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'TERF' isn't just a slur, it's hate speech

(36 Posts)
DonkeySkin Fri 22-Sep-17 15:40:22

This article by Meghan Murphy explains how the anti-feminist term 'TERF' is being used, by men especially, to incite hatred and violence towards women.

www.feministcurrent.com/2017/09/21/terf-isnt-slur-hate-speech/

I've been thinking about what an effective propaganda tool 'TERF' has been in silencing and demonising women who criticise any aspect of the trans agenda, and how crucial it is that feminists expose both its true meaning and the hateful rhetoric that accompanies it.

Make no mistake, 'TERF' represents the most extreme misogyny in both conception and function.

Firstly, the phrase behind the acronym - 'trans-exclusionary radical feminist' - derives its power from the accusation that there is something unnatural and monstrous about women who 'exclude' men. It plays into the sexist notion that women are hateful for having boundaries: according to patriarchal logic, women are not to supposed to have anything for ourselves; everything we have is to be made available to men for their benefit. ‘TERF’ is an extreme manifestation of this patriarchal logic, implying that women should not even be permitted to distinguish ourselves as a separate, real category of persons, and that our ontological existence itself should be open for colonisation by males.

Secondly, it is not only a misogynistic slur but a lesbophobic one. If women are bigots for excluding males, it follows therefore that lesbians, who exclude men from the resources they most prize from women (sexual and reproductive function), would become open to charges of bigotry simply for being lesbians, and they have been, with organised campaigns against lesbian sexuality in the form of the ‘Cotton Ceiling’ workshops and vicious targeting of otherwise ‘trans inclusionary’ lesbians such as Youtuber Arielle Scarcella, merely for saying that they don’t want to interact sexually with male-bodied people.

Thirdly, the word itself is deliberately ugly, evoking its homonym ‘turf’, implying that the women so-labelled are ground to be trodden on, stomped and kicked. This is crucial to the term’s dehumanising intent. As Murphy points out, once a man has labeled a woman a ‘TERF’, he can then direct any sexual or violent threat towards her (or, as we’ve seen with the assault on Maria MacLachlan at Speaker’s Corner, actual violence), and take cover from the fact that, according to many leftists and liberal feminists, he hasn’t abused a woman, but rather righteously disciplined a ‘TERF’.

In light of the extreme misogynist abuse that ‘TERF’ encourages and enables, it was very upsetting to see the media, in the wake of the Speaker's Corner attack, refer to the assembled feminists using that term. In some cases (e.g., Pink News) this was deliberate, but in others, e.g., the Daily Mail, it seemed more a result of confusion and perhaps the genuine belief that this is what the feminists called themselves (I think the DM even referred to MacLachlan as ‘a member of TERF’). IMO this highlights the need for feminists to undertake a campaign of educating journalists and the general public about this slur and how it functions. Perhaps, next time the issue is in the news, we should undertake an email campaign to journalists and editors at major media outlets explaining how 'TERF' is a term that has been imposed on gender-critical feminists in order to demonise us, and that it is often accompanied with misogynist abuse and threats. This would also be a good opportunity to provide examples (e.g., screenshots or links to articles like the one above) of said misogynist abuse from transactivists and men in general, which helps to expose the misogyny of the movement itself. Lord knows, they are providing us with AMPLE evidence. Probably the simplest way to do it is to direct journalists to the website terfisaslur, which should open a few eyes to the real nature of trans activism.

And I also have to beg women here not to try to 'reclaim' it. Reclaiming slurs never works for women. Think about the way liberal feminists tried to reclaim 'slut' - this ill-conceived campaign did nothing to stop men from using slut to denigrate women. I guarantee that it did not stop a single abusive man from hurling 'slut' at a woman while he was beating her. Ironically, all it did was give men licence to use slut more freely.

Rather, we need to acknowledge the seriousness of this. ‘TERF’ is a term, now in widespread use amongst the left, that dehumanises women and justifies violence against us. That's the REASON it has been gleefully embraced by so many people, especially men. I know that many gender-critical feminists here and elsewhere like to use 'TERF' jokingly or ironically, and I understand the impulse towards that, but please be aware that this ultra-misogynist slur cannot be subverted or 'reclaimed’ - it can only be exposed for the woman-hating propaganda that it is, and whenever women apply it to themselves ironically or casually throw it around in jest, it makes doing this very difficult, as well as possibly retraumatising the women and especially lesbians who have had to endure truly horrific misogynistic and lesbophobic 'TERF'-inspired abuse and threats.

