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April 3, 2007
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April 12, 2007

Is The Radical Feminist Movement Our Enemy?

I’m in the midst of a move, and a couple of other pressing things right now, but this really is worth some discussion.  Are radical lesbian separatists/feminists an enemy that we  should fight with the same veracity as we do the religious right? Your thoughts?

57 Comments

  1. RachelPhilPa says:

    In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body

    This is a fallacious statement.

    I do not feel that I was born into the wrong body. There is nothing wrong, diseased, or defective with my body. I also do not feel that I was born into a male body. My body has always been a female body – it just has been altered by high levels of testosterone into something that most others see as a male body. So, I guess that makes me a woman-born-woman, eh? 😉

    Hence, I am not taking hormones or planning surgury to “change my sex”. I am doing these things because I want to feel more comfortable in my body. My body is my ultimate and most intimate home. I am engaging in a home improvement project.

    Sure, I could live in your genderless utopia. But I am still going to take hormones and have surgury, because I have a right to control and alter my body as I see fit, and I have a right to feel happy about the skin within which I live.

    Eliminating the gender binary is a (if not the) major concept of radical feminism. Radfems declare their belief in that all the time. And yet, you are very quick to defend women-only space. Well, if you are going to talk the talk of genderless society, then when the hell are you going to walk the walk? You can’t have women-only spaces in a genderless society. You can’t have gendered bathrooms or locker rooms in a genderless society. I would like to see radfems present a consistent message – either you are for separatism, which requires a gender-essentialist viewpoint, or you are for a genderless society, which requires an end to separatism and gendered spaces.

    Oh, and when are radfems going to listen to the voices of people of color, poor people, disabled people?

  2. RachelPhilPa says:

    In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body

    This is a fallacious statement.

    I do not feel that I was born into the wrong body. There is nothing wrong, diseased, or defective with my body. I also do not feel that I was born into a male body. My body has always been a female body – it just has been altered by high levels of testosterone into something that most others see as a male body. So, I guess that makes me a woman-born-woman, eh? 😉

    Hence, I am not taking hormones or planning surgury to “change my sex”. I am doing these things because I want to feel more comfortable in my body. My body is my ultimate and most intimate home. I am engaging in a home improvement project.

    Sure, I could live in your genderless utopia. But I am still going to take hormones and have surgury, because I have a right to control and alter my body as I see fit, and I have a right to feel happy about the skin within which I live.

    Eliminating the gender binary is a (if not the) major concept of radical feminism. Radfems declare their belief in that all the time. And yet, you are very quick to defend women-only space. Well, if you are going to talk the talk of genderless society, then when the hell are you going to walk the walk? You can’t have women-only spaces in a genderless society. You can’t have gendered bathrooms or locker rooms in a genderless society. I would like to see radfems present a consistent message – either you are for separatism, which requires a gender-essentialist viewpoint, or you are for a genderless society, which requires an end to separatism and gendered spaces.

    Oh, and when are radfems going to listen to the voices of people of color, poor people, disabled people?

  3. frances says:

    “In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body.”

    I find this trope inane, ignorant and verging on the kind of essentialist bigotry that colours radical separatist feminism, yet curiously it appears on first glance to be aligned with the kind of performative gender of Butler. Pretty much anyone who thinks this is avalid statement has no understanding of transsexuality.

    I was talking to a friend last night about my mental conception of my body, both in my work where my body is my career and as a transsexual and the best metaphor I could come up with – with plenty of qualifiers – is that being transsexual is like the phantom limb experience of an amputee.

    As a metaphor, the ideal world argument in this case could be read thus: “In an ideal world there would be no need for artificial limbs or assistance for amputees because there would be no disadvantage, discrimination or conception of being in a partial body”

    Clearly an asinine statement not even worth discussing, no?

  4. frances says:

    “In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body.”

    I find this trope inane, ignorant and verging on the kind of essentialist bigotry that colours radical separatist feminism, yet curiously it appears on first glance to be aligned with the kind of performative gender of Butler. Pretty much anyone who thinks this is avalid statement has no understanding of transsexuality.

    I was talking to a friend last night about my mental conception of my body, both in my work where my body is my career and as a transsexual and the best metaphor I could come up with – with plenty of qualifiers – is that being transsexual is like the phantom limb experience of an amputee.

    As a metaphor, the ideal world argument in this case could be read thus: “In an ideal world there would be no need for artificial limbs or assistance for amputees because there would be no disadvantage, discrimination or conception of being in a partial body”

    Clearly an asinine statement not even worth discussing, no?

  5. nexyjo says:

    In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body.

    i’d like to closely examine this statement, because i’ve heard many self-identified radical feminsts say the express the same thought.

    i’m happy to know that in your ideal world, you’ve taken the time to consider trans people’s lives. unfortunately, you are operating under the assumptions that:
    1) people “change sex” because they all believe they were born in the wrong body.
    2) “changing sex” is a direct response to “the gender binary”.
    3) the “gender binary” equates to the concept of 2 sexes.

    i was born in my body, and after my “sex change”, i’m still in that same body. my body wasn’t wrong, and is still not wrong. it is, however, modified to better suit my preferences. while some trans people i’ve encountered do express that they feel they were born in the “wrong body”, that has not been my experience.

    i didn’t “change sex” because of the edicts of the gender binary. i “changed sex” because i wanted to enjoy sexual relations with men in the same way that many women enjoy sexual relations with men, and so when i am in space that our society separates based on sex, i don’t stand out. i was also interested in reducing my sex drive, which was a constant annoyance through out my life. and finally, i wanted to be legally married to a man, and in our society, that necessitated a change in my legal identification, which requires the infamous “sex change” operation. i have achieved all of those goals, and as a result, have greatly improved the quality of my life.

    i’m sorry to hear that in your ideal world, i would not have had the ability to have improved the quality of my life.

    and finally, regarding changing sex and gender, how do you view the majority of trans people who *do not* change sex – that is, they do not undergo any surgery whatsoever? how does that fit into your theory?

