Michfest Music Melodrama
August 7, 2007
Bush Doesn’t Care About America
August 8, 2007

Radical Feminist Hate, Fear, or Loathing?

Typically, when reading about radical feminists on variousfear.gif blogs, it’s an “us verses them” type of debate. I’ve been thinking a lot about that, as witnessed by my last post, Michfest Music Melodrama

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

lately. So much anger and divisiveness occurs between radical feminist and transgender bloggers, it really turns my stomach. Very few posts on either side attempt to understand each other. so much so, it ends up being like the Hatfields vs the McCoys. Every time I studied that feud in high school, I could never understand why two groups of people could be so idiotic.

Now I do. A few days ago I happened upon this entry over at Cassandra Says that really smacked me in the face. She mentioned that she had looked at pictures of a well known radical feminist blogger, Heart, on a road trip. She said:

“… and you know what jumped out at me? Other than Heart herself almost every woman pictured falls into a certain stereotype, and that stereotype is intimately tied up with how we conceptualize gender as an issue.

This is a tricky area, discussing people’s sexual personae. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a certain type of woman that I encounter over and over again in feminist circles, and that that type of woman has a very distinct gender identity. It’s sort of butch, but there’s more to it than that, I think. I’m not even sure what descriptive term to use for that particular gender identity, but I’m willing to bet that everyone who has any familiarity with feminism knows the “type” I mean. It’s probably the most common “type” of woman that you meet at feminist events, along with the hippy earth mother “type” (ie. Heart, or our buddy Daisy). I’m going to call this “type” radfembutch, for lack of a better term, although if there already IS a better term let me know and I’ll use it instead.

The fact that the English language doesn’t seem to have a word for that “type” is interesting to me, and I think that it’s significant. It’s a basic principle of linguistics that anything a culture considers worth thinking or talking about, it has a word for. So why don’t we have a word for that particular female gender identity? It’s not like that identity is all that uncommon. I’m willing to bet that everyone here can point to a woman they know, even if only peripherally, who has that identity. So why the gap in the language?

I think it’s because our culture doesn’t much like those women. It doesn’t know what to do with them, how to classify them. They confuse a lot of people, because most people see gender as a binary and so they don’t tend to deal very well with people who don’t fit easily into the categories “masculine” and “feminine”.

Neither do transpeople, and I think this may be where the grudge match comes from. I looked at those pictures from Heart’s road-trip, and I remembered Qgrrl’s comments a while back about how the language used by transpeople made her uncomfortable because it made her feel erased. From what I can tell, she very much of the radfembutch type – not at all comfortable with being “feminine” but not identifying with “masculine” either. Not quite sure where she fits, feels as if she had to figure it all out on her own.

That has to be a scary position to be in. I’m not sure that those of us who have always felt more or less comfortable with our gender identity can really understand just how unsettling that might be, to feel like society was determined to slot everyone into neat little gender categories and not feel like you fit into any of those available. For a teenager that could be terrifying.

So, I started thinking about that, and wondering how many women involved in radical feminism had to go through something like that. And then something clicked in my mind, and I finally saw WHY those women are so protective of their “space” and why so many of them are so very hostile to anyone they see as an interloper. If you’d spent most of your life feeling like you didn’t belong, and then you found a place where you DID feel like you belonged, wouldn’t you be protective of that? Wouldn’t you want to hold on to it?”

I have to admit, if this is the case, then I can understand why they are so angry and defensive. I’ve always thought that there was just something ingrained in radical feminism that was anti trans. I’ve never considered that that these women could be considered “gender variant” as well, and feel like Michfest is a place of unity for them. I remember the first time I found a virtual space that dealt with transgender issues online. I went from feeling totally alone, isolated, and odd, to feeling like there were others that understood and lived my plight.

She continues:

“Qgrrl’s point seemed to be that trans language, particularly the word ‘cisgender’, left her feeling discomfited because she felt like it excluded her experience (and I’m not her, so if she happens to come across this and I’m misunderstanding what she mean then please, jump in and correct me). I’m guessing she’s not the only one. It seems to me that there are TONS of women who fit that mold, and that many of them feel like they found a home within feminism. I wonder to what extent that may be what’s really going on with the trans issue. The way that I see some radical feminists reacting looks as if they feel threatened in some way, and other than Heart most of those women do seem to be kind of on the butch side. How does that play into this whole issue? Is that where the root of the conflict lies, with one group feeling like their home and their identity that they worked hard to create is under attack, and the other group (transwomen) feeling like those women are attempting to exclude them from places that SHOULD feel like home purely out of spite? In some cases it does look like spite, but in others it honestly looks more like fear, or confusion, and in an odd way that’s kind of encouraging. Spite or malice are hard things to get around, but fear and confusion?”

