Sex vs gender - getting confused

(94 Posts)

I was always taught that sex is a biological condition but that gender is a societal construct. That makes sense to me.

But I've recently become aware of the conflict between some feminists and transgender individuals. And I'm getting very confused. I agree that women-only spaces are important. And I agree that someone who is convinced they are female should be allowed to live their life as female. But then I get myself in a muddle about whether someone who identifies as female but was born male should be included in female-only spaces etc etc.

Can someone please help me untangle my thoughts on this?

WidowWadman Mon 04-Feb-13 21:09:50

There are some who think "yes", there are some who think "no" and some who think "meh". Then there will follow a 1000 points where all sides shout and accuse the others of oppressing and silencing. Then the thread is full, and you have to wait until a new one starts.

ecclesvet Mon 04-Feb-13 21:44:47

And someone will complain about being called a 'cis-woman' in 3...2...1...

Yoghurty Mon 04-Feb-13 21:58:08

This is a tough one for me re: my work. There aren't any refuges for trans people, only women's refuges which are gender-sensitive environments.

But then where do I send my vulnerable, at risk clients who weren't born anatomically female?
If I do place a client there, am I putting her at risk of re-victimisation? (And potentially other clients?)

I don't have an answer for you, as someone else said, some people will say yes, some will say no, and I will still have clients with nowhere safe to go..... sad

kim147 Mon 04-Feb-13 22:51:05

Give us a chance - we've only just had the last 1000 trans thread. grin
Sure someone will be along to explain their views.

At the moment, I have major laptop issues so can't really access MN.

Oh no, I didn't know this had been covered recently! blush Sorry...

What's a cis-woman? Should I just google?

Yoghurty that's really tough.

kim147 Mon 04-Feb-13 23:06:53

You missed that thread grin

Just scroll down to the thread with 1000 posts in that's not about men.

kim147 Mon 04-Feb-13 23:07:38
Pan Mon 04-Feb-13 23:23:22

Yoghurty - really tricky with no obv. solution. Reflects the prison service choices about where to place transgendered people. Every time it arises, HMP central have to get involved and make decisions, based usually in 'what will we be least sued over?' rather than 'what's best for the inmate' and security.

Oh my. Just read the first 30-odd comments on that thread (thanks for the link kim, yes I'd missed that one!). confused

I think educating myself about this will have to wait until tomorrow when my brain isn't so fried!

kim147 Mon 04-Feb-13 23:43:39

I could point you to about 4 more 1000 post ones if you want.

But if you've read one, you've read them all. Happy reading.

No no, just one is fine thanks! grin

I'm pretty new to this part of MN and am still finding my way, hence the thread!

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 00:01:56

I think the confusion is because it is all a matter of degrees O.P.

"I was always taught that sex is a biological condition but that gender is a societal construct. That makes sense to me."

And this also makes sense to me, because it does make sense. Sex is based on biological fact, as a reproductively dimorphic species, humans are born into two sexes, with some ambiguity for example XXY people who have both testes and ovaries, but despite this handful of variations sex is a biological fact - which in whatever case means that female eggs met by male sperm create a human, and is carried to term in the female womb. Unfortunately this biological fact also brings with it a human expectation of a future reproductive role in the female, which is feared and despised - pretty universally, meaning that globally female foetuses get aborted, girl babies are killed, girl children are treated as lesser, girls are highly likely to be emotionally and sexually abused, denied education, sold off as child brides, and so on - a whole host of 'sex-based' violence a discrimination befall the human embryo, foetus, child- from the moment their sex is declared which carries on into womanhood.

"I agree that women-only spaces are important."
So do I - it is a chance that all those who have navigated through to adulthood through this unrelenting shower of misogyny, to share together.

"And I agree that someone who is convinced they are female should be allowed to live their life as female."
This is where I think it gets confusing. Why should someone who is erroneously [I say this because what they believe is counter to the facts] convinced that they are something they are not, be allowed to live as one of those who they wrongly believe they are? The only reason it seems plausible to suggest it is because it is almost possible to imagine being born in the 'wrong sexed body'. If the delusion is something a bit more far out, we'd call the person mentally ill. For example, should people who believe they were born in the 'wrong-species body' be 'allowed' to live as a different species? Should people who believe they are born in the 'wrong-raced body' be 'allowed' to live as they belong to a different race? Should people who believe they are 'wrongly-abled' be 'allowed' to live as a disabled person, blue badge, D.L.A. freedom pass and all?

I think most people would agree that if no one is getting hurt, we should let people pursue their delusions if it makes them happy. But this is a very simplistic dismissal of a more complex situation. For example, what if a violent convicted rapist in jail believes they are a woman and successfully campaigns to get transferred to a woman's prison? (this has happened by the way). The problem, is that unlike the fate that befalls the female, the male has a different set of expectations upon them from the moment their sex is declared, so are universally more likely to be valued and preferred, it means they are less likely to be aborted or suffer infanticide because of it, in fact they will be instilled with expectations that form an unaware, unquestioned sense of entitlement over females. This sense of entitlement actively oppresses women, whether anyone notices or not.

Gender, on the other hand, is a mechanism by which male oppression of female is woven into tradition and culture. Masculine' is any behaviours that are oppressive and 'feminine' is any behaviours that submit to/suggest enjoyment of oppression. It is a social construct.

"But then I get myself in a muddle about whether someone who identifies as female but was born male should be included in female-only spaces etc etc."

I think you can untangle yourself if you examine the off-the-cuff "And I agree that someone who is convinced they are female should be allowed to live their life as female."
Do you really agree? No matter how male-entitled? No matter how vulnerable the females this person likes to move among to prove they've 'passed'? Rape victims? How about the ones who like to keep their penises and try to guilt-trip lesbians into sex with them in a very male-entitled fashion? Should they really be 'allowed' to live among those who want to be free of oppression by men and male entitlement?

Anyway, I've made it clear which camp I belong to...watch the teeth and hair fly!

(BTW Yoghurty - Of course there should be refuges and shelters for anyone fleeing violence, but I don't believe it is the responsibility of women's services to provide them.)

BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 00:16:09

OP: You might find interesting. The visual for the 2.0 version, linked on the page, is more accurate but it gives a more detailed explanation of everything in the original I linked.

Speaking as both a rape survivor and someone who is mentally ill that's an interesting post Bubbles. I'll address it properly tomorrow but I'd like to answer your point about 'delusions'.

To me, if someone is 'deluded' enough that they are utterly convinced that they are the opposite gender then yes, I believe that they should be permitted to live their life as that gender. Ditto species and race. Disability is different because that is a medical condition, with certain criteria that must be met. (I say this as someone with mobility problems but not enough that I count as disabled).

To put it another way - I am an atheist. To me anyone who believes in a deity is deluded. Does that mean that I have the right to stop believers going to church and living their lives according to their holy texts?

Right, I really am going to try to sleep now! I'll look at your link tomorrow Spork, thank you.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 00:50:19

Joyful
"Disability is different because that is a medical condition, with certain criteria that must be met. (I say this as someone with mobility problems but not enough that I count as disabled)."

.... Hang on- being female is a condition of sex, and the sexual oppression faced by the female is part of the female human condition.... Why should someone who does not meet the criteria of the female human condition be permitted to have access to all the facilities, spaces and services provided for people who do meet it?... Why do you draw the distinction? Or do you simply not believe in 'the female human condition'?

"To put it another way - I am an atheist. To me anyone who believes in a deity is deluded. Does that mean that I have the right to stop believers going to church and living their lives according to their holy texts?"

That analogy is inconsistent with your argument - it would be more accurate to say "I am an atheist. To me anyone who believes in a deity is deluded. Does that mean that I have the right to stop believers have the right to stop me going into their church and living their lives according to telling them to change their holy texts?"
Because that is more in line with what transwomen do when they insist on full accepted status as women.

If you want the analogy the other way, emphasising the deluded bit, to be consistent you'd have to say: "I am an atheist. To me anyone who believes in a deity is deluded. Does that mean that I have the right to stop believers going to church joining the atheist society to try to convince atheists of their delusion and living their lives according to their holy texts?"

Do you see what I mean?

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 01:07:23

BTW if you are interested in people who are 'transabled' - here is a site dedicated to it and this is the address of an article on comparisons between transsexuality and transability

http://transabled.org/thoughts/a-comparison-between-transsexuality-and-transableism.htm

(I've not converted the link, so you'll have to copy it into your address bar)

FloraFox Tue 05-Feb-13 01:23:40

There's not much I can add to Bubbles excellent posts but you say you say "ditto for species and race". I'm bit sure how it would work for species. Do you think someone who is white but "identifies" as a black person should be able to insist on joining organisations for black people? Or accessing resources or quota allocations? Or saying "why won't any of you cis black people sleep with me, you're all cis racist".

