jump to navigation

It’s Pat!-Privilege December 13, 2009

Posted by FCM in entertainment, feminisms, gender roles, health, PIV, pop culture, race, rape, self-identified feminist men, trans.
Tags: , , , , ,
trackback

actress julia sweeney as “pat”


theres been a lot of talk lately both here and elsewhere about what i describe as gender-bending.  the trans- are doing it.  the queer-identified are doing it.  the GLBs might be doing it, and the non-gender-conforming straights too.

but no matter how gender-bendy any of us first-world privileged people think we are being (i make more money than my spouse, and i am a hardass!  give me a prize!) one fact remains, and i think feminists everywhere need to take a hard look at it.  women in other parts of the world, in *most* parts of the world in fact, and in the rural and urban-poor first-world too, are being oppressed based on not their gender, but their born-sex.  how can you tell?  they have a gaggle of kids following behind them calling them mommy, thats how.  either that, or they are being injured or killed in childbirth.  because world-wide, womens female gender-role as heterosexual wives and mothers are as rigorously enforced upon them as is their born-sex.  they dont have a choice.  and to whatever extent *we* have a choice there, we are privileged.

you may or may not remember the character “pat” from saturday night live, but i am certain that i am dating myself by using the reference.  heres what wiki has to say:

Pat (whose full name was revealed on an episode of “Saturday Night Live” as Pat O’Neil Riley) was a somewhat overweight character with short, curly black hair who wore glasses and a blue western-style shirt with tan slacks. The character spoke in a nasally voice that sometimes squeaked. Pat apparently suffered from very sweaty palms, and constantly wiped them on his/her clothing while making a strange whimpering sound, further adding to the character’s unappealing quality. Sweeney wore no makeup and colored her lips beige to further hide any sex identity clues.

The sketches always involved the celebrity guest hosts of the show playing everyday people who encounter Pat and then go to great lengths to discover Pat’s true gender without being so rude as to actually ask (since Pat can be short for either “Patrick”, a traditionally male name, or “Patricia”, a traditionally female name). Pat remained completely oblivious, endlessly frustrating the questioners with answers that leave the character’s sex vague. The character often made statements that seemed to reveal a sex, only to then immediately confuse things again. (A typical example might be, “Sorry if I’m a little grumpy, I have really bad cramps… I rode my bike over here, and my calf muscles are KILLING me!”) In another sketch, Pat tells Kevin Nealon that his/her name is Pat Riley, same as the coach of the Lakers, “except there’s a big difference between him and me. I’m not the coach of a professional basketball team.” Other gags included Pat’s attempts at humor, which served to confuse everyone further, such as when asked what Pat is short for, the character would reply, Pat is short for “P-a-a-a-a-a-t!”, or when asked in an application for sex, Pat responded “Please!”. Another joke was when Pat was asked the full name, to which the character responded that Pat almost never referred to the character’s self by the middle name, as it was embarrassing, to which an eager audience was filled in that it was “O’Neill”, again continuing the joke.

The character was popular enough to spawn a feature length 1994 film called It’s Pat (from the lyrics of the character’s theme song on Saturday Night Live). In the film, Pat meets Chris, another sexually ambiguous character played by Dave Foley. (On SNL, Chris had been played by Dana Carvey.) They quickly fall in love and propose to each other at the exact same time. Before the wedding, however, Chris breaks up with Pat on account of Pat’s arrogance and the fact that Pat cannot decide on a direction in life.

emphases mine.

now, its telling, isnt it, that these are the cues that most americans believe signal gender: arrogance and being unable to find a direction in life are typically male qualities (or rather, a decent reason to dump a man who isnt measuring up as a partner).  as is proposing marriage.  hair, clothing and voice are visual and auditory cues to a persons sex, and first-names are meant to help us identify a persons sex, not their gender, before that person ever enters the room (as in a resume).  but these things are trite, and trivial.  when the number-one signifier world-wide of whether someone is female is whether she is being dominated by male relatives, and made to be a wife and mother, without anyone ever asking her whether thats what she wants.

i have linked to this documentary before, but i think its message bears repeating, particularly in light of the recent conversations on this blog about transactivism, and sex-positive transwomen and what they have added and taken away from feminist discourse relatively recently.  which is the recognition and discussion about how sex-female is an oppressed class, around the world.

this gender-bendy shit is a first-world invention as it relates to women: whether they are sexually attracted to other women, or want to or actually do wear pants and a fedora is completely irrelevant in most places, because born-women are dominated and enslaved, sexually, socially, economically, and in every other way from the time they are born to the time they die.

which often happens to coincide directly with their attempting to give birth, when they arent physically able to do so, having been married off at young ages and impregnated, often by men who for all appearances are serial child-rapists and end up serially murdering multiple child-brides in this fashion, moving from one to the next after their young “wives” are permanently disfigured or die as a result or prolonged and obstructed labor.  the documentary is embedded below, its about an hour long but its well worth watching, as it highlights the problem of child-brides and obstetric fistula in ethiopia.

again, i think its the radfems who are taking these things to heart, and considering womens lives, lived-experience and oppression around the world.  its the radfems who are doing the heavy lifting in this regard, when everyone else just wants to talk about gender.  fuck gender.  its really not my concern, and it shouldnt become the main concern of any feminist, or critical thinker, anywhere.

Comments

1. polly - December 13, 2009

women in other parts of the world, in *most* parts of the world in fact, are being oppressed based on not their gender, but their born-sex. how can you tell? they have a gaggle of kids following behind them calling them mommy, thats how. either that, or they are being injured or killed in childbirth.

Word.

2. polly - December 13, 2009

One more thing about ‘Pat’. A clever comedic idea. But look at what lengths the actor playing Pat had to go to to hide her female status. Despite the fact that I can ‘pass’ as male from gender signals like my hair and my clothes, my voice and features give me away. Femaleness – even amongst those of us privileged enough to live in the west, can’t be shed that easily by gendered behaviour.

But as you say this is largely irrelevant in terms of real human suffering. We form a minority of the world’s population, despite our self obsession.

3. basketcasey - December 13, 2009

I had no idea there was a finite amount of activism a person can participate in, or that someone who cares about first world problems couldn’t also be heavily involved in other kinds of activism as well! Learn something new every day.

This is classic trolling: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/04/12/faq-why-are-you-concentrating-on-x-when-y-is-so-much-more-important/

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

what i think we need to understand here, in the face of all this trans- and gender nonsense, is that sex-female is an oppressed class from birth. so you, as an adult, may or may not be able to “pass” but in another time and place you would be designated sex-female from the day you were born. you would have been treated as such, as soon as you came out of your mothers womb and your parents saw your genitals, by being completely dominated and sequestered by male relatvies. and you would have kids by now, whether you wanted them or not. your motherhood and the fact that you lived under complete male control would be the primary indicator of your sex, not your hair, or your voice, or anything else. and anyone who was *not* treated this way would very obviously be male. again, based on the appearance of his genitals when he came out of the womb.

i think that “pat” was a clever idea too, and i remember all the discussions about gender and gender indicators that were spawned from that concept and that skit. but this is very much a first-world phenomenon. men have been able to cross-dress on stage and elsewhere, and were made into eunuchs and prostitutes for other men for our entire written history. but as far as it relates to women, here and elsewhere, womens gender-role was their sex-role. and it still is. thanks to rape, and lack of access to female reproductive medicine and 100% reliable contraceptives, our born-sex is *not* irrelevant. not anywhere in the world. all this queer- and trans-business ignores this fact, and thats just patently dishonest and wrong.

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

yes, basketcasey, but you *arent* involved in any other kind of activism. thats my entire fucking point, about you and most trans activists and queer theorists, and fun-fems. you *could be* but you very obviously arent. not only that, but your theories are antithetical to feminism, and you refuse to recognize the importance of born-sex by definition. thats what you are all about. and thats why your activism is bullshit, and why you and i will never be on the same page, and why you will never be a true ally to women or feminists, anywhere.

4. basketcasey - December 13, 2009

Haha okay. I’m cis by the way. You have no idea what I’m involved with, actually. It is absolutely stupid to think that because someone is into making life better here in the “first world” (which is, by the way, an incredibly othering term and for someone who espouses to be so concerned with those “other, poor” places you should probably know that already and you obviously need to brush up on your modernization/dependency theories) does not in any way imply that they don’t go beyond fighting for gay marriage or whatever. You are not the authority on feminism, sorry.

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

who gives a shit if you are cis? my point was (and you prove it by giving the compulsory hat-tip to the trans-identified by identifying yourself as cis-) that you are exactly the type of “feminist” i am referring to here. born-sex is irrelevant to you for some reason. why? this is not a rhetorical question.

5. basketcasey - December 13, 2009

It’s not irrelevant, in and of itself. There is literally no reason for an activist to say to herself “hmm, I’m only going to care about these women, not these ones.” There is no fucking reason we can’t do both. None. Except ignorance.

Clearly you don’t give a shit about the suffering of women, you care about your own personal comfort and trans people make you uncomfortable so they’re not worthy of your activism. You’re nothing more than a troll.

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

there has been plenty of discussion and analysis here that goes far beyond radfems “personal comfort”. but thaks for proving that you are, in fact, a troll, and that you havent actually read a word that any of us have said.

thats what radfems do, in point of fact: honest and theoretically-sound anaylsis of the issues, often ending up in extremely uncomfortable territory, from which we do not shy away. the transactivists and fun-fems are the ones who are obsessing about their own comfort. not feeling “comfortable” in their own skin is the primary symptom of gender dysphoria, for example. and the fun-fems pander to everyone who demands it, so that nobodys feelings are hurt.

6. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


So yes, by demonstrating the lack of efficacy that women in the developing world have, compared to people here in the developed world, have successfully underlined how you have much more in common with a trans woman in America than a cis woman in Africa.


so why dont transwomen care about born-women? why do they only care about themselves? why DONT they care about womens reproductive health (as opposed to specifically transwomens access to healthcare) and contraception? how does their taking attention and resources away from these issues affect women here and abroad (as you mention, they are connected)? and why are the fun-fems OK with this? thats the question here i think. on another thread, TBL pointed out that transwomen dont WANT to be feminists or feminists allies. nobody said they COULDNT be. and i dare say that NO transwomen were feminists OR feminist allies *before* they decided to transition, and *before* they wanted to call attention to their own struggles. again, its their number-one argument that born-sex is irrelevant. but its not, if you were born-female.

its also telling that you are projecting this cis-nonsense on women in rural africa. WTF? what part of THERES NO SUCH THING dont you people understand? it doesnt matter how women feel. and its not just in rural africa, either. womens gender-role and their sex-role is the same: heterosexual wives and mothers. this happens here (US/canada/UK/australia) too. the only people who dont experience this to some degree are people who were born-male. even the fun-fems experience the sex/gender nondistinction too, although they are becoming very skilled in ignoring it, and deflecting and derailing when someone dares discuss it. they want to please the trans-identified so much that they are willing to turn a blind eye to even their OWN lived-experience, in favor of the lived-experience of born-men.

7. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


I’m certainly not giving up on feminism because of self-proclaimed feminists who are too busy policing the borders of their own gender to deal with shared oppression.


i specifically said that i dont give a rats ass about gender. and you continue to project your own beliefs about the import of gender and about radical feminists onto me, and other radfems who care about women as a sexual class. not about gender. learn how to read, and post comments that are responsive to whats been said here. otherwise you will be spammed. thanks.

8. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


Crud, sorry for the follow up, but I forgot to mention that I correspond with a Kenyan trans woman.


so what? born-men have always had the luxury of gender-bending, across time and cultures. again, you are completely ignoring whats been said here: that its BORN-WOMEN whose gender-role and sex-role are identical, and strictly enforced. your “kenyan friend” would not have had the luxury to trans-ition had she had a bunch of kids and a domineering husband, and at an extremely young age yet. which is exactly what happens to most born-women, around the world, whether they like it or not.

9. polly - December 13, 2009

Ok I’m not going to say where, for fear of raising a troll attack, but recently – yet again – we had raised the very real problem in the UK of women whose cultural and religious beliefs mean they cannot share living space with adult males whom they are not related to. These women disproportionately use domestic violence services in the UK, because it is very difficult for them to find support within their own communities when they wish to leave abusive relationships.

Currently the legal position in the UK is that biologically male people who have had their gender reassigned legally to woman, have the right to use women’s services.

So if such a person availed themselves of a woman’s service with communal accomodation, women from certain cultural groups would not be able to. Quite simply they would not be able to, even at the cost of their lives. Not because as some eejit suggested elsewhere, because their relatives would find them and kill them (that is already a possibility the minute they leave), but because THEIR OWN CULTURE makes this inappropriate.

The response of a trans woman to this problem was that service providers should TALK to these women and explain the situation. Completely ignoring the fact that it really isn’t that simple, and it wouldn’t in any way work. And showing no respect whatsoever for the position, or regard for the safety of, some of the most disadvantaged women in the UK, who are entitled to access services that are appropriate for them, not convenient for everyone else.

I am also puzzled as to how someone can troll their own blog, but there you go.

10. polly - December 13, 2009

Yes I don’t think Prossy Kakooza had the chance of expressing her sexuality.

http://sparklematrix.wordpress.com/2008/06/21/prossy-kakooza-must-not-be-returned-to-uganda/

factcheckme - December 13, 2009


I am also puzzled as to how someone can troll their own blog, but there you go.


once again, the logic used against radfems is underwhelming.

11. polly - December 13, 2009

Or the lesbians in South Africa, who face “corrective rape”.

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Lesbians-in-South-Africa-facing—corrective-rape–/551012/

12. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


So yes, I have been reading. And you specifically saying that you don’t give a rat’s ass about gender is belied by earlier statements, where you angrily declare trans women to be men when they don’t agree with your enforced use of erasing language.


once more for the people in the cheap seats: sex and gender are not the same. transwomen are male-sexed persons. they are MEN, for purposes of any discussion of sex, or born-sex. my referring to them as men supports my assertion that i care about sex, not gender.

you are only showing me that you dont know how to read, and that you are in fact *unable* to be responsive. so stop posting, if thats the case.

13. polly - December 13, 2009

My relativism ends where the freedom of others begins. Why should trans women who’ve been battered by their partners be denied access to shelters for the theoretical concerns of women who have already broken cultural taboos by defying abusive men?

Because they’re not theoretical, they are real. And I am not suggesting that transwomen be denied access to shelters, any more than I am suggesting gay men be denied access to shelters, or anyone else be denied access to shelters. I’m saying that assistance provided cannot be in communal accommodation with women.

14. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


And yes, women who can’t get pregnant have one thing going for them in that the axis of oppression of misogyny doesn’t push quite as hard.


WTF are you talking about? born-women who cant get pregnant are failed-women. and they are very much punished for it. what transwomen have going for them is that they cant ever be oppressed by motherhood; and they are raised male, without being funnelled into an oppressive female gender-role thats premised on the assumption that she CAN get pregnant, because her genitals appear female. all female-born persons are assumed to be fertile, and summarily oppressed because of it, until proven otherwise by “failing” to become pregnant. unlike transwomen, born-women are followed and oppressed by misogyny their entire lives.