This does make sense to me. I see the same type of thing in the “crossdresser verses transsexual” wars. One side wants to be included because of their similarities to a group, the other side wants to exclude them because of their differences.

She ends this line of thought by saying:

“In some cases it does look like spite, but in others it honestly looks more like fear, or confusion, and in an odd way that’s kind of encouraging. Spite or malice are hard things to get around, but fear and confusion? Those can be addressed. Compromises can be made. People can become more comfortable with things that once disturbed them.”

I hope so. I hope it is fear. I’ve overcome so much fear in my life, I know that’s doable. It gives me hope for tomorrow, that we may be able to turn an enemy into an ally. The Christian right hates us both and regularly lumps us in together. I hope at some point we can learn to understand each other and fight together, instead of fighting each other.

42 Comments

  1. hb says:

    thanks, marti. i have to admit that i was really surprised when i read that post. it would have never occurred to me that trans women in particular didn’t see that essential conundrum of gender variant vs. trans, since it’s also so much of what is the core of my experience being with betty – as a feminist, as a tomboy. that is, it leaps out at me, daily.

    not that i’m much help anyway – it’s not like radfems have any interest in what i think. i probably fall into the FTM category – traitor to my own gender – or something like that.

  2. hb says:

    thanks, marti. i have to admit that i was really surprised when i read that post. it would have never occurred to me that trans women in particular didn’t see that essential conundrum of gender variant vs. trans, since it’s also so much of what is the core of my experience being with betty – as a feminist, as a tomboy. that is, it leaps out at me, daily.

    not that i’m much help anyway – it’s not like radfems have any interest in what i think. i probably fall into the FTM category – traitor to my own gender – or something like that.

  3. 'bias says:

    I’m not as indignant as my post reads..

    I guess, at the core of this I’m hesitant to engage in this discourse. Certainly, on a human level I’m apt to converse. I’m just not gun ho about organizing around separatist feminisms. I may even go as far as to say that engaging at this particular praxis may do more to feed divisive lines than to dilute the barriers.

    I can’t healthily engage a discourse or community who sees my humanity as a threat to their own.

    Audre Lorde got it right when she said “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.

  4. 'bias says:

    I’m not as indignant as my post reads..

    I guess, at the core of this I’m hesitant to engage in this discourse. Certainly, on a human level I’m apt to converse. I’m just not gun ho about organizing around separatist feminisms. I may even go as far as to say that engaging at this particular praxis may do more to feed divisive lines than to dilute the barriers.

    I can’t healthily engage a discourse or community who sees my humanity as a threat to their own.

    Audre Lorde got it right when she said “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.

  5. “So when it comes down to the bottom line, I agree with your assertion that it has to do with fear and confusion. But I’m at a place where the increasingly self-secluding neo-luddite feminisms pose more of a distraction than anything else. There’s enough shit to wade through in this world, why even bother?”

    If I have to wade through some shit to find an ally, I’m willing. We have enough in common, if we could somehow break through all the hurt feelings and egos. I’m at least willing to try.

  6. 'bias says:

    *breathe*

    I appreciate the generosity of this post. But, maybe there’s too much?

    I am a trans man who attended and transitioned at a women’s college. I dealt with this tension every moment I was on campus and it’s something that still I carry with me three years after the fact.

    There was a strange phenomenon that happened while I was enrolled that may complicate matters or dissipate your patience.

    I agree that the codification of lesbian of who you write is consistently under threat and necessarily protective. I get it. And the presence of comfortably embraced reflections of “traditional” gender roles can pose threat. Although arguably, the threat of self reflection. In fact I would argue that this is the same mechanism that alienated a blue-collar butch/femme culture from the more middle class intellectual feminism.

    But here’s the problem… essentialism. Universal essentialism. Not necessarily in gender non-conformity, but in the understanding of what motivates gender “conformity.”

    Classic example… high heels. Of course the origination of the shoes was sexist and disabling. Does that mean the shoes themselves are inherently sexist?

    This of course is that muddled borderland of 2nd/3rd wave, modern/postmodern feminisms.

    I have little patience for anyone who assumes me to be a product/victim/or otherwise of the patriarchy. This ‘mode’ of feminism that you’re hashing out here sees trans folk as a manufactured product of some phallo-centric medical complex and not as beings of self determination.

    So when it comes down to the bottom line, I agree with your assertion that it has to do with fear and confusion. But I’m at a place where the increasingly self-secluding neo-luddite feminisms pose more of a distraction than anything else. There’s enough shit to wade through in this world, why even bother?

  7. 'bias says:

    *breathe*

    I appreciate the generosity of this post. But, maybe there’s too much?

    I am a trans man who attended and transitioned at a women’s college. I dealt with this tension every moment I was on campus and it’s something that still I carry with me three years after the fact.

    There was a strange phenomenon that happened while I was enrolled that may complicate matters or dissipate your patience.

