trans-reality

I have always identified as feminist all through my life. I read a bit of Greer and some other stuff when I was about 16, and then when I was 21 or so I discovered Dworkin and absolutely fell in love with her mind, the same way I fell in love with Frantz Fanon’s mind. And I just had to keep reading more and more. And then I eventually found my way to radfem blogs, actually via a male feminist/profeminist who does videos on youtube. He goes by the name of rubbleofempires. (his stuff came up when I put Andrea Dworkin into youtube) http://www.youtube.com/user/rubbleofempires?ob=0

I only been reading radfem blogs for about eighteen months or so, and I have only veeery recently begun to get involved in a brief bit of discourse with feminists in real life. All this is to say that basically the direction and concerns of current feminism was very alien to me when I began to dip a toe in.

And I’m so confused. Because it seems like about 50% of everyone’s output is about trans. The funfems write about how bad transphobia is and the radfems write essentially the same criticisms of the trans ideology over and over again, till they’re blue in the face… Why? And is it worthwhile?

I guess it’s worth stating your position on any issue, if you have one. I don’t think it’s worth spending 50% of your output on such an issue. I think 50% is a sizeable portion, if you’re doing feminist analysis, and that would be better spent on violence against women, on sex, on motherhood, on labour and birth, on age, on beauty… on pretty much everything that actually affects the majority of women out there in the real world where no one’s ever heard of a privilege checklist.

I think a LOT of this is a result of feminism being largely internet-based. The internet is great for feminist discussion for all sorts of reasons, but there seems to be an entitled attitude that goes with internet sociology- that is, EVERYONE expects to be taken seriously, about everything. People make up all sorts of weird identifiers and cling to to them, then get ‘offended’ if these aren’t respected- and they get loud, talk about how ‘offensive’ criticism is, and act like it’s their human right not to be offended. I mean, the internet gave us furries, for gods sake, but not just furries- furries who expect to have the right not to be mocked.

I don’t think it’s worth taking this kind of shit seriously, because these people, I bet you 90% of them shut the fuck up in real life and don’t start telling everyone about all their fetishes and how these fetishes should be respected. I bet they don’t walk around telling their colleagues or friends in real life ‘what you said is really othering‘. But people on the internet have this bizarre idea that they have the right not get their feelings hurt by other peoples’ ideas.

So the best that I can figure out is trans people are very loud on the internet, and not quite so loud in real life, and I guess the same applies to feminists. I suppose the more dangerous it is to be loud in real life, the more you spend your time expressing yourself on the internet. But why are feminists talking about trans? So much?

I have to say, I think it’s a crying shame what’s happened with RadFem2012. To see feminists spending so much energy making sure cis-women don’t meet up to do feminism is just insane. If cis-women feel they need a safe, wbw-only space, and they want to create that space, bloody hell- let them? If you don’t feel you need that space, fine. But if other women do, how the hell can you actively work, under the banner of feminism, to stop that happening? What the hell has happened to feminism? It’s almost like the word has become meaningless.
In this ‘message to those who would attend RadFem 2012’ http://transactivist.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/message/, the writer, a transwoman, states:
‘you might argue that I, nevertheless, will always have with me the male privilege that comes with being raised as a boy. And I would say yes, I accept that, but I seek to acknowledge and check this in the same way I seek to acknowledge and check my other privileges‘ yet despite this admission, still concludes that cis-women should not exclude her from any space.
Why? If you can see that this exists and can be problematic? Why not acknowledge the need for a faab-only space for women that want it? It’s just illogical.

So it disturbs me that this internet hurty-feelings thing impacts on real situations happening in real-space. But at the same time, and partly because so much internet feminist discourse seems to be taken up with trans, and comment wars, and who-said-what-on-what-blog, I am making a conscious effort to keep my own feminist thinking and analysis rooted in what I call ‘real life’; in non-internet life. In non-internet life, I read Dworkin in public and no one even knows it’s a feminist book or who Dworkin is. In non-internet life, my female friends get beaten by their boyfriends. In non-internet life pretty much everyone I know is critical of the trans ideology to at least some degree, and pretty much everyone will at some level believe a woman was asking for it if she got raped, somehow, and a lot of people take it upon themselves to police me on how I perform femininity. In non-internet life unwanted pregnancy is routine, and so is a degree of homophobia, and so is racism.
And that’s where I’m at. I think current/online feminism is funny as regards the trans issue, in that actually it is widespread to be sceptical of the trans ideology, funfeminism is unquestioningly uncritical, and then radfems seem to feel they are really on the outskirts of things by being sceptical of transgenderism. Whereas infact pretty much everyone in real life doesn’t know the word cis, would never use it to refer to themselves, and at the very least thinks transgender is a bit freaky. It’s just ironic to me that on this issue what feminism considers to be way out there craaazy-radical is actually what most people consider to be common sense. Except obviously rooted in richer analysis.

