Facebook feminist groups and LGBT

(87 Posts)

I would like to run something by you folks.

I am aware that a good few feminists are lesbian. But is it normal for feminism to be intricately entwined with LGBT theory and activism to the exclusion of almost anything else?

I follow a few feminist pages on Facebook, and it seems that they post way more stuff on LGBT theory than feminist theory. Loads of posts and outrage about trans women being forced to use male restrooms and loads on equal marriage rights, but very little about FGM, the millions of lost women in India and China, the very rare post about women being lashed/stoned for extramarital sex after being raped in the Middle East.

Of course I understand there are some overlaps between the groups, but surely feminism is first and foremost about issues that are peculiar to women?

At risk of a flaming, to focus on trans and gay issues to the exclusion of women suffering horribly at the hands of men, particularly in the developing world, just smacks of first world privilege and frustrates me.

This Mumsnet topic/group seems to be focussed first and foremost on women, which is why I'm asking here. Have any of you noticed similar on Facebook? Are there any feminist groups I've missed which keep women front and centre? As a straight feminist, I just don't feel like I belong on some of the groups I follow.

kim147 Mon 01-Apr-13 21:23:20

Feminist group I belong to is all women's issues first and foremost.

I think there's something of an age difference. Broadly, younger women I know (in their 20s) are often keen to get into what I would call queer theory/gender studies rather than feminism. Though obviously there is often a lot of overlap, and obviously some women in their 20s (mostly that I know from MN) are into feminism as well.

I have quite often come across the attitude that feminism has mostly succeeded, and therefore it's time for women to concentrate on the issues where there is still a lot to do. I don't agree this is true, btw.

Incidentally, the lesbian feminists I know myself seem to be split pretty evenly between those who are feminists first and foremost, and those who're interested in queer theory (ie., including 'gender queer' and trans as well as 'queer' issues). I don't know much about it but a mate of mine who is a lesbian is really not keen on being associated with queer theory.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 21:53:00

Facebook isn't the world and Facebook certainly isn't the be all and end all of feminism.

If it's like most discussion boards, mailing lists and real-life gatherings of people in any way, folks discuss issues that are topical. That doesn't mean that they aren't interested in or also working on other issues that aren't being discussed at the time.

Marriage equality is very much a current political issue in the US and in the UK, and one that will impact on many women, so I'm not terribly surprised that this is being discussed. Also, because the rights of Lesbian, bisexual and trans* women were not included in the Agreed Conclusions of the most recent UN Commission on the Status of Women, some will be discussing that omission.

The interesting thing is so often, those who oppose feminism in any form often resort to that old chestnut of, "Why are you spending so much time blethering on about X when clearly, there is this other issue over here that is so much more important that you are ignoring." The response generally given is that feminists are able to multi-task. I think the same answer applies to your question as well! smile

Mmm. It's the lack of multi-tasking that bothers me. That 'exclusion of women suffering' that annie mentions. Not on facebook, but at a university feminist group I've seen people really not want to discuss anything except a particular range of issues. Of course that is fine - free country - but I am curious too about why and how this happens.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 21:59:12

LRD, it's interesting how you describe the Lesbian feminists that you know - that half see themselves as feminists primarily and half see themselves as Lesbian/queer.

My question would be really why should they feel compelled to make a choice between two intrinsic aspects of their identity? I'm not saying that you specifically do that, but I just find it interesting that you put it that way.

The issue sort of mirrors alot of comments I've heard recently from Black feminists/womanists about feeling compelled by (predominately white) feminists to prioritise their identity as women over other aspects of their identity.

I don't know that they see it that way? I'm only going on what's been said to me.

But I know at least one person who finds it insulting to be seen primarily as 'a lesbian' and she frequently identifies as 'a feminist'. I think it is a difference between an identity you're born with, and everyone should accept without comment, and a political ideology you choose.

Of course, not everyone will feel like that, but I can see her point.

I wouldn't know enough about black feminism/womanism though I would like to.

Btw, I agree it's interesting.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:05:19

I'm curious now! I'll ask around a few women about uni feminist groups as I'd not been aware this was perhaps the case. I'm thinking more about advocacy and campaigning groups that I have more contact with, and feminist academics and researchers covering issues as wide as they are long.

Gah ... triple posting, sorry ... but, FWIW, some people I know object to 'queer' and 'lesbian' being used synonymously.

I'm curious how the term 'queer' seems to have expanded its range hugely. I have mates in the US who use 'queer' to characterise anyone from someone who is gay, to someone bisexual, to someone who acts in a way that doesn't fit with the gender they were born. It's very inclusive but I'm not comfortable with it for myself. Not acting in a feminine way doens't make me 'gender queer', its part of my feminism. But for others it would be part of being 'gender queer'.