The vulnerable people you have encountered may need help and no doubt face great difficulties from living in a patriarchal, misogynistic and homophobic society but those are different from the issues faced by women and the reasons why women need women's spaces, resources etc.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 05-Feb-13 01:39:02

Preparing my flame-proof pants but here it goes:

Sex = something you chose to have.
Gender = something you are born with.

williaminajetfighter Tue 05-Feb-13 01:43:23

Sorry but sex is what you are born with whereas gender is more performative and how you choose to act or relate.

That's why I get cross when the say 'what is the baby's gender?' I want to say 'well the sex is female but the gender is still undecided I imagine!'

BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 01:57:16

Except female as assigned at birth do not have holy texts. Or specific guidelines we have to follow. We can choose who we include. We can choose to be inclusive or exclusive. Modern Western Feminism seems to thrive on being exclusive and throwing down holy laws, but there are many other branches who do not see it that way.

1 in 100-150 people are born with intersex, many have them without knowing, those who are obvious will be put into one or the other category of sex due to archaic systems, should they be accepted if assigned female at birth or not? Even if they have a penis/testicles? Should those assigned female at birth but were exposed to a higher (male level) amount of testosterone in the womb count as well? Most other societies recognise a plethora of genders/sexes (even ancient Judaism, upon which the Christianity that Western civilisation is based and conquered others for, had 6 separate gender categories).

Should a trans*man, assigned female at birth, be allowed in all women's spaces, facilities, and services? Even if he completely passes as male visibly?

Should someone who is trans* outside of the gender binary - genderqueer, genderfluid, and so on, be allowed if they were assigned female at birth? Even if at that time they pass visibly as male?

The main excuse I hear about not allowing in trans*woman is that someone who appears male might trigger a rape victim so should women who appear traditionally masculine in their features be denied?

Many would argue that there is no one female human experience. While Western (mainly White) feminism likes to make that dichotomy, there are other roles and privileges at play. For example: the female as main identifying factor (and source of oppression) in society, the virgin/whore dichotomy, the being seen as weak, the motherhood as a blessing is a mainly white able bodied ciswoman experience. As a woman of mixed race (though a light skinned one), I have woman kin who've pretty much defined as whores from pre-puberty and forced to be strong because of their skin colour and background has society giving them no room for weakness - when we are weak, it is blamed on our apparent race, not our apparent gender. When we became mothers, we had assumptions made against us and verbal attacks about how there should be less of "us" and that we could not really love our children the way a white mother could and would be better off with them - I had a midwife lie to social services when I had my eldest trying to convince her that I wanted to give him up and refused to believe I was married, literally laughing in my face at the idea. My darker family members go through far worse and have put themselves through dangerous treatment because those of us who are lighter get better treatment (see colourism, not the same as racism or xenophobia). And that's in the UK, here, in the 21st century. You cannot tell me that is part of every person assigned female at birth's "female human experience" because it isn't.

And this barely scrapes the surface. The common statistic about how much less women make than men? That's White able bodied straight cismen (as the standard) versus White ablebodied straight ciswomen. Throw in anything else, the gap widens. Throw in anything else and the experience changes.

Patriarchy wants us divided. White Supermacy Hetero Patriarchy wants there to only to be them as the rulers and the rest as the ruled as useful to them and for that which they deem unimportant to be ignored and pushed into our own boxes where we can suit and make the machine work for them. Personally, I want to dismantle a system that tells me I need to fit into a box I was assigned at birth, I want to give help to my sisters no matter what they were assigned at birth, I want the fullness of human experience recognised not forced to choose an identity to suit the system. My sister is Female and Metis, not one or the other, but both and both should be recognised and how her experience differs from the "norm" of what White Western feminism tells her the female human experience is. I am Genderfluid and Metis, not or or the other, but both and both should be recognised and my experience should be recognised and just as valid as any other person regardless of what the paperwork says or what Western Feminism has to say about it.

Oh, and the reason trans*woman are so loud and fight so hard to change the rules is because it is well known that no marginalized group has ever gained any rights by asking an oppressor nicely. In living memory, Aboriginal Australians were deemed fauna. In living memory (last year), trans* people were forced to be sterilized in order to receive any treatment in a supposedly enlightened Western country under eugenic laws that were never condemned by the world, only the trans* people and their good allies who fought tooth and nail for every inch to get the freedom to reproduce. Which most would consider part of the human experience, but no one in power thought it unfair to deny them that until last year.

It became a novel but I hope someone sees what I mean. Both gender and sex are incredibly broad spectrum and expecting it to fit into two neat categories is bonkers, especially when added to the rest of the spectrum a person is a part of, and fighting to narrow a spectrum doesn't actually narrow it, it just ignores and oppresses part of it.

BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 02:16:00

Your transabled issue isn't comparable. No one has ever been sterilized, raped, killed (and has their murderer get away with it with the panic defence), denied employment or housing or the right to parent their children for altering their abilities. It also does not confront cultural structure but, at the sites own admission, is a desire people have nor do those born or have non-purposefully adquired disabilities have any significant or cultural power over them.

Transethnicity (since you brought up race), is a definition of those adopted or otherwise raised in families and communities outside of their own. This creates issues of identity and belonging and often those who were raised within their own culture have social and cultural power over those who are not. Sp compareable differently. Unless we are talking about the new trend of people bringing together stereotypes and appropriation a culture they have no actual connection with - like people who disrespectfully don war bonnets, say they're on spirit quests because they 'feel' Native American. These people have power over those they are imitating, so not comparable at all. They encourage steretypoes that result in deaths, rapes, and denied access to those they 'feel' like. Trans*women (particularly those who are not white) are not doing this, they have a higher rate of death and denied access, not less, though what I guess you see as 'imitation'.

FloraFox Tue 05-Feb-13 02:44:00

The fact that they are subject to abuse and oppression does not make trans people the opposite sex. Sex is science and this is not about intersex. It is about men with every physical and scientific indicator of being male claiming that they are female simply because they say they identify as such, with their female penis etc.

Gender is a construct. Sex is not.

Of course there are other aspects of life where there is oppression. And people in those groups should be able to self identify and organize themselves to address this without being forces to include those from outside the group. If I pitch up at the Southall Black Sisters meeting and say I identify as a woman of colour, they would rightly tell me where no matter how vulnerable I was and how much oppression I had suffered.

If you think the main "excuse" is triggering rape victims, you need to read more. Start with Bubbles post above.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 05-Feb-13 03:00:49

Big Spork where have you been?? We could have done with your input on the last thread. smile

Flora - Big Spork is a woman of colour and you've immediately whitesplained her. Well done.

Is this where we have to have another thread about intersectionality while certain folks huff and puff and say it is a distraction from the important stuff?

In response to the OP, one saying is:

Sex is what is between your legs
Gender is what you think should be between your legs
Sexuality is who you want in between your legs.

<waves to Kim>, might as well, while I'm still feeling cheerful.

FloraFox Tue 05-Feb-13 03:24:05

Goth are you saying that I can join the Southall Black Sisters if I identify as a woman of colour? Or are you just being gratuitously offensive?

GothAnneGeddes Tue 05-Feb-13 03:32:17

Flora - read what Big Spork has said about Trans-ethnicity and get back to me.

Or rather, don't, because it's a standard derail. There is a trans-ethnic community, but it doesn't involve being feeling they were born the wrong race.

FloraFox Tue 05-Feb-13 03:49:37

So just gratuitously offensive then.

WidowWadman Tue 05-Feb-13 05:23:25

Wow, didn't take long til the straw trans woman who wants to go to prison and rape all the real women has been wheeled out.

NormaStanleyFletcher Tue 05-Feb-13 06:46:16

There was a case of a pre-op trans woman (convicted of attempted rape) wanting to transfer to a female prison

http://m.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/sep/04/transexual-prisoner-moved-womens-prison

kim147 Tue 05-Feb-13 07:22:47

<waves back to Goth but can't be bothered to post on this thread as too many people have their own entrenched views and have no idea what it is actually like to be transsexual>

I wish I hadn't asked.

WhentheRed Tue 05-Feb-13 08:28:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhentheRed Tue 05-Feb-13 08:45:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 09:57:54

BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 01:57:16
"Except female as assigned at birth do not have holy texts. Or specific guidelines we have to follow."
This comment completely misunderstands the analogy used. I did the analogy both ways round - where you could call 'Women's Studies (about women's reality)' standard texts being encroached upon. Or the other way around where the delusion of transsexuality is forced upon others.

"We can choose who we include. We can choose to be inclusive or exclusive."
Erm..... Hang on, there is reality - we can't 'choose' what belongs in what category if it is factually incorrect, but we can choose to go along with someone's delusion in order to be nice I suppose- but this might not always be the best course of action- if you are interested in reality. ALso, atheists or the religious deluded can choose to accept or reject including those who don't belong it their group too can't they?

