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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Now the term FGM is cissexist? WTAF?

232 replies

NormaStanleyFletcher · 28/10/2014 21:30

By the very brilliant Louise Pennington.

How can they try to erase the lived experience of violence against women by banning a discriptive term for what is actually happening?

"It is not “cissexist” to talk about the biological reality of women’s bodies and the damage done to them within a capitalist-patriarchy. Frankly, even the suggestion that it is “cissexist” demonstrates a fundamental inability to actually understand the reality of lives of women and girls in our world."

OP posts:
RowanMumsnet · 29/10/2014 08:56


Careful guys... someone very close to me got banned from MN with no warning for saying that they were tired of transactivists pushing their agenda on here.

Completely confused by this AyMamita - it certainly isn't something we recognise.

The only explanation we can think of is that a particularly persistent banned FWR poster popped up on a recent discussion about trans and we banned her when we realised it was her. We're not saying this is the person you're close to because obviously we don't know, but when we ban people without warning it's usually either because their posts are absolutely beyond the pale or because we can see they're a re-reg of a previously banned poster.

We've always acknowledged that discussion around the tension between some aspects of feminism and some aspects of transactivism is a legitimate topic for debate.

Do feel free to mail in if you'd like to discuss it off-board.
FloraFox · 29/10/2014 09:06

Line I think the trans aspect refers to the gender forcibly assigned at birth by doctors based "only" on an observation of genitals. They would say that if there was no gender assigned (ie sex observed) at birth they could identify themselves as female or male when they became aware of their identity. It's all such inconsistent nonsense that starts with the premise that masculine / feminine characteristics are real rather than social constructs that enforce patriarchy but physical sex is a social construct and irrelevant.

It is only possible to accept these theories if you ignore the lives and experiences of girls and women and the social expectations and restrictions imposed on them because of their sex and the use of gender roles to enforce female submission. If you say these things happen to girls and women because they are feminine not because they are female.

noble there are a lot of trans people who do not have surgery (the majority) and these theories are more often put forward by those who don't want surgery as it supports their "femaleness" while still having a penis.

Velvetbee · 29/10/2014 09:09

Dear God.
I've just reached a whole new level of cross. Going out to walk the dog and tell the fields/trees/birds exactly what I think in spluttering incoherent sentences.
I'm becoming 'that woman who shouts in the woods'.

NormaStanleyFletcher · 29/10/2014 09:18

That is it isn't it Flora. It's all arse about face (highly esoteric, technical term there).

I believe that your physical sex is a fact. You are born with it. Even if you are intersex. That is what you are born with. Your genitals and your genes.

And gender is a social construct.

OP posts:
HowsTheSerenity · 29/10/2014 09:37

Part of me wants to go and read and find out more. The other part knows I'll sit there and yell at the ipad. Better listen to my smarter half.

SevenZarkSeven · 29/10/2014 09:41

I read the abortion link and apart from the points above there is also the point that they seem to think that by including all people in the issues around abortion they will have more chance of increasing access. I think they are entirely wrong.

The people who should have a say about what happens with abortions are the people who have them. I'd be happier if they wanted to reframe as it's an issue for people with the biological makeup that means they can get pregnant or something (although that's not very punchy is it!) But including everyone means all the men get equal billing in what women can do with their bodies and we'll never get anywhere.

The other point is that in countries where fgm is common there are a host of issues. Without research I am guessing that as well as women having a sit time, gay people, trans people would be at high risk. Don't they want to do something to help that, what are they doing?

And thinking about it, the whole concept of being gay is different according to their theory, a gay couple could consist of a trans man with a vagina and a cis man. Do they want to alter the idea around homosexuality as well, and what impact will this have for the ability of people fighting against gay people being executed in certain countries etc?

FloraFox · 29/10/2014 10:08

norma I agree but I'd also say that oppression of women is rooted in their physical bodies and gender is socially imposed constructs that support patriarchy. Not sure if that's different to what you're saying, I think it's the same.