KRITIQ - that's hardly fair. I can see how queer theory relates to feminism, and of course I don't think that these groups should stop talking about it. But feminism is more broad than queer theory and as a non-queer, I'd like to explore other aspects of feminism.

And of course Facebook isn't the world, but I like to use Facebook and it's one way that I enjoy interacting with other feminists.

It's not that I want to change the group I'm following; it's their choice on what they discuss. I'm simply not finding it relevant to me and so I'm asking if this is common and if I'm likely to find other groups where I fit in better.

Of course feminists can multi-task. And I'm open to a range of feminist theory, including queer theory. It's all very interesting. I would welcome a range of topics. But surely if a group is concentrating solely on queer theory, it ceases to become a feminist group and becomes a queer theory group?

Can anyone post a link/name of a more woman-centric group please?

I wouldn't say queer theory is part of the range of feminist theory. IMO it is a theory in its own right.

I will ask about woman-centric groups as I know some women who probably have suggestions.

I'm not at all comfortable with this idea of feminism being "swallowed up" under the umbrella of queer theory. It makes the idea of feminism more "other" than it already is, if that makes sense. Surely feminism is about inclusion and equality for everyone being mainstream - the norm rather than the exception? Not sure I'm explaining myself well.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:23:20

From what I understand LRD, part of it is "Americanism," (like "person of colour" where many in the UK would say Black/Black & Minority Ethnic/Black, Asian & Minority Ethinc/Politically Black.) Part of it has been an attempt to come up with a succinct term to cover Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*gender, Questioning, which you've got to admit, is a pretty long descriptor!

Like most words, I think the meaning of "queer" (which in itself was a reclaimed slur, and still used as a slur by some,) is evolving and may mean different things to different people. I get the sense that sometimes younger people prefer it because they feel Lesbian, Gay and/or Bisexual are terms that are "outdated" and don't relate to their experience, or are too narrow to describe what they feel is their identity.

I'm aware of a piece of research done by an LBGT young people's organisation in conjunction with an education project. They did anonymous equal ops monitoring at the end of the programme, once they knew young people had an understanding of what the sexuality and identity concepts were. They were surprised to find fewer saw themselves as Lesbian or Gay, but chose Bisexual, queer or trans*, suggesting that they saw their sexual identity as more "fluid" than fixed. That could be either because as teenagers, this is the sort of thing that is an evolving process for many young people. It could also be that there is now a broader "spectrum" of concepts and terms to describe one's identity than before, and perhaps in some quarters at least, a "climate" where not fitting into a neat box is more acceptable. The latter is something I've found myself in work with young people - but stressing this isn't universal and I don't suggest that homophobia isn't alive and (sadly too often) kicking.

I don't think it's a good idea for either queer theory or feminism to be put under the same 'umbrella'. It's one more way for the patriarchy to pretend all minorities/marginalized groups are the same. The way that if you have a group, some people seem to think that having four spaces for white men and one for a woman/ethnic minority/LGBT person is somehow helpful. hmm

Of course often there will be loads of common ground between groups, but it is insulting when a broad range of issues are reduced to a smudge of letters.

Incidentally, I think this is why some lesbians aren't wild about calling themselves 'queer' - but I will ask if I'm right there as I'm not a lesbian and don't want to speak out of turn.

Schooldidi Mon 01-Apr-13 22:26:27

This is all very interesting. I'd never thought of joining a feminist group on fb, so are there any groups/pages that are particularly good that I should join as a starter?

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:27:59

Sorry if I sounded harsh Annie, but I just wanted to be clear that there IS alot that goes on outside Facebook, and Twitter for that matter. I don't genuinely think either are representative of thinking on most subjects.

I honestly don't see that feminism is being "swallowed up" by queer theory or any other theory, other than perhaps human rights, of which it should be a part (but that's more of a legal thing than a philosophical thing.)

What I think IS challenging for feminism is the complexity of human identity. That means, for example, for a woman of colour, a woman who has relationships with women, a disabled woman, a Muslim woman, etc., feminism HAS to be about much more than just liberation of women as a generic, homogenous group of people. I don't think that kind of challenge is a bad thing at all though.

Ah, sorry, cross posted.

Yes, I agree, it seems to function very much as you describe, as a term, kri.

My reluctance to use it is that I feel that I've never been much discriminated against for my sexual orientation (I'm bi, but married to a man). And I know men and women who have been, and I grew up associating the term 'queer' with them - in the context of them being proud to reclaim it. I would feel as if I were kind of being an activist tourist on that if I used the term, you know? Like some terribly earnest people will tell you how very aware they are of the struggles of such-and-such group, which they're not part of, but somehow have spiritual kinship with. It's a bit patronizing, even if it's good-hearted.