    In other ways I belong to the class of women because most people treat me as the woman or girl I’m supposed to be. And I live in the material reality of being considered a girl or woman. I try to act genderneutral but I can’t be genderneutral because I have to live with belonging to the class of women. And no, I don’t wanna be a man. I don’t wanna be a gender at all.

    most people treat me as the woman or girl i’m supposed to be. i also live in the material reality of being considered a girl or woman. and i also try to be pretty gender neutral (and in fact, from my own personal perspective, don’t consider myself either a man or a woman) but am forced, as you are, to live with belonging to the class of women.

    so how are we different then? other than our histories – that i was born and raised male, and you were born and raised female.

  6. nexyjo says:

    In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body.

    i’d like to closely examine this statement, because i’ve heard many self-identified radical feminsts say the express the same thought.

    i’m happy to know that in your ideal world, you’ve taken the time to consider trans people’s lives. unfortunately, you are operating under the assumptions that:
    1) people “change sex” because they all believe they were born in the wrong body.
    2) “changing sex” is a direct response to “the gender binary”.
    3) the “gender binary” equates to the concept of 2 sexes.

    i was born in my body, and after my “sex change”, i’m still in that same body. my body wasn’t wrong, and is still not wrong. it is, however, modified to better suit my preferences. while some trans people i’ve encountered do express that they feel they were born in the “wrong body”, that has not been my experience.

    i didn’t “change sex” because of the edicts of the gender binary. i “changed sex” because i wanted to enjoy sexual relations with men in the same way that many women enjoy sexual relations with men, and so when i am in space that our society separates based on sex, i don’t stand out. i was also interested in reducing my sex drive, which was a constant annoyance through out my life. and finally, i wanted to be legally married to a man, and in our society, that necessitated a change in my legal identification, which requires the infamous “sex change” operation. i have achieved all of those goals, and as a result, have greatly improved the quality of my life.

    i’m sorry to hear that in your ideal world, i would not have had the ability to have improved the quality of my life.

    and finally, regarding changing sex and gender, how do you view the majority of trans people who *do not* change sex – that is, they do not undergo any surgery whatsoever? how does that fit into your theory?

    In other ways I belong to the class of women because most people treat me as the woman or girl I’m supposed to be. And I live in the material reality of being considered a girl or woman. I try to act genderneutral but I can’t be genderneutral because I have to live with belonging to the class of women. And no, I don’t wanna be a man. I don’t wanna be a gender at all.

    most people treat me as the woman or girl i’m supposed to be. i also live in the material reality of being considered a girl or woman. and i also try to be pretty gender neutral (and in fact, from my own personal perspective, don’t consider myself either a man or a woman) but am forced, as you are, to live with belonging to the class of women.

    so how are we different then? other than our histories – that i was born and raised male, and you were born and raised female.

  7. Lisa says:

    RachelPhilPa

    I’m off in a wink. Bye bye

  8. Lisa says:

    I never use the word woman born woman, its not about biology.

    I don’t understand why anyone wants to fit in the role of a woman. I don’t agree with those liberal feminist who tried to lift the status “femininity” and the image of the housewife, neither do I agree with sex radical that tries to lift the the status of “femininity” and the image of the prostitute. This is just two sides of the same coin, or as Andrea Dworkin saw it: “like the elements in an hourglass: always the same, always present, yet the proportions shift relative to each other”.

    The sexual violence thing was an answer to the phrase about radical feminists being angry and blaming it all on men. It has nothing to do with transsexuals, only feminism. I tried to point out in fact, mostly men commit these crimes. Not because their men, but because they are in a powerposition. This powerposition can also be held by a woman, but in this patriarchal society that we have, where men have more power, it is less common. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist and it definately doesn’t mean that the abused persons feel less abused. No one needs a external badge of suffering to enter the club, the abuse are already written on the inside/sometimes outside of your body.

    Sheila Jeffreys, radical feminist, suggests that we should do more research on for example homosexual male victims of sexual abuse. Within the women’s movement alot of research is being done right now on the similarities between different sex and same sex violence within relationships.

    Well, it is quite hard to pin point the constructionof gender. I mean that there is an image of the “real” woman that is made up,
    but at the same time there’s a position of women that is a material reality. See for example Wittig. Even though it is a construction, people act upon it. Both Althusser and Butler uses the notion of Interpellation, that people are interpellated into different roles, but there’s also an “inner colonialism” that you can see discussed in Millett or Fanon. Another relevant issue is the one of violent sanctions against those who break the norms, one I guess you as a trans woman also have felt too much. Then there is the whole question about industries that make money from it all and that does everything to commercialize and make gender a product to buy.

    If the goal is to unmask, as someone said, the matrix of binary gender division I think that the different parts of the system has got to sit down and try to reveal the image of their false mirror. I think that every subgroup should be allowed their own space, but of course also the room of a common space. Emma Goldman once said that “Every oppressed groups liberation must be work of themselves.”