But anyway, yeah. I will be posting sporadically here, but this is a statement of direction in many ways- I want to further my ideas on the basis of life, of popular culture, and of stuff I’m reading from all over the place- some current online radfem ideas will go into the mix but just be part of the mix, not the directing factor. I just feel uncomfortable with loads of strangers arguing each other into more and more convoluted ideological alleyways, just on the basis of pixels and more pixels back and forth. It’s instinctive for me, more than anything; I suppose what I’m saying is I’m an empiricist, not a rationalist. Though I like to think I’m a rational empiricist 😉 . Anyway; I’m going to try and base this on experience; mine and other peoples’.

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8 thoughts on “trans-reality

  1. thank you 🙂 I’m glad you think so. Btw I JUST found your blog, whenever I tried to click your name before wordpress just took me to your gravatar.

  2. I really like this too. It’s brilliant to find a very few women outside of radfem circles who are engaging with what we say rather than what they have decided we’re saying.

    I think you’re right about the internet being an inevitable place where unpleasant conflict will be enacted. On the other hand, there have also been online connections made with women/womyn who I might never have communicated with if it hadn’t been for internet “discussion”. And, yes, if only we could focus on what radical feminism is really about. Some of us are trying to.

  3. thanks :). Yes, I think the internet can be a powerful tool for feminist women for all sorts of reasons (anonymity, accessible from home, fits around daily activities, etc etc… in fact really listing all the ways it adapts itself to our situation is another post in itself). I just think there seems to be this vortex of insanity too though where people take the power of words to hurt (not to incite violence, but to cause emotional injury) incredibly seriously, at the expense of saying what appears to be true. I wonder whether this is because there is no forum for physical contact/violence so the emotional damage done by words becomes the biggest thing you can do?

    It just freaks me out a bit that there is so much development of thought and etiquette with very limited referring back to physical reality or a wider social context. I mistrust it as a platform for developing my own ideas, while recognising how useful it is for loads of people.

    Also, when you’re online the people who have most time to post are the people who will seem loudest/most frequent. It just means they spend a lot of time on the internet. The frequency and intesity of their presence online doesn’t necessarily have any correlation with their presence in the real world.

  4. *and when I say limited referring back to physical reality, I also mean these ways of seeing and doing are not carried into people’s real life interactions, not overtly. They are not aired in front of the uninitiated which means they are not reacted-to, and their consequences can’t be observed.

  5. Hello,

    Firstly, there’s a difference between the very small, very complicated amount of male privilege I gained from growing up as a trans girl, and the male privilege gained from, y’know, being a man.

    As for this whole affair being a waste of energy – on one level, I totally agree. Reconciliation looks impossible. There are a whole load of important issues out there that we should be tackling!

    However, a couple of points on that from a trans perspective:

    – I tend to concentrate on campaigning on other issues. Occasionally though, something like this moves you so much that you get drawn in (hence your blog post).

    – I figure both trans people and feminists (and I’m speaking as both!) are “loud” on the Internet because (unlike the offilne world) we’re capable of talking about our issues on here without the same threat of retaliation and physical violence.

    – Feminism means a lot to me. When my position within feminism as an equal is threatened, it’s pretty scary. Also, a lot of the language used by trans-exclusive radical feminists within hate sites such as Gendertrender and Radfem Hub is pretty horrifying. If these views are spread I see the possibility of renewed opposition to my liberation from my feminist sisters, who I’d rather fight alongside than against.

    – At the crux of this is our failure to agree upon womanhood: you do not recognise me as a woman. As long as we do not agree on this, we will always be at odds.

    And so we are inevitably driven to oppose one another. Which is a real pity because, as you point out, there are other forces acting against us.

  6. Hey Ruth, thanks for the comment 🙂
    I did say that I thought the reasons feminists and trans people are louder online is because it’s dangerous for them in real life- like you said ‘we’re capable of talking about our issues on here without the same threat of retaliation and physical violence.’ But I also think it leads to complexities.

    I totally recognise that there’s a difference between ‘the very small, very complicated’ male privilege you gained from growing up as a trans girl, and the male privilege of being a man. However, what’s obvious to me is that your experience will have been different from that of faab people. I’m not even going to argue about whether it’s ‘privilege’ or not because what’s the point? Like you say, it’s complicated. But the huge gap in experience does exist and within this gap are issues that are huge and complex for us both.

    The thing is, this difference in experience is part of the reason there are trans-only spaces within feminism. So why shouldn’t there be cis-only spaces? That’s one thing.

    Second thing is, there is a big element to sexism which is rooted in female reproductive capability. FAAB women will obviously have a different experience of this, one that is far more subjective and has dogged them from the minute they were born (or actually before they were born, as soon as their sex was known). For some women this means they cannot feel safe or free to go as far as they want with their thoughts while there are people around who either possess male reproductive capabilities, or did possess male reproductive capabilities at one point. They need wbw-only space. If they need this space they should be allowed and supported in having this space.

    I’m sorry that you feel this threatens your position as an equal. I know (again from online dialogue) that not all trans women do feel that way. But the way I see it feminism has to do the job of feminism, which means if cis-women want or need a safe space to meet that is cis-only, I would have assumed it was the nature of feminism to fight tooth and nail for this, rather than to oppose it from within.

  7. Btw it’s interesting to me that I have had almost no comments or interaction on this blog until this post. It’s tempting now for me to go with the trend and keep writing more and more about trans just for the traffic 😉

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