I would like to get to the point where we could all accept very fluid definitions of sexual orientation (or, better, no need to comment on it at all, with it being accepted that anyone might like anyone else).

I'm being thoroughly flamed on this Facebook group for suggesting their have become somewhat fixated on queer theory. Guess they don't agree with me. Oh well.

Do they see it as queer theory?

I'm interested, because a lot of feminists I know don't actually see what I reckon is queer theory, as queer theory. They see it as mainstream feminism. And to me that is the problem.

KRITIQ Mon 01-Apr-13 22:40:02

Yep, I getcha! smile The thing is, if one is picking a term to describe one's personal identity, it's got to feel comfortable - got to be right, because it IS something so personal to the individual. There can be a whole plethora of reasons some terms don't feel right - maybe even if they don't have a logical explanation. I suppose that's an issue with labels generally - meanings can have different connotations, can change over time and aren't always clear to others. I'm always more interested in the meaning behind labels, but of course there isn't always the opportunity for finding that out, so terms become the short-hand that we use. The trade off is sometimes there is confusion, misunderstanding and conflict (which I think is worse using a textual medium alone, like Facebook, Twitter or even here!)

Like you, I'd like to get to that place where we can accept the fluid definitions and identities - not just of sexuality, but other ways human beings see themselves. That's not going to be easy though if we already have strong feelings ourselves about the descriptors other people use, but maybe one day, we can get beyond all the language stuff and just be! smile

They are using the term "queer theory" a lot.

This is the second feminist group I've fallen out with [shame]. I'm starting to think it's me.

Last time I called out the mods for posting a VERY triggering picture in an attempt to highlight Facebook's tendency to not delete images of DV under thinly disguised veils of "controversial humour", and found myself blocked from posting. I messaged them and was told I had no right to "tell them off" on their own page, and that they would unblock me if I promised never to challenge them again. I told them to get stuffed.

If only everywhere was as tolerant as Facebook of differing opinions! grin

Dammit! I mean If only everywhere was as tolerant as Mumsnet of differing opinions!

Oh, absolutely kri. That was the point I was making - that the people I know who choose these terms do them for reasons that are personal, and to do with personal feelings (as well or instead of the political identity I guess I'm more used to thinking about with feminism).

annie - oh, that's interesting then. Very different from my lot - who don't think of it as queer theory at all, but think it's all part of feminism.

I doubt it's you, btw!

People get odd everywhere.

PretzelTime Mon 01-Apr-13 23:12:47

I have noticed that it's often easier for young women to be upset and fight for other's rights - like gay (male) rights and animal rights - than their own (issues that are specifically about women)
Perhaps this follows them into feminism. Sad if it overshadows the feminism if that's what the groups are supposed to be about.

FucktidiaBollockberry Mon 01-Apr-13 23:15:21

There are a few woman-centred FB groups:

Wipeout Misogyny
Rabid feminism
Organising for Women's Liberation (OWL)
Feminists United
A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World

Can't think of any more at present.

I think that's definitely true, pretzel.

FucktidiaBollockberry Mon 01-Apr-13 23:33:36

PT I think that's totally what it's all about.

It's always been much more socially acceptable for women to work for other's interests, not their own.

Hence lots of women coming to feminism later, when they have the confidence and are just a bit blardy sick of fighting for everyone else's rights and no fucker is fighting for their's.

Tortington Mon 01-Apr-13 23:38:22

in answer to the op - turning it on it's head slightly. i am a member of quite a few LGBT FB pages and I don't see much feminist theory ( can't think of any TBH)

FucktidiaBollockberry - thanks for the list. It was Rabid Feminist who banned me, I'm on GGTTOtW (though they seem to have been very quiet lately). I will check out the others....

FucktidiaBollockberry Tue 02-Apr-13 10:31:31

LOL, really?

What did you say?

Would love to know simply so I know whether to cull them from my list - have been thinking that I'm subscribing to far too many groups who clutter up my FB and twitter feed and would like to empty it out a bit.

FucktidiaBollockberry Tue 02-Apr-13 10:33:53

I remembered another one btw - Being Feminist, but I think that's on my "to cull" list.

I always get them all mixed up and signed up to loads on the basis that I didn't want to miss out on anythign good, but get an awful lot of crap tbh.

And the good stuff tends to make it into all the groups anyway, so you get something posted 6 times.