DJBaggySmalls Sun 24-Sep-17 12:28:42

Ereshkigal
The example you gave made me especially angry because it goes against the spirit of the law, in favour of a feeling of entitlement.
Its obviously sex discrimination if a woman is barred from breastfeeding. Surely is the point of giving the protection was not some mealy mouthed 'muh equal rights', but the fact that babies are fragile and need constant care, including feeding at regular intervals? that has been completely overlooked because some men are upset that women get 'more' or different rights.

Datun Sun 24-Sep-17 12:40:07

DJBaggySmalls

Thanks. I find the law part of it very interesting. You may not be able to change the dictionary definition of the word (yet), but the legal definition has huge ramifications.

Also, the quite blind refusal to understand women's point of view on this. Or just being completely ignorant of it.

Men can, and do, instantly change the dynamic of a gathering of women. The fact that no man will ever realise this, I believe is part of the problem.

You have to spell it out to men, trying to find analogies and examples and saying now do you understand? Whilst they think a bit and then say oh, yes okay, I can sort of see where you're coming from.

Because they don't live it.

Trying to explain to a man how another man can intimidate you by doing virtually nothing is incredibly difficult. Trying to explain the extra layer of hell, if that man says he is a woman, is almost impossible.

A man identifying as a woman can get away with far more boundary violation, intimidation and sexist behaviour, than a regular man.

Women know this.

AssignedPerfectAtBirth Sun 24-Sep-17 13:01:50

Don't know if this has been posted before but I found it on twitter. It a bunch of males gleefully celebrating Michfest being closed. I am really fucking angry. Many of them are still on twitter. I checked

bunchofdykes.tumblr.com/post/165684477649/radfemminnie-these-men-swear-theyre-women

Datun Sun 24-Sep-17 14:03:25

AssignedPerfectAtBirth

I'm borrowing that link for another thread, if you don't mind.

AssignedPerfectAtBirth Sun 24-Sep-17 14:08:39

Not at all. Terrifying, isn't it?

Datun Sun 24-Sep-17 14:17:52

It is terrifying. I'm talking to a woman on another thread, whose child is trans-. They are frightened and angry at the feminist discourse surrounding it.

I'm fully supportive of any parent whose child is trans. That doesn't mean I can't support women and girls and defend them against the hate in your link.

But there does come a point where rights conflict, I think. The parent of a trans child might want them to use the bathroom of the opposite sex, because that is what the child wants. Also medicalisation. I don't think there are many parents who undertake it lightly. So when feminists start talking about the danger of it, it feels like a slap in the face.

Of course, none of this means we shouldn't be able to talk about it. Talking about it can only ever help.

Rumandraisin1 Fri 29-Sep-17 23:19:14

Excellent article in the New Statesman on the use of the word TERF:

www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2017/09/what-terf-how-internet-buzzword-became-mainstream-slur

Datun Sat 30-Sep-17 07:32:32

Rumandraisin1

Thanks. Great article. I can't help wondering which way this is going to blow, concerning the word terf.

On the one hand, it is definitely used inappropriately, as a means of othering women who disagree with the ideology.

On the other, it is levelled, now, at anyone, even if they've never heard of feminism, if they believe transwomen are men.

It's very useful to keep saying it's a slur, because as it's applied more widely, people who are slurred by it, will realise exactly how little they have to do to deserve it.

If they believe that has been even the slightest merit to it, when they themselves get tainted by it, they will have something of a lightbulb moment.

SmartiesHaveTheAnswer Sat 30-Sep-17 08:18:13

Assigned the link doesn't work - has it been taken down?

Ereshkigal Sat 30-Sep-17 09:36:14

The example you gave made me especially angry because it goes against the spirit of the law, in favour of a feeling of entitlement.
Its obviously sex discrimination if a woman is barred from breastfeeding. Surely is the point of giving the protection was not some mealy mouthed 'muh equal rights', but the fact that babies are fragile and need constant care, including feeding at regular intervals? that has been completely overlooked because some men are upset that women get 'more' or different rights.

Yes, it was just blatantly used as a get out clause so that women could be discriminated against with impunity. It's exactly the sort of thing the law was supposed to prevent.

SmartiesHaveTheAnswer Sat 30-Sep-17 14:25:37

Link works on my PC - ignore my last post.

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