the nice thing is as Lads its nothing to do with us we can put our feet up
I wonder if it's true that TERFery is, so to speak, the truth of feminism. Obviously there have been attempts to say it ain't so, to make it not so, to shake out the contradictions and so on. But what happens if we take a pessimistic view of the matter?
Certainly it's true that TERFs recognise, in their own TERFery, a last-ditch defence of the absolute core of feminism. It could not be more central to feminism, in their eyes, to defend the fusion of female political identity (rooted in women's phenotypical distinctness from men) with female political agency (the possibility of a "women's movement" as such). The two go together in such a way that anything that compromises the integrity of female identity contributes to the politicide of women, shatters the basis on which women as such can have collective political agency. The TERFs are very clear that those are, as far as they're concerned, the stakes of the whole thing. If they lose, it's game over.
Does anyone except TERFs actually want women to exercise collective political agency - as women, as such - any more? Most available trans-inclusive feminisms have plenty to say about the gendered inequity of our social and political systems, the enduring violence of patriarchy, the denial of bodily autonomy, the intesections of gendered oppressions with racial oppressions, and so on. All true and important stuff. But does any of them actually propose that the answer to all this is a women's movement? I think the answer is obviously no - at the level of revealed preferences (how people actually act, what goals they organise towards) if not at the level of stated commitments. Instead, everybody should be a feminist, just as everybody should be anti-racist, and so on. Of course men who call themselves feminists are immediately self-identified as deeply untrustworthy, but equally, no man within a left-wing milieu would ever dream of saying that he is not a feminist.
From time to time I hear muted complaints from women saying, more or less, that they find feminism exhausting. They mean, I think, The Discourse, the way feminism carries itself on social media: the tiresome simplifications, the clout-seeking, the blatant grifts, the shoring up of a position of righteous victimhood at the expense of anyone, male or female, who presents an exploitable vulnerability: uncool enough to be easily mocked, racialised enough to be easily stereotyped into a threat profile. It's morally disorientating, sickening even. Feminism has become this commitment that everybody has to hold, but that nobody actually likes in terms of what it's become: there are rare shining triumphs of measured polemic, of righteous anger against true malefactors, but it's such a slog separating out the good stuff from the dreck. The only ones enjoying their feminism are, again, the TERFs. They have clarity of purpose. They get to stick it to a clearly-identified enemy, all day, every day.
A traveling salesman is going door to door in a small town. After having the door slammed in his face multiple times he decides to knock on one last door. The door is answered by a 10 year old boy wearing lingerie, high heels, lipstick and smoking a cigarette.Fair enough. been a bit on the edge with the boy today. Road talks and shit. Crossdressing drug dealing and murder. you know the deal.
Love it. In the version I heard he's wearing his dad's dressing gown and drinking a big glass of brandy. This version might be better.A traveling salesman is going door to door in a small town. After having the door slammed in his face multiple times he decides to knock on one last door. The door is answered by a 10 year old boy wearing lingerie, high heels, lipstick and smoking a cigarette.
Salesman (shocked) : Young man are your parents home?!
The boy takes a drag from the cigarette
Boy: What the fuck do you think
Is it still clear that “the place of the woman” is the primary place from which gendered oppression must be contested? Is it correct to associate those who are not merely incidentally but emphatically not women, who must struggle to repel coercive identification as women, to that place? Perhaps it is past time to acknowledge that insubordination is spreading, and cannot (except in fantasy, which works by curating reality to secure an imaginary value) be localised to a single gendered place.
I found myself saying recently, half in jest, that perhaps the TERFs were after all, as they clearly imagine themselves to be, the last remaining feminists: the only ones for whom there is any enjoyment left in “being a feminist”, since they are the only ones for whom a certain fantasy of political womanhood is still working (the true autogynephiles, as it were). I have sometimes wondered what was really being declared within the slogan of “killjoy feminism”, supposedly aimed at the malign enjoyment of men. Am I wrong in detecting a widespread feeling among women of moral exhaustion, a sense that an enervatingly large portion of what tries to pass itself off as “feminism” in the public sphere is the more or less cynical projection of special-deservingness? “White feminism”, certainly, has a bad name almost everywhere. Yet we remain snagged on the hook of gender, unable simply to move forwards, to put the whole sordid history behind us; if anything, the most active forces in my society today are terrifyingly regressive, having settled on the strategy of using stigmatised groups as a stalking horse for a wide-ranging attack on bodily autonomy. We cannot by any means be done with the struggles that have been feminism’s, all this time. I prefer to see these frictions and misprisions as pangs of something struggling to be born, a new angel of rectification, which it will certainly not be my privilege to name.