Must get a less virtual life. grin

Branleuse Tue 02-Apr-13 10:40:41

you could say the same thing about all sorts of things. You have your pet priorities that you want to be concentrated on, but its important to understand that other people have different priorities, and nothing is stopping you starting up your own group. Its also possibly something to do with supporting issues they see as closer to home. LGBT and feminist issues that affect people in the UK, as we dont really have much chance in this country of inducing cultural change in the middle east,india and somalia etc

FucktidiaBollockberry - I explained what happens with Rabid Feminist upthread. They didn't like me disagreeing with them posting a triggering image.

It's Being Feminist that I'm currently having issues with, though to be fair, last night and today they're been posting about far more general feminist issues with less queer theory. I will give them another chance.

I did check out your suggestions and have joined Wipeout Misogyny
and Feminists United. OWL seemed a little to Rad Fem for my tastes.

Branleuse - I don't want them to concentrate on any one issue but instead to cover a broad range of Feminist topics. If the group is mainly about feminism and queer theory, well, that's fine and up to them, but they should be clear about that in their group description.

I wish I had time to run my own group!! grin

I do find it kind of telling ... the OP says she is wondering why these feminist groups exclude the topic, and two people so far have told her it's unreasonable for her to expect them only to discuss feminism. I'm not picking up on this to be nit-picky, it's just it does seem frustrate me.

It seems to be such a common attitude whenever you discuss feminism. You want to have an occasional space for women only? 'Oh my god, you want to ban men totally from everything ever!!'

I know people are putting it more gently here, but why would you read the OP where she says that everything other than these topics is excluded, and immediately assume the situation is the reverse of what she says? confused

TeiTetua Tue 02-Apr-13 13:18:27

There's also We Blame The Patriarchy, inspired by Twisty Faster's former blog. Pretty radical, though some people are probably just putting it on for the occasion. That board has a rule against discussion of transsexuals, on the grounds that the topic gets vicious very quickly.

msrisotto Tue 02-Apr-13 13:31:01

Wow, thanks for all the names of feminist groups on FB! I have now cluttered up my feed with them.

deadlift Tue 02-Apr-13 13:32:24

I'm a lesbian and a feminist and find that at my own university's feminist society most women would either identify as queer or sometimes as both lesbian and queer. Personally I don't like to use the term queer both because the term lesbian seems more accurate and queer feels a bit like you're trying really hard to be cool and also because if I use the term queer then people seem to automatically assume that I also want to use the term genderqueer, which I definately don't.

There does seem a trend at my university to focus on gay and trans (although primarily trans) issues at the expense of women's issues which is both frustrating and difficult to question without starting a riot. I think I'd agree with the idea that it's because it's seen as more acceptable for women to care about other causes but not themselves.

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 14:19:07

There does seem a trend at my university to focus on gay and trans (although primarily trans) issues at the expense of women's issues

I find this very strange. No offense to trans people, but they are a tiny minority. Women are half the population - shouldn't our issues get the majority of the focus?

deadlift Tue 02-Apr-13 14:31:51

I agree entirely with you. I really don't understand why it's like this. It seems like although they are a tiny majority they shout the loudest and so they are discussed the most. I'm not sure if it's the same at other universities but it's definately an issue here. It does detract from focussing on women's issues with I agree should surely get more focus.

Beachcomber Tue 02-Apr-13 15:22:11

AnnieLobeseder - I have encountered this too.

I do think it is increasingly difficult for feminism to remain woman centric. Of course huge parts of feminist culture/analysis/writings have lesbian roots. But that is something rather different to queer theory/LGBT.

Some of the lesbian feminists I know feel they have very little to do with LGBT politics which are very focused on, well, men (and/or genderqueering).

I think it is a combination of society at large's resistance to feminism and women doing anything for themselves plus the appeal of 'queerness' to young people. Of course there are lots of interesting and important issues in there but there is no reason for feminism to be swallowed up by them. And I don't think feminists should feel the need to take on the genderqueer battle saying as many of us reject gender entirely as a vehicle for the oppression of women....

Very glad to hear it's not just me missing some giant point of feminism!!

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 15:33:29

No, Annie. I thought feminism = women's rights. Isn't it? (Like the name of this board)

Disclaimer:Of course women can belong to other oppressed groups too, as well as care about other's issues.

dead - whew, I'm so glad you said that, I have got this same impression from women I know but had an uncomfortable feeling I didn't want to report their views and have everyone think 'nah, never seen that', and I'd feel I'd misrepresented something.

I think it makes a lot of sense though, doesn't it, in that gender queer, or gay men's politics, can be quite different from issues that affect both lesbians and straight women (not always, obv., but sometimes).

I hate the idea that all the different groups have to be competing for focus and energy. The fact we are competing is the fault of the patriarchy, which gives a disproportionate amount of screentime to straight, white, rich, Western (etc. etc.) men. But despite that I do feel irritated when women get silenced for wanting to talk about feminism even in a feminist group (or, erm, even on FWR which, let us all remember from the ever-repeated gospel according to SM, is not a space for feminist-friendly discussion but for constant derailing).