"Modern Western Feminism seems to thrive on being exclusive and throwing down holy laws, but there are many other branches who do not see it that way."
This to me is a weird antifeminist assertion from nowhere - it sounds like it comes from some standard text, not based in anything real or well-argued, so on that basis I am rejecting it.

"1 in 100-150 people are born with intersex, many have them without knowing, those who are obvious will be put into one or the other category of sex due to archaic systems, should they be accepted if assigned female at birth or not? Even if they have a penis/testicles? Should those assigned female at birth but were exposed to a higher (male level) amount of testosterone in the womb count as well?"

Firstly, intersex people are based in biological reality, with their own set of problems like genital mutilation, etc. It is not on to use this reality to support the 'right' of delusional people to force the world to accept their delusion. Secondly, intersex people generally prefer to just be included in either sex, and a, androgen insensitive XY person will have lived through the common human female condition, so she is perfectly at home in a 'woman-only' space.

"Most other societies recognise a plethora of genders/sexes (even ancient Judaism, upon which the Christianity that Western civilisation is based and conquered others for, had 6 separate gender categories)."

This is padding - it doesn't really add much - there are all sorts of ways to classify people according to ideology - such as the caste system - it seems this a sudden jump from biological sex (including intersex) to constructed gender categories. This jump is what causes all the confusion.

"Should a trans*man, assigned female at birth, be allowed in all women's spaces, facilities, and services? Even if he completely passes as male visibly?"

It is a difficult one to call - because they call themselves a man, but by wanting to enter a woman-only space, are admitting they are female - so I suppose it would depend on their intention in wanting to attend.

"Should someone who is trans* outside of the gender binary - genderqueer, genderfluid, and so on, be allowed if they were assigned female at birth? Even if at that time they pass visibly as male?"

This obsession with 'passing' is not actually relevant - it is a trans obsession. There are a lot of women who people think are men by looking at them, but because they are women, they are welcome in women-only spaces.

"The main excuse I hear about not allowing in trans*woman is that someone who appears male might trigger a rape victim so should women who appear traditionally masculine in their features be denied?"

This is a weird thing to say. I am not quite sure how to answer the idea of 'excuse'. Put it this way - rapists are male. Its not their 'male appearance' that rapes women, it is the fact that they have male entitlement to use their male bodies to rape women. So when thinking about rape, it is better to think of the reality of bodily violation rather than superficial appearances.

"Many would argue that there is no one female human experience[..... ]You cannot tell me that is part of every person assigned female at birth's "female human experience" because it isn't."

Of course difference oppressions intersect. But being doubly oppressed doesn't invalidate the analysis of each oppression as a whole, or the need to understand a 'common human condition' under each of those oppressions, in order to make sense of it and unify to end this oppression as a movement. A movement is totally undermined when those who don't share a common oppression claim to have an equal, lived understanding of it.

"And this barely scrapes the surface. The common statistic about how much less women make than men? That's White able bodied straight cismen (as the standard) versus White ablebodied straight ciswomen. Throw in anything else, the gap widens."

Yes this is true, intersecting oppressions at work.

"Throw in anything else and the experience changes."
Throw in the delusion of those who transition to belong in the oppressed group and the 'common experience' will be diluted by the privileged experiences of the members of the oppressor group.

Sorry I was going to do the whole thing but ran out of time...

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 10:47:31

Unless we are talking about the new trend of people bringing together stereotypes and appropriation a culture they have no actual connection with - like people who disrespectfully don war bonnets, say they're on spirit quests because they 'feel' Native American. These people have power over those they are imitating, so not comparable at all.

Big Spork - I think this is what a lot of women feel the situation to be with regard to MTF transitioning (particularly when an adult heterosexual male transitions). And the fact that people are willing to do serious stuff like put themselves through surgery does not change the fact that there is a donning of a stereotype and an appropriation of a culture.

I think there is a whole lot less attention paid to FTM transitioning for a reason - that of the binary sex hierarchy as maintained through the social mechanism of gender, which places MAABs firmly as higher status than FAABs, no matter what the 'gender identity' of the FAAB might be.

Of course trans people experience violence, discrimination, etc. But it is not matriarchy/female supremacy which oppress trans people for bucking the gender trend - it is patriarchy/male supremacy.

And when trans people protest against oppressive constructions of gender, patriarchy doesn't provide a flexible solution. Patriarchy doesn't adapt. The solution is to reinforce patriarchal gender roles, provide surgery and hormones (which turn transgenderism into a medical condition) as a corrective measure and to redefine what women are. Et voila! - the status quo remains.

Pretty Orwellian stuff.

KRITIQ Tue 05-Feb-13 10:55:43

Thank you Big Spork for your succinct yet clear explanation of what transethnicity and cultural appropriation REALLY are (and not how these concepts are often used by racially and culturally privileged folks to try and justify their trans* exclusion.)

Folks who are genuinely interested in this issue and not just looking for a bunfight would be wise to look at previous threads (particularly look for Dreaming Bohemian's explanations) and the swathe of blogs and articles out there covering probably every angle of the issue. As Goth suggested (waves!) it's also worth looking for info on intersectional feminism and womanism to give the wider context.

I've been involved in one way or other with Feminist organisations pretty well all my adult life. I have used and will continue to use the term "gender" to describe the oppression women (including trans* women) because of the inferior value placed on women in society.

"Gender stereotypes" exist because of traditions and messages in popular culture that insist men and women must conform with specific behaviours and appearances. It's not because men and women "naturally" look all that different. It's not because there are fixed, mutually exclusive behaviours of men and women.

Women experience "gender based violence" based not on the presence or absence of a uterus, vagina, breasts or specific chromosomes (otherwise, people who don't have these things wouldn't be targeted.) They experience gender based violence because we live in a society that views women as inferior to men and supports men's entitlement to abuse and control women.

Gender IS a social construct, as is race, class, disability and homosexuality. There is nothing inherently inferior or superior in people of different sexes, different ethnic backgrounds, different abilities, different socio-economic statuses or who have relationships with people of the same sex. It is only because our hegemonic patriarchal/kyriarchal society TELLS us continuously that people have more or less worth based on these factors that some people retain privilege and power and others experience marginalisation and oppression.

KRITIQ Tue 05-Feb-13 11:03:16

Just a further point . . . yes, Gender is a social construct. I have heard some feminists refuse to engage with the concept at all because it is a social construct. But, it IS a thing, a thing that exists, a thing that has a massive impact on our society. I want to see a world where gender, race, class, etc. do not matter. But, we don't live in that world yet.

They aren't just imaginary monsters under the bed that go away when you turn the light on. To deny their existence and their impact is to deny the experience of people who suffer at the sharp end of these constructs. This is a big part of why, for example, many women of colour choose to define as "womanists," because they feel many white, relatively privileged feminists, fail to acknowledge that the experience of white, relatively privileged feminist IS NOT the industry standard experience of oppression.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 11:04:25

They experience gender based violence because we live in a society that views women as inferior to men and supports men's entitlement to abuse and control women.

KRITIQ, why do you think society assigns lower value to women than it does to men/gives higher status to men than to women?

Can you define 'gender based violence'? What form/forms does this violence take?

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 11:06:56

KRITIQ
"Women experience "gender based violence" based not on the presence or absence of a uterus, vagina, breasts or specific chromosomes (otherwise, people who don't have these things wouldn't be targeted.) They experience gender based violence because we live in a society that views women as inferior to men and supports men's entitlement to abuse and control women. (otherwise, people who don't have these things wouldn't be targeted.) They experience gender based violence because we live in a society that views women as inferior to men and supports men's entitlement to abuse and control women."

This is not true. Women experience "sex based violence" based on the assumption they have a uterus, vagina, breasts & specific chromosomes which have the female reproductive role associated. It is this 'sex role' behind women being viewed as inferior and behind men's entitlement to abuse and control women.

"otherwise, people who don't have these things wouldn't be targeted."

This is a sudden enormous leap - you are saying that because violence happens irrespective of female reproductive capability being verified by the perpetrator before perpetrating, then this reproductive capability has no part to play in the oppression of women? hmm

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 11:19:50

By the way there are lots of women of colour who identify as radical feminists, who play a huge part in contributing to the discourse and the movement, and have had a vital role in enriching radical feminist analysis to include intersecting oppressions.

Women of colour do not have to accept that- a man who amputates their penis and takes hormones is a woman just because that is what this person says they are- in order to have an understanding of the intersecting oppressions they face as a woman of colour or the right to organise to end these oppressions specific to themselves as women of colour.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 11:21:28

"Gender stereotypes" exist because of traditions and messages in popular culture that insist men and women must conform with specific behaviours and appearances.

And this too please KRITIQ.