    I agree that the codification of lesbian of who you write is consistently under threat and necessarily protective. I get it. And the presence of comfortably embraced reflections of “traditional” gender roles can pose threat. Although arguably, the threat of self reflection. In fact I would argue that this is the same mechanism that alienated a blue-collar butch/femme culture from the more middle class intellectual feminism.

    But here’s the problem… essentialism. Universal essentialism. Not necessarily in gender non-conformity, but in the understanding of what motivates gender “conformity.”

    Classic example… high heels. Of course the origination of the shoes was sexist and disabling. Does that mean the shoes themselves are inherently sexist?

    This of course is that muddled borderland of 2nd/3rd wave, modern/postmodern feminisms.

    I have little patience for anyone who assumes me to be a product/victim/or otherwise of the patriarchy. This ‘mode’ of feminism that you’re hashing out here sees trans folk as a manufactured product of some phallo-centric medical complex and not as beings of self determination.

    So when it comes down to the bottom line, I agree with your assertion that it has to do with fear and confusion. But I’m at a place where the increasingly self-secluding neo-luddite feminisms pose more of a distraction than anything else. There’s enough shit to wade through in this world, why even bother?

  8. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    Wow, you women amaze me. Personally, I need a wand to throw lightning bolts.

    I’m not sure I can add anything to your thoughts on safe spaces and predjudice. Certainly, the religious fundies and other hate groups often use predjudice to define their “safe space.” Ultimately, I think that one person’s safe space ends where another’s begins, which means that hate mongerers aren’t entitled to any safe space. Their hate endangers gay and trans people, limits our access to basic civil rights, and, as a result, infringes on our safe space.

    Now, shall we use our supernatural powers and go eradicate heterosexual marriage? 🙂

  9. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    Wow, you women amaze me. Personally, I need a wand to throw lightning bolts.

    I’m not sure I can add anything to your thoughts on safe spaces and predjudice. Certainly, the religious fundies and other hate groups often use predjudice to define their “safe space.” Ultimately, I think that one person’s safe space ends where another’s begins, which means that hate mongerers aren’t entitled to any safe space. Their hate endangers gay and trans people, limits our access to basic civil rights, and, as a result, infringes on our safe space.

    Now, shall we use our supernatural powers and go eradicate heterosexual marriage? 🙂

  10. Jan says:

    Hi,

    I read a posting on another group. The posting was a reprint of a conservative organization explaining about how conservatives need to fight Gays, Lesbians and Transgendered. In reading this stuff I noticed a striking similarity between the WBW arguments and the conservative movement’s efforts to marginalize and eliminate Gays and Lesbians and Transgendered as well as Feminists.

    Conservatives seem to have started this effort with Church safe spaces and are working on spreading those spaces to include cities, states and the nation. Personally, I firmly believe a Church has the right to say whom they want to attend and limit membership. However, I am once again struck with the same issue I previously raised with this WBW stuff. Where does a “safe space” end and prejudice begin?

    Perhaps there is an aspect of responsibility differentiating “safe spaces” from prejudice. I suspect those with these “safe spaces” will likely always be under attack from one direction or another. However, those owners of those spaces have power to filter those who enter. Perhaps the differentiator from prejudice is responsibility to ensure the defining factors of a “safe space” are not used as reasons for denigrating or demeaning. And ensuring the expansion of “safe space” does not include these negative traits. Then again, perhaps the real difference between a “safe space” and prejudice is not using prejudice to define a safe space.

    I’ve read some feminists words about how transsexuals are really men infiltrating their ranks to destroy them from within. Hmm, looking at my little hand and wondering if I possibly could have more power than I realize. I wiggle my fingers in the dark looking for sparks or at least a glow… (Does their argument sound spooky similar to the conservative argument against same sex marriage to any of you?) Somehow, I don’t think I have enough power to destroy the feminist movement or the institution of marriage! Hmm, I wonder how I am expected to destroy feminism? I don’t seem to have super human powers and I am just one girl. Hmm, I am blonde and kinda cute… Perhaps I’m expected to plant a bad idea and getting them to stop thinking like women? Although, there are times I have bad ideas, I don’t think they threaten feminism or can take control of someone’s mind. I am a woman and I really don’t know how I threaten their safe space or sexuality or whatever?

    Any thoughts on this. It’s dark outside so I’m going to try throwing lightning bolts from my hands.

    Jan

  11. Jan says:

    Hi,

    I read a posting on another group. The posting was a reprint of a conservative organization explaining about how conservatives need to fight Gays, Lesbians and Transgendered. In reading this stuff I noticed a striking similarity between the WBW arguments and the conservative movement’s efforts to marginalize and eliminate Gays and Lesbians and Transgendered as well as Feminists.