15. polly - December 13, 2009

When a trans woman gets stalked by men, raped, degraded, objectified, I don’t think they care about her born-sex. They might if it’s discovered, and then we’re at the intersection of transphobia and misogyny, a very dangerous place indeed, but usually what trans women run into is run-of-the-mill Western misogyny.

Well then they do care about her born sex, they are just assuming it is female – someone’s sex is judged on what (born) sex they pass as.
Which most of us judge from facial features, and is why I only ‘pass’ as male from the back, in baggy androgynous clothes. Unless she is specifically targeted because she is trans, in which case they also care about her born sex, just in a different way.

16. factcheckme - December 13, 2009

i am fucking sick of this shit chris. stop playing oppression-olympics on my blog. you had a choice, and you made it. women dont have that choice. again, you are trolling and derailing with what you are choosing to focus on, and what you are choosing to ignore. the point of this post was PRIVILEGE. just admit that you have it already. i admitted it in the article itself. of course, one of the big things about transwomen and transactivists is that they are experts in DENYING that they have privilege: male privilege primarily, as well as first-world privilege in choosing to transition. just admit it already. thats what people with privilege are supposed and EXPECTED to do, in feminist spaces. you keep demanding that born-women claim that they are cis-privileged, when you cant even prove that theres any such thing as cis- let alone that women possess ANY kind of gender-based privilege. but male-privilege is a given, for those who were born male. admit that you have it, and move the fuck on.

17. polly - December 13, 2009

What I’m saying is it’s one’s presentation of gender, which people presume to be the birth assigned sex, because, about 99 times in 100, they’d be correct, that people are judged on.

No it isn’t because I get called ‘sir’ and I get called ‘mrs’ and my gender presentation is pretty bloody consistent, believe me. I get ‘sirred’ because people look at my hair and my clothes, which give the clue that my sex is male. Then people look at my face (which is always devoid of makeup, please note) and I get called ‘mrs’. Because you can tell from my facial features that I’m female sexed.

Now if we’re going to start complaining because rapists are ‘cissexist’, I think we’re really missing the point quite badly.

18. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

I wonder, how can a trans woman who passes as female experience misogyny AND carry male privilege at the same time? Privilege and oppression exist in how we are treated by others, not in how we comport ourselves. You can have all the male sense of entitlement you want but if you’re not read as male…

This talk of trans women taking away resources and attention from important feminist issues is such utter BS. Where do you get these ideas?? Many trans women are very actively involved in real feminist struggles for access to abortion, working with rape crisis centres and shelters for dv victims, in spite of a small minority who make it very clear our presence is not at all welcome. How do we take resources and attention away from women?

No trans person would ever argue that born sex is irrelevant. Quit constructing straw persons to knock down.

19. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

“you had a choice, and you made it. women dont have that choice.”

trans people have a choice about whether to transition or not (sort of, sometimes). we do not have a choice about whether we are trans. this includes trans men obviously.

What is this crap about first world privilege? Yeah, we all know we have it, no sane trans person has ever denied that being able to transition is a privilege many don’t have, like being able to eat is a privilege many don’t have.

20. factcheckme - December 13, 2009


You’re the one saying that my being raised as male, oh yes, so nice to be ridiculed for everything down to the way you look at your fingernails, and beaten by your father and emotionally abused by your step mother, somehow confers on me special advantages that persist after my transition. I’m here to tell you that they don’t.


sorry, but girls experience child abuse and punishment for non-conformist behaviors too. trans-whinng about it doesnt make these things trans-specific. and you dont get to to decide whether or not “your special advantages persist.” by definition, you are going to be blind to your own privilege. thats the way privilege works. the fact that you feel welcome here to present your viewpoint, for example, when i have told you more than once to get lost, is telling of your privileged mindset: these things dont just go away when you transition. you feel entitled. thats very clear from your behavior, your beliefs and assertions, and perhaps most of all, from the fact that you felt entitled to change your gender, and that your feelings on that or on any subject mattered.

21. factcheckme - December 13, 2009

noone with either a dick or a male “entitled” mindset should be allowed into a womens shelter. full stop. and many female-only shelters are set up specifically for women WITH CHILDREN. again, the fact that born-women have a gaggle of kids following behind them makes them more vulnerable in literally every way. and again, this is not something that a born-man will ever experience. i dont care how “feminine” he feels, or how badly hes been abused.

22. polly - December 13, 2009

I wonder, how can a trans woman who passes as female experience misogyny AND carry male privilege at the same time? Privilege and oppression exist in how we are treated by others, not in how we comport ourselves. You can have all the male sense of entitlement you want but if you’re not read as male…

An argument can also be made, within certain feminist circles, that trans women are treated in a preferential way – for instance feminist blogs who report with great prominence the deaths of transwomen, but ignore the many ‘cis’ women who are murdered. I ascribe this, personally, to their former male status, so their rights are assumed to be more important.

Because she will have a life of being brought up as male, and have built up privilege a trans woman has accumulated male privilege. She may have got further in male dominated career for instance, and built up earning power. Male privilege (strong sense of deja vu here) starts the minute you exit the womb, when your life chances are immediately better if you’re male, wherever in the world you are. Before if techniques exist to determine your sex and you can be selectively aborted.

I seem to have made point that privilege and oppression are external, not internal, quite a lot myself, and been told that no, because trans women are always girls/women, even if they are treated in a privileged fashion from birth it makes no difference because inside they are women.

So which is it?

23. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

“noone with either a dick or a male “entitled” mindset should be allowed into a womens shelter.”

Can you always tell if somebody has a dick or not? Do we have the right to know somebody’s biological sex? How about the right to know a trans person’s surgical status? I mean, good grief.

24. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

“noone with either a dick or a male “entitled” mindset should be allowed into a womens shelter. full stop. and many female-only shelters are set up specifically for women WITH CHILDREN. again, the fact that born-women have a gaggle of kids following behind them makes them more vulnerable in literally every way. and again, this is not something that a born-man will ever experience. i dont care how “feminine” he feels, or how badly hes been abused.”

Because there are no trans women who are parents?? wtf?

I really am sorry for double posting.

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

anyone with a dick can be a rapist. and men are more violent than women. so…yes. absolutely. no men allowed in womens shelters, period. its men that these women are trying to avoid. can you not respect that? not to mention the issue of KIDS that i keep addressing, and that transwomen and transactivists keep ignoring. the presence of children make women more vulnerable. and born-men are a danger to both women and children. if they still have working penises, even more so.

25. polly - December 13, 2009

Zan’s christ, can you tell me where you are taking your figures from that there are roughly as many trans men as trans women?

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

transwomen might be parents: if they are, they are fathers. and fathers are rarely primary caregivers, even more so the ones who are gay, trans, or single and in abusive relationships with other men. if you show me a transwoman who has a gaggle of children following behind her, i will eat my fucking shorts. if she did, she would probably be allowed into a womans shelter anyway, no questions asked. so why the strawman here? are transwomen with children *really* your primary concern?

26. polly - December 13, 2009

Oh while searching for statistics I found this…

64% of young Transgender men and 44% of young Transgender women will experience harassment or bullying at school, not just from their fellow pupils but also from school staff and teachers.

There’s a surprise.

http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/ccm/content/community-and-living/community-safety/harm-reduction/lgbt/transphobia-statistics.en;jsessionid=axtlg8Y3I8Ua

27. polly - December 13, 2009

I’m saying that a woman who, very fucking rightly, in defiance of an abusive husband, and in defiance of the strictures of her culture, seeks help at a secular shelter, does, like anyone in a public space, including her fellow victims of violence, agree that the space, if it’s secular in nature, remains secular. You don’t get to blame trans women for the sexism of abusive men who aren’t really about to do a skirt check of the occupants of the women’s shelter before arranging an honour killing.

And I’m saying that in that case, those women will feel they cannot use that shelter. Now I’ve not said trans women can’t have shelter from domestic violence, just that they may need to accept that their definition of ‘woman’ isn’t the only one, and that other people have rights too.

But you are insisting that your right to feel validated is more important than other women’s right to be alive.

28. factcheckme - December 13, 2009

ah, the per-capita-murder rate! a headlining event at any oppression-olympics. of course, it doesnt take into consideration, does it, that most transpersons murdered are poor transwomen of color, and many of them were sex-workers. recalculate the murder rate considering those factors, and you will find that you arent much different than any other poor, prostituted woman of color. although you really, really want to make it appear otherwise. WHY you crave the differentiation is the real question. and its not rhetorical.

and dont forget that its MEN doing the killing, and that they get real fucking pissed when you transwomen try to “turn them gay.” so stop it, why dont you? shit. men are dangerous, and they dont like other men, you know, THAT WAY. so leave them the fuck alone. you will be alot safer, as would we all.

29. polly - December 13, 2009

I guarantee you the Montreal massacre got, this year, proportionately more attention and remembrance from mainstream feminists than the order of magnitude number of trans women who were killed last year alone

Really? Where? Outside of Canada, I mean. Can your provide links? I refer you to the F word, a UK blog which has recently reported the murder of several transwomen. Not a peep about it on there.

http://www.thefword.org.uk

30. polly - December 13, 2009

so when we talk about 160 people being murdered, just because they were trans, that’s the equivalent of 40000 women being murdered.

So this was 160 people WORLDWIDE. And some of them, it turns out, like Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado weren’t actually ‘trans’ but gay. How many people do you think are murdered worldwide? How many women do you think are murdered worldwide?

31. polly - December 13, 2009

In south Africa for example, 4 women A DAY are killed by an intimate partner. So thats nearly 1500 there already. In one country.

http://www.mrc.ac.za/policybriefs/woman.pdf

32. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

“An argument can also be made, within certain feminist circles, that trans women are treated in a preferential way – for instance feminist blogs who report with great prominence the deaths of transwomen, but ignore the many ‘cis’ women who are murdered. I ascribe this, personally, to their former male status, so their rights are assumed to be more important.”

Well, I ascribe it to the fact that trans people, (and it’s not just trans women whose deaths are reported…maybe it is on the blogs you read? i don’t know) are murdered at a rate disproportionate to their numbers, moreso than any other group?

“I seem to have made point that privilege and oppression are external, not internal, quite a lot myself, and been told that no, because trans women are always girls/women, even if they are treated in a privileged fashion from birth it makes no difference because inside they are women.

So which is it?”

I can’t answer that because I have never and would never argue that trans women don’t experience male privilege before transitioning or when read as male.

“transwomen might be parents: if they are, they are fathers. and fathers are rarely primary caregivers, even more so the ones who are gay, trans, or single and in abusive relationships with other men. if you show me a transwoman who has a gaggle of children following behind her, i will eat my fucking shorts. if she did, she would probably be allowed into a womans shelter anyway, no questions asked. so why the strawman here? are transwomen with children *really* your primary concern?”

No, it isn’t, I didn’t mean to imply that it is. My primary concern is the safety of people who are in danger. Do I think trans women ought to be able to access the services of rape crisis centres and domestic violence shelters, of course I do, because we have no alternatives. But that’s for the people who run those centres to decide. That’s on them. I’m not going to say they should be sued for discrimination or that they MUST allow us in and accept us as women. But really, the only trans women who are excluded here are the ones who do not pass as female. So again I must ask, do you have the right to know someone’s biological sex? Putting the problematic penis argument aside for a second, assume for the sake of argument someone has had srs, who is going to make her undergo a test to prove her biological sex?

33. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

The “oppression olympics” are indeed asinine, and measuring oppressions against one another is a futile endeavour. Can we all agree on that, at least?

“and dont forget that its MEN doing the killing, and that they get real fucking pissed when you transwomen try to “turn them gay.” so stop it, why dont you? shit. men are dangerous, and they dont like other men, you know, THAT WAY. so leave them the fuck alone. you will be alot safer, as would we all.”

That’s soooo fucked up on sooo many levels omg wtf

34. factcheckme - December 13, 2009

again, trans-whining about some injustice does not make that injustice trans-specific. did you ever stop to wonder why its primarily WOMEN who are sex-workers world-wide? its because MEN are given the jobs, and the highest paying jobs. because WOMEN often do not have a choice: they have to engage in sex work to feed themselves, and their children. i also find it fascinating that transpersons often use their STUDENT LOANS to pay for their transition, instead of actually finishing college or trade school…and then they have the goddamned gall to complain that they dont have any earning power later in life. DUH. and DUH again, for not realizing (or caring) that ALL gender nonconforming people have problems finding work.

35. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

“i also find it fascinating that transpersons often use their STUDENT LOANS to pay for their transition, instead of actually finishing college or trade school…and then they have the goddamned gall to complain that they dont have any earning power later in life.”

Big shock, trans people are like everybody else and some are more financially responsible than others. Way to post a totally irrelevant ANECDOTE just so you can slam trans people yet again! Why do you like attacking us?

36. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

I mean C’MON, tell us what you REALLY think, why do you find that so “fascinating”? Cut loose!

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

using your student loans to pay for your transition is NOT totally irrelevant, when you are complaining that you have no earning power later in life. college and trade-schools are a kind of way-out for women who dont want to be subservient to men, and rely on them for economic security (although its no guarantee, it is a leg-up). born-men likely dont realize how important credentials and an education actually *are* for women, because men arent women, and uneducated and unskilled men can and do still outearn women through boys’ clubs union labor, and apprenticeships, and unearned promotions and opportunites that women dont get. so “spend your student loans!” might seem like a perfectly decent idea at the time. trouble comes later, when these uneducated men become uneducated women, and realize that they are completely and utter reliant on men. in other words: COMPLETELY FUCKED. they think this is trans-specific, but its not.

37. donteatthefishsticks - December 13, 2009

Who does that? You are trying to use an anecdote to attack a straw (trans) person. We all probably know men and women, cis and trans, who spend student loan money unwisely. I want to know why you are doing this. The trans woman who realizes she is reliant on men…who are you talking about and why?

factcheckme - December 13, 2009

i already answered your question, fishsticks. if you dont like the answer, thats your problem.

38. factcheckme - December 14, 2009


That’s someone’s life-choice. But most people with a high school degree, male or female, don’t end up prostitutes.


then the relatively educated transpersons online (including the ones who used their student loans to pay for their transition) complaining about how badly they have it, and how *they* are disproportionately in danger because poor, prostituted transwomen of color are being murdered can STFU. whereas ALL born-women are in danger of sexual violence, at all times. you can also STFU about what you perceive as job-discrimination. because while high-school educated people may or may not be prostitutes, high school educated WOMEN definitely have less earning potential, and are more likely to be harassed and passed up for promotions than are uneducated born-men. and more likely to have to do “whatever” to make ends meet, including hooking proper, or having serial relationships with men who can take care of them, and the violence that comes with BOTH situations. if this is the bed you made, and now you dont want to lie in it, as it were, how is that my problem? this is not a rhetorical question. and the relentless blaming any and all of this on allegedly cis-privileged cis-women is patently absurd.

as far as you thinking its your goddamned right in life to feel “comfortable” and to have your life “work”…well thats just so chock-full of male privilege that it makes me gag just typing it.

