Women are being censored because they wish to discuss the politics of gender. I say NO. Who wants to join me?

(1000 Posts)
Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 19:48:45

Ok, I'm guessing that many here have heard about Julie Burchill's explosive article defending her friend Suzanne Moore against trans activists.

I'm also guessing that there are a lot of women who don't know that trans activists have been becoming increasingly influential in many areas that affect Women's Rights since the 1980s and 90s. These areas include feminist websites and blogs (such as the F word), feminist meetings and conferences, women's music festivals, in feminist literature and in academia teaching gender studies (a subject that used to be taught as women's studies) and in post-modernist and queer theory circles.

Transactivists call any resistance to their increasing influence and presence in these areas of female interest "transphobic". Discussion of gender identity as an oppressive social construct and as a threat to feminism and women's rights is also considered transphobic. Consequently, discussion of women as being a political class of people oppressed due to our sex and our reproductive capacity is becoming harder and harder for feminists to have without being accused of transphobia and bigotry. This is very very concerning.

Numerous women have been threatened or silenced by these people (for example they have been no platformed and/or picketed at feminist events or attacked and threatened after writing articles or essays discussing gender identity).

Let me be very clear that this discussion is about transactivists and people who threaten others into silence. It is not about transpeople in general (some of whom have stated that they are afraid to get involved in the controversy).

In my opinion, no matter which side of the gender identity debate one stands on, surely we can all agree that debate should be allowed to take place. One side cannot be allowed to shout down, threaten and silence the other.

The recent events are not just about differing opinions on gender identity though (or I wouldn't be bothering to post this), they are about women's right to talk about and identify sex based oppression and male supremacy, and therefore to fight against sex based oppression and male supremacy. And that is why this is an important if not vital issue for women's rights.

I think women's rights politics are reaching a pivotal moment - a moment in which we must stand up for our right to discuss our status as second class citizens as a result of the biological fact that we are female. If we can't discuss it, we don't have much hope of fighting it.

bugbrennan.com/2013/01/19/for-every-one-of-us-you-silence-100-more-will-rise-to-take-her-place/

To summarise the link - a well known and influential feminist blogger has been censored for discussing the issues outlined above. She is not the first woman to be silenced by these people. I think it is about time we stood up to them.

Thanks for reading.

I am with lemonmuffin and edam. I think they've pretty much said it. I'm sure, of course, there are nutter transgender folk, just as there are within any group. I imagine that assuming that they speak for all the transgender community would be kind of like saying that Margaret Thatcher * was the Chief Spokeswoman of All Women...

*Insert female hate figure of choice here

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 22:43:16

And I think that many transpeople thought it was an overreaction by some people - both trans and non trans.

A twitter row started. That's the internet for you - people feel safe commenting online.

I can imagine some people react angrily to a mysgonistic comment - even if not meant as such.

Julie Burchill then weighed in with an article - her article would have been very good if she had decided not to litter it with vile comments. Did she need to do that? Why couldn't she just make her argument?

<breaks promise not to comment>

notcitrus Sun 20-Jan-13 22:49:11

I'm not with you. Suzanne Moore wrote a decent article with one poorly-chosen offensive simile. When called on that she started with the insults - I'm not defending people who insulted her, but I was disappointed by Moore's reaction.

Burchill's article was simply a string of abusive terms - and 'censorship' is not the same as 'not having a column in a national newspaper'. She can start her own blog like everyone else.

Neuroscientists, psychologists, doctors and the law say women include those women born without traditionally female bodies. This doesn't threaten women in the slightest. Trans women really aren't that interesting - there's much larger battles for feminism to fight, surely, even if you think you can define woman better than all the groups I list above?

As for the word 'cis', it simply means 'not trans', on the same side. It's used in GCSE Chemistry for goodness' sake!

WidowWadman Sun 20-Jan-13 22:50:11

beachcomber you've conveniently ignored what sm tweeted, which was dismissive and derogatory. But then I guess that doesn't fit into your narrative. I said before that the tweets quoted on that hateful gendertrender site are nothing i agree with and i find it sad that the focus is on the few nasty morons rather than on the long list of thoughtful and articulate blogs and Postings

<applauds notcitrus >

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 22:52:32

It surely is worrying though that a few nutters seem to have been able to intimidate and silence women such as; Bindel, Burchill, Moore, Jeffreys, Daly, Janice Raymond plus countless feminist bloggers and less well known feminists.

We may not all agree with all of the above people, but do agree with shutting down an important debate, on a women's rights controversy, by the means of threats and violence?

Anyway, I don't think it is just a few nutters. There are some extremists but they have remarkable support from mainstream regular folk in calling any feminist who critics gender identity theory as being 'transphobic' for wanting to explore a political matter that has potentially important ramifications for women as a political class.