What is the origin of these traditions and messages? Why do they exist? What is the reasoning behind them? Why do we have a global culture (which takes different forms, but which exists worldwide) which insists that males and females (the two sexes which exist in the human species) conform to specific behaviours and appearances? With the female constantly being hampered and hobbled, excluded from power structures and control of land, capital and means of production?

Why do we have practices like foot binding and FGM? Or institutions like prostitution and marriage? Or rape culture or the feminization of poverty or highly gendered domestic violence? Or women and children as chattel?

My answer would be because patriarchy is a sex based oppression. It is a male supremacy. Therefore the form this oppression takes is sex based. The mechanism is gender. The tools - gendered violence and control.

Gender exists because of sex.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 11:25:22

beachcomber apologies if I seem to be replicating much of what you are saying - it is cross-posting. Very well-said with everything.

KRITIQ Tue 05-Feb-13 11:39:00

1.) Why does society assign lower value to women? For the same reason it assigns lower value to people of colour, to poor people, to disabled people. Because most of those who are at the "top of the tree" are not these things. In order to maintain their privileged position, they select appearance and behavioural factors to distinguish themselves as more capable and worthy.

2.) Definition of Gender Based Violence? A pretty good explanation can be found here.

Rather than going around in more circles on this, I think what it boils down to is that you (Beach) and I have differing concepts of what "woman" means.

From your previous contributions (and correct me if I am wrong) you believe to be a woman requires specific chromosomes and/or reproductive organs. You also (I think) believe that one must have the "experience of growing up female," to be a woman (although I'm not sure of your stance where a person had one but not the other.) For this reason, you do not accept that a trans* woman can ever be considered within the definition of "woman."

I believe that being a woman is not just down to chromosomes or organs. I don't believe there is a "universal experience" of growing up female. For example, a disabled girl and disabled boy may have more common experiences of oppression due to their disability than the disabled girl will have with a non disabled girl because of her sex or gender. I do believe that trans* women are women, in the same way that Black women are women, working class women are women, disabled women are women, etc.

And, because our positions differ so vastly on the issue of inclusivity and intersectionality of oppression, we are never going to find common ground on this one. As I said on a previous thread, it has common features with the issue of abortion. Someone who believes human life begins at conception so abortion is murder and someone who believes human life starts when the foetus is viable so abortion is acceptable will never, ever, ever come to an agreement on the matter.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 11:44:03

No worries BubblesOfBliss - as you say cross posting. Your posts are great - also I think you actually posted before me! We aren't replicating - we are two people saying the same thing because it is our analysis.

KRITIQ Tue 05-Feb-13 11:47:20

Bubbles, if women experience "sex based violence" on the basis of the assumption that they have female chromosomes and reproductive organs, then trans*women would never be raped. I simply don't accept that a woman's reproductive capacity is the only reason women are controlled and abused under patriarchy. Otherwise, those without this capacity would be afforded higher status.

I got to the part where you said "amputated penis," and I blanched. Nope, I don't have the stomach for this nastiness any more than I no longer have the stomach to argue with racists. The feeling I get is the same. I'm out.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 11:55:07

KRITIQ "1.) Why does society assign lower value to women? For the same reason it assigns lower value to people of colour, to poor people, to disabled people. Because most of those who are at the "top of the tree" are not these things. In order to maintain their privileged position, they select appearance and behavioural factors to distinguish themselves as more capable and worthy."

This is not actually true. Although 'othering' is an essential part of oppressiveness - in that it enables the oppressor to cohesively oppress and believe they are right in their oppressiveness, it is not true that all people are othered for the same reasons. It is quite within the rights of each 'othered group' to form an understanding of the reasons specific to their own othering and oppression in order find a way to be liberated from their oppression. Putting all oppressions in a intellectual blender for convenience or to make deluded people feel better does not help anyone to actually arrive at the truth. It just halts a deeper analysis and understanding.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 12:02:02

"Bubbles, if women experience "sex based violence" on the basis of the assumption that they have female chromosomes and reproductive organs, then trans*women would never be raped. I simply don't accept that a woman's reproductive capacity is the only reason women are controlled and abused under patriarchy."

Hang on, you can equally say that men can be raped by men too. The raping of men or transwomen, does not invalidate the reason for women's oppression being rooted in their expected reproductive capability from birth.

"Otherwise, those without this capacity would be afforded higher status."

I detect another unsubstantiated intellectual leap here.. How does this fit?

"I got to the part where you said "amputated penis," and I blanched. Nope, I don't have the stomach for this nastiness any more than I no longer have the stomach to argue with racists. The feeling I get is the same. I'm out."

You know what - I find the amputation of genitals pretty disturbing too. Doesn't mean it is not true, or to talk about the truth is 'nasty'... I feel that I am being subjected to a manipulative silencing by guilt here.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 12:11:42

1.) Why does society assign lower value to women? For the same reason it assigns lower value to people of colour, to poor people, to disabled people. Because most of those who are at the "top of the tree" are not these things. In order to maintain their privileged position, they select appearance and behavioural factors to distinguish themselves as more capable and worthy.

Surely it is in order to achieve a position of privilege. And this privilege takes a form - it exists in concrete ways. I would say that the reason lower status value is assigned is in order for one group to exploit another. In order to achieve that exploitation one group most have control of the other group. In the case of people of colour the exploitation is for capital gain - to exploit a workforce (often in the form of domestic service) and to exploit people's energy, land and resources. Race is the mechanism of control used to achieve this.

With women it is to exploit us as a workforce and to control us as the providers of a future workforce and heirs. It is also to exploit us for sexual services, domestic service and as means of control of land and resources. Gender is the mechanism of control used to achieve this.

The other advantages to privilege are fun add ons, the real reason is exploitation. Exploitation and control are what make the political difference between oppression and discrimination.

I don't believe there is a 'universal experience' of growing up female. I do however believe that there is a universal oppression, a universal female oppression. This oppression is applied to different female groups in slightly different ways, but its origin lies in our sex.

White males are not more worthy or capable than people of colour and/or women. But they want to exploit us and in order to do so they must 'other' us and create binary hierarchies. People of colour are othered by the binary hierarchy of race - people of colour othered by white. Human females are othered by the hierarchy of sex - female othered by male.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 12:32:59

Ah OK, KRITIQ. I see I have just wasted my time by really thinking about my reply to you and posting in genuine faith with my political analysis and position on opression, if your position is that anyone who disagrees with you reminds you of talking to racists.

I think it is hugely silencing (and rather dubious) of a white woman to invoke racism to other white women in this way.

This seems to be the way the debate goes with liberals and progressives - any attempt at political analysis of transgenderism is oppressive/discriminatory. End of story. STFU you haterz.

Which, unsurprisingly, is exactly the same position as patriarchy.

GothAnneGeddes Tue 05-Feb-13 12:41:24

No one is "silencing" you. You're still all here with your bigotry dressed up as analysis aren't you?

There is a difference between not wanting to engage with someone, because you find their reasoning repellent and "silencing".

I know a key part of the anti-trans spiel is how under attack you are, but you need to stop conflating disagreement or not engaging with silencing.

As part of the group called women, before I leave this thread, I would just like to state that you do not speak for me.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 12:46:41

Patriarchy sex or gender oppression? neither.... Patriarchy is born out of class society and has changed over time according to the mode of production and means of subsistence. So in the beginning women were chattels to be traded and were related to the men of their class and oppressed on the basis of sex/reproductive capacities. In some ancient civilisations the bride dowry wasn't given until the bride had passed the first hurdle of proving her "potential" to have children. Slavery is also born out of class society where the racism is used as the narrative to justify keeping slaves. As example, one tribe would kill all the men but take the women and children. Later as methods of production changed tribes enslaved the conquered men. In order to keep control they found that demoralising the slaves through the rape of conquered women and control of their children kept the slaves in line. They were subordinated because they no longer had sexual control and access to their own women. But the use of the slaves was economic/materialist.

So whilst I agree patriarchy results in sex based oppression, I would argue that it was born out of materialistic necessity and the formation of class society. This may account for what Kritiq says about the differences and comonalities of oppression. Slavery/race and sex based oppression are born from the same thing. Bringing gender into the discussion really only explains the processes of socialisation to perform designated roles, something that changes over time and again in relation to production. Expectations change over time, more young men expect women to work and contribute the same or more monetarily to the family whilst still undertaking the vast majority of childcare. This is somewhat different to the expectations of performing gender roles in the 1950's, and is as a direct result of capitalism, as is the fact that women do most of the economic work and family work in third world nations, the two are linked by economic globalisation. This requires quite different gender roles to those performed historically.