39. donteatthefishsticks - December 14, 2009

Uh, why would we STFU? Shouldn’t we want to ameliorate the conditions we have to live with? We’re only going to do that by making ourselves heard. Or do you really think “transactivists” should stop being activists for trans interests and should STFU? Seriously, what sense does that make? You just sound bitter, but we’ve done nothing to you.

You’ve said it before, all transsexualism is problematic – really, you just wish we didn’t exist. Tell me if I’m wrong.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

this post is not about “all transsexualism” now is it? how about you stop trolling and derailing, and post responsively? or…is my requesting that of you, on my own blog, multiple times, trumped by your alleged “right” to be here? male fucking privilege on parade.

40. donteatthefishsticks - December 14, 2009

Way to dodge the question. It’s problematic for you that there are people in the world who expend energy trying to be seen as women. Of course I understand why it’s complicating. Yet we exist.

I claim no “right” to be here and I’m not trying to troll or derail, I’m trying to have a sincere dialogue with somebody who is more interested in going off on tangents about trans women who blow their student loan money and then complain about poverty, as though this is representative of trans women. You say this every time you don’t like where the conversation is going. Every time someone doesn’t continue the conversation in the direction you want it to go, you attack their reading comprehension, like we’re all supposed to be mind-readers. I thought I was posting responsively, if I’m not, please direct me to what we’re supposed to be talking about. You posted what any transsexual is going to see as a big long hate screed and said that we should stop complaining about being discriminated against because we aren’t. Sorry for existing.

“if this is the bed you made, and now you dont want to lie in it, as it were, how is that my problem? this is not a rhetorical question.”

Who said it was your problem? You don’t want to be our ally, okay, that’s your right. You seem to think you’re under attack here.

“and the relentless blaming any and all of this on allegedly cis-privileged cis-women is patently absurd.”

Who is doing that? You’re arguing with straw persons again. I blame patriarchy.

41. factcheckme - December 14, 2009

if you didnt have such strong feelings of entitlement, chris, this wouldnt be a problem. like many transwomen, you feel entitled to invade female spaces, whether you are welcome or not; often you self-identify as “women” instead of transwomen (you have done this multiple times yourself, on this thread) and are very secretive about your true identity, and defend these alleged entitlements to the death.

why not just be honest about your situation, and identify as trans while owning your male privilege, AND TAKE A FUCKING LISTENING ROLE FOR A CHANGE and not overspeak born-women when we are speaking about our lived experience? how would this be “reifying traditional gender roles”? another transwoman on another thread made this suggestion herself, and i found it so refreshing after dealing with fucking entitled MTFs denying their own privilege, and trying to out-speak and overpower every other voice in the room. own your fucking privilege, and move on. thats what feminists expect of all born-men, and you do not get a fucking free pass on that issue. not from the radfems anyway.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

for fucks sake. i leave for 30 minutes, and i come back to chris having left seven, count them 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 posts in my moderation queue, each telling me that i hadnt approved the last one fast enough. male privilege and entitlement yet again. chris, you are spammed for acting like an entitled prick. and i deleted each and every one of your 7 posts. bye.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

for anyone who is unsure whether transwomen and transactivists are blaming born-women for their troubles, read the comments on previous threads addressing transwomen and cis-priv on this blog and others. and be aware that on my blog at least, i didnt even publish the most heinous woman-blaming and vile, violent, and threatening comments. heres a link:

https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/the-fallacy-of-cis-privilege/

42. factcheckme - December 14, 2009


I’ve been sending you that post for the last 5 or so hours.


yeah, no fucking shit chris. and yet you STILL dont get the fact that you are acting like a fucking entitled prick! 5 hours! multiple user names! seven additional posts on top of the one you kept trying to push through, again and again. get. it. through. your. head.

bye.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

chris is STILL TRYING TO POST HERE. there are 3 more posts from him in my mod queue, from the last 2 minutes. MALE PRIVILEGE ON PARADE. chris, you should be ashamed, and embarassed, for your own behavior right now.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

chris is STILL posting. right into my spam box now. chris, chris, chris, chris, chris. you are a male-privileged, entitled jackass trying to pass as a bitch. its not working. i actually like bitches. the other thing, not so much.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

one more post from you, chris, and i will happily delete every post you have ever left here. i will wipe you from this blog permanently. last warning.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

i just deleted everything from chris’s IP address. in addition to the 3 4 user names he has used today, he is also known as “some random tranny” and “valerie keefe” who was spammed on several other threads already. MALE PRIVILEGE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS CHRIS? i dont think you do…unless you are PURPOSELY and deliberately swinging your dick around, to abuse, encroach upon, and intimidate women. which is it? dont bother answering.

43. faemom - December 14, 2009

I know the thread went on an interesting path. But I was curious about your post. Since you feel as a radfem you are doing the heavy lifting, focusing on the oppression of women across the world, I was wondering what you’re doing to help these women. I’m curious about what programs and non-profs you support as I’m looking for some good ones myself.

44. polly - December 14, 2009

So again I must ask, do you have the right to know someone’s biological sex?

Ordinarily, no. That’s quite categorical. If I have a work colleague for instance, in a mixed sex environment, I would not be entitled to know any personal information about them they didn’t wish to disclose. As it happens there are none of my workmates where I can’t tell their biological sex, but if there was a truly androgynous person at my work, I wouldn’t have the right to ask them.

This is not the case however when personal care is happening. I had the experience of asking to see a lesbian counsellor and being referred to a trans woman. How did I know this person was a trans woman? Their voice on my answering machine, that’s all it took. In fact, because I couldn’t hear their christian name properly, I thought the service had made a mistake and referred me to a gay man, because the voice sounded like that of a camp man.

Now, it’s true that some people pass better than others. That’s unfair, but life is unfair. But look at this way, a trans woman who ‘passes’ well will understand much more the life experience of FAB women. So maybe she is in a better position to relate to them.

But whatever we are talking about a belief here. Some people believe their gender identity is what makes you a woman or a man. Against that you have a very large number of people, probably the majority of the population (including some transsexual people BTW) who believe that sex is what determines whether you are a woman or a man.

So we have a stand off. But single sex facilities are just that, single sex. They’re not spaces for personal validation, they are there to protect those who feel uncomfortable sharing personal space/services with people who are not of the same biological sex as them.

Gay men get beaten by their partners at about the same rate as straight women. I have not yet seen anyone arguing they should be let into women only DV shelters. Why not, they need the service, and they’re not going to be any threat to the women there, they’re gay?

Because they’re men of course. And most people’s definition of men includes all male bodied people, like it or not. Now what has been said here is that the right to psychological comfort of trans women trumps everyone else’s right to psychological comfort, specifically the right of born women.

Not all trans women believe this BTW. Because what is being expressed here is male privilege, like it or lump it. No one is saying trans women don’t have right to DV services. In the place where I live there are comprehensive DV services for everyone, and if there weren’t I wouldn’t be very happy about it. But there is still the insistence that trans women must be allowed to use women’s services, not to meet their basic human needs but TO FEEL VALIDATED.

Fuck that noise very much. You do not have a right to dictate how other people see you, sorry. I am a lesbian, I do not have the right to insist people love me, or regard me as Ok. I have the right to insist they do not discriminate or harass me, but if they think I’m going to hell, that is their right, actually. I don’t care, because I think they’re religious eejits. And I don’t have a right to discriminate against them for that either.

This is the way the world works, the only way it can work. When two sets of people have conflicting interests, a compromise must be reached. A compromise does not mean, ‘my rights are paramount, I always get my way’, in case you’re confused.

45. polly - December 14, 2009

Oh and FCM, I really wish you would publish the comments. So we can see the truth.

46. polly - December 14, 2009

Well, I ascribe it to the fact that trans people, (and it’s not just trans women whose deaths are reported…maybe it is on the blogs you read? i don’t know) are murdered at a rate disproportionate to their numbers, moreso than any other group?

Statistics please, reliable ones. Don’t just keep repeating the same thing and saying it’s true. And answer the question about appropriation please. Most of those murdered are a)sex workers and b)living in South America. Are they murdered at a higher rate than other south American sex workers? Are they murdered at a higher rate than sex workers generally?

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

faemom, view the documentary i embedded. its made by the fistula foundation, a charitable organization that takes paypal. and i am fucking sick and tired of your sarcasm, so lose it, or dont post here. k? thanks.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

polly, i deleted all comments from chris’ IP address. there were 5 pages of them, and more than half were posted after chris aka valerie keefe was banned. i am not going to support her sense of entitlement to space on my blog. she can go fuck herself, and her comments are going directly to spam and will be unread from now on.

factcheckme - December 14, 2009

as an FYI to my readers, valerie keefe was originally banned because she pulled an accusation out of thin air that i was “threatening her email.” i dont even know what the fuck she was talking about, as nothing that was ever said here, or anything i ever even thought within the privacy of my own brain could be considered remotely threatening by any reasonable person. none else threatened her, either. in my experience, people who make accusations like that and have such a tenuous grip on reality are dangerous. so i washed my hands of her. like a fungus, she keeps coming back. although next time, its going to have to be under another IP addy.

47. thebeardedlady - December 14, 2009

Hello! I was wondering what on earth you and Polly were going on about until I got to the end of the thread and realised ‘Chris’ had been deleted! Heh. I see the trans-trolling continues unabated.

On the original subject of the post, fcm, here’s a ted talk that I think is pretty awesome, on the subject of sex slavery (trigger warning all over it):

I completely agree that sex, rather than gender, is what oppression is based on. Gender is, as you say, in the first world, a kind of privileged play-thing.

48. faemom - December 14, 2009

FCM, since I learned from the last post you prefer no sarcasm, I wrote with none. I truly want to know what you are doing and want your readers to do to help these women. I asked about organizations because 1) I’ve yet to have a spare hour to watch the documentary (though I tend to) and 2) I’ve not been in a place to give more money or time other than what I can give to my local non-profs that I support.

I just wanted to know what you are doing as you feel the radfems are the ones leading the charge.

I have a friend that goes to Thailand when she can afford it, and her parents go every year, to work with a non-prof that gives room, board, and training to women getting out of the sex trade. The non-prof makes money selling the weavings and clothes these women make.

I have another friend who goes to India when she can to help with various organizations helping women.

I have another friend who works for a non-prof in Africa with the mission to stop the spread of HIV and AIDs by passing out condoms and teaching better information than the myths that are believed.

Am I right that your post is a call to action for all women to work to help their sisters in oppressed places? Or is it just to make aware that there are problems more pressing than gender issues?

49. polly - December 14, 2009

“tenuous grip on reality” is right, FCM. And I think it’s a shame, because I keep pointing out to people that the online trans lobby are NOT representative of trans people generally, or at the least those I’ve met. Maybe we’re just more sensible in t’frozen north. Now I’m as fond of a POMO argument as the next person, which probably accounted for the lack of trolls I got when I had a blog, I just baffled them with Judith Butler. But whether you like it or not, single sex spaces/services are single sex. And that is biological sex, not gender, not ‘brain sex’, actual genitalia.

And yes a proportion of the population is intersex, but a large number of intersex people are assigned at birth with,and happy to identify with, one biological sex.

They are not intended to exclude anyone who could be dangerous to a woman, because FAB can be dangerous to women. They do not mean that everyone who is excluded is a danger to women, because personally I do not believe that all men are dangerous to women. On average men are probably more dangerous to women than other women are.

Some people also feel icky, uncomfortable or downright terrified of having intimate personal care provided by someone of a different biological sex. Some people, as we have already discussed, have religious and/or cultural objections to this.

These people have a right to their beliefs and strong feelings, and a right for them to be honoured, just as people who have a strong identification with a gender/sex different from the one assigned to them at birth have a right for those feelings to be honoured.

What neither group has is the right to let their feelings override the rights of others. So religious people do not have a right to mandate transgender/transsexual people out of existence. And transgender/transsexual people do not get to demand that their gender identity is accepted as a substitute for biological sex, when this is impinges on other’s personal bodily integrity, in any rational system – and I await with huge interest the inevitable legal clash of both these “rights” – both protected in English law, and let me tell you the lawyers are certainly rubbing their hands.

So as I said, the only sensible solution is compromise, and recognising that other people have rights too, and you were never promised a rose garden, actually. But I suspect FCM that you’re either preaching to the converted, or the never going to be persuaded here. AKA banging your head against a brick wall.

50. Zoe Brain - December 15, 2009

“transwomen are male-sexed persons. they are MEN, for purposes of any discussion of sex, or born-sex. ”

Not as such.

51. thebewilderness - December 15, 2009

Uh, why would we STFU? Shouldn’t we want to ameliorate the conditions we have to live with? We’re only going to do that by making ourselves heard. Or do you really think “transactivists” should stop being activists for trans interests and should STFU? Seriously, what sense does that make? You just sound bitter, but we’ve done nothing to you.

I’m a bit late to the party, but I did want to respond to this.

When the subject is one you have no knowledge of, no experience of, and no interest in, you ought properly to shut up so that you might learn something.

I am bitter about what you have done to me. This thread is a perfect example of what you have done to me. The subject was this:

i have linked to this documentary before, but i think its message bears repeating, particularly in light of the recent conversations on this blog about transactivism, and sex-positive transwomen and what they have added and taken away from feminist discourse relatively recently. which is the recognition and discussion about how sex-female is an oppressed class, around the world.

Your entire argument has been a dismissal of these women’s needs.
I call this the 97 and 3 problem.
In the US 97% of perps are men. If you try to talk about it men will insist on talking about the 3% of perps who are women.
Here is the urgent subject of women suffering and dying all over the world as a result of existing while female.
Here then is you occupying the space of an entire thread advocating for the interests of trans persons instead. You may say it is not instead, but throughout the thread you repeatedly dismiss the interests of the 97%. You dismiss them. Repeatedly.
My kind can suffer, so long as yours does not, is the message you brought to this discussion. It is the message men always bring to feminist discussions.
If we, on the other hand, dismiss your needs in favor of our interest in the needs of the 97% you are outraged.
I am outraged too.
You are holding others to a higher standard of ethics than you hold yourself.

Your callous disregard for the suffering of others is a mark of your sex.

52. Miska - December 15, 2009

Valerie has now shown up at my blog and left THE SAME comment that she spammed FCM with.

I approved part of it because I wanted to respond to something valerie had written, but I wouldn’t have done so if I knew that it was a comment she couldn’t get published here.

And then she tried to respond to a comment left by Kitty – accusing AROOO of being hypocritical and blah blah.

Honestly, they’re unbelievable. When they’re not granted an audience somewhere (that they are naturally entitled to, OF COURSE) they simply go to the next person and try to force their nonsense down their throats. They just can’t comprehend that they have no special right to our attention.

And damn, I can’t believe I missed out on this whole discussion (and the Shelley Lubben one).

53. Valerie M - December 15, 2009

Uh, why would we STFU? Shouldn’t we want to ameliorate the conditions we have to live with? We’re only going to do that by making ourselves heard. Or do you really think “transactivists” should stop being activists for trans interests and should STFU? Seriously, what sense does that make? You just sound bitter, but we’ve done nothing to you.