    Conservatives seem to have started this effort with Church safe spaces and are working on spreading those spaces to include cities, states and the nation. Personally, I firmly believe a Church has the right to say whom they want to attend and limit membership. However, I am once again struck with the same issue I previously raised with this WBW stuff. Where does a “safe space” end and prejudice begin?

    Perhaps there is an aspect of responsibility differentiating “safe spaces” from prejudice. I suspect those with these “safe spaces” will likely always be under attack from one direction or another. However, those owners of those spaces have power to filter those who enter. Perhaps the differentiator from prejudice is responsibility to ensure the defining factors of a “safe space” are not used as reasons for denigrating or demeaning. And ensuring the expansion of “safe space” does not include these negative traits. Then again, perhaps the real difference between a “safe space” and prejudice is not using prejudice to define a safe space.

    I’ve read some feminists words about how transsexuals are really men infiltrating their ranks to destroy them from within. Hmm, looking at my little hand and wondering if I possibly could have more power than I realize. I wiggle my fingers in the dark looking for sparks or at least a glow… (Does their argument sound spooky similar to the conservative argument against same sex marriage to any of you?) Somehow, I don’t think I have enough power to destroy the feminist movement or the institution of marriage! Hmm, I wonder how I am expected to destroy feminism? I don’t seem to have super human powers and I am just one girl. Hmm, I am blonde and kinda cute… Perhaps I’m expected to plant a bad idea and getting them to stop thinking like women? Although, there are times I have bad ideas, I don’t think they threaten feminism or can take control of someone’s mind. I am a woman and I really don’t know how I threaten their safe space or sexuality or whatever?

    Any thoughts on this. It’s dark outside so I’m going to try throwing lightning bolts from my hands.

    Jan

  12. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    YukiChoe, your T-female “privelege” sounds a lot like my T-male “privelege.” Like you, I was teased, ridiculed, threatened and condemned endlessly while growing up. No rats in my locker though: they probably knew I liked rats. 🙂 For me, it was gum in my hair (before the days of Goo Gone) and daily threats to kill me. Now, I’m rather proud of myself for having survived it all.

    It occurs to me that part of the problem with radfems is that their whole philosophy is founded on the belief that gender is purely a social construct. Our existence poses a direct challenge to that belief. In a sense, they’re like religious fundies clinging mercilessly to their faith.

  13. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    YukiChoe, your T-female “privelege” sounds a lot like my T-male “privelege.” Like you, I was teased, ridiculed, threatened and condemned endlessly while growing up. No rats in my locker though: they probably knew I liked rats. 🙂 For me, it was gum in my hair (before the days of Goo Gone) and daily threats to kill me. Now, I’m rather proud of myself for having survived it all.

    It occurs to me that part of the problem with radfems is that their whole philosophy is founded on the belief that gender is purely a social construct. Our existence poses a direct challenge to that belief. In a sense, they’re like religious fundies clinging mercilessly to their faith.

  14. YukiChoe says:

    “And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt.”

    I will put this on the record. I do not have ANY ‘male privilage’ since I was born. This is the hard fact. But I do have T female privilages by the way.

    Some of my privilages since before my puberty include getting wolf whistled at when I am wearing short pants, being teased with the most degrading labels and names imaginable, adult tuition teachers carressing me, boys feeling icky when I want to play with them till they throw sand on my eyes, some boys tried to put rats in my locker to make me scream and cry… All this while I am wearing a boy’s school uniform.

    Oh yes, I sometimes also get the special invitational privilage as a T female, to get whacked, punched and bullied in the school toilet for a good 15-20 minutes during recess. I was also raped a couple of times by a few men. How about that for ‘privilages’.

    I do try to be neutral, and do not wish to talk about past matters; But using such words like ‘male privilages’ as justification for their hatred and prejudice, just shows these radfems an insult to their own mentality. It is no longer stupid bitching. It is no longer funny.

  15. YukiChoe says:

    “And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt.”

    I will put this on the record. I do not have ANY ‘male privilage’ since I was born. This is the hard fact. But I do have T female privilages by the way.

    Some of my privilages since before my puberty include getting wolf whistled at when I am wearing short pants, being teased with the most degrading labels and names imaginable, adult tuition teachers carressing me, boys feeling icky when I want to play with them till they throw sand on my eyes, some boys tried to put rats in my locker to make me scream and cry… All this while I am wearing a boy’s school uniform.

    Oh yes, I sometimes also get the special invitational privilage as a T female, to get whacked, punched and bullied in the school toilet for a good 15-20 minutes during recess. I was also raped a couple of times by a few men. How about that for ‘privilages’.

    I do try to be neutral, and do not wish to talk about past matters; But using such words like ‘male privilages’ as justification for their hatred and prejudice, just shows these radfems an insult to their own mentality. It is no longer stupid bitching. It is no longer funny.

  16. Jan says:

    Thanks for your posting! I checked out Heart’s website. I can’t express how sickened I am by the postings of those hackers on her website. Hate is awful!! I hope Heart succeeds identifying those hackers.