Seven these transactivists say lesbians are transphobic if they don't want to have sex with transwomen with a penis. Lesbians have been described as "vagina fetishists". Unsurprisingly the anger is directed at lesbians and not at straight men. There is a constant approach of aggression against women, death threats, DIAF etc but nothing against men (you know, who actually do assault and murder trans people). Prominent transactivists (including) someone who was recently an elected councillor, says feminists enable male violence against trans people to justify their focus on women rather than men. Of course all those violent men have read Sheila Jeffries.

noblegiraffe · 29/10/2014 10:09

If they believe that anyone can call themselves a woman and thus be identified as a woman, then that renders the word woman completely meaningless. A label for a group of people with no defining features.

Then you get to debates about thing like abortion and you think 'hmm, we need a word for a person who has the ability to get pregnant to be able to clarify this debate'. Well, we did use the word woman. I don't think infertile women got their placards out because talking about women in the abortion debate didn't apply to them.

I don't understand why they don't come up with their own words for man and woman and champion them instead of confusing the entire debate over special cases.

WhatWouldFreddieDo · 29/10/2014 10:10

Velvet I think I'm going to do the same.

This issue blows my mind every single time another thread comes up on here - I sort of want to read more and frame my argument, but know that the amount of emotional energy I would need just isn't in the bank - and ffs why should women-born-women have to be spending time and energy defending this fundamental core of our existence. We are born one sex or another, we have gender imposed on us.

Damsilli · 29/10/2014 10:13

There's always going to be a fundamental problem between two ideas that are based on conflicting ideas: gender is social construct as opposed to female brains in male bodies (and vice versa) Difficult to reconcile those two things - especially in the lack of conclusive proof either way.

It does make life a bit difficult, however, when one suggests that one can't necessarily associate the word woman with person possessed of a female body. Men have abortions? No, can't get my head around that one.

FloraFox · 29/10/2014 10:21

They don't want new words. They want validation that we, the rest of the world, fully and completely accept and agree with their view of themselves. It would be like anorexics demanding we agree they are fat and that we redefine the BMI for obesity so that they are considered medically obese.

noblegiraffe · 29/10/2014 10:22

If they think that anyone can call themselves a woman, then what do they mean when they say they feel they are a woman? What exactly are they identifying with?

If men can have abortions and women can have penises then what exactly makes one a woman?

SunnaStrangeInTheNeighbourhood · 29/10/2014 10:23

It sickens me that some of the trans community are whining about semantics and their rights while little girls are being mutilated. Priorities people. It really won't hep their cause.

TunipTheUnconquerable · 29/10/2014 10:31

It amazes me how many feminists support this though, and how vile they are to anyone who dares question it.
Feminism has basically been divided by this issue. It's depressing as hell.

MorrisZapp · 29/10/2014 10:38

Are we basing this outrage on three tweets from somebody called Vivian? I see no evidence anywhere in real life that 'cis' and 'cissexist' are words with any meaning at all.

It's only in the deepest reaches of online debate that anybody gives a hoot.

It's such a tiny minority of (American) people writing in such niche corners of the web as to be utterly irrelevant and beneath mainstream debate.

ChillingGrinBloodLover · 29/10/2014 10:44

WTAF. Really, I just don't gave the words for this level of self absorption. It is utterly ridiculous.

Howstheserenity. I'm with you on this one.

SevenZarkSeven · 29/10/2014 10:47

Noble "If they believe that anyone can call themselves a woman and thus be identified as a woman, then that renders the word woman completely meaningless. A label for a group of people with no defining features." I suggested on another thread that the word would be "non people" which handily is how people born with vaginas are seen across large swathes of the world anyway.

There are huge problems with their approach. Which I started typing but can't be bothered actually. But suffice to say that if you redefine everything to take account of the fact that men and boys might have vaginas and women and girls might have penises, how is that going to work in the 99.9% of the world where people say "it's a girl" or "it's a boy" and proceed accordingly. All that will happen is that loads of people will continue to have loads of fucking appalling things done to them, and no-one will be able to identify the problem if that problem is in any way linked to the genitals the person has when they're born.

