quite gender variant in their presentation and behavior. as a percentage, it’s been my experience that women (and men for that matter) in general are the worst enemies, in that the majority of their members are supporters of the binary. trans people, on the other hand, have a much higher percentage of members who upend gender.

    the thing is, jerry springer is not making shows about us – he’s making shows about trans people who *do* support the binary. so that’s the message that gets out there.

  14. Well, this Utopia thing is a lot of why I put up the Phone Booths post–to remind the folk who aren’t trans that before theory is at stake, basic physical realities are at stake–including our health, our safety, our lives, and our families. (Yeah, I started by complaining about my health. Guts seemed a good place to ground things.)
    It’s hard to remind people that whatever we want in an ideal future, people are in real danger and real pain right now, and they can’t wait for us to come to a consensus on the Grand Nature of Gender. We need a chance to carve out spaces for our lives right now.

    Incidentally, if you didn’t see it at my place, the discussion at Brownfemipower’s continued in a thread called “Shoring Up the Levees.” I think you might be heartened by a lot of the discussion there.

  15. Well, this Utopia thing is a lot of why I put up the Phone Booths post–to remind the folk who aren’t trans that before theory is at stake, basic physical realities are at stake–including our health, our safety, our lives, and our families. (Yeah, I started by complaining about my health. Guts seemed a good place to ground things.)
    It’s hard to remind people that whatever we want in an ideal future, people are in real danger and real pain right now, and they can’t wait for us to come to a consensus on the Grand Nature of Gender. We need a chance to carve out spaces for our lives right now.

    Incidentally, if you didn’t see it at my place, the discussion at Brownfemipower’s continued in a thread called “Shoring Up the Levees.” I think you might be heartened by a lot of the discussion there.

  16. You know. Something weird happened in my last post. The first two paragraphs were ones that I had edited out. Hmmmm… Feeling like a dork right now. 🙂

  17. You know. Something weird happened in my last post. The first two paragraphs were ones that I had edited out. Hmmmm… Feeling like a dork right now. 🙂

  18. “But we live in reality, not in Utopia.”

    Yeah, I think some folks are indeed aiming for utopia… or if not utopia, then some version of society that can’t possibly be achieved without a lot of social control and moral policing. I’ve seen a number of comments to the affect of, “Sorry, but we’re kicking you to the curb because you don’t fit into the parameters of our revolution.” I mean, Jesus, these are people’s lives you are talking about, not some tidy theoretical construct. There are so many transfolk who are struggling just to survive from day to day, and y’all are pissed because their lives aren’t marching in lockstep with your theory of correct radical struggle? How ethically empty is that?

  19. “But we live in reality, not in Utopia.”

    Yeah, I think some folks are indeed aiming for utopia… or if not utopia, then some version of society that can’t possibly be achieved without a lot of social control and moral policing. I’ve seen a number of comments to the affect of, “Sorry, but we’re kicking you to the curb because you don’t fit into the parameters of our revolution.” I mean, Jesus, these are people’s lives you are talking about, not some tidy theoretical construct. There are so many transfolk who are struggling just to survive from day to day, and y’all are pissed because their lives aren’t marching in lockstep with your theory of correct radical struggle? How ethically empty is that?

  20. I really do hate moral inconsistency. I find so much of it with some members of this community. Hate me? Fine. But be consistent!

    I do think gender and sexual orientation need a demolished. But we live in reality, not in Utopia. What makes me so mad is the insinuation that we are upholding the binary. The truth is we are the biggest demolisher’s of it.

    I’m glad to find people like Dewd, Amp, and brownfemipower. They give me hope. But as much hope as I have, it’s mixed with bile for the others.

    The new boss is no better than the old boss.

  21. I really do hate moral inconsistency. I find so much of it with some members of this community. Hate me? Fine. But be consistent!

    I do think gender and sexual orientation need a demolished. But we live in reality, not in Utopia. What makes me so mad is the insinuation that we are upholding the binary. The truth is we are the biggest demolisher’s of it.

    I’m glad to find people like Dewd, Amp, and brownfemipower. They give me hope. But as much hope as I have, it’s mixed with bile for the others.

    The new boss is no better than the old boss.

  22. I empathize with your anger. I too am a transwoman and I’ve spent many a night awake wondering what the heck is going on with feminism and transphobia. I’ve perused many feminist web spaces over the past several years, and by far, I’ve encountered the most transphobia in radfem spaces. It saddens me, because I used to identify as a radfem. Because of the amount of prejudice and hate that I’ve witnessed, I no longer feel comfortable embracing that label. I’m still trying to figure out why this particular branch of feminism draws so many transphobic people.

    There are still things about radical feminism that I like. I have no desire to let go of the more useful aspects of radfem’s analysis of gender and patriarchy. It would be interesting to reclaim these ideas and form a kind of feminism that mixes radfem analysis with transgender experience. This puts a big smile on my face because I’m certain that transphobic radfems would be pissed with us for “misappropriating” radfem analysis in support of transpeople.

    Anyway, I’m actually heartened by the general response to the controversy at I Blame the Patriarchy: there were so many positive, supportive voices that joined the fray. It was wonderful to see such a large number of feminists supporting transpeople and calling out bigots on their hate and irrational beliefs. The response contrasted so deeply with the hatred that I encountered in other feminist spaces, that I could not help but take notice. It gives me hope for the future.

  23. I empathize with your anger. I too am a transwoman and I’ve spent many a night awake wondering what the heck is going on with feminism and transphobia. I’ve perused many feminist web spaces over the past several years, and by far, I’ve encountered the most transphobia in radfem spaces. It saddens me, because I used to identify as a radfem. Because of the amount of prejudice and hate that I’ve witnessed, I no longer feel comfortable embracing that label. I’m still trying to figure out why this particular branch of feminism draws so many transphobic people.

    There are still things about radical feminism that I like. I have no desire to let go of the more useful aspects of radfem’s analysis of gender and patriarchy. It would be interesting to reclaim these ideas and form a kind of feminism that mixes radfem analysis with transgender experience. This puts a big smile on my face because I’m certain that transphobic radfems would be pissed with us for “misappropriating” radfem analysis in support of transpeople.

    Anyway, I’m actually heartened by the general response to the controversy at I Blame the Patriarchy: there were so many positive, supportive voices that joined the fray. It was wonderful to see such a large number of feminists supporting transpeople and calling out bigots on their hate and irrational beliefs. The response contrasted so deeply with the hatred that I encountered in other feminist spaces, that I could not help but take notice. It gives me hope for the future.