Yikes, say I. How did that happen?

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 22:56:34

I am not a cis woman either.

Julie Burchill is a professional stirrer, always has been. I find it incredile - with all the crap spouted in national newspapers by people like Littlejohn, Toby Young et al - that Julie Burchill's article has been censored! Just proves the power of entrenched priviliege.

CrunchyFrog Sun 20-Jan-13 22:58:18

I was reading a thread on a dating forum earlier, I hope it's not terrible form to repeat it, but the person identifies as a transman.

"Hey all, I'm a transguy. So my question is, how likely do you think it is for a straight girl to date me? I'm curious because I've dated bisexuals and lesbians before, but they tend to see me as a woman, and not the guy that I am. I've been struggling with this for awhile. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated!"

((Co-incidentally, there was also a thread about this on relationships this week.)

This person quoted has fully intact, functioning female genitalia. They have not used any sort of hormone replacement therapy. So flying in the face of every kind of initial sexual attraction there has ever been - they want to be taken for the gender they believe that they are in their brain?

I'm a heterosexual woman. I do not choose to fuck people with female bodies. But because someone decides that they are the opposite gender, suddenly women are being narrow minded, transphobic, and prejudiced if they fail to (completely unconsciously - I didn't decide my sexual orientation, did you?) find them attractive and want to fuck them.

I'm sort of glad it's a F2M person speaking above, because so much of the attention is on the M2F community. I'd really like to see some stats on the relative numbers, they're hard to find.

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 22:58:42

Thanks for explaining that 'cis' is used in GCSE chemistry. That it needs any explanation at all goes to show how unknown a term it is. But now I have been told it exists in GCSE chemistry, it must be alright!

Er, no.

edam Sun 20-Jan-13 22:59:11

Quite greythorne - both on the 'cis woman' thing and on the outrage directed at uppity women for daring to say things when men who are just as outspoken/offensive are not silenced.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:02:24

Maybe rad fems should be getting outraged about some of the crap men come out with in their columns and the regular sexist mysoginist crap published in the media on a daily basis?

Because it outrages me.

Greythorne Sun 20-Jan-13 23:07:27

My spelling is not dreadful, I just have fat fingers.

I'm sorry, I'm not going to read links because I am all talked out on this issue right now, and for the same reason I'm not going to get into yet another discussion of what 'cis' means to some people who want to use it to label me.

All I'm saying is yes, I agree, I want to be able to talk about this stuff without being told I'm 'cis' or that I must be being transphobic if I don't shut up.

kim - you know I like you and respect you very much but come on! You know rad fems are getting outraged at this stuff. And don't need telling twice to keep on doing it.

I find all this 'they should find their own spaces' very depressing.

Don't we have a common enemy? Isn't patriarchal oppression of women unjust whether we are born women or not?

If you want to reduce the influence of extremists or crazies of any stripe, go ahead, but why exclude and label a whole group?

I admit I'm biased though because A) I've had a number of trans friends over the years, who to me are simply 'women', and B) in my non-related research I'm a big-time constructivist, and I find this kind of primordialism with respect to 'biological women' perplexing.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:12:18

I know LRD smile

I do think it's crap that there is so much sexist crap in the media and I wish there was more outrage from people. I've really had my eyes opened to it all - not just from being on here but just being more aware and open to it all.

It's just everywhere.

I'm probably just a bit frustrated at the moment. It's been a hell of a week and has made me even more aware of how people view us.

And yes - some members of our community do not help. Some are very vocal, very passionate and very -well radical - if it helps, there's also battles within the community and "privilege".

"Passing" privilege - no doubt you can guess what that is grin

<ok - no more comments>

Oh - and, still not reading links, but I did want to say in response to inde's post here:

'To my mind radical feminists attitude to transgender people bears more than a passing similarity to the westover baptist church's attitude to gays. The Observer has now taken the Burchill article offline because it feels the offensive language used broke their editorial code.

Many correspondents pointed out that our own editorial code states "... we should not casually use words that are likely to offend" and cited clause 12 of the national Editors' Code: "The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability."'

I have just googled 'Guardian' with a word that's offensive to women - as offensive, I would suggest as any term in Burchill's article.

I got over ten million results.

Naturally I've not checked which of those are actually quotations from the newspaper, but it's obvious from the first few pages that many are.

That was one single word, btw. Imagine if we looked at all the words people habitually or 'casually' use to 'offend' women?

emskaboo Sun 20-Jan-13 23:21:14

I'm with you. I would like the space and opportunity without being shot down to discuss issues relating to gender and identity.