Where do Transpeople fit into this? I think it is important for women (born female) to have women only spaces because of the specific nature of their oppression (rooted in sex (only reinforced through gender) I think there are areas of struggle where the working class, people of colour and trans people should be united. The liberal agenda is about dividing people, so whilst rad fems are fighting liberalism ( and so they should) it might also be noted that to some extent they might risk falling into the trap of playing identity politics, which is all to the good of the very thing oppressing all of us.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 12:51:23

>>I don't believe there is a 'universal experience' of growing up female. I do however believe that there is a universal oppression, a universal female oppression. This oppression is applied to different female groups in slightly different ways, but its origin lies in our sex<<

yy, but born out of the need to exploit the natural world and women's abilities, to requisition wealth for social power over other men.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 12:54:49

GothAnneGeddes

"No one is "silencing" you. You're still all here with your bigotry dressed up as analysis aren't you? "

To be fair, to dismiss a well-reasoned argument with a slur such as the 'bigotry' you've chosen to use here, is actually a form of silencing by making a hostile space where members will be slurred for speaking sincerely in pursuit of the truth.

"There is a difference between not wanting to engage with someone, because you find their reasoning repellent and "silencing"."

This is true. Not wanting to engage is a feeling of not wanting to engage (for whatever reason) silencing is where you use guilt-tactics, slurs and insinuation to try to discourage the other person from engaging.

"I know a key part of the anti-trans spiel is how under attack you are, but you need to stop conflating disagreement or not engaging with silencing."

This rather dismissive statement of genuine attack is actually a bit victim-blaming too - another silencing tactic... It reads - your experiences of being under attack are not real, in fact they are all your fault for not being able to take it.

"As part of the group called women, before I leave this thread, I would just like to state that you do not speak for me."

Well that is neither here nor there. BTW 'flouncing out' is another silencing tactic . It is possible to leave a thread without announcing it first smile

FreyaSnow Tue 05-Feb-13 13:06:09

The work done globally on women's rights is 'intersectional' although in many ways that is just a new term for working through a problem based on context, which is just common sense.

The major problems women face globally are to do with their biological sex. DS was revising for GCSE Geography yesterday and the emancipation of women is a huge issue that is covered in every human geography topic; every time it is made clear that issues of work, democracy, education, health, human rights and environment for all people are dependent on emancipating women who are oppressed due to and through their reproductive capabilities.

This is completely obvious in government campaigns, in the work of aid agencies, the FAO, UN and so on. If feminism now wants us to sit around talking about how no two women are the same and how we all have our own unique identities because we're all special snowflakes, them it no longer has anything to do with the emancipation or liberation of women.

Most of the terms, types of argument and issues raised about cultural appropriation, gender identity etc in general across the internet are American ideologies that have nothing to do with how British ethnic minorities organise around race issues or how British women perceive being a woman.

Obviously rights for transgender people are important, but making a distinction between sex and gender is not primarily about a trans rights argument; it is largely about understanding the causes and consequences for whole societies of contemporary violence and oppression towards women, based on their biological sex.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 13:07:21

OK GothAnne.

How about you quote what I have said on this thread that is bigoted. How about presenting some analysis yourself rather than calling my analysis 'bigotry dressed up as analysis'?

I mean rather than just chuck the word about in argumentum ad hominem?

It is just too easy to throw insults about but never actually engage with the politics.

If the idea that patriarchy is a sex based oppressive structure repels you, I agree that the political position I hold, does not represent yours. I don't feel the need to attack you on that basis though - I prefer to present my view rather than attach insults to yours.

And LOL that calling people's ideas bigoted and similar to racists is not a liberal silencing technique. Calling women haterz is the oldest trick in the book. Pretending that we are the oppressors is just a new spin on that.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 13:40:23

Mini, I agree with much of what you say but I disagree with this;

Patriarchy is born out of class society

IMO it is the other way round - class is born out of patriarchy.

(Not that it is of huge importance really WRT today's struggle.)

JuliaScurr Tue 05-Feb-13 14:32:58
BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 15:11:38

Goth If it the trans* thread that I am thinking of, I made one quick comment and left for my safe space on Tumblr to re-coop and not been back much since. I spend more time there now.

As for the essentials of femaleness:
"There is no culture on earth where the female sex is the dominant power over the male sex." Not overall, but White women have social and economic power and status over Men of Colour. White women earn more overall, have higher social mobility, more likely to be believed by those in position of power, and will have the punishment for their crimes more in line with standard of white men and things associated with Men of Colour are more likely to be banned/deemed as lower. Both have this status over Women of Colour.

"Only females are at risk of becoming pregnant when raped": Yeah, do I need to get the rape studies and statistics out that show how more often Women of Colour are raped than White women? How about studies that have shown both average people and rapist say they think Women of Colour aren't rapeable? It's not Universal if society tells you that you can't be raped and you are far less likely to be believedor helped with it.

So, I can give you pregnancy and birth, which I've already discussed is completely different for Women of Colour in Western countries than for White women. The ideal pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is denied to Women of Colour.

So there is only a Universal Female Experience when we standardize one type of female as normal, which is what Women's Studies tend to do. Make White Women the standard, particularly the able bodied cis ones that are deemed worthy by White men. How is this progressive? My kin have been less than "real women" for generations.

And Bubbles - not all trans* people want hormones and surgery. That's actually a mainly Western obsession started by patriarchy telling those outside the cis community that that is what they should want. They trans* should want to appear "normal", normal being a body to match their gender. In actual trans* discussion, not the ones you are putting onto us, the concept of accepting the body/mind divide is highly important issue as is creating more fluid boundaries. Of the trans* in my social circle, not one has had any surgery, not one has discussed transitioning, the closest that it's ever come up is a trans*man discussing taking regularly available BC mainly to stop his periods which he found triggering (as well as the earlier mentioned issues of pregnancy and rape as therapeutic rape is a major issue) and a genderfluid person's absolute joy and glee when they got a strap-on (their favourite part was that it was blue, sparkly, and fit under their clothes well). Most of us don't want to fit into patriarchies box, we want to make our own.

And my comment about White Western Feminism is only anti-feminist if you consider that to be the only type of feminism. Liberal Feminism, for an academic title, may get the most airspace, but it's far from the only path. The Women Studies books from that perspective are mainly the White, Western ciswoman's perspective and analysis - much like Women's history icons are mainly White women. I come from a different perspective that sees things more intertwined - that my experience is about being woman, and a Metis, and genderfluid, and about my socio-economic class and they cannot be pulled apart as you all seem able to do -0 and broader ranges of representation. Here's a basic wiki link on the variety of variants in feminism. Many will find you a lot more anti-feminist than they will me, for others you will be the epitome and I will be the enemy.

Many would call to question and try to get you to unpack how you can separate your identities so easily (hint: the not normal always have our extra in our face all the time that it isn't in others. Male is just human, White is just human, Cis is just human, Able is just human. I will never be classified as 'a woman', other qualifiers will always be added, and those qualifiers were upon my children from their birth even with a White British father). They would wonder how you could ignore the concept of passing when it is used in every oppressive context - passing is a concept entrenched in the oppressed dynamic with the oppressor: I know ciswoman who dress to pass as men to get places more safely, I know other women of colour who will use the one most White passing to get things done with White officials because of the Whiter the features the better we're treated and White passing people of colour have created whole White identities to survive and marry on to the point that their descendants become surprised how little White they actually are, passing isn't a trans* issue, it's a oppressed issue.

And finally WOMEN CAN BE OPPRESSORS. White Supremacy Hetero Patriachy is held up by women just as much as by men. Women oppress me regularly. The White midwifes (plural) who told me that I was less than as a mother, the White midwives who lied and tried to get my child taken away and refused to believe a woman like me was married, the White women who pull their children away from mine after they see me, the White club leaders who preach openness to my face and taught my daughter painful confusing narrow views behind closed doors, the women run shows that thinks having white able bodied ciswomen is enough representation for all assigned female at birth, the ciswoman who allowed a trans*woman to die of hypothermia outside a homeless shelter because finding the trans*woman help wasn't the ciswoman's business, all are oppressors. It isn't about being called out as haterz, Whtie men in power have an interest in having everyone else keep up the system, which is why Liberal Feminism gets the most airspace - it's the one most easily manipulated to their cause.

I hope that is enough analysis, especially along with my other novel.

BigSpork Tue 05-Feb-13 15:21:51

Wow, one trans*person is evil. I didn't know we had to be saints to get support and inclusion.

I guess all White Women should be banned after my case where 3 White Women held me down and forcibly inserted a medical device, joking about how they were raping me and teaching me lesson and left me in a pool of blood and almost caused me to miscarry my child.

Or how about the White woman who carved a B into her face and blamed on a mysterious Black women.