    One of my working methods are separatism, then there’s also many other methods on how to do it, and that’s neccesary.

    You make the assumption that gender construction can be a individual choice, I’m talking about the structures that makes us think “Either you’re woman or you’re man”. To me there is no emancipation in that choice. For me, biological surgery, from young girls getting bigger boobs to transexual operations, are saying that induvidual persons are wrong and look wrong when they really don’t. It’s not a disease that need to be cured. I mean they’re not wrong or have the wrong bodies, the system that says they’re wrong is wrong. In my ideal world there would be no need for changing sex because there would be no gender binary that says you’re born in the right or wrong body.

    I’m talking about resisting construction and you’re talking about switching roles. Or?

    And I do understand that transsexual as a group is very discriminated, I liked the priviledge list. And ofcourse women can discriminate against transsexuals, I’m even sure it happens every day. Maybe there’s a study about discrimination against transsexuals?

    Okey, my point about separatist spaces was while men always have had them, women’s separatist spaces have been questioned. (Well, there is some exceptions, ie hairdresser’s, beautysalons.. In these cases it’s more about ridicule. Anyway I’m talking about feminist separatist spaces.)

    Well, You seem to think it’s such an easy question to define yorself as a woman but for me, and while I am not saying that mtf are men I’m thinking about construction of gender and how much it is possible to deconstruct and change group of interest and position. The transsexuals I kinda know and the feminists I know have all experienced or witnessed sexual violence, so in speaking about common experiences of violence there would probably be similar experiences told. But I have not yet met a feminist that grown up with her mother abusing her father, it’s often the other way arond. In a group if the transwoman wouldn’t say that she was brought up a man maybe no one would have been the wiser, as you say. The experiences I’ve heard about have told me that it hasn’t been like that. Also as Stacey M (I think) pointed out, there are certain things that differs that is connected to upbringng and the construction towards manhood you went through as a kid. yeah, here we go again. 😉

    I don’t know if ethnicity research could contribute. I have to, once again, bring a picture from that “changing ethnicity”-show I saw the other day. The girl who was painted black finally revealed to her black spoken wordclass that she was not infact black, but a painted white girl. Maybe the show was all directed but anyhow… they seemed shocked, and one of them was very insulted. Others just said that they loved her anyhow. They all saw her as a black girl before she told them.

    The big question for me however is, why why why do WE have to change? It’s not like the possibility to change sex is wide spread either.

    I could guess there would be some contrarious feelings as well for a mtf to join a radical feminist group that wants to phase out femininity and masculinity. And maybe it wouldn’t be the choice of an intersexual to join a separatist group and in that be defined as either or.

    It is the neverending story. yes 😉

    And you know… I normally hate writing…

  9. RachelPhilPa says:

    You know, Lisa, your attitude matches that of every radical feminist that I have read / read about. You claim to be against gender essentialism. But when you say “men has dressed up as women to try to enter, been in girl’s rooms in schools when boys try to do everything to enter”, you are engaging in exactly the same gender essentialism that you claim to decry. So then, tell me exactly how you are not reinforcing the patriarchy, at least when it comes to transpeople? You tell us that “woman” and “man” are purely social constructs, and then you tell us that we are not women solely because of what we have (or had in the past) between our legs.

    And your claims that you don’t consider us men don’t wash. If you don’t consider us men, then why do you bring up men invading your space again and again, and always in response to transwomen who attempt to have some agency and self-definition for ourselves? I’ve got news for you, Lisa, I don’t like men invading my space any more than you do.

    And why do you continue to hold onto stereotypes of transwoman, that we all wear lipstick, skirts, and heels? I have had makeup on my face on exactly one day. Some days I am more femme, some days I am completely androgynous. And I know transwomen who are as butch as they come.

    From my point of view, as long as you continue to take this gender-essentialist view of transfolk, there can be no hope of reconciliation between radical feminists and transfolk, and I will not engage in dialog with anybody who does not grant me the right to define myself and control my own body.

    You have quite some gall coming here onto a transwoman’s blog and splashing your gender-essentialist and transphobic nonsense all over the place.

  10. […] being said, one post on the TA main page won’t seem to die. The post in question is about radical feminism views transgender people. Frankly, the comments in this thread is why I love this space. People are […]

  11. “For me womanhood is most of all a constructed position of oppression. One constructed part of the also very constructed binary gender system.”

    Your argument is contradictory. If womanhood is constructed, then why the need for “women born women only” spaces?

    “In the sense of Simone de Beauvoir ‘One is not born a woman, one becomes one’ I am not a real woman. No one is.”

    This is were I get confused. M2F transsexuals shouldn’t be included in “women’s spaces” yet you say “women” dont’ exist? If womanhood is indeed a binary construction, then creating “WBW only” spaces solidifies that construction.

    “Just that sometimes I meet that very essentialist approach with transpersons, but mostly transvestites. The representation of womanhood that’s so extreme that it doesn’t exist in other places.”

    And this is exactly the problem I have with so many rad fems. If womanhood is a construction, isn’t a “transvestites approach” a construction? Aren’t you objecting to a person’s choice of construction? If so, isn’t that just as oppressive? Out transgender people have a high rates of unemployment (transgender unemployment is around 50 to 70 percent) , and are some of the most despised people in this culture.