Oh an WW, Suzanne Moore was snippy and defensive in those tweets but I don't see how you can suggest that her tweets were analogous to people tweeting death threats.

Cruncy: errrr..... seriously? Is it really so hard to understand that a person might identify with a different gender than that of their sex organs?

So what if someone has female genitalia? If they self-identify as male, that's their right. Who are you to say they can't?

This honestly doesn't seem weird to me at all.

Snazzynewyear Sun 20-Jan-13 23:23:57

But women's position as a political class is not, I think, going to be improved by obsessively focusing on what a lot of people see as insular in-fighting. I tend to agree with the point made above - trans women are not a major threat here. What is it Wurtzel quotes Madonna as saying (about the Amy Fisher case) 'Fight the real enemy'?

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 23:26:40

Interesting blog title you linked to:

"You think I just don't understand, but I don't believe you."

CrunchyFrog Sun 20-Jan-13 23:32:01

It's not weird that the person is doing it. It's not understandable to me why they expect other people to essentially change their sexual orientation in order to facilitate their desires!

KRITIQ Sun 20-Jan-13 23:42:31

Okay, I've seem some ghastly articles and blogs vilifying trans women recently. Articles in a similar vein targeting women (generally) by by Men's Rights Activists, would be (absolutely rightly) condemned as misogynist invective, perhaps even hate speech by most contributors here.

However, personally I cannot fathom how some folks can square in their minds defending exactly the same thing, just because it is aimed at trans women.

I think this is similar to debates on abortion. Those who oppose it will never convince those who accept it they are wrong, or other way round.

As a feminist for well-over 30 years so far (and no, not a liberal/libertarian /choice feminist), I will never be convinced that one has to conform to some arbitrarily defined criteria for chromosomes, reproductive organs, appearance or "lived experience" to be a woman. If you experience the sharp end of patriarchal hegemony and misogyny, as white women, women of colour, disabled women, working class, well-educated, old, young, middle aged, parent or non parent, married, single or co-habiting, first world, developing world, Lesbian, bisexual, straight, queer and trans women do (often combined with other oppressive factors), in my book, you are a woman.

I also genuinely don't get why people get so aerated by term "cis." It is not used pejoratively. I've met folks who didn't like being called white with the, "we are all some colour or other so why make a deal of it" argument. I've met straight folks who don't want to be called heterosexual because think they are just "normal" and using it legitimises being gay. Can't help but think the "cis resistors" are following the same line of thought (i.e. refuse to accept that even in some ways, they are more socially, economically and politically privileged than transfolks.)

I don't think there can be a "middle ground" on this issue (just as I don't think there can really be on abortion.) No one is going to "win" this debate on Mumsnet. The same arguments and accusations will get trotted out and go round and round until the post count hits a grand. The only result is lots of people will feel angry and hurt by the exchange, nothing else. Certainly does zilch for the cause of feminism. So, I'll jump off the merry go round here.

If someone could give me examples of 'cis' privilege that applied to women as well as men, and didn't sound exactly like the patriarchy in action just as it always is, I might accept the term.

As it is, we've debated this at length and it is clear that 'cis privilege' simply means 'the privilege men have, women don't have, but we're ignoring women's experiences as usual'.

I don't think everyone has to agree it's offensive; I accept plenty of people may not mind it. But some of us do. Some of us don't like the idea that we're tarred with the same brush as privileged men, while not actually being able to benefit from any of that privilege. It may be a wonderful gesture of solidarity to call yourself a 'cis woman', but it is also putting women at the back of the queue. Again.

Sometimes it's probably worthwhile to make that gesture of solidarity. But I don't think it can be ok to say it has to be all of the time, with no time left for women.

Beachcomber Sun 20-Jan-13 23:53:56

I agree that it would be great if feminists and transpeople (who wanted to) got together and fought patriarchy.

Problem is though that we analyse gender in an entirely different way (at the moment).

Feminism describes gender as being a social construct imposed on human females in order to oppress us as the biological sex which has the reproductive capacity to carry and birth babies. In feminism a gender identity/gender role is a tool of oppression.

I have no issue with people of a biological sex who wish to conform to the gender role/identity that patriarchy attributes to the opposite sex (other than disagreeing when the above reinforces sexist and misogynist stereotypes). I don't think many feminists bother much about that.

What bothers us (politicly) is the notion that gender identity = biological sex. For obvious reasons.

I agree with that, beach.

It would be great if we could all get together. It may be that we'll eventually hammer out a way to look at all of this so that we can - I don't know. I do increasingly think that it sounds as if there must be the same 'feeling' in all of us that something is very wrong. I just think we're expressing it in ways that - at the moment - are pulling feminism and transactivism in opposite directions.

This thread is not accepting new messages.