I could drudge up all sorts of evil ciswomen. The one universal experience is that there are fucked up people in every group. If you are going to use this one person to deny all trans*women support and safety, I really don't know what to say, I thought mainstream feminism had at least gotten to the point of knowing you can't stereotype a group by one person.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 16:26:46

BigSpork

As for the essentials of femaleness:

"There is no culture on earth where the female sex is the dominant power over the male sex." Not overall, but White women have social and economic power and status over Men of Colour. White women earn more overall, have higher social mobility, more likely to be believed by those in position of power, and will have the punishment for their crimes more in line with standard of white men and things associated with Men of Colour are more likely to be banned/deemed as lower. Both have this status over Women of Colour."

But you forgot to mention that men of colour have male privilege over white women even though white women have white privilege over men of colour. Although of course both men of colour and white women have privilege over women of colour. This does not put white women at the top of the pyramid, it puts white men at the top, with both white women and men of colour on the second tier, with women of colour on the third tier.

"Only females are at risk of becoming pregnant when raped": Yeah, do I need to get the rape studies and statistics out that show how more often Women of Colour are raped than White women? How about studies that have shown both average people and rapist say they think Women of Colour aren't rapeable? It's not Universal if society tells you that you can't be raped and you are far less likely to be believed or helped with it."

This is true. Women of colour suffer compound oppression.

"So there is only a Universal Female Experience when we standardize one type of female as normal, which is what Women's Studies tend to do. Make White Women the standard, particularly the able bodied cis ones that are deemed worthy by White men. How is this progressive? My kin have been less than "real women" for generations."

This doesn't logically follow. White dominance does not erase male dominance. The universal female experience is domination by men - the fact that regrettably (in the dominant discourse) this power relationship has historically been viewed through a 'white lens' doesn't lessen the reality or the universality of this fact.

"And Bubbles - not all trans* people want hormones and surgery."

I never said they did. Which of course can be problematic.

"Most of us don't want to fit into patriarchies box, we want to make our own."

Perhaps some of us don't want to be in boxes at all?

"And my comment about White Western Feminism is only anti-feminist if you consider that to be the only type of feminism."

No, the slur that radical feminism is 'white' and 'western' when it aint.

"my experience is about being woman, and a Metis, and genderfluid, and about my socio-economic class and they cannot be pulled apart as you all seem able to do ."

It is all a matter of how you use critical thinking. You don't have to pull anything apart, but you can view the oppressive forces from different angles.

"how you could ignore the concept of passing when it is used in every oppressive context - passing is a concept entrenched in the oppressed dynamic with the oppressor: I know ciswoman who dress to pass as men to get places more safely, I know other women of colour who will use the one most White passing to get things done with White officials because of the Whiter the features the better we're treated and White passing people of colour have created whole White identities to survive and marry on to the point that their descendants become surprised how little White they actually are, passing isn't a trans* issue, it's a oppressed issue"

But this is where it gets confusing. Women are not the oppressors of MtF trans. Male patriarchy is, so why do MtFs focus so much on 'passing' in women-only spaces eg spas, rape survivors meetings, etc, etc. Instead of trying to 'pass' as those belonging to the powerful oppressing group, they want to pass as the oppressed group. It is not analogous.

"And finally WOMEN CAN BE OPPRESSORS."
Indeed they can be oppressors, but they are not the oppressors of like-for-like males. For example white women do not oppress white men, women of colour do not oppress men of colour, disabled women do not oppress disabled men and so on.

"I hope that is enough analysis"

Not quite wink

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 16:57:50

BigSpork are you saying that because white women have white privilege we should STFU about female oppression? I don't think there are many feminists who believe in a universal female experience - we know that women are treated very differently throughout male supremacist society. This often comes up in arguments about porn for example, with feminists pointing out that porn is very racist and that alone makes it unacceptable. Same with what you say about WOC and rape. One could say the same for women with disabilities who are also at disproportionate risk of rape and sexual assault.

A lot of feminist culture is lesbian culture and lesbians are very well placed to understand that there is a hierarchy to female oppression.

I'm very sorry to hear of what happened to you when having your baby. Were you treated like this in the UK - it sounds like you have been assaulted?

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 17:10:48

Actually, I've just re-read your post and I'm now asking myself if you are saying that only women of colour experience female oppression. confused

I understand the concept of passing in order to better survive as a member of an oppressed class amongst one's oppressors. It is politically rather different though when a male bodied person tries to pass as female - indeed it is the total opposite.

WhentheRed Tue 05-Feb-13 19:11:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WidowWadman Tue 05-Feb-13 19:22:05

You can call your opinion "analysis" until your blue in the face, it's still just an opinion. And accusing those who disagree with you of silencing, in itself is a pretty hefty silencing technique.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 19:56:56

WidowWadman

"You can call your opinion "analysis" until your blue in the face, it's still just an opinion. And accusing those who disagree with you of silencing, in itself is a pretty hefty silencing technique."

Where did that come from? Analysis is different from opinion. And calling out silencing tactics is not silencing, it is trying to keep the conversation open- avoiding victim-blaming, slurs, manipulation, etc, that are 'conversation stoppers'. I can't believe you actually agree with what you said yourself- I think you want people you disagree with to feel guilty for speaking freely....which is erm....

FloraFox Tue 05-Feb-13 20:30:09

It's not the disagreeing which is silencing, it is throwing insults, plying guilt and flouncing off.

FreyaSnow Tue 05-Feb-13 20:34:09

I'm not sure why these threads get so wordy and theoretical so fast. It seems pretty straightforward.

Some groups of women are much more oppressed than others. I doubt any woman on here is going to claim that they are as oppressed as the average woman in Somalia.

But all groups of women are oppressed to some extent on the basis of their biological sex, because that is the basis on which women are collectively oppressed.

The fact that different groups of women are oppressed differently doesn't somehow make all people who are oppressed differently women.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 20:57:03

Or constantly turning up only to make inane comments about the opinions of one poster, it looks a bit odd. WW is there one poster in particular that you would like to silence?

Beach, I think it is important because we need to find ways of uniting various struggles against common cause, in that way change can happen. Taking a more historical materialist stand point is less exclusionary, it does make sense of all oppression, not just female oppression.

BigSpork, I really don't understand how change will happen if we all keep focusing not on what we have in common but on all these various qualifiers. Judging from your post, it would seem that accepting trans-women as women, accepting they face similar but also very specific problems, is actually a wasted effort. We are all individuals, with various qualifiers, where do these qualifiers stop, with race, culture, religion, short sightedness, the difference in height........how you take your coffee? If we are going to be divided into smaller and smaller angry parcels of individual highly specific oppressed people, then those that benefit from our collective oppression will have won.

I have been thinking about this a lot, how can we really be free to realise our capacities, to be truly accepted as individuals? would that be in a class society with hierarchies of privilege and exploitation, where we really are individuals? or collectively without social distinctions, without class? I think there is more freedom in collectivity, because those who include us amongst their ranks do so because of acceptance, not because we are outside looking in, kept at a safe distance, it is most convenient to overlook what other people are doing, what they suffer, what they look like, as long as it is far away from us. If you have acceptance, you have freedom to be an individual. With acceptance and collectivity everyone would take very seriously the oppression of other people.

WidowWadman Tue 05-Feb-13 21:13:48

Mini - I don't want to silence anyone,thank you and personally I argue against the contents of postings, and don't half care about the names attached to them, so please don't try to accuse me of personal attacks.

If you feel I've gone ad hominem, feel free to report me.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 21:23:34

What I find interesting WW, is the fact that out of 4 paragraphs the only thing you respond to seems to me to be personal. Strange. That's leave it there. I would prefer to hear your opinions on intersectionality, liberal hegemony, trans issues......

WidowWadman Tue 05-Feb-13 21:40:09

Mini

I've stated my opinion on trans issues and intersectionality on this and many other threads, but happy to repeat.

People should be free to identify as they feel they are without fear of ridicule, atack and bullying.

Noone has the right to ask anyone no matter whether cis or trans about their genitals, as what is in their pants is their own business.

Noone has the right to ask anyone about their medical history, as that's a private matter.

Noone has the right to out someone else against their will.

The hate speech used on sites such as bugbrennan and gendertrender is disgusting.

The idea that trans women have privilege over cis women is ludicrous.

Judging a whole group of people on the basis of behaviour of a small subgroup of extremists is wrong.

The constant denial of their own privilege by women who clearly are privileged is ridiculous.

Nobody should sleep with anyone they're not attracted to, I doubt anyone's denying that.

Trans people probably face more rejection than not trans people, which I assume must be hard to deal with. They should be allowed to talk about that - talking about dealing with rejection does not equal insisting that everyone should sleep with them.

The difficulties faced in shelters, such as outlined early in the thread need to be addressed sensitively. Saying "let them sort out their own shelters, it's not our business" is heartless at best.

Is that enough?