    IMO, the mainstream rad fem thought holds up the binary by stamping this construction as ok, this one as not. Transgender people of ALL flavors bust the binary on its ass. If rad fems really wanted to obliterate gender, acceptace of transgender/genderqueer people would be a big first step.

  12. “I’ve been to women’s parties where men has dressed up as women to try to enter, been in girl’s rooms in schools when boys try to do everything to enter, have had so many men being agressive because I want to spend time with my friends and only them.”

    Have those boys had their penises reconstructed into a neovagina? Have they taken testosterone blockers and been injected biweekly with estrogen? Unless that’s the case, what is your point?

    “Many times when we cooperate with male organisations they often say one of two things; you shouldn’t be separatist and/or you should do something for the boys as well. People is really provoked about us setting our own agenda and creating free spaces”

    And that is the crux of the issue, you seem to equate M2F transsexuals to men. Imagine how it feels to be a M2F transsexual. In many spaces in this culture an out transsexual isn’t “man enough” to be accepted by men, and isn’t “woman enough” to be accepted by women. Yet if I keep my mouth shut, you and the rest of the world wouldn’t know what my past gender was.

  13. “First, I hope you all don’t feel offended that I’m writing on this forum since I am not, like Rebecca already pointed out, a trans woman. Say so if you are.”

    As long as you are respectful, I appreciate you being here and posting your opinion.

    “Who is then to blame when 56 % of swedish women have been sexually harrassed, when 46 % of swedish women have been abused by a man (hit with the fist, kicked, choked, got her head banged against something, having had hard things thrown at her etc).”

    What does that have to do with transsexuals? My ex wife assaulted me and was arrested. She repeatedly punched me in the face, hard enough that my glasses busted in two. I retreated to another room in the house with my 5 year old daughter to hide from her because I thought she was going to kill me.”

    And I also spent the first 11 years of my life dealing with the tyranny of both my mother and father, I know what it’s like to live under a constant wall of fear. They assaulted each other on a regular basis (my mom is physically a big woman, my father was small) and physical violence was an ever present fear growing up. If I got in the way, there would be hell to pay.

    As far as sexual stuff, I’ve been sexually assaulted since I transitioned. I’ve not been raped (although I’ve been cornered by someone I thought was going to try) so does that disqualify me as a woman? Do I need a badge of suffering to make it into the club?

    “So the picture of radical feminists being so angry (without sufficient reasons to be) that they blame everything on men is for me also bashing. Or slandering, badmouthing, accusing, denigrating. (yeah yeah, it’s from a dictionary ;)”

    And that WAS the literary vehicle that I was trying to use. I was trying to say “you may say I’m an extremely radical rad fem because I feel this way, but I do”.

  14. “First thing I read was under the headline “your pretty little housewife” where you say “Call me a marxist radical feminist Nazi, but….”

    Maybe it doesn’t translate well, but that isn’t meant as derogatory. It means that if I don’t fit into the category of a totally femmed out transsexual that I’m not a as much of a woman (and that is a very extreme notion it would seem).

    “Unfortunately the nazi-prefix is often used linked to radical feminism.”

    And THAT is exactly why I used it. My point was, “call me what you will, this is what I think.”

  15. Lisa says:

    Radical feminist bashing 3:

    “except perhaps like racists, to not burn crosses on lawns, but to seem more respectable.”

    The same thing as the nazireference..

    But otherwise now that I’ve read all the strings and even having seen the headline “radical feminist and transsexuals UNITE” I find no more bashing.

    It is not realistic to think that you’re going to remove labels you say. Maybe it’s not. But it’s still my goal. My dream.

    I don’t know if I would blame the situation on separatism. Creating your own space doesn’t have to lead to destruction of others. And most of the time USA don’t provide such projects with 2 000 000 000 dollars annually. 😉

    Locally there are alot of different separatistic groups, dykes, adopted, mothers etc. Separatism for me is not closing the door to cooperation or coalitionmaking.
    It’s creating your own space, your own room is really important to try to see things your own way.

    I said that the question is sensitive. I’ve been to women’s parties where men has dressed up as women to try to enter, been in girl’s rooms in schools when boys try to do everything to enter, have had so many men being agressive because I want to spend time with my friends and only them. Many times when we cooperate with male organisations they often say one of two things; you shouldn’t be separatist and/or you should do something for the boys aswell.
    People is really provoked about us setting our own agenda and creating free spaces.

    From my constructivist point of view, NOT essentialist, it is a hard line to draw.
    How long time does it take to “be constructed”?, can you deconstruct totally? What about experiences of girlhood that a transwomen don’t have.

    Would trans women even want to join a separatist group/conciousness raising group based on the experience of growing up a woman?

    I’m going on vacation now, so I guess this was it.

  16. Lisa says:

    Okey, Next tiny bit of answer…. I’ll never get to the end of this.

    First, I hope you all don’t feel offended that I’m writing on this forum since I am not, like Rebecca alrealy pointed out, a trans woman. Say so if you are.

    Radical Feminist Bashing no 2:

    “All I can say is it must suck to be that angry at the world that you have to blame men for everything that is wrong.”

    Feminist are often portrayed as angry, and that’s the truth. There’s so much to be angry about and yes, it sucks. Not to be essentialistly 😉 angry, but to live in a patriarchal capitalist racist society. Anger is just one type of sensations to be experienced from this. Sorrow is another one.