It probably doesn't need saying, but the concept of being 'genderqueer' is surely just as incompatible with radical feminism as the idea of a gender identity, so it shouldn't come as a shock to feminist societies that some women won't find it a flattering, inclusive term (which is how I think it's often intended).

That women belong to some group which is "other" than heterosexual males under the label of "genderqueer", to me, is totally against the basic tenant of feminism, which is that women are NOT "other", but the absolute norm and should be treated as such. So yes, LRD, I completely agree with you.

deadlift Tue 02-Apr-13 17:45:39

Sadly I think it probably would come as a shock to the majority of the members of my university's feminist society that some people would find the idea of being 'genderqueer' unflattering. I do think that it's just another way of othering women- if you're a masculine women they won't see you as a masculine women but a genderqueer person. Because a woman couldn't possibly want to be like that, they must not really be a woman. angry

I think even mentioning the words 'radical feminism' would probably not go down very well and I would imagine that if anyone actually admitted they agreed with some aspects of radical feminism they probably wouldn't get a very warm reception.

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 18:13:19

What is 'genderqueer'? Is it when you don't act and look the way the sex you belong to should, according to gender roles? Because that's most people isn't it.

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 18:16:25

Urbandictionary.com -

Genderqueer is most commonly used to describe a person who feels that his/her gender identity does not fit into the socially constructed "norms" associated with his/her biological sex.
Genderqueer is an identity that falls anywhere between man/boy/male and woman/girl/female on the spectrum of gender identities.
Mary doesn't feel that s/he fits the mold of any one particular gender; therefore, Mary identifies as genderqueer."

Why do they have to invent such weird words for simply being normal and not a stereotype?

Beachcomber Tue 02-Apr-13 18:31:57

That's cos radical feminism is well known for having a well honed bullshit detector.

FloraFox Tue 02-Apr-13 18:34:11

I find the genderqueer label quite sad. Doesn't it just mean you're not Barbie or Ken? I agree with Pretzel - isn't that almost everyone?

Beachcomber Tue 02-Apr-13 18:38:05

(That was in answer to deadlift)

Thing about genderqueerism is that much of it presents as being subversive and 'post-sexism' when in fact it shores up the patriarchal concept of gender (as critiqued by radical feminist analysis. There is a deep underlying conservatism and misogyny (internalized or otherwise) to a movement that is founded on notions of gender (queered or otherwise).

To be fair (ish), I think 'genderqueer' comes from people wanting a label that unites a wide spectrum of marginalized folks. So you have people who identify as 'queer' because they're gay, bi or lesbian, and (I think) some people who cross-dress identify as 'queer' too. And I think 'genderqueer' is a way to find a term that acknowledges that all sorts of people transgress the gender roles society expects of them.

I can believe that to call all of those things 'queer' could be a powerful unifying factor. I've read a fair bit of academic scholarship in history and lit that uses 'queer' to mean simply 'transgressing society's norms'.

I don't personally find any of this helpful to me, and I have reservations with a lot of it, but I think it's that attempt to find common ground that's behind a lot of this.

Problem with common ground is it tends to erase the differences between minorities, and it seems as if women are always going to be in the erased group. sad

Cross-posted with beach, but I agree.

I really dislike the idea that some people (I'm sure they're not typical, so I'm not generalizing from them) have, that 'queering' gender is somehow excitingly transgressive, something you deserve to be praised for and should aspire to.

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 18:51:19

The concept of genderqueer (as described by urbandictionary) sounds like the opposite of feminism.
If a girl likes cars and has other typical boyish interests, does that mean she isn't a girl but genderqueer? confusedsad

LRD what is queering gender?

SatsukiKusukabe Tue 02-Apr-13 19:07:45

not much to add, but agree with most of you. I have noticed in a girls guide that cis-gender is becoming a common term, which I find strange on a page devoted to saying you aren't a slave to your gender. But I think it's like pretzel said, women are supposed to fight for other people's rights.

Well, I don't know if this is the normal understanding or if it's specific to people I know - because I know there's a lot of variation in how people use the term 'queer' and it might be this is the same.

In academic contexts, people talk about 'queering' gender to mean, an activity or image that transgresses society's expectations of male or female behavior. So, a woman dresses up as a knight and goes to war might be genderqueer, but a story that describes an army of woman (say, modern-day Amazons) is a story that's 'queering' gender ... it's providing a shocking and transgressive example of people acting against the gender norm that expects men to be the army and woman to be peaceful.