How fucking dare you! Women have NO CHOICE about being oppressed – you use your bloody privilege to CHOOSE to be part of an oppressed class and then sit there whining and talking over us about how you’re not treated as well now and you have special health problems, and expect women to sort everything out for you!

You fuck with your body, what do you expect? You get treated badly or violently by males for rejecting your privileged status, that’s too bad but it’s not exactly a surprise, now is it? Then you lay all your dirty laundry at the door of women as if we didn’t have enough problems already!

Fuck you. I mean it – fuck. you. dude.

(angry? me?)

54. thebeardedlady - December 15, 2009

Here is the urgent subject of women suffering and dying all over the world as a result of existing while female.
Here then is you occupying the space of an entire thread advocating for the interests of trans persons instead. You may say it is not instead, but throughout the thread you repeatedly dismiss the interests of the 97%. You dismiss them. Repeatedly.

My kind can suffer, so long as yours does not, is the message you brought to this discussion. It is the message men always bring to feminist discussions.
If we, on the other hand, dismiss your needs in favor of our interest in the needs of the 97% you are outraged.
I am outraged too.
You are holding others to a higher standard of ethics than you hold yourself.

Your callous disregard for the suffering of others is a mark of your sex.

That’s a moving and awesome comment. Exactly, exactly, exactly right.

Trans activists have insisted that we talk only about them, and then only in ways that they think are nice. Meanwhile, the stuff that we need to talk about, like women suffering and dying, is pushed aside and spoken of as an irrelevancy. These threads here are perfect examples.

55. pmsrhino - December 15, 2009

As always thanks for your posts FCM! And the documentary. I’d only seen pieces of it before, and it’s nice to see the entire piece. I think we do need reminders that often issues on feminists blogs deal directly with gender and not born-sex, and it’s important to remember that it’s not the fact that I wear a skirt, or eyeliner, or have long hair that gives me lesser status but my vagina and boobs. My gender lets on that what’s in my pants, but like Polly noted (I think it was Polly) while parts of me could be mistaken as male there’s no way to hide everything. I will be a women no matter what because I was born that way. Trans women will never have to deal with shit like contraception and access to safe abortions and such (can be involved in the actions but if there’s a loss it doesn’t affect them personally like it would me). Never have to worry about being coerced into bearing unwanted children or having those children become your responsibility when it comes to care taking just because of what’s between their legs. They can choose to be women, choose to deal with the bullshit I deal with everyday, but they don’t get all the bullshit no matter how much they seem to want it. I would assume that they wouldn’t want it, in the long run. Part of the privilege is getting to be a woman without all the reproductive baggage, right? (If that made any sense…)

And I must admit, the comment thread here made me lol a little. You and Polly look like you’re arguing with yourselfs through most of it. Wasn’t until I saw the comments about Chris that I realized you were posting bits of moderated comments.🙂 I’m glad there are people like you guys who can articulate the stuff that I often think in my head but can’t put into words. And glad there are people like you who will bother teaching and dealing with asshat trolls where I would just put the mouse and keyboard down and go home.🙂

56. polly - December 15, 2009

“transwomen are male-sexed persons. they are MEN, for purposes of any discussion of sex, or born-sex. ”

Not as such.

Well it depends which language you’re using. English as she is spoke, or the language of the land where the unicorns live. Because 99.99% of users of English understand ‘man’ to mean male sexed person, or an expression over used by hippies. And 99.99% of user of English understand male sexed person to be person with external genitalia consisting of penis, testes etc. That’s the definition.

We’ve all seen the stuff about brain sex already, many times, save it for an audience that believes it please. However the truth is that ‘man’ is commonly understood to mean ‘adult male’ is commonly understood to mean person over 18 years of age, who has, or at least once had, a penis (and is not one of the very few people who also has naturally occuring female genitalia).

57. polly - December 15, 2009

And no I don’t think you should STFU actually. I am entirely in favour of trans people having rights to employment, housing, medical care, social security benefits, ID in whatever name/gender they choose etc. The same rights as anyone else in fact.

What I am not in favour of is females being told they must accept male persons as females because of that person’s gender identity, for the provision of personal care and single sex spaces.

I am also not in favour of ‘feminism’ focussing exclusively, or disproportionately on the male born, to the exclusion of females. And females are the only group around you’d get to pull this shit on. Believe me.

factcheckme - December 15, 2009

awesome comments yall, thanks. i would only add that NO FEMINIST I KNOW WOULD EVER, *EVER* CALL ANOTHER WOMAN “BITTER.” ever. got that fishsticks? got it? good. these fucking MTFs werent even feminists before they realized that the fems were the only ones that would have them. but some things get lost in the trans-lation, dont they? or…do they just not want to play by the rules? LIKE THE WORD BITTER. DONT USE IT. FULL STOP.

factcheckme - December 15, 2009

apologies to anyone who was confused by the comments…chris was deleted mid-way through the discussion for trolling and using multiple user names to post spam. it wasnt just polly and i talking amongst ourselves.

58. polly - December 15, 2009

Sorry, this is the last time, I’ll go on about this, honest….

Yet again, ‘lesbian and gay’ are being co-opted into “transgender”. Here to be exact.

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2009/12/trans_activist

Yes, not the same AT ALL people. I am a lesbian, a female person who is sexually attracted exclusively to female people. That’s it, nowt to do with ‘gender identity’, unless we are doing the 10,000 word Judith Butler essay.

Stop doing this shit, I’m sick of it. Stop trying to appropriate other’s experience.

factcheckme - December 16, 2009

dont hold back polly, for real. post as many links as you like. people need to see this shit.

59. Joan Kelly - December 16, 2009

I don’t understand what’s so awe-inspiring about that speech, honestly. “Let us have all the things that we are implying everybody else already has, everybody including female born people.” Color me undermotherfuckingwhelmed with the continuing misogynist erasures.

60. Loretta Kemsley - December 16, 2009

The arguments that are being presented here on behalf of trans women are stunningly selfish.

One of the things I love about feminists is that they unselfishly give of their time, money and energy to help others escape oppression. That was true the first time I met feminists because I was the victim of a violent man who longed to be a murderer of me — and it remains true today of the genuine feminists I meet.

The point about the trans women in shelters keeping out born women because of their cultural restrictions is a great example of this selfishness. “Just explain to them why I’m more important than they are.” What kind of logic is that? These women have summoned the courage and the energy to try to escape at great personal cost. Their emotional resources are so depleted they may not be able to do it again, even if the physical opportunity presented itself. That means a life sentence or possibly even a death sentence. Just so one selfish trans woman flourishes.

The goal of feminism has always been to help the many. We’ve always known that this doesn’t mean every woman will be reached in time. That lack has always been a heavy burden on the heart of those trying to help. So it should not surprise anyone that the anger at the selfishness expressed here reaches the depths it does.

If this was my blog, I would not let this selfishness be posted here. It is too disturbing to deal with. Whoever made the point that trans women don’t have the right to demand so much time and attention has it right. That is a continued expression of the unearned privilege of being born male. Why should that unearned privilege be allowed to dominate a feminist discussion?

I feel no obligation to shoulder any responsibility for anyone’s problems except my own. I choose to shoulder responsibility in trying to help born women escape the horrors imposed upon them. I choose not to accept responsibilty to help trans women who have chosen to be women and now don’t like the reactions of others.

Anyone who would argue I do not have the right to make both choices does not respect me as a person or as a woman. That’s the same emotional abuse that men impose on women every single day of their lives.

61. donteatthefishsticks - December 16, 2009

“Your entire argument has been a dismissal of these women’s needs.
I call this the 97 and 3 problem.
In the US 97% of perps are men. If you try to talk about it men will insist on talking about the 3% of perps who are women.
Here is the urgent subject of women suffering and dying all over the world as a result of existing while female.
Here then is you occupying the space of an entire thread advocating for the interests of trans persons instead. You may say it is not instead, but throughout the thread you repeatedly dismiss the interests of the 97%. You dismiss them. Repeatedly.
My kind can suffer, so long as yours does not, is the message you brought to this discussion. It is the message men always bring to feminist discussions.
If we, on the other hand, dismiss your needs in favor of our interest in the needs of the 97% you are outraged.
I am outraged too.
You are holding others to a higher standard of ethics than you hold yourself.”

Actually…the trans women only came here to defend ourselves. I’ll say it again because it seems to have been forgotten. We came here only to defend ourselves. We wouldn’t be talking about trans people at all except that we were attacked and mischaracterized and we came here to defend ourselves, that’s all. These things you say we’ve done, I don’t know what that is about, honest to god. And I’ve read all the threads multiple times, followed all the links and I’m obviously missing a lot of context.

“I am also not in favour of ‘feminism’ focussing exclusively, or disproportionately on the male born, to the exclusion of females. And females are the only group around you’d get to pull this shit on. Believe me.”

Like that, what does that mean? That’s what makes me feel like I missed the part where teh trans invaded and took over feminism and our issues now get disproportionate focus and attention.

“Trans activists have insisted that we talk only about them, and then only in ways that they think are nice. Meanwhile, the stuff that we need to talk about, like women suffering and dying, is pushed aside and spoken of as an irrelevancy. These threads here are perfect examples.”

…we didn’t start the threads!! The owner of this blog is the one who keeps going on about what she thinks of trans women, and telling us what we think and care about and defining our realities for us.

Sincere question, should this be my last post here?

62. Miska - December 17, 2009


“I am also not in favour of ‘feminism’ focussing exclusively, or disproportionately on the male born, to the exclusion of females. And females are the only group around you’d get to pull this shit on. Believe me.”

Like that, what does that mean? That’s what makes me feel like I missed the part where teh trans invaded and took over feminism and our issues now get disproportionate focus and attention.

Well, for instance, the way trans activists demand that transwomen get access to women’s shelters. Thereby meeting the needs of transwomen, to the exclusion of FAB women. Both Polly and TBL have explained how males accessing these services prevents muslim women from doing so in a very real way.


“Trans activists have insisted that we talk only about them, and then only in ways that they think are nice. Meanwhile, the stuff that we need to talk about, like women suffering and dying, is pushed aside and spoken of as an irrelevancy. These threads here are perfect examples.”

…we didn’t start the threads!! The owner of this blog is the one who keeps going on about what she thinks of trans women, and telling us what we think and care about and defining our realities for us.

But don’t you get it? The incessant need to aggressively “defend” yourself (ie. bully us until give in and shut up) is exactly what TBL is referring to in the bit you quote. We are only allowed to discuss these matters if you like what we say, and if not, out come the attack dogs.

But FAB women have every right to discuss what trans-activism may mean to us, even if it is inconvenient or challenging for trans activists.

And I can only speak for myself, but I’m not trying to define your reality, and never would. I am a woman. I do not consider transwomen to be women. But that doesn’t stop YOU from believing yourself to be a woman. And frankly, if your identity is so fragile that it is contingent on other people validating it (at the expense of their own), then honestly I think you have more problems than being assigned the wrong gender at birth.

And as far as I am concerned, all female people are assigned the wrong gender at birth – the Sub-Human Gender, and I choose to direct my feminist energy in addressing this, not in helping out privileged males who want to join the club.

63. thebeardedlady - December 17, 2009

…we didn’t start the threads!! The owner of this blog is the one who keeps going on about what she thinks of trans women, and telling us what we think and care about and defining our realities for us.

Oh for fucks sake. This is just such whiny bullshit. You know what, none of the rad fems here spend their time trolling trans activist blogs. There are plenty of places for you to define your own reality. All we are suggesting is that you stop trying to define your reality by ERASING and DISMISSING and SILENCING fab women, and then think you can call yourself feminists OR be entitled to hang around feminist blogs because ‘these are your issues’ too – although the only issue you ever want to talk about is YOURSELF.

And fcm is not ‘going on’ about this stuff. She is providing a cogent and thoughtful analysis, based on her own extremely righteous radical feminism.

Weren’t you already spammed from this blog once, anyway? What bizarre sense of entitlement is it that makes you feel like you should keep coming back with the same bullshit?

64. SpeakingSusan - December 17, 2009

Donteatthefishsticks,
Maybe I can’t answer for everyone here, but for me, Yes. Yes, this should be your last post here.

To say that the transactivists only came here to “defend,” well, that’s irrelevant.

Did the read the post? There should be nothing to defend. This was not a topic on gender or trans, per se. It was a topic on sex and oppression based on sex. Did you even watch the video, “A Walk to Beautiful?”

So instead of having the comments here discuss that video and discuss sex-based oppression of FAB women, the transactivists rushed in and defended themselves so well that the entire discourse is focuses solely on them.

Oh, and news flash! Transwomen have been going on and on about what they think of FAB women too, and telling us about our realities, redefining our priorities, and telling us our definitions of women are wrong, or lived experiences are meaningless.

So, Yes. Don’t post here anymore.

65. polly - December 17, 2009

Try reading http://www.thefword.org.uk donteatthefishsticks. Try reading the many ‘feminist’ blogs where lesbians are told that if they don’t want to have sex with people with penises they’re the worst people ever, and the same as murderers. Try reading all the ‘feminist’ blogs that publish endless articles about the murder of transwomen, but never even mention boring old ‘cis’ women dying. Try reading all those ‘feminist’ blogs that defend sending threats of rape and murder to ‘cis’ women bloggers who dare to stick their head above the parapet.

Then come back and tell me online ‘feminism’ hasn’t completely lost it.

66. polly - December 17, 2009

The point about the trans women in shelters keeping out born women because of their cultural restrictions is a great example of this selfishness. “Just explain to them why I’m more important than they are.” What kind of logic is that? These women have summoned the courage and the energy to try to escape at great personal cost. Their emotional resources are so depleted they may not be able to do it again, even if the physical opportunity presented itself. That means a life sentence or possibly even a death sentence. Just so one selfish trans woman flourishes.

Thanks Loretta. Try to FUCKING UNDERSTAND. No one is saying trans women shouldn’t have basic human rights, including the right to help when fleeing domestic violence. I (don’t know about anyone else) AM saying that trans women’s rights to feel ‘validated’ as women don’t outweigh women’s RIGHT TO STAY ALIVE. The least privileged women in this entire bloody country, as anyone who has ever had experience of the field can tell you. I’ve yet to meet a newly immigrant trans woman from an obscure rural bit of an overseas country, abused by a husband and entire family in a way which is supported by the entire commmunity around you, who can’t speak the language and can’t write, risking her entire bloody life to escape abuse.

I know women who work in the DV field in the UK who are shitting themselves, because they fear a vancouver rape relief scenario happening, and daren’t say anything. Sorry folks, but Julie Bindel is RIGHT. Women’s human rights just got taken away and nobody even noticed.

67. polly - December 17, 2009

And you know what Kimberley Nixon DID NOT GIVE A SHIT about women. Why would someone who cares about women want to make them profoundly uncomfortable when they’d just been raped?

If Kimberley Nixon wanted to counsel rape victims there were many ways in which she could have done it. But she chose to try to financially ruin a small voluntary run service instead.

