Miscellaneous Feminism Thread

thirdform

Well-known member
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.

Did you just ignore my posts squire?
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
the nice thing is as Lads its nothing to do with us we can put our feet up
KInda reminds me of that Onion story where feminists get some men in and they put in a few calls, sort the whole thing out over a game of golf and then go home and drink some bourbon on ice.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
I'm not a left winger though so i dunno @poetix - all I know is a universal womanhood identity is just as much of a construct as the idea of Europe, Africa or Asia. Either its completely universal in which case everyone can be a woman, or its particular, in which case its boundaries are constantly stretched and unstretched according to those who want to institute binaries.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
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.
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
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
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
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.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Ideally the boy should have appropriated something from each parent. It works slightly better if the cigarette is a fat cheroot.
 

sufi

осом
that's a weak attack on feminism, i have heard women say "i suppose maybe you'd call me a TERF", but nobody actually goes under that label or pursues that agenda, they are radfems, and the TERF label is applied to them by trans activists looking for a fight, and so the only discourse occurs when people are up for the conflict, and so it's always the extremes,
its hard to comment as a non-woman and non-trans person, but dogma is always tiresome, and that's because it's abstracted away from lived experience, imposing theoretical strictures as in this case - perpetuating conflict
and none of it relates to "reality" where the fight for equality for women and trans people and against discrimination etc continues in it's banality beyond the attention of the culture warriors
or is that an even shallower take?
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
The ideologues call themselves "Gender Critical" feminists, and they are vociferously committed to both the label and the agenda (if you want to know who's "looking for a fight", look for the people trying to sue Stonewall, of all things, for being trans=inclusive). I call them TERFs mainly because they don't like it, and they often try to push the preposterous argument that being called something you don't like is equivalent to being addressed with a "slur".
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
More broadly - I don't think it's the dogmatic aspects of feminism that weary people, I think it's the way feminist online culture has conformed itself to the underlying rules of various social media platforms: clickbaityness, moral entrepreneurship, an emphasis on quick pwns over strategic campaigning. The very idea that you can do "movement" politics via hashtags. People are still talking about #metoo - and to that extent it's been a success on its own terms - but there is a sort of unsettling confusion underlying the whole thing. It's adjusted to the rhythm of online personal disclosure: what celebrity or quasi-celebrity is going to come forward with something today? People talk a lot about the systemic or systematic character of oppression, but the lenses we are using to bring it into focus are all intensely personalising, so that the "system" appears to be a matter of frequency, patterning, tropes carried over from one occasion to the next. How do you fight a "system" like that? How do you picture yourself as fighting a system like that?

GC/TERF feminism remains attached to an older political form, which has a broad and deep social and historical analysis ("radical feminism") and a strong narrative to bundle it all up together with. You can educate someone in the rudiments quite quickly, and if they're willing to be convinced they will often find it immediately illuminating. It characterises rival understandings as weak and confused, undermined by forces - queer theory, poststructuralism - whose secret agenda is to compromise the awareness and agency it vouchsafes to women. Paranoia is a way of keeping an object close at hand while simultaneously holding it at bay - it freezes the object at the perimeter, so that it can neither be lost nor make unwanted incursions into one's sense of self. GC feminism uses paranoia as a stabilising mechanism. It is successful at least in part because it is a response to a highly destabilised environment.
 

sufi

осом
Yes! i just wanted to separate out the irl from the online culture, and of course that's a false distinction anyway, especially when you look at #metoo which had a lot of real effects, but perhaps because it managed to use the online/personalisation/celeb culture very successfully and avoided getting bogged down - that's a conversation about cancellation and justice rather than identities.
I see what you're saying about oldskool feminism, especially how it increasingly fails to connect, if that's what you're saying... but i'm wary of the loaded labels as i'm not much of a theorist - and a man and straight-ish. It feels to me that the trans/terf war is an idiot distraction that neutralises the very activists that should be pushing the discourse forward, so it's in somebody's interests but not theirs
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
I had a bit of a rethink on something I wrote a while back, which my earlier post in this thread fed into:

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.

 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
It's not that complicated is it. They don't think trans women are women, they think they're men. And they don't want men in women's spaces. The law has ruled against them and the consequences of that will be played out in real time. There will either be broad based consent and learning to get on with it, together, or there won't be.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Well, there are several simultaneous ongoing campaigns whose intended outcome is to get Stonewall and other LGBT organisations out of schools (sort of a new Section 28 flavour), make sure teenagers can't access puberty-blocking medication, make it harder for everybody to access hormones (including cracking down on the current black/grey markets which people use while waiting for the massively oversubscribed gender clinics to agree they can have them), introduce bathroom laws, and generally make life harder in every way they can for trans people in the UK, and it's all backed by a co-ordinated non-stop shitstorm of media scaremongering, so it probably is worth thinking about how supposedly "left-wing" and "feminist" people have found themselves enabling or actively prosecuting all of this, and what on earth they're getting out of it.
 
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