    Who is then to blame when 56 % of swedish women have been sexually harrassed, when 46 % of swedish women have been abused by a man (hit with the fist, kicked, choked, got her head banged against something, having had hard things thrown at her etc).

    Rape of girls under the age of 15 has increased by 69 % in Sweden from 2005 to 2006. Doesn’t it get you all angry when you think of the men and boys who are commiting these crimes?

    In 2006 80 % of all types of crimes in Sweden were committed by men. When it comes to sexual violence the percentage is 98. The majority of the victims of sexual violence are women and girls. When it comes to homophobic hatecrimes it is men that commit 82 % of these crimes. (Figures of reported crime 2006)

    Now this doesn’t mean that every male individual commits crimes but it shows male dominance and female subordination. Accepted and upheld by society to a great extent.
    For example rape within the marriage wasn’t considered a crime until 1965. There’s a sentence from of of the official investigations of the swedish state of 1962: “Even between two spouses that loves eachother it can be necessary with a certain amount of violence from the male part since the inhibitions (?) of the women are so much bigger.”

    In the beginning of almost every individual case of men’s violence against women the victims blame themselves and not the man/men. Like: Could I have prevented it from happening; I shouldn’t or should have said that, done that, worn that, drank that, walked there. I shouldn’t have lead him on, followed him home, should have realized earlier etc etc
    It is a process to put the blame where is belongs; on the perpetrator.

    So the picture of radical feminists being so angry (without sufficient reasons to be) that they blame everything on men is for me also bashing. Or slandering, badmouthing, accusing, denigrating. (yeah yeah, it’s from a dictionary 😉

  17. Lisa says:

    What’s a real woman? A natural woman?
    For me womanhood is most of all a constructed position of oppression.
    One constructed part of the also very constructed binary gender system.

    I could take the position that I am not a “real” woman, since the “real” woman doesn’t exist. What’s real about a construction?
    I’m not woman because I am so much more than and so different from these attributes connected to womanhood.
    In the sense of Simone de Beauvoir “One is not born a woman, one becomes one” I am not a real woman. No one is.

    In other ways I belong to the class of women because most people treat me as the woman or girl I’m supposed to be.
    And I live in the material reality of being considered a girl or woman. I try to act genderneutral but I can’t be genderneutral because I
    have to live with belonging to the class of women. And no, I don’t wanna be a man. I don’t wanna be a gender at all.

    I just saw a show on performativity on swedish Tv about two families swiching colors. Maybe you’ve seen it.
    The guy that was originally black was so frustrated about that the guy acting black didn’t understand oppression.
    The white guy believed the black guy to be oversensitive about racism and said that racism is not that apparent in society anymore.
    Then the husband and wife acting as black went out to shop “black” and came home with african clothes, and when going to black church
    the husband said that he thought to have done a good job in acting black. To me it seemed more like that he was acting a madman.
    The wife talked about beautiful black creatures and she was so essentialist.

    Essentialism is something I STRONGLY oppose. There’s no “real” black or “real” woman, what exists are constructed positions of power.
    I would never agree with someone saying “If women ruled the world there would be no wars”. That’s essentialist.
    If women ruled the world the would misuse power as much as men do now. That’s why we have to work against distributing of power and against hierarchy.

    Maybe we’re not succeeding in changing the systems of dominance/submission but it’s our focus.
    And we’ll try to do that in alot of different ways for alot of years to come.

    Yeah, I don’t mean to compare a person who spend hundreds (?) of hours of doctor’s sessions, going through a long process of changing sex, and a white family being painted black in a documentary soap. It’s obviously a big difference in preparation, situation, knowledge and aim.
    Just that sometimes I meet that very essentialist approach with transpersons, but mostly transvestites. The representation of womanhood that’s so extreme that it doesn’t exist in other places. Thank god.

  18. Rebecca Nay says:

    I wouldn’t call it a “good” guess because it certainly wasn’t difficult. Part of your argument comes from the standpoint that trans women are not “real women.” No self respecting trans person would take that position. For that matter, a non-trans person who truly had a grasp of trans issues would not make that assertion either.

  19. Lisa says:

    🙂 hehe. Not at ALL bad.

    I’ll just answer a tiny bit of your reply now because I have to go to work.

    First thing I read was under the headline “your pretty little housewife” where you say “Call me a marxist radical feminst nazi, but….”

    If I would define you ideologically from that post it would be simply feminist.
    Not marxist and absolutely not a nazi.

    Unfortunately the nazi-prefix is often used linked to radical feminism. There’s nothing that links radical feminism with nazism. Andrea Dworkin who has written great many radical feminist books was jewish and an active resistor of nazism. Many other radical feminists today are antirascist, against heterosexism and the heterosexual institution of twoness. (I wish to say that all radical feminists are antirascists but I guess that wouldn’t be realistic in a rascist world.)
    Ofcourse nazism is often used, not as a reference to nazist ideology but, as a general word of bashing you opponent whoever it might be. A ways of saying: “they are evil”.

    As for the marxism before radicalfeminism that brings me no problem since there is big similarities between the two ideologies. Being a young radical feminist I have not exprienced the battle between rad.fem. and marxism that is said to have been very present in political discussions long time ago.

    Anyway, that was the first thing I read here and since I’ve heard it and read it in so many places before it seems to be relevant to discuss.
    Otherwise the thread itself is just plain gorgeous. Cred also to StaceyM.

    to be continued..

  20. Lisa says:

    No, I’m not. Good guess. 😉
    But I think, reading and discussing the issue more would in the end
    make the guess harder. So now I’ll answer Martis reply.