If a woman rang me on a rape crisis line, and said she wouldn’t feel comfortable talking to a lesbian, I’d bloody respect that. And think, hello, there might be a good reason, like she’s been abused by a woman. Not call her ‘homophobic’ and sue.

68. Miska - December 17, 2009

Did the read the post? There should be nothing to defend. This was not a topic on gender or trans, per se. It was a topic on sex and oppression based on sex. Did you even watch the video, “A Walk to Beautiful?”

So instead of having the comments here discuss that video and discuss sex-based oppression of FAB women, the transactivists rushed in and defended themselves so well that the entire discourse is focuses solely on them.

This is what happened with FCM’s sex-poz and trans activism post too. It wasn’t possible to focus on FCM’s main point because it was derailed into a “you have cis privilege!” thread.

The discussion of sex-based oppression and its specific consequences is so important for feminists to have. Especially because FCM is right – gender has become one big distraction in feminism. And the whole concept of “gender identity” takes it one step further and is antithetical to feminism.

But if we want to discuss this – then what? FCM either has to prevent trans-activists from commenting, or put up with having her entire thread derailed?

That they won’t allow women the space to even TALK about stuff that doesn’t affect them like obstetric fistula, just says it all.

69. polly - December 17, 2009

theres been a lot of talk lately both here and elsewhere about what i describe as gender-bending. the trans- are doing it. the queer-identified are doing it. the GLBs might be doing it, and the non-gender-conforming straights too.

So where are the queer identified, the GLB’s, the non-gender-conforming straights defending themselves then?

factcheckme - December 17, 2009

since when does mere speech constitute an attack, anyway? this is telling. men honestly believe that they are entitled to their opinions AND the “right” not to be challenged on them, in any way. i will post a video later illustrating this point. but the only ones on any of these threads who have been attacking other users, and “defending themselves” are the transactivists. everyone else is just here for the discussion. and several users have noted that there are VERY few places either online or in real life where discussions critical of trans-politics are welcome.

only someone who didnt live every day of their lives in fear of physical violence would consider mere words (online even) an “attack.” women know what the word means, and we also know that its usually smartest to retreat when we are deliberately verbally assaulted in public places. only men are this concerned with the concept of “self defense” particularly when the only “weapons” being used are words, thoughtfully discussing tough issues.

70. thebeardedlady - December 17, 2009

It’s not just that trans activists want to get in on women-only services and spaces, to the detriment of FAB women.

It’s that if they aren’t included, they seek to shut down those services and spaces.

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/07/08/womens-only-round-1000/

The post is bad enough. In the comments, feminists are being urged to protest the licensing of the women-only pharmacy because it’s ‘discriminatory’. They think it should be shut down. They think feminists should mobilise to shut down a women-only pharmacy.

This is not a fucking joke, is it? That is a straightforward attack on women.

How can trans activists defend this shit? They are managing to take down feminism far more effectively than any MRAs could dream of.

71. thebeardedlady - December 17, 2009

The political position paper of the Vancouver pharmacy makes their reasoning completely clear. E.g.:

We have, among other things, encouraged women to educate themselves about their menstrual and fertility cycles, carry out breast self-examinations, have natural child births, terminate unwanted pregnancies, fit themselves with diaphragms, use cloth menstrual pads, explore their cervixes, explore alternatives to hormone replacement therapy, accept their bodies as they are, and love themselves for who they are. Our work focuses on women’s life experience and women’s bodies.
• We are a feminist organization focused on women and women’s health. For over 30 years, we have advocated that women must control their own bodies and make decisions about their own health care. Therefore, we feel that it is essential that a woman be born a woman and have the physiology of a
woman and the psychological experiences of living as a girl and a woman in order to embrace the work of the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective. For us, membership and services are open to women who were born women.

Aside from the fact that I prefer Polly’s term FAB or FAAB – I think this is completely reasonable and it is exactly the kind of thing that women NEED. A lot of women are vulnerable in sexual and reproductive health. Not least the women that fcm was talking about in her post.

But trans activists and feminists are trying to get this place closed down. Because it doesn’t include trans women. Who, by the way, don’t have fucking cervices, or menstrual cycles, or need abortions, or pregnancy support, and yet who still think that this service should be ALL ABOUT THEM or it shouldn’t exist.

This is not feminism, people. Or, if it is, I’m not a feminist. I’m something else, something that cares about women and wants to defend and protect us from the hurt and suffering we go through, and liberate us from patriarchy.

72. thebeardedlady - December 17, 2009

I know I’m behind the times with this one but I don’t usually read feministe cos it’s full of bullshit. I followed the link from Miska’s. And I’m full of rage at the moment about this stuff! I should get my own blog.

73. Loretta Kemsley - December 17, 2009

But if we want to discuss this – then what? FCM either has to prevent trans-activists from commenting, or put up with having her entire thread derailed?

That they won’t allow women the space to even TALK about stuff that doesn’t affect them like obstetric fistula, just says it all.

The silencing of women has always been a misogynist tactic. It is no different when the misogynist has opted to have a vagina. That’s why I said I would not let them post on my blog. No one has the right to derail legitimate feminist discussion with anti-feminist aggression. That misogynist aggression is the exact reason why feminists exist and need to be able to discuss issues that harm women.

74. Loretta Kemsley - December 17, 2009

men honestly believe that they are entitled to their opinions AND the “right” not to be challenged on them, in any way.

That falls right into the rest of their unearned privileges and the belief women do not have the right to encroach on any perceived male entitlement.

This attempt to deny born women their right to be the main focus of feminism is just one more way of the male privileged to try to deny women the right to exist without terror and fear.

75. Syvilan - December 18, 2009

It’s not a privilege if it coerces you into things you hate, and especially not if you openly reject it. I actually had a nightmare of someone who thought I wasn’t masculine enough chasing me around with a steroid needle, privilege? No. I wouldn’t have nightmares about being FORCED into a privilege. Privilege is not duty. Real privileges are choices, or additional choices.

And whoever argues otherwise is NO different than Christians claiming we are free to choose, only we go to Hell forever. It’s not a free choice if you’re punished for refusing. Also you just degendered everyone who isn’t a biological parent, or especially cannot become one. I call that bio parent supremacy.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHHA now transwomen think they are entitled to not have bad dreams. that was priceless, truly.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

hi loretta! hi TBL! hi miska! i havent been around as much the last few days but i wanted to say HI. polly and i had a nice go of it amongst ourselves the other night LOL

heres the video i promised of a man thinking that hes not only entitled to his ASININE OPINION about WHATEVER (insert ANY opinion on ANY topic) but also the god-given right to “not be chastised for it.” joy behar is no feminist, but she is an outspoken woman and SHE KNOWS BETTER. women are used to being criticised, chastised, and everything up to and including SILENCED when we speak out. men arent. FULL STOP.

LISTEN TO HIM DEMAND RESPECT, and NOT TO BE CRITICISED. and tell me: is joe the plumber a TRANSWOMAN?

76. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

No, it’s still a privilege even if you reject it, syvilan. Even if it gives you nightmares. You know, I’m white, and I hate having white privilege, even as I benefit from it, because I know that my privilege is based on someone else’s oppression. I’ve cried many, many tears over the situation, and had nightmares too. But I don’t dress up in blackface and go around calling myself a woman of colour, and pretend I know how it feels to be black and live with racism and racist violence and racist institutions all my life, and think I’m entitled to join in WoC-only spaces and discussions because I never chose or wanted to be white. I don’t go to WoC websites and tell them about my tears and nightmares and ask them to feel sorry for me, and tell them they’re bigots if they don’t let me spew my bullshit there. No, I don’t do any of those things. Why? Well, mostly because I’m relatively sane, and it would never occur to me to behave in such a way. But also because such actions would be RACIST. I think that there are better ways I can be an ally to WoC than appropriating their experience and shutting them down when they try to tell me I’m wrong and I don’t KNOW anything about their experience.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009


I don’t go to WoC websites and tell them about my tears and nightmares and ask them to feel sorry for me, and tell them they’re bigots if they don’t let me spew my bullshit there.


well said, TBL.

77. Loretta Kemsley - December 18, 2009

Gosh, I have nightmares about men being violent. Does that make me privileged or what? Wow. I didn’t know that’s how you judge what is privilege. Silly me.

By not understanding how privilege works, you’ve just proven you are privileged and are not a feminist.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

oh, and HI to my new readers too! there are a few new faces around here. thanks for stopping by, and post as often as you like.

78. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

Hi fcm! sorry i missed out on the fun with you and polly! thanks for the vid. Joe the plumber is a bona fide dick. That idea that he can’t be chastised for his opinions (despite how disgusting they are) is so fucking MALE.

Also, you know, he could be a trans woman. Maybe he is. As long as he says he’s a woman, he’s a woman, and we have to let him into our changing room, you know, else we’re transphobic bigots.

79. Syvilan - December 18, 2009

Actually I also have white privilege, and I’m aware of it. Aware that I have white privilege, not aware of what it’s like not being white. But other people do not try to dictate my life based off me being white. The name I was given at birth wasn’t because I was white.

I do not have a vast amount of expectations, or perceived duties for being white. Further more a person trying to be black, only gets met with a few funny looks or laughs at worst. I never heard of someone murdered for trying to be black.

When you have white privilege you are not coerced into acting “white”. Being white effects significantly less of a persons life than their gender. If being trans ( in this case rejecting male privilege) was less taboo, and less dangerous to the point where it wasn’t seen as worse than being a black wannabe, maybe then I could agree.

80. Miska - December 18, 2009

It’s not a privilege if it coerces you into things you hate, and especially not if you openly reject it.

Sorry, it is.

Even if you feel alienated from your maleness, that doesn’t erase the the male privilege you receive.

Privilege is granted externally, by society. Not from within.

And TBL is right, it would be RACIST for her to run around to WoC bloggers and force them to listen to her moan about how horrible it is to be white (and by extension, to have white privilege).

It would be exactly as racist as it is MISOGYNIST for you to whine to FAB women about growing up with male privilege.

And yes TBL, pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top, will you start a blog?

heres the video i promised of a man thinking that hes not only entitled to his ASININE OPINION about WHATEVER (insert ANY opinion on ANY topic) but also the god-given right to “not be chastised for it.”

lol! What a douche.

I love how she’s like “Oh, you have your opinion … but you’re gonna get chastised for it!”

Damn straight.

And it’s so true that males think they have a RIGHT to not be criticized by women, at all, ever. Apparently my blog is considered “hate speech” among trans activists – you know, because they DON’T LIKE IT.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

as much as i hate kate harding and her trans-cult lately, i thought i would post a link here to an excellent article she had a few weeks ago entitled “schroedingers rapist”. for some reason, the trans crew didnt take it personally, but they should have. any transwoman that laments her inability to use the womens restroom (lest she be RAPED by the MEN in the MENS ROOM) should read this article, and consider the source: kate harding. someone they trust isnt TRANSPHOBIC.

basically it goes like this: you have no way of knowing if a man (even one in a dress) is a fucking rapist UNTIL HE ATTACKS YOU. No. way. of. knowing. UNILHEATTACKSYOU. being on guard against all men, therefore, is NOT trans fucking phobic.

http://kateharding.net/2009/10/08/guest-blogger-starling-schrodinger%e2%80%99s-rapist-or-a-guy%e2%80%99s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

81. Miska - December 18, 2009

That is a fantastic article, FCM.

especially this line:


The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.

Exactly.

If women say that transwomen’s presence in women-only spaces is a threat, and they don’t listen to what we say, then THEY ARE THE PROBLEM. Not us. THEM.

82. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

Syvilan – When you have white privilege you are not coerced into acting “white”. Being white effects significantly less of a persons life than their gender.

Actually I consider this to be racist. It certainly speaks to a profound lack of understanding of how oppression works. If you really think this is true, you know NOTHING about racism and how you uphold it.

All I’m hearing here is that you don’t really give a shit about all the privilege you get for being white, because it suits you and so you’ve never questioned it. It’s just ‘normal’. This is white privilege speaking.

Also, you don’t give a shit about all the privilege you get for being male. You just don’t like being male, and it makes you feel bad. That doesn’t mean you know anything about women’s experiences, and it’s sexist to think that it does.

83. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

I never heard of someone murdered for trying to be black.

Are you serious? What part of IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU don’t you get?

You would just go right ahead and dismiss hundreds of years of racist murder and violence to make a completely bullshit point about trans, and how it makes you sooooo much more oppressed than everyone else. Newsflash: this is racist, sexist bullshit.

Yeah, white people don’t get murdered for not being black. Well spotted. Black people get murdered for not being white ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

Try putting yourself into some context, for fuck’s sake.

84. Miska - December 18, 2009

Being white effects significantly less of a persons life than their gender.

I see what you did there.

But what you really mean is this –

“Being white effects significantly less of a persons life than being male”

Nope. Being white or being male grants someone enormous privilege over those who are not.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

unfortunately, the point seems to have been lost on kate and her trans-cult. but it wasnt lost on me, and it wasnt lost on you. now, if only these trans-cultists and fun-fem sellouts could put themselves into some fucking context instead of bowing to the altar of “LIVED EXPEWIENCE!” they could share in some knowledge here, and some learning. and some, you know, applicaiton of theory to that EXPEWIENCE. but i dont think they will.

85. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

I’m glad you linked to that article – it had crossed my mind too. The initial point she makes is very good:

you must accept that I set my own risk tolerance. When you approach me, I will begin to evaluate the possibility you will do me harm. That possibility is never 0%. For some women, particularly women who have been victims of violent assaults, any level of risk is unacceptable.

Get that? I set my own risk tolerance. I get to decide who I want to be around me, and how much of a risk I’m willing to take. It might be none, or it might be a lot. But it’s not up to anyone else to tell me what risks I should take with my own safety. If I say I need fab-women-only space, there’s a reason for that and it needs to be respected.

86. Loretta Kemsley - December 18, 2009

I did not know who Schrodinger was, so I went to find out. My search brought up a whole host of responses to her post. Here’s one that made me think of what’s going on here:

It irks the hell out of me when women patiently and in a non-confrontational manner try to explain what their lack of male privilege means for their everyday lives, and men immediately zero in on whatever part of it lets them cast themselves in the victim role.

87. Syvilan - December 18, 2009

Being white definitely. Being male no not all the time. Please tell me how it was male privilege when in a tug of war game at P.E, a female sent me flying forward, and all the males started laughing hysterically at me, then ridiculing me. Would have they done the same if the situation was reversed? No.

I am not opposed to a female being physically stronger than me, just upset that people will ridicule a male if a woman overpowers them. One question, do you consider the Draft to be male privilege? If not then well maybe we can agree on one thing.

And actually I am talking about white people trying to be black, since someone tried to compare that to being transgendered. Yes there were hundreds of years of racism. Yes black people arguably experienced the very worst oppression in history, and definitely the worst in recent history. Yes white people are still significantly more privileged than black people.

