Feminism has taken a strange, and frankly baffling, turn whilst I was distracted. The brand of Feminism I knew regarded gender as a social construct. Simone De Beauvoir, said “women are born not made” she did not mean that women can be male born. She meant that women were inculcated into the “right” way to be a woman in a Patriarchal society. Similarly “Intersectional Feminism” doesn’t mean women have to centre males in our feminism. (See Kimberle Crenshaw). Female socialisation is not homogenous across different cultures, and times, and needs a different lens to see the layers of oppression when sex intersects with, for example, your race or class. Women are still a sex class but our experience of being “women” intersects with, race or class. Once again, “intersectional feminism” does not mean the category of woman has to be inclusive of males, any more than Rachel Dolezal has to be included in “black”
Fast forward to the age of Woko Haram. The new feminism regards “intersectional feminism” as meaning we include biological males, socialised as men, as literal women. Suddenly gender is real and a basis for legislation and public policy. It is argued that “Gender Identity” is innate and that this “subjective sense of self” trumps biological reality because, wait for it….. now biology is the social construct! Being a woman is performative we are told, so males who perform gender are now able to identify into a biological sex class which, in the UK at least, is a legally protected characteristic.
I didn’t always see it this way. Like many women I barely raised an eyebrow at the Gender Recognition Act. Here is a summary of my trajectory.
My concern at the implications, for women, only surfaced when I saw the more extreme manifestations of trans ideology. I could scarcely believe how swiftly this was taken up by mainstream political parties. It seemed to have cognitively captured a diverse array of organisations.
Let us start with the labelling of women as “Cis” because it raises some interesting points. We are being told that we are Cis-Gender which means that, unlike those born male, we have the privilege of identifying with the sex we were born. (I say born but Trans-activists describe this as the sex we were “assigned at birth“). If , like me, you see Gender as a social construct this is to be resisted. Gender/Sex Stereotypes have been constructed around female biology but don’t necessarily arise from it. (I am not a blank slate proponent in its totality but its so hard to unpack biology from socialisation etc). Feminist thought separated out Sex & Gender to identify those “socially constructed” attributes designed to confine and limit women. These vary over time but the obvious ones are that our Lady Brains are not suited to “hard science”, we are better suited to caring work and University would lead to ruination for the gentle sex….something about shrivelled wombs.. Now, if in fact, we are deemed to identify “with” our “gender” this means that Cis-Gender women accept that collection of sexist stereotypes as our “identity”. No feminist in her right mind would accept that.
Another pernicious result of the “cis” label is the notion that women (actual, biological, women) have privilege over males, who merely identify as women. What a neat trick. Men colonise women’s spaces, roles and very being and then tell the colonised that we are in fact the oppressor class! Thousands of years of Patriarchy and finally men have come up with a neat way to blame women for their dominant role in the sex hierarchy.
To question this, even mildly, invites opprobrium at a Testerical level. The pejorative term “Terf” was coined. This is justified as a mere acronym for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Femnist”. It is, we are told, merely a descriptive term. The usage belies this. It is dished out with accompanying threats of rape and violence and often coupled with those lovely epithets “cunt” and “bitch”. So many males, self-proclaimed feminists, and those who claim to identify as women, use threats of rape and violence to silence women. Seems like the new boss is very much like the old one.
I still have sympathy for “refugees from masculinity” a term coined by Miranda Yardley, a transsexual. I just don’t think it is the job of women to run the refugee camp. Women’s rights are under threat and the attack has taken me by surprise, because it came from such an unexpected quarter. I should clarify that I have late onset misogyny realisation , about Transactivism, but Cassandra’s like Magdalen Berns, certainly saw it coming. Magdalen’s youtube video on Men Going their own way anticipated this. You can watch it here: Magdalen Bern
Reifying gender and encoding “gender identity” in law ascribes a set of “sex stereotypes” the status of naturally occurring phenomena. Since deconstructing the notion of “gender” is a central aim of my feminism its elevation, into a basis for law and public policy is, deeply regressive. Our aim is unpicking the notion of a, biologically determined, set of characteristics which, we are told, are innate to women. I may not be fully on board with blank slatist, Tabular Rasa thinking but we do need to be sceptical about why all the traits assigned to women, at birth, are the ones used to limit and oppress us. I am at significant odds with this ideology which attacks women as propping up biologically essentialist notions of womanhood (spoiler it doesn’t) whilst demanding that we accept the notion of a Lady Brain (which does!).
How is it possible that this is proclaimed as a new way to “Smash the Gender Binary”? It seems rather to entrench sex stereotypes and entrench binary thinking about sex. In a further sleight of hand the “problem” has been outsourced for the women to sort out. Funny how everyone knows which sex is responsible for the provision of emotional labour. The labour is being assigned to females and not those who seek to identify as us.
Along the way the Pharma-Medico-Industrial complex stands to make a great deal of money. The way this has been embraced by anarchists, anti-capitalists and the “I am literally a communist” brigade is mind-bogglingly incomprehensible. This is neoliberalism on cross-sex hormones. A compassionate response, to accommodate a rare disorder, has been monetised and is being inculcated in vulnerable youth, Many who are struggling to understand where they fit now that “gender” has been elevated over biological sex and they don’t conform to the gender stereotype that fits their biological sex. Many of these, gender non-conforming, children would, if left alone, and, crucially, unmedicalized grow up to be gay adults and yet Stonewall is one of the biggest cheerleaders for this ideology.
We are in the grip of a regressive ideology which is all the more dangerous because it is being, incorrectly, labelled as progressive. In the UK every political party (bar the Communist Party of Great Britain) has embraced the notion of gender identity over material reality. It is women’s material reality that is being denied. It is women who are being asked to give up the word “woman” and accept being labelled in reductive ways such as “Cervix Havers” or “Uterus Bearers” Even the British Medical Association has recommended that we should refer to “Pregnant People” in order to be “inclusive” of females who identify as men. I have seen no such reductive terminology applied to men.
In my next post I will look at the organisations who are campaigning for an end to the legally protected characteristic of sex. A campaign which is being conducted, in stealth, and has cognitively captured Local Councils, Crown Prosecution Services and the Ministry of Justice, to name a few. All are getting ahead of an anticipated legal change. For women like me the 100 year anniversary of the right to vote is a bitter milestone as I am now, effectively, disenfranchised. I have nowhere to exercise that vote that does not require me to support a party seeking to mandate me, a woman, out of existence.
I hesitate to claim the label “Radical Feminist” only in so much as I don’t feel I have earned it. Right now we all need to aspire to it because Liberal Feminism has totally let women down.