    // Lisa

  21. Rebecca Nay says:

    I am guessing that Lisa is not a trans woman…

  22. Rebecca Nay says:

    I am guessing that Lisa is not a trans woman…

  23. “Oh jeez,what’s up with this radical feminist bashing?”

    What bashing? “all radical feminists are stupid bigoted assholes.” THAT is bashing. In my mind, anything short of name calling is dialogue. It may be dialogue that I don’t agree with, but it isn’t bashing to disagree.

    “Radical feminists is women and girls fighting for not having to be labeled women or girls, thus be treated like a secondrate citizen.”

    Doesn’t that fall into the trap that woman=weakness? I don’t think it’s realistic to think that you’re going to remove labels. This society is too centered on branding and labels.

    “Separatism has been an important strategy in many movements of rights.”

    Name one. Certainly that has not been the case from what I can see has happened in the USA. Both womans suffrage and civil rights for African Americans were attained through working with coalitions of like minded minority groups, not sepratism. I think the Palestinian conflict in Israel is a good example of why separatism is NOT a good idea.

    “Maybe it is not so strange that a fight of a transsexual mtf’s right to be considered women and a radical feminist’s fight not to be considered women clashes….”

    Why can’t both coexist? My choice of identity is mine and mine alone… how does that harm anyone?

    “Also, unfortunately, women’s separate spaces have never been accepted by men and it is a sensitive question once again to be criticized for needing spaces free from male dominance. And just as there exists some radical feminists with some real manhating issues, there exists mtf.transexual with women hating issues.”

    I’m sorry, but that makes NO sense, unless you categorize m2f transsexuals as MEN. As I’ve said before, it’s illogical for any feminist to blurt out of one side of their mouth that there’s no such thing as essentialism and on the other to say that transsexuals aren’t women. If you are saying that a m2f transsexual is a man, and always a man, that IS essentialism.

    “Ofcourse there is a common fight to be fought. Against the construction of femininity and masculinity.”

    I consider myself a feminist, and I’m not fighting against femininity or masculinity. I’m fighting FOR equality, freedom of choice, freedom of expression… to be free to choose your own course in life.

    “Sorry that my english sucks, I’m swedish.”

    Din engelsk är sannolikt mycket bättre än min svensk. 😉

  24. Lisa says:

    Oh jeez,what’s up with this radical feminist bashing?

    Radical feminists is women and girls fighting for not having to be labeled women or girls, thus be treated like a secondrate citizen.

    When you fight such a hard battle for rights not yet accepted some choose to gain their strengh from people with the same experiences who are labeled the same way as they are in society. Separatism has been an important strategy in many movements of rights.

    Maybe it is not so strange that a fight of a transsexual mtf’s right to be considered women and a radical feminist’s fight not to be considered women clashes….

    Also, unfortunately, women’s separate spaces have never been accepted by men and it is a sensitive question once again to be criticized for needing spaces free from male dominance. And just as there exists some radical feminists with some real manhating issues, there exists mtf.transexual with women hating issues.

    Women hating is constructed in our society, with the idea of that there exists only two sexes and that they are complementary. Man is the norm and women and other sexes are “the others”.
    It takes some massive concious-raising and constant action, as a woman or man, not to be part of the womanhating. Men and women do their womenhating differently, and it seems to be harder for a person that is raised to be a man to be free from it and put aside the position of power that is more “natural” (read constructed) for men.

    Gender for radical feminists is a question of power. RF a standpoint-theory acknowleding that there exists different interests in society based on different power positions. Men is the norm while women and other genders are discriminated on. Ofcourse there is a common fight to be fought. Against the construction of femininity and masculinity.

    But radical feminism is a practical political movement, many times found among women and girls fighting against sexual violence at women’s and girl’s shelters. Originating in the experiences of rape, sexual harassment, violence in close relationships, eating disorders, homophobia etc… Things on a practical level has to be done.

    In a neoliberal world where more and more responsibility is put on the individual radicalfeminism tries to be a collective movement. Saying YOU don’t have to change, the world has to change. And we have to empower eachother, to find strenght to resist powerstructures. Alot of the methodology used within radical feminism aims to practise working with a “flat structure” within the organisations and in selfhelpinggroups.

    Sorry that my english sucks, I’m swedish.

  25. Rebecca Nay says:

    Robyn,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss of what you thought were your friends. I have a tendency to have higher expectations of acceptance from people who have also felt the pain of prejudice and discrimination. The reality is that non trans people from all walks of life have difficulty accepting us. The gay and lesbian community is certainly no exception. While I certainly cannot discount your negative experiences, I hope you don’t shut yourself off to those in the gl community that are genuine allies. A significant portion of my listeners fit this category.

  26. Rebecca Nay says:

    Robyn,

    I am so sorry to hear about your loss of what you thought were your friends. I have a tendency to have higher expectations of acceptance from people who have also felt the pain of prejudice and discrimination. The reality is that non trans people from all walks of life have difficulty accepting us. The gay and lesbian community is certainly no exception. While I certainly cannot discount your negative experiences, I hope you don’t shut yourself off to those in the gl community that are genuine allies. A significant portion of my listeners fit this category.

  27. Robyn Sullivan says:

    Okay Marti, please tell me “I told you so”.