(Btw I used "cis" because it types quicker than FAAB and I really can't be arsed with that acronym)

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 21:53:19

WidowWadman is it possible to put these things together to form a coherent analysis with a bit a context rather than a bullet-point list of assertions? Otherwise it is not really adding to the discussion any more than purging your mind of any 'top ten list of things that piss me off' would add.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 21:58:23

Thank you WW, I am off to bed (very tired) I will read and reply.

Does it matter how its presented. I'll give up too grin it becomes exclusionary to insist that we all use a prescribed debating style. And what WW post makes clear is that theory doesn't substitute for opinion and vice versa and both should be valid.

kim147 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:59:23

bubbles

There are a lot of other thread widow has posted on which explain her views in great detail. Why post them again just to satisfy your curiosity?

This has been debated so many times and people have posted their opinions and views at length.

So I can see why WW has decided to bullet point.

BubblesOfBliss Tue 05-Feb-13 22:10:55

Mini "it becomes exclusionary to insist that we all use a prescribed debating style."
What are you saying?

"And what WW post makes clear is that theory doesn't substitute for opinion and vice versa and both should be valid."

There are facts, there are ways to analyse those facts and there are opinions based on those facts.

If opinions float around that are not clearly linked to facts or drawn from an analysis of those facts - then where is the validity of those opinions? They are just assertions floating freely without context. Where can you go with that? How does it contribute to debate or even be called a debating style?

Writehand Tue 05-Feb-13 22:18:21

Years ago I went into a tiny shop with a friend. It was a complex transaction -- we were dealing with the lone shop assistant for 10 minutes or more.

Afterwards we walked out, went round the corner and just stared at each other. Neither of us had been able to work out what sex the assistant was. Voice, appearance... It was impossible. My friend, a doctor, thought we'd probably encountered a truly intersex person.

But what sticks in my mind is the way that, if you can't tell for sure whether someone's male or female, your brain just keeps going back to it. All the way through the encounter I kept trying to decide.

I think there's a very basic function in the brain which classifies sex automatically when we encounter strangers, and if there's any dissonance whatsoever our brain just nags and nags. And I'd guess that this is why "passing" as a transsexual is so problematic.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 22:36:54

>People should be free to identify as they feel

I agree, the difficulty here is that others may not share a persons assertion to be identified in a particular way. If we have individual will to identify, then we also have individual will to hold a different perspective. See how liberalism can actually be transverse?

>what is in their pants is their own business

I agree, in fact if men worried less about what women had in theirs maybe we wouldn't be discussing this.

>hate speech used on sites such as bugbrennan and gendertrender is disgusting

I agree and I think it actually undermines the radical feminist position. It's harmful to feminism.

>trans women have privilege over cis women is ludicrous

This is where the question of what's in ya pants becomes pertenant though isn't it. Its like saying white women always have privilege over black men, they do economically but not in terms of rape/physical assault. I have certainly been made to feel intimidated by working class black men.

>Saying "let them sort out their own shelters, it's not our business" is heartless at best.

Women have provided and lobbied, raised awareness and funds for many years, I am sure that it would be possible to talk in terms of skills sharing. facilitating the trans community to set up their own shelters. In view of the fact that we have government cuts to services & funding, they would find themselves in competition with women's services for scant resources but things may change.

MiniTheMinx Tue 05-Feb-13 22:42:57

I think we shouldn't fall into the trap of being elitist. BubblesOfBliss

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 22:49:52

WidowWadman, I have no issue with disagreement. I have already said many times on MN that I have no issue with disagreement. Disagreement is rich, or at least it can be - it should be, non?

I do however take issue with people who only state their disagreement with me by calling me (or my views) names. And I don't really take such disagreements very seriously because there is no substance to them. There is nowhere to go.

If someone disagrees with me and they explain why, I will always stop and think.

Beachcomber Tue 05-Feb-13 23:02:10

People should be free to identify as they feel they are without fear of ridicule, attack and bullying.

I agree.

Noone has the right to ask anyone no matter whether cis or trans about their genitals, as what is in their pants is their own business.

Context?

Noone has the right to ask anyone about their medical history, as that's a private matter.

I agree.

Noone has the right to out someone else against their will.

If we are talking the internet as long as the person is not stalking or harassing someone, I agree.

The hate speech used on sites such as bugbrennan and gendertrender is disgusting.

Examples?

The idea that trans women have privilege over cis women is ludicrous.

This is an unbacked up assertion.

Judging a whole group of people on the basis of behaviour of a small subgroup of extremists is wrong.

I agree. And would add that it would be great if non extremists spoke up that would be ace.

The constant denial of their own privilege by women who clearly are privileged is ridiculous.

Example? I'm unclear as to what you are referring to here.

Nobody should sleep with anyone they're not attracted to, I doubt anyone's denying that.

I have to disagree that anyone is denying that.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 08:33:52

Kim147 "There are a lot of other thread widow has posted on which explain her views in great detail."

As with everyone in FWR since there is a lot of circularity to all this

"Why post them again just to satisfy your curiosity?"

Its not to satisfy my curiosity - it is to make a choice in relation to the all the contributors of the thread - to engage with the arguments or admit a presence on the thread is an attempt to manipulate the outcomes.

"This has been debated so many times and people have posted their opinions and views at length."

Yup, we all feel it. And why is no one else resorting to it?

"So I can see why WW has decided to bullet point."

So can I, but I don't think it is justified.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 09:10:00

MiniTheMinx "I think we shouldn't fall into the trap of being elitist."

So do I, but I think the danger in elitism lies in using esoteric language, or making references to things without a context that can be examined or followed-up.

Pulling someone up on voicing a load of strong opinions about people without a rationale (and is therefore being judgemental- making snap-judgements based on feelings of 'nice' and 'nasty') is not being elitist. I don't think condescending to such a person and saying "nasty and nice, like or don't like - is just as valuable a contribution to the discussion as having a rationale behind your statements" because you fear they might be out of their intellectual depth (am I right?) actually helps people at all.

And I don't think it was not having the intellectual depth to argue that was to blame for the unsubstantiated opinion bullet-points - I think it came across as a more superior 'I've made my mind up and you lot aren't even worth bothering with'

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 10:00:20

Regarding refuge spaces....

One of the problems of assisting people fleeing violence is that demand outstrips supply. Women can't get spaces in women's refuges at the moment.

Having a cut-off point of how many spaces are available in the service you provide, or deliberately having a narrow demographic to provide a specialist service is nothing new or unique to the women's sector. There are men-only hostels that would not admit women, there are homes for recovering alcoholics that don't admit drinkers- and so on. It is always upsetting and difficult for staff to have to reject applicants -who are clearly suffering and desperate- because they don't fit criteria - for whatever reason. And it is common for this to cause bad feelings, often racist or misogynist in the person who is rejected.

You could weep for hundreds of cases daily where people aren't able to get the help they need, from all walks of life. But staff will generally give a lead on where is a more suitable place to seek support.

There are a wide variety of services - for example 'Broken Rainbow' who provide a specialist service for DV in LGBT clients, also local councils have a duty of care to protect vulnerable adults and police forces have domestic violence and hate crime teams that can be very helpful in assisting.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 10:51:03

So for the record BigSpork regarding "the ciswoman who allowed a trans*woman to die of hypothermia outside a homeless shelter because finding the trans*woman help wasn't the ciswoman's business, all are oppressors."

I find it a highly suspect and misleading claim which could give the wrong impression.

Firstly, homeless shelters are never staffed by just one person, therefore any course of action can not be down to 'one cis woman' that leads to someone dying of hyperthermia.
Second, lest anyone confuses this anecdote with women's refuges, it could never happen outside a women's refuge because the locations of refuges are kept secret for safety from perpetrators - so no one can just turn up outside to seek shelter.
Thirdly, what is the full story? Did the staff even know the transwoman waited outside the hostel after being turned away?
Fourthly, it is a sad fact that homeless people die of hypothermia every winter and in some cases because there are not the spaces in hostels - this tragedy is irrespective to them being male, female, 'trans' or 'cis' and is certainly not evidence of 'trans oppression' by 'cis' people.

FreyaSnow Wed 06-Feb-13 11:53:51

On these threads people have repeatedly discussed why trans people want to identify by gender and the implications that transgender inclusion might have for women.

I think we can find ways of including transgender women regardless of how they may or may not feel about gender or what anyone else may or may not feel about gender.

The issue seems to me to be what other women should be expected to believe about gender. As WW said, it is rude to expect somebody to declare what is in their pants. It is also pretty rude to expect somebody to declare or make assumptions about the feelings in somebody's head with regard to gender. Just because somebody says they are a woman I am not going to assume they have any particular feeling.

