This post is essentially a part two to my last post, but focusing on how the left is dealing with gender. I spoke about how the left have essentially not been confrontational enough in the face of ruthless discrimination and underhand tactics from the right. But there is one area in which the left are really out-doing themselves, quite literally.
It’s irked me for a long time that liberal feminism has got the gift of being known as ‘feminism’, the mainstream one-size-fits-all movement. And Radical Feminism, got the label frequently misunderstood as being particularly dramatic and impatient. So I’d like to take a look at the long bloody fangs of liberal feminism, populated mostly by the left, and the effects they’re spreading into the world. This is something we need to bite back against in 2017.
I’d say at this point, the ‘gender revolution‘ is an undeniable thing taking place, despite the many varied attitudes towards it. Liberal feminism, along with most LGBT organisations, has happily leapt alongside it, and I concede that a lot of the individuals involved are doing so with good intentions. I think the narrative of gender being a warm intimate feeling deep down appeals to us in two ways: 1) It’s cool. We like things that are customizable, things which come in different colours. How excited were you to find out that tigers came in white? That white hot chocolate with strawberry, exists? Or, that humans come in ‘non-binary’? It explains some of our own discomfort in ourselves in a fashionable way. 2) The stories of intense agony and suffering dealt with by those experiencing some sort of mis-match or constant mis-identifying is something which appeals to many good natures out there. There is also undeniably a fear of reproducing the same ignorance and nastiness of the homophobic generation – we don’t want to be the transphobic one (but that’s another blog post in itself).
The revolution has been incredible. Despite transactivist’s claims that they’re a minority being crushed by society, they’re changing language, guarding thoughts and shutting shit down. They are, in the incorrect sense of the word, far more radical than the radical feminists. They are shutting down debates of honest inquiries into how best to treat struggling children, shutting down talks by lesbians about their experiences coming out (and sometimes yelling over incredibly sensitive moments such as silences for the victims of the Orlando shooting and a woman discussing sexual abuse she endured), shutting down activism often which centers around removing the stigma around vaginas, reaching down into the education of young children with these new ideas, causing hard-working experts to lose their jobs for following evidence with good intentions, and finally, shutting down detransitioners from the community by silencing them and sending them violent rape and death threats. With relatively little questioning or examination, terms such as ‘transmisogyny’, ‘gender identity‘, ‘cisgender’ (and even ‘cis-privilege’) have been hoovered up into mainstream media. Terms such as biological sex, gender, socialisation, dysphoria, even what it means to be homosexual, have had their meanings obliterated and reformed. I cannot unpack all of these here, but the point is the demonstration of the immense impact transactivism has had.
I’m here to leap like a video game player off the side of a building and plunge that shard of ice into your head: Could it get any more ridiculous? Isn’t this awful?
Here are the problems. And here we need the sensible molars of critical thinking. Food for thought and all that. Something to chew on. If gender identity is now the point of pivot of sexist oppression, why are only female fetuses aborted in China?* How do we (imagine a flowery font here) ‘know how they identify’? They might be men? Demi-girls? Trigender?! Here’s the answer, a throbbing purpley-blue imprint on the back of your tightly shut eyelids: oppression is done to women based on their female body parts, like their tits, their vaginas and their wombs, which we perceive and act according to, and not on their identities. Girls run into their genders in the outside world, manifested in traumatizing experiences like female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, slaps from husbands, stigma around vaginas, harmful beauty standards, and loss of respect and promotions for not meeting them.
To suggest women identify with these experiences, or that at least they have the ‘cis-privilege’ of these experiences validating their women-identities, is disgusting. You do not face these experiences as part of the system of gender done to women if you are not perceived as female. I am boldly proposing that we do not listen anymore to 20, 30, 60-year old men telling us they know what it means to feel like a woman. It is crucial that we hold onto the word which describes the group of people systematically subjected to the gender of womanhood: women. Otherwise we can’t call out a lot of violent sexist bullshit for what it is. We cannot accept that access to abortion, contraception and sanitary goods are ‘as much men’s issues as women’s’, because the truth of the matter is that these things are targeting women and have been ways to target and control women for a long time. We can’t say that that guy cat-called me, or groped me, or expects me to clean his office because he’s sexist and believes this is all women are good for, if we apparently cannot tell someone’s ‘gender identity’ by looking at them. We cannot discuss the roles of toxic and violent masculine socialisation if he identifies as a woman a week later. If we can just identify into and across demographics now, how do we protect ourselves when we’re not even sure who we’re protecting ourselves from? This is deadly to the feminist movement.
In the correct sense of the word, transactivists and liberal feminism are not radical at all because they are not pulling up any of the roots of sexism and misogyny at all. Femininity does not a true woman make. A lot of this ideology is morally abhorrent and conceptually incoherent: it should be critical-thinking shooting practice, for beginners. But they are mainstream and, we can admit it, we’re scared of them. The monstrous and delirious amount of death threats sent around for the tiniest thought-crimes make sure of that. I’d rather we be pouring the same amount of hate and vitriol into rapist and president Donald Trump. Into fathers who are proud of their sons for trying to rape drunk women because he’s a lad. Into boys coercing their girlfriends into anal sex because of porn. Into men who then do not see the importance of women-only spaces for women to safely discuss the traumas they’ve accrued from these things that men do them.
To soften the blow; my political stance here is driven by concern not only for women but for sex-dysphoric people. Being unable to bear the reality of your male or female body is a mental illness which can very often grow out of other mental health conditions, such as depression, anorexia, OCD, PTSD from trauma, and enduring homophobia when gay. Here are answers, by detransitioned females, to the question “do you think your mental health conditions contributed to your trans-identity/transition”(full study here). Transition was not the answer because it cannot possibly address the plethora of issues and struggles expressed there. The majority of individuals designated to be trans are gender non-conforming; as their natural selves they challenge the gender stereotypes that many transactivists are using to ‘prove’ certain identities (“I knew I was a boy because I was never interested in dolls”). The most common outcome for young people who identify as trans is to a) stop and b) be gay (studies here). I believe the suffering endured by these individuals deserves better than the half-baked answer of pills and surgery from the burning heat of an incoherent and at times incredibly narcissistic ideology being pushed. I believe they deserve our fighting and our protection in 2017.
*during the one-child policy enforcement.