    I’ve spent the last couple of years of thinking I could be part of a movement to build bridges between transwomen and the gay/lesbian community. And I believe I have done my work towards accomplishing that. The first couple of years after I disclosed I spent in shock after I discovered that this happy family I was going to become part of had no more regard for me than conservative christians do.

    And as of just this week, I’m throwing in that towel. I live in a very liberal town where most everybody gets along with everyone else. But guess who I just can’t get any respect from here? You guessed it. And as a lesbian transexual it saddens me that I get better treatment from the people you would think would have issues with me. But they don’t. Because I’m a pretty fabulous person anyway. And when one of them doesn’t like me, I can tell. But with your “friends” it’s always harder to tell.

    Sadly I’ve had too many recent encounters with lesbian women that have made me realize that most of the “acceptance” I thought I’d felt from them, including my best friend of two years, was fake. More like being politically correct so you don’t minimize the poor trannys’ plight. They’ll let you hang with them, but more as a freaky mascot or something. You are not getting admission into their world. In my personal experience, the biggest heap of prejudice I get is from gays and lesbians. They just seem incapable or unwilling to ever let you be anything beyond that T.

    So Marti, you will be happy to know I’ve finally crossed over that fence. It’s cost me a few friends as of just this week. But I finally started pushing back and said, “You can’t treat me as something less than and still be in my life”.

    And now I’m off to go hang out with some straight people so I can get a little respect.

    Robyn

  28. Robyn Sullivan says:

    Okay Marti, please tell me “I told you so”.

    I’ve spent the last couple of years of thinking I could be part of a movement to build bridges between transwomen and the gay/lesbian community. And I believe I have done my work towards accomplishing that. The first couple of years after I disclosed I spent in shock after I discovered that this happy family I was going to become part of had no more regard for me than conservative christians do.

    And as of just this week, I’m throwing in that towel. I live in a very liberal town where most everybody gets along with everyone else. But guess who I just can’t get any respect from here? You guessed it. And as a lesbian transexual it saddens me that I get better treatment from the people you would think would have issues with me. But they don’t. Because I’m a pretty fabulous person anyway. And when one of them doesn’t like me, I can tell. But with your “friends” it’s always harder to tell.

    Sadly I’ve had too many recent encounters with lesbian women that have made me realize that most of the “acceptance” I thought I’d felt from them, including my best friend of two years, was fake. More like being politically correct so you don’t minimize the poor trannys’ plight. They’ll let you hang with them, but more as a freaky mascot or something. You are not getting admission into their world. In my personal experience, the biggest heap of prejudice I get is from gays and lesbians. They just seem incapable or unwilling to ever let you be anything beyond that T.

    So Marti, you will be happy to know I’ve finally crossed over that fence. It’s cost me a few friends as of just this week. But I finally started pushing back and said, “You can’t treat me as something less than and still be in my life”.

    And now I’m off to go hang out with some straight people so I can get a little respect.

    Robyn

  29. Rebecca Nay says:

    Considering that we have mainstream feminist organizations like NOW on our side (which I think would be the equivalent of having the Catholic church on our side) I don’t think we need to spend alot of energy on these confused and bigoted people.

  30. Rebecca Nay says:

    Considering that we have mainstream feminist organizations like NOW on our side (which I think would be the equivalent of having the Catholic church on our side) I don’t think we need to spend alot of energy on these confused and bigoted people.

  31. RachelPhilPa says:

    I don’t know how significant or widespread this movement is, but there are the Deep Lezfolks that are trying to bring acceptance of transwomen into radical feminism (along with also addressing race and class issues typically ignored by radical feminism).

  32. RachelPhilPa says:

    I don’t know how significant or widespread this movement is, but there are the Deep Lezfolks that are trying to bring acceptance of transwomen into radical feminism (along with also addressing race and class issues typically ignored by radical feminism).

  33. nexyjo says:

    no, i don’t think we should fight them. i think we should work toward building bridges with them, and fight *with* them against our common struggles. unfortunately, some of them do not want to associate in any way with us.

    and, what stacym said about perspective.

  34. nexyjo says:

    no, i don’t think we should fight them. i think we should work toward building bridges with them, and fight *with* them against our common struggles. unfortunately, some of them do not want to associate in any way with us.

    and, what stacym said about perspective.

  35. Les says:

    As noted above, radfems have a lot less clout that Religious Right folks. Also, their intent is very different. They want liberation for women. The problem is that some of their theory aimed at achieving their goal is all wrong.

    Some radfems can be convinced to drop their bigotry through the use of logic. Others will cling to their hatred until they die. Not to be morbid or gross or anything, but most radfems are not young. Younger feminists tend to be much less transphobic and tend to see the obviousness of being allies. So, to be blunt, as the hating radfems die off, their legacy of transphobia will probably be quietly forgotten. I’d rather employ logic and irrefutable arguments than to just wait the baby boomers out.

    Some radfems really are haters, but there are others who just haven’t given the issue enough thought or stopped to consider the trans perspective in a meaningful way. I have high hopes for most of them, maybe undeserved, just because their root cause is so just.

  36. Les says:

    As noted above, radfems have a lot less clout that Religious Right folks. Also, their intent is very different. They want liberation for women. The problem is that some of their theory aimed at achieving their goal is all wrong.

    Some radfems can be convinced to drop their bigotry through the use of logic. Others will cling to their hatred until they die. Not to be morbid or gross or anything, but most radfems are not young. Younger feminists tend to be much less transphobic and tend to see the obviousness of being allies. So, to be blunt, as the hating radfems die off, their legacy of transphobia will probably be quietly forgotten. I’d rather employ logic and irrefutable arguments than to just wait the baby boomers out.