You don't see for eg campaigners for the elderly, when saying that older people should be listened to respected and given opportunity to engage in society like everybody else, that also they want to erase the concepts of "young" and "old" and thus ignore any vulnerabilities inherent to either of those states.

Either they can't see the end point of their own logic or they genuinely don't give a fuck about all the shit that is done to women and girls around the world because they are born with a vagina. I think it's probably a mix of those two things.

And YY they never go after men do they. The ones who actually do all the damage. Because well they're a bit scary aren't they. They go after people who have never hurt anyone, and in the process try to derail the efforts of those fighting against FGM. Would it make them happy for people to stop concerning themselves with it? Maybe concentrate on circumcision instead?

What do they actually want FFS. I need to know how much these people are my enemy really - is there a hidden agenda here.

ElephantsNeverForgive · 29/10/2014 10:52

Priorities indeed.
Slightly off topic, but having two teen DDs this made me cry

While this is the world girls and women live in, upsetting the odd cosseted western transvestite seems very unimportant.

FloraFox · 29/10/2014 10:53

morris I agree that "cis" and "cissexist" have no meaning but I don't believe this is irrelevant.

Only this week, the Cambridge University Women's Union complained to the university about Caroline Criado Perez speaking there as she is a "notorious transphobe". This thinking is gaining a lot of ground among young people who are eager to make sure everyone feels good about themselves individually and think less about structural oppression.

SevenZarkSeven · 29/10/2014 10:53


transvestism is different

before any posts get deleted

SevenZarkSeven · 29/10/2014 10:59

YY flora

Morris feminist conferences have been cancelled
Speakers are no platformed
People are being chased off social media - people who talk about women's rights
That bit upthread about a woman who is a victim of and works against FGM being harangued and abused is appalling. I don't know her, but in general that kind of behaviour could make someone stop, or at least remove themselves from the public eye and thus render their efforts less effective.

So there are real consequences here, of these people silencing and threatening those who work for women around the world - and it is always them, they don't seem to be doing much to attack the people who actually do stuff like fighting governments who are horribly oppressive etc. Or are they? Happy to be corrected on that point.

PercyHorse · 29/10/2014 11:01

'hmm, we need a word for a person who has the ability to get pregnant to be able to clarify this debate'. Well, we did use the word woman. I don't think infertile women got their placards out because talking about women in the abortion debate didn't apply to them.

This ^

It's funny how male privilege seems to go along with being assigned male gender at birth.

JeanneDeMontbaston · 29/10/2014 11:11

Has Caroline gone from twitter? Confused I just looked and her profile is still there.

I heard her speak on Sunday, and she was brilliant. She wasn't talking about anything whatsoever to do with 'cis' or 'trans' issues. She was just talking about how to cope with internet abuse/trolling.

Anyway. I don't understand this being 'cissexist' at all. For years, I've noticed that when FGM is discussed, someone will always pop up to compare it to circumcision, which made me steaming mad. I think this is the same thing really, isn't it? The idea that whatever is happening to little girls, we must never forget let them be the central focus. Hmm Angry

BriarRainbowshimmer · 29/10/2014 11:16

I agree, it's the same thing, Jeanne.

TheWanderingUterus · 29/10/2014 11:20

A recent transactivists attack on Women' Aid led to them having to publish this statement:'s+Aid+Transgender+and+Transsexual+Equality+Policies+and+Procedures&section=0001000100150001&sectionTitle=Press+releases

This isn't good enough according to many activists. They were protesting the fact that sex needs to be checked before access to vulnerable women is allowed. The fact that a violent and possessive husband could just put on a dress and claim access to the service, obviously doesn't matter to them.

Rape crisis has been attacked for similar reasons.

As was the Night of a Thousand Vaginas, a pro choice event in the USA. Because many women don't have vaginas and uteri, and many men do, so it's exclusionary.

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