    I must admit I am confused with this Wymen Born Wymen stuff. I don’t hide who I am but I also don’t flaunt my history either. I’m generally accepted for being a genetic female by women who don’t know me. Even by WBW lesbians. So, I’ve heard some of the comments and attitudes of WBW lesbians. Honestly, if I find myself around WBW lesbians, I cut the conversation short and move on.

    Like I said, I don’t hide who I am. I don’t go to WBW “safe spaces” because like who needs the grief? Yet I find myself approached by some WBW lesbians in general GLBT gatherings. Sometimes, when these women know my history, I hear the “invading their space” stuff and have to listen as they define me as a guy pretending to be female or a freak or such. One time with the application of a pool stick over my head. I wish I were alone with these kinds of experiences but I’m not. I know of several other women with transsexual histories who’ve been treated similarly. So, I guess I’m not buying the WBW “belonging” idea entirely. I suppose it’s true for some WBW, others may go along so they aren’t excluded from the WBW world, but some are far too aggressive with diminutive prejudicial all encompassing everywhere exclusion. If you go to a meeting of some group you belong to and extend the space of your group everywhere and upon everyone from then on, isn’t this more than a safe space thing? So, I guess I’m curious where safe spaces end and discrimination begins? Like imagine if someone creates a Hetero Born Hetero safe space and extends it nationwide while using their HBH view to say everyone else is just confused or pretending or some other demeaning language? I guess I just believe pre-judging someone is just plain prejudice.

    Thanks again for your posting!
    Jan

  17. Jan says:

    Thanks for your posting! I checked out Heart’s website. I can’t express how sickened I am by the postings of those hackers on her website. Hate is awful!! I hope Heart succeeds identifying those hackers.

    I must admit I am confused with this Wymen Born Wymen stuff. I don’t hide who I am but I also don’t flaunt my history either. I’m generally accepted for being a genetic female by women who don’t know me. Even by WBW lesbians. So, I’ve heard some of the comments and attitudes of WBW lesbians. Honestly, if I find myself around WBW lesbians, I cut the conversation short and move on.

    Like I said, I don’t hide who I am. I don’t go to WBW “safe spaces” because like who needs the grief? Yet I find myself approached by some WBW lesbians in general GLBT gatherings. Sometimes, when these women know my history, I hear the “invading their space” stuff and have to listen as they define me as a guy pretending to be female or a freak or such. One time with the application of a pool stick over my head. I wish I were alone with these kinds of experiences but I’m not. I know of several other women with transsexual histories who’ve been treated similarly. So, I guess I’m not buying the WBW “belonging” idea entirely. I suppose it’s true for some WBW, others may go along so they aren’t excluded from the WBW world, but some are far too aggressive with diminutive prejudicial all encompassing everywhere exclusion. If you go to a meeting of some group you belong to and extend the space of your group everywhere and upon everyone from then on, isn’t this more than a safe space thing? So, I guess I’m curious where safe spaces end and discrimination begins? Like imagine if someone creates a Hetero Born Hetero safe space and extends it nationwide while using their HBH view to say everyone else is just confused or pretending or some other demeaning language? I guess I just believe pre-judging someone is just plain prejudice.

    Thanks again for your posting!
    Jan

  18. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    Michelle wrote, “The problem that Butler presents for transfolk (and transsexuals in particular) is that she views gender as “performative”, and does not “accept” the notion that someone may have an identity that is at odds with their behaviour. (as is the case with pre-transition TSes)”

    That seems to be a common way of thinking in mainstream society too. People want objectively observable evidence. There’s a quote I grew up hearing from my mother: “We see ourselves the way other people see us.” A lot of people believe that it’s a timeless, universal wisdom, and they are skeptical of anyone who challenges it. Of course, I always hated that quote myself. I don’t know where it originated.

  19. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    Michelle wrote, “The problem that Butler presents for transfolk (and transsexuals in particular) is that she views gender as “performative”, and does not “accept” the notion that someone may have an identity that is at odds with their behaviour. (as is the case with pre-transition TSes)”

    That seems to be a common way of thinking in mainstream society too. People want objectively observable evidence. There’s a quote I grew up hearing from my mother: “We see ourselves the way other people see us.” A lot of people believe that it’s a timeless, universal wisdom, and they are skeptical of anyone who challenges it. Of course, I always hated that quote myself. I don’t know where it originated.

  20. StacyM says:

    I’ve never been to Michigan, but my housemate has on several occasions. She has attended both as a festival attendee and as a festival worker. I asked her if there is much gender diversity at the festival and she assured me that there is a huge range of variation in the women who attend. There are women who are butch and look femme. There are women who are femme and look butch. There are butches who look butch and femmes who look femme. There are both straight women and queer women. There are even people who feel that they need to transition to male. Her experiences do not fit the profile discussed by Cassandra Says.