But since someone decided to compare whites trying to be black, to being transgendered I brought it up. My point is it’s considered more socially acceptable for a white person to act stereotypically black, than to be perceived as both male, and feminine.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

syvilan, that was your last post. google “feminism 101” if you want to learn the first fucking thing about male privilege. and yes, the draft is an example of male privilege. i have spoken about that already, somewhere on this blog. your mission, should you choose to accept some fucking responsibility for your own education, is to find that discussion, and read it. good luck.

88. Loretta Kemsley - December 18, 2009

I’m so glad you made that decision. I have zero interest in discussing anything about being transgendered and was seriously debating if I wanted to continue posting here. I love your take on feminist issues, as you know. But this thread got hijacked into being about the poor little TGP rather than about the issues I prefer to discuss.

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

the original schroedinger referred to a theoretical physics experiement that was named “schroedingers cat” i think. hope that helps. the punchline to the experiement was that the physicist would put a cat into a box, work some physics mumbo-jumbo on it, and he wouldnt know if the cat was STILL in the box at the end of the experiment until he opened the box and looked in. i think its a variation on chaos theory. its a great analogy to the chaos that women live in, every day of their lives, when they encounter men. its chaotic, in a very literal sense. and only a born-woman would know that…altho i am certain the transwomen appropriated that experience as well, and identified with the victims instead of the male perpetrators of male violence against women. even the transwomen with the fully functioning dicks, i am sure.

89. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

Syvilan, you are talking a load of cock. It was me who compared your whining to women about male privilege (MISOGYNIST) to a hypothetical white person whining to black people about white privilege (RACISM).

You got pushed over in PE and everyone laughed. That’s horrible. But how the FUCK can you think it’s appropriate to come and whine about this to a group of women who have been pushed over and laughed at since they were kids, who have been punched, raped, abused, isolated, silenced, bullied, marginalised, laughed at, attacked in public and in private?

Remember when I said IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU? Yeah, I said it in capitals in the hope that you’d notice.

90. thebeardedlady - December 18, 2009

The point about Schrodinger’s Rapist is that you can’t tell by looking if someone means you harm.

The point of the thought experiment is that you don’t know until you look whether the cat in the box is dead or alive, so whilst the box is closed, it exists in a third state of indeterminacy. It is both alive and dead at the same time.

So yes, until you ‘open the box’ on somebody male, you don’t know if they mean to rape or harm you. They exist in an indeterminate state of potential harm.

It’s a reasonable analogy, if a little stretched in places!

factcheckme - December 18, 2009

heres what wiki has to say:

Schrödinger’s Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.

Schrödinger’s thought experiment was intended as a discussion of the EPR article, named after its authors — Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen — in 1935.[2] The EPR article had highlighted the strange nature of quantum superpositions. Broadly stated, a quantum superposition is the combination of all the possible states of a system (for example, the possible positions of a subatomic particle). The Copenhagen interpretation implies that the superposition undergoes collapse into a definite state only at the exact moment of quantum measurement.

Schrödinger and Einstein had exchanged letters about Einstein’s EPR article, in the course of which Einstein had pointed out that the quantum superposition of an unstable keg of gunpowder will, after a while, contain both exploded and unexploded components.

To further illustrate the putative incompleteness of quantum mechanics, Schrödinger applied quantum mechanics to a living entity that may or may not be conscious. In Schrödinger’s original thought experiment, he describes how one could, in principle, transform a superposition inside an atom to a large-scale superposition of a live and dead cat by coupling cat and atom with the help of a “diabolical mechanism”. He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, wherein the cat’s life or death was dependent on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead (to the universe outside the box) until the box is opened.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger's_cat

the women over at kate hardings place are sci-tech geeks. so it makes perfect sense that they would come up with this. LOL

91. Valerie M - December 18, 2009

When you have white privilege you are not coerced into acting “white”.

Rubbish, it holds just as true. As a white person when I call out racist commentary from other white people I am given disbelieving looks and they DO try to get me to welcome my white privilege. It is the same damn thing.

Is that not the experience you have when you call out your friends’ and family’s racist commentary Sylvian? Oh what’s that? You’ve never tried so you don’t know what the fuck you’re on about?

92. polly - December 18, 2009

“I never heard of someone murdered for trying to be black.”

Well the only people I can think of who ‘try to be black’ are those who appropriate black culture – rap artists, white people with dreadlocks etc, etc. But you can still tell they’re white, that’s why they don’t get murdered.

But as I’ve mentioned before most murders of trans women are murders of poor black trans women who are usually sex workers. Coincidence?

93. Loretta Kemsley - December 18, 2009

Thanks to everyone who explained Shcrodinger’s thesis. I’ll have to read more about it. Very interesting indeed.

FCM wrote

According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead (to the universe outside the box) until the box is opened.

Kind of like how a DV or rape victim feels inside — both alive and dead — while everyone around her “can’t” see what happened to her.

94. thebewilderness - December 18, 2009

These things you say we’ve done, I don’t know what that is about, honest to god. And I’ve read all the threads multiple times, followed all the links and I’m obviously missing a lot of context.

Please take a brief moment to entertain the possibility that this ignorance you freely admit to is the basis for the recommendation that you stop talking about yourself long enough to grasp what the topic we were attempting to discuss is.

factcheckme - December 19, 2009


Please take a brief moment to entertain the possibility that this ignorance you freely admit to is the basis for the recommendation that you stop talking about yourself long enough to grasp what the topic we were attempting to discuss is.


well said, bewilderness.

95. polly - December 19, 2009

You got pushed over in PE and everyone laughed. That’s horrible.

No sorry I’m laughing now. Loads of kids are bullied at school. Kids are bullied at school because they’re fat, kids are bullied at school because they’ve got ginger hair, kids are bullied at school because they don’t have the right trainers. You’re an adult, get over it!

96. polly - December 19, 2009

The trans activist argument can be summed up as follows:

But what about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?

factcheckme - December 19, 2009


The trans activist argument can be summed up as follows: But what about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?


yup. they have quite alot in common with the MRAs, dont they?

factcheckme - December 19, 2009


No sorry I’m laughing now. Loads of kids are bullied at school. Kids are bullied at school because they’re fat, kids are bullied at school because they’ve got ginger hair, kids are bullied at school because they don’t have the right trainers. You’re an adult, get over it!


yeah that made me laugh too. and the guy that had a bad dweam about men, therefore, he is not a man himself. WTF? this is fucking comedy.

97. TBL - December 19, 2009

Yes, well. Men are brought up to expect to be treated as fully human beings, so when they are mistreated, in any little way, it’s seen as an outrage and it hurts bigstyle.

Whereas for women, we’re brought up knowing not to expect to be treated properly – when we’re treated as human beings it’s called ‘special treatment’ and an ‘unfair advantage’.

That’s why men think it’s ok to cry to women about getting pushed around in PE, even while women are engaged in trying to keep themselves and other women safe from rape, abuse, murder, imprisonment, forced marriage, FGM, etc.

98. polly - December 19, 2009

Being white definitely. Being male no not all the time. Please tell me how it was male privilege when in a tug of war game at P.E, a female sent me flying forward, and all the males started laughing hysterically at me, then ridiculing me. Would have they done the same if the situation was reversed? No.

The answer is yes actually. Kids are horrible and girls get bullied too, but if that is the worst thing that happened to you in your childhood you’re doing pretty well.

But since someone decided to compare whites trying to be black, to being transgendered I brought it up. My point is it’s considered more socially acceptable for a white person to act stereotypically black, than to be perceived as both male, and feminine.

Yeah, and you know why? Because female is the worst thing you can be. WOMEN are ridiculed for being feminine. Women are also ridiculed for not being feminine. And because “feminine” males are assumed to be gay (the bit I have to keep repeating.)They are more likely to have “faggot” than “trans” shouted at them in the street.

99. Loretta Kemsley - December 19, 2009

That’s why men think it’s ok to cry to women about getting pushed around in PE, even while women are engaged in trying to keep themselves and other women safe from rape, abuse, murder, imprisonment, forced marriage, FGM, etc.

That’s a good point. That’s why feminists must stop playing to this audience. There is no way that we can allow men to define the focus of feminism. This is true for trans women, who still maintain their aura of male privilege, and men who think calling themselves feminists is a good way to get laid. We’ve all seen men who say, “I’m a feminist. I get to run the show.” What’s feminist about that?

But this isn’t the only place where feminists are letting their message get diluted or appropriated. There was a recent flap caused by a couple of black women because one of them felt “abused” by white feminists who didn’t throw her a birthday party. There were lots of “you’re a racist” claims tossed at white women, including white women who were not involved.

Since when is feminism about ensuring people have birthday parties or don’t get pushed at PE? It also isn’t about making sure men aren’t insulted or about defending porn that degrades women.

As FCM said in her essay, feminism is about women being “dominated and enslaved, sexually, socially, economically, and in every other way from the time they are born to the time they die. ”

It’s time for us to reclaim our focus and once again refuse to be diverted into other people’s agendas. If we wanted to do that, we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of trouble and just remained the submissive, obedient wives demanded by patriarchy.

factcheckme - December 19, 2009

loretta, i think that these are all the affects of allowing men into the movement. i truly do. i dont think that men can be feminists, because they dont know what sex-based oppression *is* and indeed they cannot know. they literally dont get it. and to the extent that many FAAB and self-identified feminists dont get it either, i think they are buying what the men are selling: some variation on “but what about teh menz?!!11!” including my favorite: patriarchy hurts men, too.

now, all of a sudden, everything is “as bad as rape.” when women criticise transwomen, its as bad as raping them. somehow, even some radfems who utterly reject transpolitics have let some of this shit seep in. its hard not to, because it literally is everywhere. if its not headlining on some male-identifying fun-fem blog, its in the comment section on the radfem blogs where the transwomen are deliberately derailing.

what i get out of the transactivists posting here is FODDER for future posts. someday i might decide that i can get my fodder elsewhere and decline to allow them a voice here at all. that day may be coming soon, judging on my utter disgust at this point of all things trans.

100. Loretta Kemsley - December 19, 2009

Men can be feminists in that they can support women’s rights, but no, they don’t get the severity of the oppression because they’ve never felt how we live. No matter how sincerely they support women’s rights, they cannot feel what it is like to live in a woman’s body.

I don’t even mind that if a man is willing to listen to a woman. That’s where I draw the line as to who is a feminist and who isn’t. Anyone who cannot accept a woman’s voice as an equal voice is not a feminist. When it comes to what it is like to living in a woman’s body, then women’s voices are superior, whether or not a man wants to allow that thought to enter his consciousness.

It is the discounting of the women’s voices that I find disturbing here. When someone is still saying, “But my experience is more important than yours,” that’s male privilege speaking — and refusing to listen simply because the other voices are women’s voices. Women’s voices are so discounted in our society that even trans women — for all their sobbing about discrimination — are perceived to have superiority over born women.

Having a penis changed to a vagina is not the same as living your entire life in an entirely feminine body. The gender training begins at birth. By the time a man is old enough to decide to lop off his genitalia, he’s already heavily imbued with the notion that he is a superior being over born women.

In effect, another tier has been created on the gender pyramid, with born women still expected to submissively accept they are the bottom tier.

Allowing men’s view (with or without a penis) to dominate a feminist discussion, either in the main part of an essay or in the comments is viewed by the trans women as only discussing them because they still carry the “born women are not important” attitude. Our lives and our issues are as invisible to them as they are to any other born man.

Many years ago, I made the choice to stand strong for women in all respects. I’ve never regretted that choice. I don’t intend to surrender today just because a man wants to invade a woman’s world. Whether the invasion is attempted by claiming to be a feminist, by claiming to be the greater victim or by lopping off genitals doesn’t matter to me. I, because I am a born woman, am the expert on what it is like to live my entire life as a woman, therefore my voice is superior on that issue.

101. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

Been thinking about the argument that if a born man doesn’t want his male privilege, then he doesn’t have it.

Does that work the other way around? If a born girl doesn’t want to be a girl, does she automatically get male privilege? I’ve met a lot of girls who didn’t want to be girls because they were already fed up with the misogyny, but I never met one that was then endowed with male privilege because her dearest wish was to be treated with equal respect.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009

clearly it doesnt work the other way, does it? if it did, we wouldnt need feminism…a wishing well would do just fine. i also notice that they think it would be retroactive as well, going back in time to erase their privilege from the day they were born. so in addition to a wishing well, they would also need time machine. hows that for being grounded in reality?

i also cant help but notice, too, that theres NO FUCKING WAY that a born-man could even make an informed decision regarding whether he wanted to give up his privilege, or not. because it would be impossible for him to know what the affect would be if he were suddenly stripped of it. i am very sure that anyone who DID know, would not choose to give it up. you know, if they knew what women know. and what we are TRYING to tell them.

102. thebewilderness - December 20, 2009

But this isn’t the only place where feminists are letting their message get diluted or appropriated. There was a recent flap caused by a couple of black women because one of them felt “abused” by white feminists who didn’t throw her a birthday party. There were lots of “you’re a racist” claims tossed at white women, including white women who were not involved.

Could you please explain how exactly a black woman objecting to behavior they perceived as racist is somehow diluting or appropriating the feminist message?
The analogy makes no sense to me.

103. TBL - December 20, 2009

Loretta, your analogy makes no sense to me, either.

Black women do experience racism. Even from their feminist ‘sisters’. Black women have the right to object to racism and to expect support from those who call ourselves allies.

I don’t think that trans women are in the same position as black women in the feminist movement, although I have heard them claim this several times. The fact is that excluding WoC in any way from the feminist movement or women’s spaces is racist and oppressive. The fact that WoC have experienced this accounts for why so many WoC no longer call themselves ‘feminists’. So, if anything, it’s racism that has diluted the feminist movement.

Excluding trans women from women’s and feminist spaces is being called ‘cissexist’. But this assumes that there is gender-based privilege held by FAB women, and that we are therefore the privileged keeping down the oppressed. This is clearly not the case – FAB women excluding trans women is more analogous to black women excluding white women from their spaces; something that happens for good reasons.