I don't know what the impact is on a woman with anorexia, or a pregnant woman, or a girl going through puberty, or a woman working in engineering, or a 10 year old girl who is good at Maths of believing that biological sex is irrelevant but her internal gender defines what kind of person she is. Sense of self is a huge part of psychology and I don't know anything about psychology. I'm not sure how any of us can say how all women or all people should view gender and sex if we don't understand what the mental health implications of that might be.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 12:56:47

Hi FreyaSnowI can't quite get what you are saying here "I think we can find ways of including transgender women regardless of how they may or may not feel about gender or what anyone else may or may not feel about gender." (partly because I don't know who 'they' refers to).

By 'ways of including transwomen'' do you mean ways of fully accepting that they are women with the right to access all areas and service available to women including those that are a refuge from men and male violence? And by 'regardless of how they may or may not feel about gender or what anyone else may or may not feel about gender' do you mean regardless of the threat it poses to women (eg a consequence where a man -violent, perverted and with sinister intent- insists on his right to enter these protective spaces because he claims to be a woman)? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

FreyaSnow Wed 06-Feb-13 13:32:59

No BB, I mean that in most practical situations there is no conflict between transgender women and people whose sex is female. So it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks about the ideology of gender. If somebody wants to declare that their name is Miss Sophie Cole, wear dresses, be referred to as she and so on, I don't see how it is anybody else's business. I don't need to know anything about their internal thought processes or their genitalia.

Where there is a conflict, I think that it should work the same as for other any other minority groups who have some issues that intersect and some issues that don't. Which groups experience specific disadvantages shouldn't really be a matter of opinion but one of empirical evidence. Biological females face some disadvantages not faced by transgender women and transgender women face some disadvantages not faced by biological females. As such, both groups sometimes need separate services.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 14:26:34

Ah thanks for clarifying FreyaSnow

"Where there is a conflict, I think that it should work the same as for other any other minority groups who have some issues that intersect and some issues that don't. Which groups experience specific disadvantages shouldn't really be a matter of opinion but one of empirical evidence. Biological females face some disadvantages not faced by transgender women and transgender women face some disadvantages not faced by biological females. As such, both groups sometimes need separate services."

I think the conflict is where biological sex is important. For example situations where someone might insist on a female doctor for an intimate examination, or for people who are campaigning around abortion rights, or someone becomes a sports teacher teaching teenage girls P.E. and so on.
Although it is rude to ask what is in a person's underwear, I find it sinister in these situations for a person to claim the opposite biological sex to the one they actually are. Because there are so many situations that are sex-specific often requiring sex segregation- largely in response to the prevalent sexual violence against females perpetrated by males, and also because women are not actually a minority group but in the majority, it is more contentious to declare separate spaces/specialist services for women than for other minority groups.

Writehand Wed 06-Feb-13 16:05:50

WidowWadman wrote: People should be free to identify as they feel they are without fear of ridicule, attack and bullying.

Of course no one should ever be attacked, but if you look bizarre people react even if only by being super polite. The pantomime dame is a stock British figure of fun. Transwomen are seldom wholly convincing and there is sometimes an element of caricature. Being female is nothing to do with hair, cosmetics or clothing (I'd be female tied in a sack), but for transwomen these have to be a top priority -- this being one of the areas where they "bump into" feminist feelings about roles.

When you say "identify as they feel" it leaves a lot of questions up in the air. Do people have to "identify as they feel" all the time, or can they put it on and take it off? If so, how often? If a transman has a baby does this change his gender?

We may politely humour people who have unrealistic self-images, but that doesn't mean we actually believe them. While during conversation I wouldn't have a problem with someone telling me against the evidence of my own eyes that they're an elf or a woman, it might be different if I was being asked to vote for them or share a changing room.

I'm not convinced that a transwoman actually "changes" at all? Is it not all an elaborate self-deception? There are people who believe they're werewolves or vampires. There are people who insist that they are dead, ffs.

There's also a strand of thinking that puts transexual desires into the same box as other philias - very profound sexual drives -- which does make a certain amount of sense and ties in with the fact that far more men are motivated to transition, as they also form most of those affected by philias.

Noone has the right to ask anyone no matter whether cis or trans about their genitals, as what is in their pants is their own business.

If it were easy to adopt the physical being of the opposite sex and all trans people could pass effortlessly the issue wouldn't arise. But biology is not so easily bypassed and it's often easy to guess someone's AAB status. If it's not so easy it can be even more disconcerting. I felt uncomfortable when it became clear that someone I assumed initially was female was a man.

That was kinda the point of my previous post. I wonder whether being able to assign sex to people we meet is particularly strongly developed in women, as throughout our history men have always posed a threat to women in a way other women don't.

Noone has the right to ask anyone about their medical history, as that's a private matter.

In a social context, absolutely. In an intimate context, I think people have every right to ask. More than that: the information should be offered rather than have to be requested.

Noone has the right to out someone else against their will.

Context is all.

The hate speech used on sites such as bugbrennan and gendertrender is disgusting.

I can't agree with you there. I'm interested in these sites and feel they're relevant. Transgender assumptions demand feminist analysis and action. Professor Sheila Jeffreys' submission to the public consultation on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill being a case in point.

As for hate speech -- the transexual bloggers don't hold back, do they? There's some huge aggression out there.

The idea that trans women have privilege over cis women is ludicrous.

Transwomen are male, and have male privilege. If they decide to live as women any loss of privilege is self-inflicted. But they carry their assumptions with them. The cotton ceiling business sits badly with me: it's such a typically male approach.

Judging a whole group of people on the basis of behaviour of a small subgroup of extremists is wrong.

Absolutely. That's true in all contexts. Unfortunately we don't hear a lot from non-extremists on this issue,

The constant denial of their own privilege by women who clearly are privileged is ridiculous.

?

Nobody should sleep with anyone they're not attracted to, I doubt anyone's denying that.

If the cotton ceiling thing isn't a push to get lesbian females to ignore male genitals on other women then what is it?

(Btw I used "cis" because it types quicker than and I really can't be arsed with that acronym)

Use the terms you like, but I refuse to use the label cis. I am an archetypal woman. I was FAAB but my femininity is far more defined than by my sex as AAB. I have a fully functioning female body and although I feel compassion for transwomen (it's clearly a very tough situation to be in) that doesn't mean I see them as equivalent in all senses. A transwoman and a woman face some of the same challenges, but they are not synonyms.

BubblesOfBliss Wed 06-Feb-13 18:03:24

Writehand

"While during conversation I wouldn't have a problem with someone telling me against the evidence of my own eyes that they're an elf or a woman, it might be different if I was being asked to vote for them or share a changing room."

This is so true - I've been so focused on the male-female thing, I bypassed the issue of delusional people - how they should be treated with caution - and for delusional people that insist others fall in line with their delusion using threats of suicide, legal action, guilt-tactics, etc - they should ring alarm bells even more than those experiencing psychosis.

"I felt uncomfortable when it became clear that someone I assumed initially was female was a man." "That was kinda the point of my previous post. I wonder whether being able to assign sex to people we meet is particularly strongly developed in women, as throughout our history men have always posed a threat to women in a way other women don't."

This makes a lot of sense to me - when I had been in the company of a transman who looked very convincingly male I had a strange feeling from the energy of this person and I've long been trying to put my finger on it - and it must be a lack of a sense of threat and feeling of not having to emotionally/psychologically brace myself for what ever it is I unconsciously fear in men.

Writehand Wed 06-Feb-13 22:58:09

Bubbles of Bliss: a situation where (only in America, as the cliche goes) someone with an entirely male body is legally entitled to lounge around naked in the women's changing rooms because they say they're women, panders to a delusion.

What bothers me is that if this becomes law as it has in Washington State -- that it's up to the individual to decide which changing room they fancy -- there are plenty of men who want to get into women's (and kid's) changing rooms who aren't trans anything, but predators who will use this ruling to give them access. If transwomen are as sisterly and aware of patriarchal oppression as we're told, why expose females to this?

Kelly Dawn Anderson, 49, also known as Kelly Hullenbaugh and Robert Domasky, was arrested after a janitor spotted a man in women's clothing leaving the girls' locker room at Greensburg Salem High School.

Greensburg police said caretakers reported "a man dressed as a woman" in the high school at about 7 p.m. Police thought they knew who it might be and went to the suspect's Otterman Street apartment. The man's Jeep was parked outside and a Greensburg Salem gym bag and a hunting knife were on the back seat.

A hunting knife?

I'm glad you get my point about how much it matters to females to be sure what sex strangers are. Someone I perceive as being a man in disguise may be a totally sincere transwoman. But there are common and far more threatening reasons for a man to pretend to be a woman in an woman-only space, and any female knows this. I'd bet there are more sex offenders than transwomen in the population.

I can see that the whole loo/changing room situation presents real problems for trans and intersex people, but I'm not at all sure that this justifies removing the safety and privacy of woman-only areas.

JuliaScurr Thu 07-Feb-13 12:44:52

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