    Personally, I have never sensed that feminists fall into particular types of gender expression. Granted, there is a wider spread of gender diversity among the feminists I know than exists among the general populace. However, there is no single type of gender expression that I can characterize as distinctly feminist. Maybe this changes when one separates out different branches of feminist thought and who tends to adopt them… but I remain strongly skeptical.

    It’s so easy to place stereotypes upon people who are different from us… especially people who we find to be threatening. It’s easy for me to stereotype radfems since I’m a trans woman and I’m not happy with the attitudes that many radfems have toward my kind. It makes it a lot easier to downplay the ideas of those I disagree with if I can shove my detractors into nice, neat little boxes.

    So, I suspect that this explanation of anti-trans sentiment is not widely accurate. Perhaps this explanation holds some validity for women who fit the kind of gender expression described by Cassandra Says, but what about everyone else? There are all kinds of women who gravitate toward women-only spaces.

    After all, Heart isn’t butch and her hatred of trans women is infamous in the feminist blog world. So, what’s her excuse? Is she simply a cheerleader for radfem butches? She’s pretty obsessed with trans women: she writes about our relationship to feminism, which venues we should be allowed to frequent, and how we should be perceived. I’ll wager that her animosity runs far beyond a warm, fuzzy feeling toward her butch peers.

    Could it be that the general prejudice that society holds toward trans women exists in all sectors of society? Why wouldn’t this kind of prejudice express itself amongst women who attend women-only events? Whenever gender-specific spaces come into play, the prejudices surrounding trans women become explosive in their intensity. Just think of the general populace’s fears surrounding trans women and women’s bathrooms. Is it any wonder that some women freak over trans women frequenting women’s events? Feminists are just as human as the rest of the world and consequently, they are just as likely to express prejudice toward highly marginalized groups of people.

    So, if you take a particular group of feminists who strongly value women-only spaces—radfems certainly fall into this category—wouldn’t it seem logical to find that the intensity of anti-trans prejudice expressed by these feminists far outstrips the levels expressed by other feminists? Radfems can obscure their discomfort within a morass of feminist theory, but underneath it all, I suspect that their feelings boil down to common prejudice.

  21. StacyM says:

    I’ve never been to Michigan, but my housemate has on several occasions. She has attended both as a festival attendee and as a festival worker. I asked her if there is much gender diversity at the festival and she assured me that there is a huge range of variation in the women who attend. There are women who are butch and look femme. There are women who are femme and look butch. There are butches who look butch and femmes who look femme. There are both straight women and queer women. There are even people who feel that they need to transition to male. Her experiences do not fit the profile discussed by Cassandra Says.

    Personally, I have never sensed that feminists fall into particular types of gender expression. Granted, there is a wider spread of gender diversity among the feminists I know than exists among the general populace. However, there is no single type of gender expression that I can characterize as distinctly feminist. Maybe this changes when one separates out different branches of feminist thought and who tends to adopt them… but I remain strongly skeptical.

    It’s so easy to place stereotypes upon people who are different from us… especially people who we find to be threatening. It’s easy for me to stereotype radfems since I’m a trans woman and I’m not happy with the attitudes that many radfems have toward my kind. It makes it a lot easier to downplay the ideas of those I disagree with if I can shove my detractors into nice, neat little boxes.

    So, I suspect that this explanation of anti-trans sentiment is not widely accurate. Perhaps this explanation holds some validity for women who fit the kind of gender expression described by Cassandra Says, but what about everyone else? There are all kinds of women who gravitate toward women-only spaces.

    After all, Heart isn’t butch and her hatred of trans women is infamous in the feminist blog world. So, what’s her excuse? Is she simply a cheerleader for radfem butches? She’s pretty obsessed with trans women: she writes about our relationship to feminism, which venues we should be allowed to frequent, and how we should be perceived. I’ll wager that her animosity runs far beyond a warm, fuzzy feeling toward her butch peers.

    Could it be that the general prejudice that society holds toward trans women exists in all sectors of society? Why wouldn’t this kind of prejudice express itself amongst women who attend women-only events? Whenever gender-specific spaces come into play, the prejudices surrounding trans women become explosive in their intensity. Just think of the general populace’s fears surrounding trans women and women’s bathrooms. Is it any wonder that some women freak over trans women frequenting women’s events? Feminists are just as human as the rest of the world and consequently, they are just as likely to express prejudice toward highly marginalized groups of people.

    So, if you take a particular group of feminists who strongly value women-only spaces—radfems certainly fall into this category—wouldn’t it seem logical to find that the intensity of anti-trans prejudice expressed by these feminists far outstrips the levels expressed by other feminists? Radfems can obscure their discomfort within a morass of feminist theory, but underneath it all, I suspect that their feelings boil down to common prejudice.