    Some radfems really are haters, but there are others who just haven’t given the issue enough thought or stopped to consider the trans perspective in a meaningful way. I have high hopes for most of them, maybe undeserved, just because their root cause is so just.

  37. Sabrina Star says:

    There are individual radical feminists who certainly act as enemies to us. But i don’t think it would be constructive for us to engage the radical feminist movement in an adversarial way, in part because feminism in general is evolving to become more trans-supportive, and because they are natural allies on many issues, and because, well, i think we have worse things to worry about.

  38. Sabrina Star says:

    There are individual radical feminists who certainly act as enemies to us. But i don’t think it would be constructive for us to engage the radical feminist movement in an adversarial way, in part because feminism in general is evolving to become more trans-supportive, and because they are natural allies on many issues, and because, well, i think we have worse things to worry about.

  39. frances says:

    Before I discovered Judith Butler, there was a lot of lesbian feminism like Mary Daly, Janice Raymond that was strongly essentialist and unequivocally anti-transsexual. I don’t see a lot of evidence since Butler wrote Gender Trouble that the rad-fem-les-sep line has really changed, except perhaps like racists, to not burn crosses on lawns, but to seem more respectable.

    Someone like Elizabeth Grosz, who was (still is?) taken seriously in academic cultural studies and feminist circles had some rather unkind things to say about transsexuals towards the end of Volatile Bodies, and she was post-Butler and generally regarded by people who thought Butler was hot as also pretty avant garde.

    I tend to think you can judge the worth of a movement or writer by how they regard others, and with this splinter of feminism, there is scant difference between them and racists, homophobes, all the usual bigots intelligent and caring people want no truck with.

    I would certainly argue they have considerable and dangerous political clout. Feminists and jurisprudes like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon saw nothing odd when the religious right aligned themselves with their anti-pornography ordinance, and the direct result of their anti-porn stand was the raid on a gay bookstore in Toronto.

    The whole anti- any not womyn-born-womyn (anti-male, anti-transsexual, anti-gay) separatist conflation of feminism and lesbianism has done both an incredible amount of harm, and the onus is definitely on both in the context of them being political movements to completely disown what is a shameful and quite despicable part of their recent past.

    On a personal and superficial level, their music sucks and they have no fashion.

  40. frances says:

    Before I discovered Judith Butler, there was a lot of lesbian feminism like Mary Daly, Janice Raymond that was strongly essentialist and unequivocally anti-transsexual. I don’t see a lot of evidence since Butler wrote Gender Trouble that the rad-fem-les-sep line has really changed, except perhaps like racists, to not burn crosses on lawns, but to seem more respectable.

    Someone like Elizabeth Grosz, who was (still is?) taken seriously in academic cultural studies and feminist circles had some rather unkind things to say about transsexuals towards the end of Volatile Bodies, and she was post-Butler and generally regarded by people who thought Butler was hot as also pretty avant garde.

    I tend to think you can judge the worth of a movement or writer by how they regard others, and with this splinter of feminism, there is scant difference between them and racists, homophobes, all the usual bigots intelligent and caring people want no truck with.

    I would certainly argue they have considerable and dangerous political clout. Feminists and jurisprudes like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon saw nothing odd when the religious right aligned themselves with their anti-pornography ordinance, and the direct result of their anti-porn stand was the raid on a gay bookstore in Toronto.

    The whole anti- any not womyn-born-womyn (anti-male, anti-transsexual, anti-gay) separatist conflation of feminism and lesbianism has done both an incredible amount of harm, and the onus is definitely on both in the context of them being political movements to completely disown what is a shameful and quite despicable part of their recent past.

    On a personal and superficial level, their music sucks and they have no fashion.

  41. StacyM says:

    To put this into perspective, let’s consider religious conservatives for a moment. They’ve got mega-churchs all across the US that draw thousands of people for weekly services. (One of these churches, in a town near where I live, seats two thousand people. That’s just one church.) They have huge media resources at their disposal: magazines, newspapers, talk radio, and television networks. They have control over numerous colleges and universities. They have control over the local and state governments in much of the US. They have a pope, a US president, numerous US congress people, and countless thinktanks and political action organizations.

    What do the radfems have? A few summer festivals, control over a handful of progressive organizations, and a growing number of blogs?

    Some of the more prejudiced radfems trully anger me, but religious conservatives frighten me in ways that make me wonder if I should leave the country. I understand your anger and perhaps even fear of some radfems, Marti. However, their political power is negligible.

  42. StacyM says:

    To put this into perspective, let’s consider religious conservatives for a moment. They’ve got mega-churchs all across the US that draw thousands of people for weekly services. (One of these churches, in a town near where I live, seats two thousand people. That’s just one church.) They have huge media resources at their disposal: magazines, newspapers, talk radio, and television networks. They have control over numerous colleges and universities. They have control over the local and state governments in much of the US. They have a pope, a US president, numerous US congress people, and countless thinktanks and political action organizations.

    What do the radfems have? A few summer festivals, control over a handful of progressive organizations, and a growing number of blogs?

    Some of the more prejudiced radfems trully anger me, but religious conservatives frighten me in ways that make me wonder if I should leave the country. I understand your anger and perhaps even fear of some radfems, Marti. However, their political power is negligible.