104. Lots of links … « fab matters - December 20, 2009

[…] over at Femonade wrote a post called “It’s Pat!-Privilege”, which wasn’t even about trans-activism, but it was derailed into a long discussion about it […]

105. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

Do you want to tell me how a birthday party or being pushed at recess became an urgent feminist cause? How about where they stack up in importance compared to these issues:

RIGHTS-TANZANIA: ‘I Feel Like Less of a Woman’
By Jessie Boylan
MUSOMA, Tanzania (IPS) – In the darkest corner of the room, under the clamour of twelve women’s voices, sits Ghati Chacha*, she can barely be heard. Her newborn suckles as she speaks softly about how she refused female circumcision.
http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49659

RIGHTS: Security Council Backs Advocate for Women in War Zones
By Suzanne Hoeksema
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – The U.N. Security Council Wednesday called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special representative to intensify efforts to end sexual violence against women and children in conflict situations.
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48676

MEXICO: Rural Poverty Has a Woman’s Face
By Emilio Godoy
MEXICO CITY (IPS) – Some transformations occur so imperceptibly that people only become aware of them when the new reality has set in. That’s exactly what happened in Mexico’s countryside, where economic and social conditions have combined to put rural production largely in the hands of women.
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48727

HEALTH-LIBERIA: Rainy Season Deadly for Pregnant Women
By Bonnie Allen
BAILA, Liberia (IPS) – As heavy rain hammers the grass thatch roof of her mud hut, Goromah Borbor huddles inside and quietly describes how her daughter Annie died while giving birth.
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48673

RIGHTS: Women’s Groups Take on Laws Based on Sex
By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – When a landmark U.N. conference on women adopted a “platform for action” in Beijing in 1995, member states were urged to commit themselves to revoke all existing laws in their statute books that discriminate on the basis of sex.
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48669

106. Nicky - December 20, 2009

That’s like the trans trying to claim not only as women as privilege. They are trying to claim intersex as a privilege and a right as well. I have seen trans trying to claim intersex as a privilege without being diagnosed as an intersex or having a proven intersex condition. It’s like them robbing the rights of intersex people who are born into their medical condition who didn’t have a choice in the first place.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009

nicky, its all about CHOICE isnt it? the transactivists dont get (or dont want us to notice) that they have demonstrated the very essense of privilege, just by transitioning: the existance of OPTIONS, and the availability of CHOICE and exercising choice is a fucking privilege. its the very essense of privilege. its the foundation on which privileged people stand and lord themselves over everyone below them, the unwashed masses who have no choice or extremely limited options in life, due to misogyny, racism, ableism etc. intersexed persons and born-women dont have a say in the medical, social, sexual etc discourses that refer to and affect them, and they dont have the option of bowing out, in favor of something else.

107. TBL - December 20, 2009

Loretta, are you seriously saying that you don’t think a black woman should complain about racism she experiences because there are other, more urgent issues for feminism to address?

I’m with you as far as trans activism amounts to a derailment of feminism. I think it’s something that needs to be dealt with, and fcm is doing a lot of the dealing.

I don’t go along with lumping radical black women into this same category of derailers. I do not think it’s the same thing at all. I don’t think it’s up to white feminists to decide where radical black women direct their energies or how valid their concerns, feelings, anger, or fears are.

I’m more interested in taking down male privilege and fighting back against trans activists who represent a threat to women’s safety, health and our rights. I’m also more interested in taking down white privilege than criticising black women for being angry about racism, even though, as a white woman, I can easily ignore racism and say it’s just people being over-sensitive and angry, and let’s stick to ‘the real issues’.

108. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

Loretta, are you seriously saying that you don’t think a black woman should complain about racism she experiences because there are other, more urgent issues for feminism to address?

No. Racism is wrong and should be addressed. But whether or not someone has a birthday party is not a feminist issue. People of all races, ages, genders, etc don’t have birthday parties.

I too did not have birthday parties thrown for me by other employees where I worked. I did not react by terming it a feminist issue. I simply went on with life because there was a whole lot worse happening in my world.

I seriously doubt the mother in India whose daughter was just burned alive because her new husband only wanted the dowry, not her, would worry about who is throwing her a birthday party or if she was pushed on the school yard when she was a child.

The same for the Iranian mother whose teenage daughter was just hung for being a rape victim, the South African mother whose daughter was just raped for the third time or the majority of mothers in the world who have daughters.

I applaud those who earnestly work to overcome injustice, no matter what its source. But all of us have a finite amount of time, energy and money to use for our causes. That means we have to judge the scale of importance on every issue. There are too many of them for us to address them all. A birthday party or being pushed on the school yard doesn’t fit very high on the feminist scale, does it?

I choose to focus on feminist issues. I choose not to devote my time and attention to other causes, no matter how worthy, except on a peripheral basis. That doesn’t mean I oppose their causes. I don’t. But they are not my causes, and they are not feminist causes unless they affect the majority of women in their region.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009

i have some limited but firsthand knowledge about the celie’s revenge/OOB “flap” that loretta is referring to. specifically, i was personally contacted by both celie’s revenge and nikki craft to take sides, and i declined both times. what i found problematic about the way this was handled was that the racism that was observed/perceived was likened to rape. i will always, ALWAYS find this analogy/simile problematic because i think its exclusively a MALE-oriented perspective to say that things that are not rape, and are not sexually abusive are “like rape.” i think this is something thats been very subtly “inserted” as it were, into feminist discourse by transwomen and third-wave feminist MEN who are completely unable to grasp the concept of rape, or what it means to be oppressed based on born-sex. i think this has seeped in, and that even radical feminists have started using the reference in certain contexts, when i thought we basically had an understanding that we would NEVER use the word rape in this way.

i am more than willing to take criticism for this observation, but i believe that its a problem, and i wont pretend that i believe otherwise, or censor any discussion about it. i am also very interested in better understanding the power differentials between white and black women, because i dont think its as simple as white-oppresses-black, when white women have little to no power to oppress anyone in most cases. and to the extent that we benefit from racism, its only (i think) to the extent that we are PLEASING TO WHITE MEN, and to the extent that we benefit from THEIR racism (as in, they hire white women over black women for jobs) or we benefit from white men men benefitting from racism (our white husbands, fathers, or our childrens’ fathers are hired for jobs over black men or black women). i think its complicated, and the nuances arent being discussed.

i am not going to go over to a WOC blog and talk about this, but if anyone wants to discuss it here, they can. i think its a source of confusion, and cognitive dissonance to simultaneously experience complete and utter oppression based on our born-sex, but then try to “own” white privilege from that place. particularly for women who arent “pleasing” to white men, and who do not benefit from white privilege through their relationships with white men, theres a piece missing in the analysis, and i dont think it ever pays to ingore gaps, or apparent gaps in the reasoning.

that said, i obviously acknowledge that white privilege exists, unlike cis-privilege. and that white women benefit from racism.

109. TBL - December 20, 2009

OK, sounds like there’s some history here I’m not aware of.

Obviously, I would never argue that not having a birthday party is in any way equivalent to being burned alive. But I assume that the people involved also don’t argue this, do they?

(The person who was talking about being pushed over in PE in this thread was talking from a position of male privilege. So I don’t think it’s fair to keep equating these two things. Because even if it is as trivial as you suggest, the black woman isn’t coming from a place of privilege over anyone. I don’t mean that we should be patronising about it, just recognise that oppressed people have legitimate pain from being excluded, discriminated against etc. We know this when, as women, we are hurt by something that men, and even other women, think is totally trivial and ridiculous, but which triggers deep-seated anger or hurt, or is just yet another instance of male entitlement and privilege.)

On the rape thing, I agree with you fcm. I am angered by people using ‘rape’ to describe anything that isn’t actually rape. It invisibilises what rape is and changes its meaning.

On white privilege, I do think I benefit from it, in many ways. I do think that I was brought up to have a sense of superiority over black people. It is easy for me to not ‘see’ racism if I choose not to. However, having privilege or benefitting from privilege (sort of borrowed from white men?) isn’t the same thing as saying women have the power to oppress – is it? I mean, do we? That’s a really interesting question. I don’t know how to answer it. But I’ll think more about it, and happy to discuss if anyone wants to.

110. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

Well put. I agree that the word rape is being co-opted to mean just about everything except its orginal intent of describing a crime of violence. It should not be happening. It’s just one more way of disempowering all women.

I was contacted about it too, under the guise of feminism. What I found was that every white woman who spoke up was attacked as a racist if they didn’t just parrot what one black woman was alleging. The basic complaint seemed to be that white feminists won’t be told what they can and cannot consider as important. How is that different than straight men wanting feminists to do their battles for them too? What part of feminism is it they don’t understand? The idea that women are only alive to serve others is exactly why feminism is necessary.

I heard both sides of the story, in a very incomplete version. Per the white woman who was part of the original complaint (no birthday party) she didn’t want to give her a birthday party because their relationship was not good. That isnt racism. No one gives anyone else they don’t like to be around a birthday party. There has to be more to it than that for it to be racism. If there was, that wasn’t made clear.

In any case, I did not know any of the parties involved, was not there when whatever happened occurred, and could not judge based on the little I knew. So I, like most other feminists who were asked to be involved, chose not to get involved to any serious extent. That is our right. For that, we were called racist. How is that respectful of women’s right to make their own choices?

I am an advocate against abuse. What was happening was abusive to the white women. Why should I allow myself to be abused with the same tactics that misogynists use? How is that progress?

Especially considering this was over a social slight. The only two things that were mentioned were the lack of a birthday party and no emotional support when she lost her job. I can understand that would hurt if she expected it. But no one is guaranteed a birthday party or emotional support from co-workers.

One woman said to me, “But they’re young.” Okay. I was young and had my feelings hurt. I can understand that. But to rage about it for weeks and call complete strangers racists because they didn’t want to be Stepford wives? That’s so out of proportion as to be unbelievable.

Even if the black woman was treated badly, as she perceived, this still isn’t a feminist issue. Women are allowed to disagree. They are allowed to dislike each other. They are allowed to ignore each other’s birthdays and not offer emotional support if they don’t want to. None of that rises to being a feminist issue.

111. TBL - December 20, 2009

and to the extent that we benefit from racism, its only (i think) to the extent that we are PLEASING TO WHITE MEN, and to the extent that we benefit from THEIR racism (as in, they hire white women over black women for jobs) or we benefit from white men men benefitting from racism (our white husbands, fathers, or our childrens’ fathers are hired for jobs over black men or black women). i think its complicated, and the nuances arent being discussed.

I’ve never thought about it like that. That’s a really interesting way of looking at it.

I certainly think I have more in common with black women than with white men. I also think that ‘identity politics’ has been quite divisive of the feminist movement. However, I feel sort of a bit at sea, really, because I was brought up white in a white supremacist world, and feel that when it comes to issues of racism I should do more listening than talking. But I do want to discuss this stuff and I definitely don’t think it should be seen as off-limits. Just that I’m not sure how to approach it. I guess through an analysis of privilege. Sorry if I’m rambling! This is what happens when I’m forced to challenge my assumptions.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009

TBL, i too think its an interesting question. something tells me that its partly due to WW being expected to own these privileges (white, het, class etc) without a full discussion of what that means, and doesnt mean, that has made it just that much easier for us to also accept that we are cis-privileged. like, well, i dont feel privileged at all, yet i know i am, so this whole cis-thing just felt like another cognitive dissonance that we had to “get over” (IGNORE) in order to be good feminists, and good allies. but we were taken advantage of in that regard when transpolitics insisted that women possess gender-based power, because that doesnt pass the smell test. but in many ways, neither does white privilege pass the smell test, when WW arent in a position to oppress POC/WOC. for women, male-privilege is an obvious and immediate threat, and all people with dicks have the power to oppress us based on our (and thier) born-sex. but white-privilege doesnt work the same way. in affect, race is a construct that has social implications, but not biological ones. whereas male privilege is very much biologically based (as in rape, pregnancy, etc).

if anything, the fact (i believe) that we are so used to this cognitive dissonance, and not allowed to talk about it, and thats allowed the ridiculous concept of cis-privilege sneak in under the radar is reason enough to discuss the privileges that WW do (and perhaps dont) have over POC/WOC. perhaps it would be better to think about it first, and i have been thinking about it ever since this celie’s revenge/OOB thing and even before that. like you, i am more than willing to discuss it, and even think out loud about it, if anyone else wants to.

112. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

However, having privilege or benefitting from privilege (sort of borrowed from white men?) isn’t the same thing as saying women have the power to oppress – is it? I mean, do we?

Everyone can oppress someone else if they have power over them. A rich woman can oppress poor women working for them, for instance. But if there is no power held, then I don’t see how they can actively oppress another individual.

The only other way I see that they could would be to act in concert with their class (ie white or rich) to suppress others, not on an individual basis but a class basis. But for women, that would be power derived from being associated with the men in that class, not a direct power that they hold.

To overcome oppression that we see occurring, we need numbers to create a class that opposes the oppression. This is most likely to arise among the people being oppressed. Feminism is one of these movements. The more we have working in solidarity, the more we can accomplish.

But today’s feminist movement is not working in solidarity. That’s why this discussion is necessary. We’ve allowed our focus to be splintered by others with other issues. We’e been discussing two specific instances here, but they are only small examples.

One that FCM and I agree upon is porn. Too many feminists are afraid to speak out against the degrading of women who work in porn and as they are portrayed in porn. Those of us who do are labeled as sex-phobic or some other insulting label. These ugly labels are intended to silence us.

We should not expect everyone to agree. Ugly labeling simply because feminists disagree is destructive. As I said in a prior post, when someone cannot respect the feminine voice, they are not feminists. The silencing of women has gone on for too long and is one of the most powerful tools of any oppressor.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009


Everyone can oppress someone else if they have power over them. A rich woman can oppress poor women working for them, for instance. But if there is no power held, then I don’t see how they can actively oppress another individual.

The only other way I see that they could would be to act in concert with their class (ie white or rich) to suppress others, not on an individual basis but a class basis. But for women, that would be power derived from being associated with the men in that class, not a direct power that they hold.


this is exactly why cis-privilege doesnt hold true, as far as women are concerned. because its a gender-based power, and we share class:female with other women, who dont have any gender-based power either. even if you accept that cis- exists (even though its impossible to prove) we share class:cis with cis-men, and women cant share gender-based power with men. gender is the *source* of our oppression *by* men, its not anything on which we can conspire WITH men to oppress others. which is very unlike race-based power. WW share class:white with white men. and white men hold all the cards, in every way.

113. TBL - December 20, 2009

OK, so do I, as a WW, have power over WoC? Actually, I do, because of the nature of my job, have some structural power over WoC. But I would have that same power if I were a WoC. But perhaps the reason they appointed a WW, rather than a WoC to my job, is because of racism/white privilege. (I don’t know if that’s the case. There are plenty WoC who do the same job as me.)

I could, in theory, use my ‘power’ to discriminate against WoC. Because of white privilege, I would probably be able to get away with it quite effectively. So aren’t the WoC I work with in a position of having to trust me not to abuse my power over them? Is that oppressive?

Or is this about whether or not I’m a nice or horrible person? If I’m horrible, is it automatically racist, because I’m being horrible to WoC – or does it have to be more than just nastiness? Even if I am in a position of power over WoC?

Sorry if I’m asking stupid questions. Don’t feel you have to answer – I’m just trying to work it out.

factcheckme - December 20, 2009

i really dont feel qualified to answer these questions LOL but i certainly think we can discuss them. what you are describing is not exactly like the situation faced by celies revenge, in that in her situation, she felt she was being oppressed by an all-female collective (off our backs magazine). all female collectives are EXTREMELY RARE, and you arent in one, as far as i can tell. so right off the bat, any power you personally weilded would exist within a larger context of male (probably white male) power. you had to be pleasing to someone in some way, to get your job in the first place, no? (BTW, whatever is “pleasing” to white men generally is usually suspect, IMO. considering that most of them are fucking addicted to porn. is that a derail? unfortunately, i dont think so. but i also dont know how it fits into your particular situation. just throwing that out there). and any time anyone is allowed to exercise discretion, the door is wide open to abuse. this is quite dangerous for the extremely vulnerable, which is why (at least in the US) we have entitlement programs for welfare, where you either qualify or not based on objective criteria, and not whether you are particularly likeable or pleasing to anyone in a position of power over you. lessening discretion is more fair i think, for everyone involved, for many things. but its hard to completely remove jugdgment from a position occupied by a human being. thats what we are there for: to make judgment calls when they are needed.

these are my initial thoughts. i hesitate to hit “sumbit reply” but i am going to anyway, because i said i wouldnt censor any good-faith discussion. we are just talking here!