  22. Michelle says:

    Says Wolfgang:

    And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt.

    My own experience is that while I may have “had” made privilege, I didn’t know what to do with it, or what it meant. I always felt like I had the “wrong half of the rulebook” while I was growing up.

  23. Michelle says:

    Says Wolfgang:

    And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt.

    My own experience is that while I may have “had” made privilege, I didn’t know what to do with it, or what it meant. I always felt like I had the “wrong half of the rulebook” while I was growing up.

  24. Michelle says:

    From what I’ve seen, the “rad-fem” feminists derive a lot of their political positions based on the theoretical writings of people like Judith Butler.

    I’ve had the opportunity in recent months to study writers like Butler and Fausto-Sterling {long story}. The problem that Butler presents for transfolk (and transsexuals in particular) is that she views gender as “performative”, and does not “accept” the notion that someone may have an identity that is at odds with their behaviour. (as is the case with pre-transition TSes)

    As a result, they find the fundamental notion of transsexualism extremely troubling – and many choose to interpret that into overt hostility.

  25. Michelle says:

    From what I’ve seen, the “rad-fem” feminists derive a lot of their political positions based on the theoretical writings of people like Judith Butler.

    I’ve had the opportunity in recent months to study writers like Butler and Fausto-Sterling {long story}. The problem that Butler presents for transfolk (and transsexuals in particular) is that she views gender as “performative”, and does not “accept” the notion that someone may have an identity that is at odds with their behaviour. (as is the case with pre-transition TSes)

    As a result, they find the fundamental notion of transsexualism extremely troubling – and many choose to interpret that into overt hostility.

  26. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    YukiChoe wrote, “Ironically they would include FTMs because they think FTMs still represent girls. And they would not admit me, because they think I am still a boy.”

    Definitely ironic, though there is the element of transmen having been raised as girls and treated as women for most of our adult lives. But what many feminists don’t understand is that we didn’t experience life as women, in the way that non-trans women experience it, because we’ve always seen ourselves as male.

    Like the feminists, we know gender oppression, but in a different way than them. Not only were we oppressed for being female, but also for being different from other females.

    And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt. Like us, you ladies grew up with gender opression too. Boys are expected to conform to masculine stereotypes. Failure to comply, and you lose male privilage, if one can even experience such privilege while not experiencing malehood, if that makes any sense.

    And just like us guys, you too grew up with the pain of being different.

    Many feminists have a simplistic and false understanding of what it means to be trans. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a lot of them parroting the ideas expressed by Catherine Crouch in “The Gendercator” lately.

  27. Wolfgang E. B. says:

    YukiChoe wrote, “Ironically they would include FTMs because they think FTMs still represent girls. And they would not admit me, because they think I am still a boy.”

    Definitely ironic, though there is the element of transmen having been raised as girls and treated as women for most of our adult lives. But what many feminists don’t understand is that we didn’t experience life as women, in the way that non-trans women experience it, because we’ve always seen ourselves as male.

    Like the feminists, we know gender oppression, but in a different way than them. Not only were we oppressed for being female, but also for being different from other females.

    And they think that transwomen grew up with male privilege, which I highly doubt. Like us, you ladies grew up with gender opression too. Boys are expected to conform to masculine stereotypes. Failure to comply, and you lose male privilage, if one can even experience such privilege while not experiencing malehood, if that makes any sense.

    And just like us guys, you too grew up with the pain of being different.

    Many feminists have a simplistic and false understanding of what it means to be trans. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed a lot of them parroting the ideas expressed by Catherine Crouch in “The Gendercator” lately.

  28. YukiChoe says:

    I have been turned away at womyn parties after parties organized by this group http://www.purplelab.net/. Ironically they would include FTMs because they think FTMs still represent girls. And they would not admit me, because they think I am still a boy. 🙁

    It is sad. Being included in girls’ groups for me is an affirmation of my identity as a lady. Rejecting me on that count hurts me deeply. I know I am a girl, but they still focus on the organ at birth. With this perception, dialogues are close to impossible. Even more so when beliefs becomes dogma. We should know our place.

  29. YukiChoe says:

    I have been turned away at womyn parties after parties organized by this group http://www.purplelab.net/. Ironically they would include FTMs because they think FTMs still represent girls. And they would not admit me, because they think I am still a boy. 🙁

    It is sad. Being included in girls’ groups for me is an affirmation of my identity as a lady. Rejecting me on that count hurts me deeply. I know I am a girl, but they still focus on the organ at birth. With this perception, dialogues are close to impossible. Even more so when beliefs becomes dogma. We should know our place.

  30. sabrinastar says:

    “But there will be no healing if there is no dialogue. We MUST get past our hurt feelings and deal with this, lest it festers.”

    Oh, i agree entirely.

    But let’s see if any of them quote from this and say, “Yeah, she nailed it.”