This seems to get extended, so I've seen people refer to 'queering' a situation when they are really only talking about transgression and not gender. Effectively they use 'queering' as a metaphor, and 'gender' as a metonym for any rigid social structure. So, a peasant who becomes king might be understood in terms of the 'queering' of social stuctures.

Gender 'queering' might also refer to sexuality in the sense I'm personally more used to, so a man who is attracted to another man might be described in the context of gender queer behaviour.

I really don't like this type of academia. I think it's disrespectful to actual gay people to use homosexuality as an analogy, and I think that if you are going to talk about gender, you need to be very careful not to assume 'transgression' is daring and innovative, when as people have said on this thread, transgression only reinforces the idea that there's a binary to transgress.

In a non-academic context I've seen people say that practicallyanyone who is not a feminine (and non-feminist) woman or a masculine (and non-feminist-friendly man) is 'gender queer'. I've also seen it used to refer to a much smaller subsection of people who really rage against gender sterotypes.

I don't really see what it has to offer as an idea, that the idea of getting rid of gender as a concept doesn't. I think it is only solidarity with the relatively powerful and/or prominent groups of gay men and trans people. Obviously that solidarity could be a good thing but when it's the only thing I can see to recommend this term and this concept, I get suspicious.

Whew, sorry, far too long a post. blush

PretzelTime Tue 02-Apr-13 19:32:30

Don't worry, thanks for explaining it LRD.

I've never before seen gender queer to mean 'unfeminine woman' or 'unmasculine man'. Some of the people I know of who identify as gender queer feel that sometimes they are male, sometimes female, however that feels to them (and not in a 'today I'm male because I'm playing football' kind of way). Sort of a part-time transgender thing.

I am aware it must be such a niche meaning. It is just the one I've come across time and again.

I certainly include in that people who feel sometimes male and sometimes female, of course - that goes without saying.

I think the crux of the issue is that some of these people think that gender is an oppressive category we should get rid of. Others wish to keep it, and of course it is true that as a category gender gives some people a huge amount of power.

I understand that in an ideal society gender wouldn't matter/exist, and it's fine to work towards that, but I think ignoring that some people genuinely feel that their birth identity is wrong, as feminism often does, is not the way to get there. Not that feminists have to focus on other oppressed groups' issues, just acknowledge them. If everyone felt feminism was good at that, things like womanism wouldn't exist.


The feminism with which I'm familiar acknowledges that the gendered identity (even the identity) with which the vast majority of people are born, is ... well, not so much 'wrong' as unhelpful, painful and limiting. To say it's 'wrong' is to imply there's a 'right' identity ... is there? If there were, that would mean sacrificing the needs of many people to the needs of the few, and that will never seen right to me.

I'm not qualified enough to speculate on womanism but I look forward to someone else explaining?

I think one can campaign to destroy 'gender' as a concept without saying that people who are made unhappy by their body/gender need to suck it up. Maybe if gender ceased to exist then no-one would feel the need to be trans*, but until that point let people cope within the patriarchy as they deem best.

And to my knowledge womanism is basically feminism for women of colour who felt that they were being told to shut up about racism because if it doesn't affect all (white) women it's not a feminist issue.

Well, of course. I've never heard anyone, even the most radical feminists I know (which may say something about the radical feminists I know) who think anyone should 'suck it up' about anything where they're marginalized by the patriarchy.

I am in a bit of a bind here, because I understand from women who're womanist that it is much more than a negative agenda formed in reaction to feminism. In fact my understanding is that womanism has its roots very old movements, doesn't it?

TBH most of my knowledge of womanism is second hand so I may not have my facts straight.

I may have misunderstood you but 'sacrificing the needs of many people to the needs of the few' read to me a bit like there are more women than trans* people so their problems don't matter. I don't feel the trans* community is a particular threat to women, I know not everyone agrees.

KRITIQ Tue 02-Apr-13 23:06:52

Ria, I think your description of how womanism as a concept came about and why it still exists fits with explanations I've had from womanists. I don't think though they would say that it comes from a "negative agenda," but rather forming their own response to their experience of sexual, class and racist oppression that simply isn't seen as a priority within feminism, socialist worker type movements or civil rights/anti-racism campaigns. Intersectional oppression is a very real, lived experience for most women of colour, who feel compelled to "segment" their identities in order to be fully accepted into any one of these movements. So, not surprisingly, they choose to forge their own identity and focus on liberation form an intersectional perspective.

(Hoping this thread isn't heading in the direction I fear it might be . . . )

Oh, my knowledge of womanism is also second-hand, I was trying very hard to make that clear!

As regards the second part - not, that's not at all what I said! I am saying that the needs of women should not be excluded from feminism. Hardly revolutionary, you would think! sad Yet it can be.

