September 24, 2013

Transinclusive feminism vs. radfem transphobia

Emmeline Pankhurst, suffragette
Moderate feminists are now standing up against the radfem persecution of transgender people.

Some are surprised when I say I consider myself a feminist. They shouldn't be. As I have found that the temperaments and abilities of men and women overlap completely, gender equality is the only option.

Maybe (and I underline maybe) the average woman experience the world differently from the average man, and maybe this difference is partly grounded in "the flesh". But even if this is the case, this can be no ground for political, social or cultural discrimination.

Besides, I have so far in my life never  met an "average woman" or an "average man". The more I learn, the more I enjoy the diversity of human personalities, beyond gender.

Post-structuralist feminism

This being said, there are types of feminism out there that I find extremely disturbing, and that especially applies to the so called "radical feminism" or "radfems".

This tradition have grown out of the so-called post-structuralist tradition found in the social science and humanities departments in some American universities. Its roots can be found in post-modernist French philosophy.

The post-structuralist tradition is focusing on language as the basis for human experience and understanding. Strongly influenced by the French philosopher Michel Foucault they argue that the structure of language and symbols shapes the way we think.

The power used to suppress women is therefore not necessarily power consciously and deliberately used by some hidden male conspiracy. It is rather the end result of the creation of a mental map or a belief system that makes the suppression of women "self evident" to all who are part of that culture, women included.

Mental maps uphold gender inequality

I believe their understanding of such belief systems is useful, and that much of the suffering felt by transgender people is caused by such "mental maps".

Our understanding of women being weaker than men makes it for instance close to impossible for most to understand a man who dreams of being a woman. Who in his/her right mind will give up the world of male privilege? Or for that matter: Who wants to become something as humiliating as a "passive" woman in bed? This  person clearly is someone to pity or despise.

This is one of the reasons some crossdreamers embrace the idea that they are mentally ill, failed men, "autogynephiles" or perverted fetishists. The power of the surrounding culture makes it hard for them to find a positive affirmation of what they feel.

Lost in language

Unfortunately the post-structuralist love of language have led to a dangerous kind of intellectual lock-in. The only tool they have is the analysis or "deconstruction" of text, thought and  language, and they use this tool on everything. This means that they have no way of understanding the world beyond language.

If they want to talk about the body, they can only talk about our understanding of the body, and not the body itself. The body, and its hormones, instincts, urges,drives, flesh, blood, sweat and semen, become unreal to them. They are lost inside their own heads, unable to grasp the animal side of men and women..

This is also why they normally ignore the natural sciences, non-verbal arts and the what I like to call "the language of the body:" smell, touch, and taste.

A feminist thinker like Judith Butler not only argues that gender is a purely cultural phenomenon, but that our biological sex is also socially constructed.

I am sure our understanding of biological sex is influenced by cultural beliefs, but that does not mean that there is no biological basis influencing the way we feel, think and behave in the realm of sex. Her denial of the body is a denial of life itself.

Sex reduced to gender

The lock-in into language also means that these feminists are incapable of understanding transgender conditions as anything but the end result of some kind of mysterious  linguistic coding.

For the post-structuralists a  transsexual woman is at best a gender queer radical breaking down conceptual barriers. She is definitely not a woman, because a woman will have to be raised as a woman in order to be "socially constructed" as a woman. For them womanhood is reduced to nurture. There is no nature.

For the radfems the male to female transsexual is an impostor, a man with male privileges trying to suppress women by taking over "women's spaces".

This is why some of them so eagerly use the "autogynephilia" theory of Ray Blanchard to attack trans women. Blanchard gives them the ammo needed to label trans women as sexually perverted men. I have described this tactic in my blog post on how radical feminist use the AGP theory to persecute transgender.

The problem is, of course, that Blanchard is in not a feminist. He is a sexist who is doing everything he can to pathologize those that fall outside the traditional gender divides of our culture. By using Blanchard the radfems therefore contribute to upholding the gender stereotypes they so strongly oppose.

In the case of activists like GallusMag, radical feminism even degenerates into transphobic fascism.

Feminist statement on including trans

I am glad to say that more moderate feminists are getting fed up with their violence. A group of some 700 individuals and organisations  have now signed a statement denouncing radfem extremism and embracing transgender as part of feminist thought.

I have included an excerpt below. You can read the full statement here.

Note that the term trans* (with an asterisk) is a way of referring to different types of gender variation, crossdressers and transsexuals included.

"We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

"Transphobic feminism ignores the identification of many trans* and genderqueer people as feminists or womanists and many cis feminists/womanists with their trans* sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers; it is feminism that has too often rejected them, and not the reverse. 

"It ignores the historical pressures placed by the medical profession on trans* people to conform to rigid gender stereotypes in order to be 'gifted' the medical aid to which they as human beings are entitled. By positing 'woman' as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy. They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege. (...)

"We also reject the notion that trans* activists’ critiques of transphobic bigotry 'silence' anybody. Criticism is not the same as silencing. We recognize that the recent emphasis on the so-called violent rhetoric and threats that transphobic feminists claim are coming from trans* women online ignores the 40+ – year history of violent and eliminationist rhetoric directed by prominent feminists against trans* women, trans* men, and genderqueer people. 

" It ignores the deliberate strategy of certain well-known anti-trans* feminists of engaging in gleeful and persistent harassment, baiting, and provocation of trans* people, particularly trans* women, in the hope of inciting angry responses, which are then utilized to paint a false portrayal of trans* women as oppressors and cis feminist women as victims. 

"It ignores the public outing of trans* women that certain transphobic feminists have engaged in regardless of the damage it does to women’s lives and the danger in which it puts them. And it relies upon the pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt,using any example of such violent rhetoric, no matter the source — and, just as much, the justified anger of any one trans* woman — to condemn all trans* women, and to justify their continued exclusion and the continued denial of their civil rights."

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!