  31. sabrinastar says:

    “But there will be no healing if there is no dialogue. We MUST get past our hurt feelings and deal with this, lest it festers.”

    Oh, i agree entirely.

    But let’s see if any of them quote from this and say, “Yeah, she nailed it.”

  32. “From what I’ve heard of from the lesbian perspective of the “women’s space” debate, What Cassandra is theorizing is exactly the point; that it’s a “safe” space where lesbians can feel they fit in, which is not the case anywhere in the regular world.”
    I’m not really sure how transwomen would make that space “unsafe.” I’d think it would be more of a celebration and honor of their space, than trying to take it over. I can’t understand how people that have so much in common (being ostracized by society), have so much anger towards each other.

  33. “From what I’ve heard of from the lesbian perspective of the “women’s space” debate, What Cassandra is theorizing is exactly the point; that it’s a “safe” space where lesbians can feel they fit in, which is not the case anywhere in the regular world.”
    I’m not really sure how transwomen would make that space “unsafe.” I’d think it would be more of a celebration and honor of their space, than trying to take it over. I can’t understand how people that have so much in common (being ostracized by society), have so much anger towards each other.

  34. I can say that the “in between genders” is very much my situation, and I know that’s true of many lesbians. There is quite a bit of lesbian literature exploring gender roles and where lesbians fit into society as a whole and within the lesbian community – the butch/femme discussion, and whether that is just adopting hetero norms, what stone butches feel, etc.

    From what I’ve heard of from the lesbian perspective of the “women’s space” debate, What Cassandra is theorizing is exactly the point; that it’s a “safe” space where lesbians can feel they fit in, which is not the case anywhere in the regular world.

  35. I can say that the “in between genders” is very much my situation, and I know that’s true of many lesbians. There is quite a bit of lesbian literature exploring gender roles and where lesbians fit into society as a whole and within the lesbian community – the butch/femme discussion, and whether that is just adopting hetero norms, what stone butches feel, etc.

    From what I’ve heard of from the lesbian perspective of the “women’s space” debate, What Cassandra is theorizing is exactly the point; that it’s a “safe” space where lesbians can feel they fit in, which is not the case anywhere in the regular world.

  36. “It’s not just us who are being disrespected. It is WBW friends and lovers of gallae who are also being deeply affected by this divide.”

    I do understand. But there will be no healing if there is no dialogue. We MUST get past our hurt feelings and deal with this, lest it festers. If this is true, it helps with that. The post over at Casandra Says amazed me so much because it does just that.

  37. “It’s not just us who are being disrespected. It is WBW friends and lovers of gallae who are also being deeply affected by this divide.”

    I do understand. But there will be no healing if there is no dialogue. We MUST get past our hurt feelings and deal with this, lest it festers. If this is true, it helps with that. The post over at Casandra Says amazed me so much because it does just that.

  38. sabrinastar says:

    Well… if this is true it would make a lot of sense. But i’m not quite ready to jump behind this 100%. The thing is… there have been gallae among the members of that clan from day one. Some have been friends and lovers of radical feminist women. They participated in the community either along with their friends/lovers, or in good faith as members of the community, and they were rewarded with routine exclusion and ridicule.

    I’m not entirely sure it would have been the issue it is today if the matter wasn’t inflated to a fever pitch by Janice Raymond and her crusade against Sandy Stone and Olivia Records.

    It’s not just us who are being disrespected. It is WBW friends and lovers of gallae who are also being deeply affected by this divide.

  39. sabrinastar says:

    Well… if this is true it would make a lot of sense. But i’m not quite ready to jump behind this 100%. The thing is… there have been gallae among the members of that clan from day one. Some have been friends and lovers of radical feminist women. They participated in the community either along with their friends/lovers, or in good faith as members of the community, and they were rewarded with routine exclusion and ridicule.

    I’m not entirely sure it would have been the issue it is today if the matter wasn’t inflated to a fever pitch by Janice Raymond and her crusade against Sandy Stone and Olivia Records.

    It’s not just us who are being disrespected. It is WBW friends and lovers of gallae who are also being deeply affected by this divide.

  40. eastsidekate says:

    Cool post (the same goes for Cassandra’s)! I guess it would be helpful if all people involved in the women’s spaces debates were more introspective, honest, and better at articulating their views. Without an honest dialog, everyone ends up offending one another, when in reality, radfems and transsexual people (as well as trans people who identify as radfems) are both marginalized groups facing challenges posed by the same society.

  41. eastsidekate says:

    Cool post (the same goes for Cassandra’s)! I guess it would be helpful if all people involved in the women’s spaces debates were more introspective, honest, and better at articulating their views. Without an honest dialog, everyone ends up offending one another, when in reality, radfems and transsexual people (as well as trans people who identify as radfems) are both marginalized groups facing challenges posed by the same society.