What I was actually talking about when I referred to the many and the few, was gender identity.

I believe that only a very few people in our society are happy with gender identity as it currently is. There are men who enjoy feeling 'masculine', who think that it is purely hard work that gets them success. There are also women who love being 'feminine' and point out that it is so nice for women to enjoy men opening doors for them.

These people are the minority, the few. If we keep on insisting that gender roles are necessary, we pander to these few privileged people.

I fail to see what this has to do with being trans, except that many trans people do assume a gender binary is real. I am fortunate that I know a woman who is trans and who has told me that this is a reductive view of all trans people.

KRITIQ Wed 03-Apr-13 00:10:40

LRD, my understanding of womanism is also second hand since I'm a visibly white person myself and don't experience the same kind of intersectional oppression a woman of colour does.

I know you said that a trans woman said to you that she believes the "gender binary" is real, and I totally accept that is the experience for her, as it is for many folks who don't identify as trans. But, I'm not sure one person can genuinely say they know a belief to be shared by all people within a group. As a woman, I could say, "all women believe such and such," and even if I sincerely believe it, and the person I say it to also believes it, that doesn't necessarily mean it's an absolute truth.

From the study of young people I mentioned above, if anything, those who identify as trans* or "gender fluid," believe identity is far more varied and complex than just a binary. I'm wondering if some of these concepts we are struggling with here may be related to a different perception/perspective/understanding/experience of younger people coming through that we slightly older folks (and I know I'm alot older than you smile) are struggling to get our heads round. That's not to negate the experience, analysis, chosen terms, etc., of older people, regardless of their identity. I'm just wondering if some of this is partly a case of "things feel/are/seem different for younger people."

What makes me kind of wonder this is that all round t'interwebs, I hear somewhat older feminists (and I'm thinking 30 plus - sorry folks!) lamenting young women's disinterest in/dismissal of/poor grasp of/generally doing it wrong/etc. of feminism. To be fair, in the wider media, we get plenty of stories about disaffected, disengaged, selfish young people generally, so this could in part be a reflection of that. Maybe it's because of the work I do that I don't come to these conclusions, because I see alot of young people who give a damn, including alot of young women committed to feminism, whether they choose to use the term or not. Just thinking outloud here . . .

kri, I have very carefully and consistently stressed the fact that no-one can know a belief is shared by everyone within a group ... was this somehow not coming across? confused

I thought when I said, repeatedly, that was only talking in anecdotes or wasn't sure how typical my points would be, that perhaps it'd be clear I meant this. I apologize if that was opaque and I should have spelled everything out more plainly and more often in each post.

Sorry, I'll read the rest of your post tomorrow but that struck me immediately since I felt I'd clarified it several times already and I am worried about what it is that I'm failing to say? confused

Btw, I am very aware, as you say, that I fit into the younger group who're under 30 and therefore are perhaps missing something here. I don't think we're disengaged or selfish, though.

Beachcomber Wed 03-Apr-13 00:52:36

OK. I'm just scanning this thread now, because as happens so often, a discussion about feminism being about women having the right to be about women (for crying out...) is turning into accusations of racism/elitism/non inclusiveness.


Women will continue to be oppressed whilst we tolerate this sort of manipulative emotional blackmail.


<Checks out of MN once more>

Thanks Annie for starting this thread. I think the issue is very very interesting, valid and revelatory. But god forbid that women actually get to care about themselves, we can't have that.....

Beachcomber Wed 03-Apr-13 01:07:10

Oh and my understanding of womanism is that it is about women of colour analysing and describing the particular cultural modes of racial misogyny that are reserved for women of colour.

To make it a divisive issue is shoddy.

FairPhyllis Wed 03-Apr-13 02:47:36

My experiences of the use of 'queer' in the US suggest that it is the norm in at least some circles there for it to mean non gender-conforming. I have a friend there who describes herself as a straight woman who is queer. I don't doubt that this is a sincere attempt to describe her experiences, but it does feel like an excluding term to me - it feels like a word used by a club of people who like theory to set themselves apart - when as far as I can see if you struggle with gender then you are pretty much a normal human being.

KRITIQ Wed 03-Apr-13 03:16:44

Okaaay, knew it wasn't a good idea straying outside the Pet Forum here! Nevermind . . .

FairPhyllis - that's exactly my view. To put everyone who doesn't feel like the stereotypical man or woman into a whole new category of "queer" is compeltely disingenuous. Instead of labelling themselves as "other", why not just campaign for inclusiveness in regular society, why not push for there to be no stereotypical norm which we should struggle to fit into? It seems like a determined effort to be seen as different, when really you're just as normal as anyone else.

There is a gay male mod on one of these Facebook groups who posted a rant about gay marriage, saying he opposed it because it's "an insidious attempt to normalise homosexuality". Huh? Surely homosexuality being seen as normal (which it is!) is a good thing? He seems determined, as do many of these queer activists, to be labelled as different and stand out. But we're all just people, and he's really nothing special.

It seems very attention-seeking to me.

I also question why a male queer activist is a moderator on a feminist board, but that's their decision, not mine.

KRITIQ - don't go, the debate here can be somewhat more, erm, vigorous that on other parts of MN (who would have believed it!), but the intention is always (well, mostly) to understand and engage, not to shut down or shout down. Don't feel criticised.

Beachcomber Wed 03-Apr-13 11:33:58

Look KRITIQ, don't feel the need to leave the thread because of me. I have seen your posts on feminism in MN for quite a long time now and I really don't understand why they are so often about telling other white women that they are racist/don't understand intersectionality/need to get with the programme. It is pretty insulting stuff BTW (although you are perhaps not aware of that - I'm not saying you do it intentionally). But it is.

I don't get it. My resolve cracked and I commented on it. I commented on it because I think there is a serious issue of women being made to feel that we can't concentrate on ourselves and that we must solve all the world's problems before we can be allowed to do anything much for women (i.e. never). And I care about that and I thought it was what the thread was about.

Sorry Annie for the derail although I personally feel it is relevant to the discussion.

FucktidiaBollockberry Wed 03-Apr-13 11:36:42

I agree with wot she said.


kri, please don't leave. I just want to understand what you're getting at.

I've been very carefully noting that a lot of what I say about other people's views are just anecdotes and I can't speak for them. I don't know why you reminded me that one person can't 'genuinely say' they know a belief to be shared in a group? It was me who was insisting we don't generalize about these terms, explaining that some people I know don't like 'queer' while others do.

I am not quite clear what my age has to do with it. Yes, some people my age like the term 'queer', and yes, I do think it is probably more common for younger feminists to be interested in queer theory. But other people my age don't use those terms - just like any age group, there are differences and to suggest if you don't use the terms you don't understand seems unfair to me.

I'm not following the bit about young people being 'selfish' or 'disengaged' - are you saying that if we don't use terms like 'queer' and accept queer theory is more important than feminism, either we're old and out of touch or young and selfish? Because it felt like that and I did feel a bit (or a lot) got at. Not sure I saw what beach saw but then, I was concentrating on other things in your posts.

Your posts are usually great and wise but I can't tell if you actually meant to say what I've understood here?

I think I misunderstood some of LRD's posts last night and caused confusion. Sorry for the derail <must not post when sleep deprived>

Ah, I probably wasn't very clear. blush

Beachcomber Thu 04-Apr-13 12:42:39

AnnieLobeseder, you may already have read it, but if not, "Unpacking Queer Politics: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective" by Sheila Jeffreys is very good on the subject of why feminist interests are incompatible with queer theory. It is also interesting to see the parallel drawn between the fight for gay liberation and women's liberation.

You can read the first chapter here Gay Liberation and Lesbian Feminism

Thanks Beachcomber, I will check it out.

GoshAnneGorilla Sat 06-Apr-13 05:57:26

With regards to genderqueer, it's only a label I have seen assign to themselves, it is definitely not on to dish out that identity to someone who hasn't chosen it for themselves and if someone is doing that, you should call them out on it.

There is also a lot of debate around the queer label. There was an article in an Irish LGBT magazine saying discussing label and that people should be happy to be called gay, rather than lesbian or bisexual (yes, really). Here is a response to it: www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/04/02/we-are-not-your-afterthought-responding-to-lgbt-soup/

What is interesting in the comments, is people feeling that "queer" has become a trendy label and who exactly is queer.

Back to the topic in hand, I do think that certain areas of online feminism can have a very narrow focus. Something that pains me, is the concept that being pro-choice, just means discussing abortion rights and when any discussion of motherhood is raised, the discourse becomes full of fail and how hard it is to be child free. Some of the most heated topics, I've encountered have been around SAHM-ing, children in public spaces and so on.

Also, you will get people discussing things not so much to benefit people, but to show how right-on and marvellous they are.

GoshAnneGorilla Sat 06-Apr-13 06:09:31

I think there will always be issues within any movement as to what work gets done first and I think you always need to look at who is in a movement and what the power biases are (for want of a better term).

How we overcome this is a topic of massive debate. For some it becomes a concept of "Feminisms" that different people may partake in, in different ways. For others, it's about "one school" of feminism with very clear ideas of what feminists should do.

forcednamechange1 Sat 13-Apr-13 05:46:51

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

runningforthebusinheels Sat 13-Apr-13 14:56:36


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