114. Loretta Kemsley - December 20, 2009

There is no such thing as a stupid question except the ones we don’t ask.

This is complicated. It’s even more complicated when we factor in money or other power creators

For instance, a rich black woman would have more power than a poor white woman.

In an intimate relationship, the man would almost always have more power than the woman, even if he is black and she is white.

Age also factors in, as does “beauty.”

I don’t have any answers either. Just a lot of questions that have to do with unraveling it so we can arrive at a common understanding.

115. TBL - December 20, 2009

Thanks fcm! I don’t expect you (or anyone) to have all the answers, but thanks for talking about it.

Maybe I could say that I work for an organisation which is part of a larger institution, and that institution is definitely run by white men, and always has been, so I certainly think racism is ingrained and inbuilt into the system. As is sexism, for that matter.

So, as I work for an organisation within this institution which is certainly built on white male privilege, does that make me an agent of a racist sexist institution? If that were the case, that would imply that WoC in my role would also be agents of racism. i.e. racism is structural, rather than individual. How much agency do I actually have? Enough to make me responsible for some of the historical racism of the institution? Probably not.

I think I need to think about this a lot more carefully! Obviously it’s not all about me, I’m just using myself as the nearest example to hand.

What you say about men and their porn is totally true. God I hate when I have to deal with men in some official capacity and you know they probably spend all their free time watching porn on the internet and they’re appraising you sexually in that fucked up way. Makes my skin crawl.

116. thebewilderness - December 21, 2009

One of the complications is the need to sort out individual authority over another person that may be abused and the power of race and class to oppress in a patriarchal oligarchy.
Also, despite Occams razor, the simplest most obvious reason is not always correct.

117. thebewilderness - December 21, 2009

In answer to your question, TBL, since the only institutions there are in this society are racist sexist institutions it is only ever a matter of degree.

118. polly - December 21, 2009

OK, so do I, as a WW, have power over WoC?

It’s important to realise that power doesn’t have to be a direct relationship. It’s occupying a higher place in a hierarchy. Not every individual male on the planet has power over me, but they have higher places in the sex hierarchy and can oppress if they wish to.

The fact that oppression takes place through social structures (for instance white western people benefiting from the underpaid labour of people in the third world) makes it harder to spot. It’s not a question of directly having power over someone, but of benefiting from their oppression in some way. The point is that FAB’s don’t in any way benefit from the oppression of transwomen by the male ruling elite.

119. Valerie M - December 21, 2009

The idea that a black woman just made a big fuss because she wasn’t thrown a birthday party by her employer is ridiculous and a dismissal of the hostility that she was treated with. Her own story in her own words is here. I am sorry to see this being rehashed again and white women still not getting it.
http:// celiesrevenge.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-to-get-blackzilla-off-our-backs.html

Loretta, are you saying black women shouldn’t be involved in the feminist movement? Or that they should be involved only if they are willing to bite their tongues every time a white woman is racist? How would you have black women deal with racism if not by calling it out then?

factcheckme - December 21, 2009

valerie, this is an important discussion about privilege, and i am not going to shut it down. because i really, truly believe that many feminists dont GET what privilege is all about: they are more than happy to “own it” on multiple axes, but without discussing what the privileges that we have actually mean, and DONT MEAN, we have become vulnerable to any old dick-swinging antifeminist coming into our space and telling us that we are oppressing them! and we are buying it! thats what all this cis-privilege and trans-nonsense is all about. so you can disapprove of this discussion all you like, but its going to happen. feel free to add your perspective, but this conversation is going to continue, for as long as anyone here wants to discuss it.

120. TBL - December 21, 2009

Thank you for the link, Valerie, which I read through with interest.

I really didn’t mean to start a fight or open an old can of worms.

I do think that white women need to have an understanding of racism that goes beyond simply ‘owning’ their privilege (or alternatively disowning it). So it bears discussing. Clearly it is not acceptable to expect black women to shut up in order to preserve the (illusory) unity of the feminist movement. On the other hand – well, actually, no. I don’t think there is another option here. I don’t want my radical feminism in white-only flavour.

But I do want to be able to understand my personal, individual impact in terms of privilege. My mum (a white woman) brought me up with the idea that all white people are racist, that we are brainwashed with racist ideas from the moment we’re born and that we are steeped in the idea of white supremacy, so much so that we don’t even see it in ourselves and we have to always, always, try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, and listen. (This was her attempt at countering the brainwashing.) So that’s more or less how I’ve always seen it, but I guess I want to know, on a more theoretical level, how racism and sexism intersect.

Sorry if I’ve made this thread all about me (and my mum). And I’m sorry if I’ve stirred up old troubles. Bigmouth strikes again.

121. Valerie M - December 21, 2009

I should have been more clear.

I didn’t mean I have a problem with the discussion taking place, but I am disappointed to see the same offhand dismissal directed towards Jennifer that prompted her to bare her soul in the first place – white feminists were saying her experience couldn’t have been that bad, or that they couldn’t just take her word for it that she had suffered racism at the hands of her colleagues.

She exposed a very personal and painful episode and what I was hoping not to see again was callousness about it. I am all for discussing privilege.

122. Loretta Kemsley - December 21, 2009

Valerie,

I’m getting tired of repeating myself: what happened there was not a feminist issue. It is demeaning to the feminist movement to claim that feminists have a duty to be outraged over social mishaps, whether they be birthday parties or being pushed on the playground.

I’m not interested in spending my time with either one. I’m also not interested in discussing this on the level of “that means she wants black women to leave feminism.” That too is demeaning. And ridiculous.

The bottom line is that feminists have limited time and energy. The vast majority of work that is done on behalf of women is done for free. That means we need to focus our energies, money and time on the most “bang for our buck” so to speak.

All of the energy put into arguing about one thing takes away from actually getting something else done. I’d rather spend my time doing something meaningful then listening to someone who thinks I must do as I’m told because they had a bad experience.

Because that is how I feel, this is the last time I’ll be commenting on this issue. There is no point in reposting and reposting and reposting the same points because someone else wants to misunderstand the point being made.

123. Loretta Kemsley - December 21, 2009

FCM wrote:

without discussing what the privileges that we have actually mean, and DONT MEAN, we have become vulnerable to any old dick-swinging antifeminist coming into our space and telling us that we are oppressing them!

Too many women are used to pacifying those who are angry at them. I’ve read studies that women say “I’m sorry” at an extremely high rate in any exchange compared to men. This includes in business meetings and other places where saying “I’m sorry” is viewed as devaluing yourself, even if you were wrong.

By always trying to pacify the other person, women lose respect and power. I’ve seen this happen in forums where she makes a valid point. Another person comes along and abuses her simply for having a point he doesn’t like. She ends up saying “I’m sorry” as the beginning of her post, even though she clearly knows she made a valid point. And he ends up driving her off with more abusive tactics, thus he is the “winner.” Or the entire point she made is lost in the vindictive thread hijack that occurs.

As long as that kind of aggression is rewarded with “wins,” it will continue to happen. Women need to stop apologizing for having valid points and stop backing away from defending their points. If they become aware of something they said they wish they hadn’t said, then say so but leave out “I’m sorry.”

In an abusive relationship, the abuser always blames the victim and expects her to apologize for “upsetting” him to the point he “has to” batter her. This is what happens to women on Internet forums. It is the same dynamic completely. And women fall for it all the time, even on seeds discussing the dynamics of domestic abuse.

We should not have to apologize for having an opinion and for wanting to have our opinions respected. Our assumption should be that we have that right and if we are disrespected, it is the other person who is responsible for their bad behavior.

124. Valerie M - December 21, 2009

I was talking about Loretta’s comment btw, not TBL’s.

factcheckme - December 22, 2009


She exposed a very personal and painful episode and what I was hoping not to see again was callousness about it. I am all for discussing privilege.


i am glad to hear that valerie. so i hope that we will be able to discuss it. loretta has already said that she doesnt think its up to feminists to make everyone feel “warm and fuzzy” all the time. i think shes right. some women and feminists feel a kind of “sisterhood” affect from feminism, and they want to relate to other women in a compassionate, kind manner, all the time. but, thats just not for me. i dont feel a “sisterhood” with other women or other feminists, i never did. i feel more of a strong friendship, and a profound intellectual respect for feminists who are brilliant feminist thinkers and can write, so that others can understand.

but fundamentally, i am not a people-person. would i have to change that about myself, in order to be a proper “ally” to (XYZ political group) who think “callousness” is a federal fucking crime? this is a serious question. because its beyond stereotypical to expect women to be emotional, or caregivers, or even aware of how other people are “feeling” etc etc. many people have tried to place me in that “feminine” box over the years, and have failed. its a lost cause, for real (although personally i do have an almost psychic insight into how others are feeling, which i think came from growing up in an abusive home. it pays to know when the shit is even *thinking about* hitting the fan, although as an adult i can choose to not get involved).

EDIT: so what (if anything) does any of this have to do with privilege, particularly white privilege? do i benefit from being callous? i dont think so. i think my life would be a hell of a lot easier if i had been just a good little feminine girl, from day one. my “callousness” is just one of a long list that makes me unpleasing to men, as a class. am i exercising privilege by *not* being feminine, or endeavoring to be pleasing to men? i guess so, but i dont think its white privilege, its western privilege, in a gender-bendy sort of way. and black western feminists have western privilege, too.

125. Valerie M - December 22, 2009

We benefit from being callous about the racism black feminists experience when they try to work with us because we avoid confronting our own racism or checking it within our ranks.

It makes it impossible for black women to work with us, which is undermining our cause. And just plain wrong. Black women are women, not bloody men in dresses. They are what we are all about, not a distraction.

126. Loretta Kemsley - December 22, 2009

I benefit by not being touchy-feely. However, I don’t think the apt term is callous.

We are not used to women speaking directly without sugar-coating their words. That can come across as callous only because it is a woman speaking. The same term would not be attached if a man said the exact same thing. That is because of our differing expectations.

Like FCM, I look on most of my feminist relationships more like a business relationship than as a personal friendship. I have enough personal friends. I don’t need more. I especially don’t need to act as if someone I barely know is a friend I care deeply about. That too is forcing a stereotype on women. No one expect men to act as if their business or other professional relationships are deep, deep friendships.

am i exercising privilege by *not* being feminine, or endeavoring to be pleasing to men? i guess so, but i dont think its white privilege, its western privilege, in a gender-bendy sort of way.

That’s a good point. It is a Western privilege to be able to control and define our own lives. It is a privilege that isn’t that old even in the Western world. That wasn’t true when I was a child up through early adulthood. The memory of how it was when I was young weighs heavy on my heart, all the more so because I rejected my “feminine role” even before I began school — and here I am still fighting to remain free of it more than half a century later.

If my writing seems callous, that’s okay with me. I feel no compunction to conform to someone else’s standards. I am not vested in pleasing anyone except my Self. Any person with an opinion is going to please some people and offend other people. I’m not trying to do either and don’t care if I do both. My goal is to offer a strong perspective that inspires people to think beyond their comfort zone. That’s where all progress is made.

Rumi is one of my favorite philosophers:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about
language, ideas, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

127. rainsinger - December 22, 2009

…because its beyond stereotypical to expect women to be emotional, or caregivers, or even aware of how other people are “feeling” etc etc. many people have tried to place me in that “feminine” box over the years, and have failed……so what (if anything) does any of this have to do with privilege, particularly white privilege? Hmmm.. It does smack of essentialism, and I often feel guilty about similar stuff, because I rarely say sorry – although I will disengage and just stfu.

I am a lone minority voice, and rarely engage in internet discussions with the white privilege/racism within feminism issue. This is the first time, in a very long time, that I’ve seen a genuine attempt to try and discuss it.

I believe its too simplistic and too reductive to a simple black vs white, and even more problematic when applied to relationships between groups of women.

It stems from that po-mo liberal perspective, or assumption of “equality” – its glaringly obvious cognitive dissonance with the cis-trans conflict to most radfems, (cis-male does not “equal” cis-female, nor is the ftm situation ‘equal’, or ‘equivalent’ to the mtf situation – two different power dynamics – and I think radfems should be more concerned and focussed politically with ftms … but thats another thread…)

anyway, while the dissonance is more obvious on the cis-trans issues, most of us, radfem or not, have difficulty getting our heads around using the same analysis on the race dissonance. We dont see this po-mo cognitive dissonance of false assumption with regards to race, or any of the other isms.

The liberal, libertarian or lefty po-mo view of racism, and other isms, is similar to the cis-transism assumption – it ASSUMES an ‘equality’ of male and female within classes/races.

I always understood the radfem theoretical perspective is that no female, or group of females, has any structural or political or social power over other females. They may be ‘allowed’ limited delegated authority as representatives or mouthpieces or ‘tools’ of one or other group of males/patriarchy inside “structural social patriarchal Institutions” – but not outside of these social institutions. So racism amongst female-only groups is not strictly-speaking ever structural because it is limited to these institutions, and limited to the whims of the men who are ultimately in control in any given place or time. It is an “illusion” of power, granted to some women who have demonstrated loyalty to the powers-that-be. Women who support patriarchy (in any form, whether it be in racism, sexism or other isms) may get some benefit from it, like any collaborator who demonstrates loyalty to the master whose hands feed them), but they cannot receive structural privilege.

Black women are “owned” by black men, white women are “owned” by white men, middle-class men own middle-class women, and in more recent times, lesbians are now seen as “owned” by gay men. Or as mouthpieces or ‘tools’ of the men who own us. Or as ‘Token Torturers’ of other women, or groups of women.

I think it would be more useful for radfems to engage in discussion over the ways patriarchy divides us, or conditions us into displaying behaviours as Token Torturers (Mary Daly’s terminology).

As one radfem I know said on an e-list, feminists outside of patriarchal institutions, are the least likely to express structurally racist behaviours, but the most likely to be blamed for it.

factcheckme - December 22, 2009


We benefit from being callous about the racism black feminists experience when they try to work with us because we avoid confronting our own racism or checking it within our ranks.


you are begging the question valerie. and you are showing me, in affect, that you dont know, either, what privileges you have or rather, what affect those privileges have on you, or what affect they GIVE you to influence or oppress or harm POC. which is fine, because thats what we are trying to work through here.

you seemed to say earlier that being “callous” is a WOC perceived it as directed at her was per-se racist. if you were talking about “being callous toward racism” thats an entirely different thing, but its very frequently discussed as being the SAME thing and thats a problem. WHAT RACISM? *the callousness. about racism.* but WHAT RACISM? the callousness. about racism. see, that can go on all day but its called BEGGING THE QUESTION and it will get you nothing, and nowhere.

128. TBL - December 22, 2009

rainsinger, I really appreciate your comment, because it’s sort of what I was trying to feel/think my way towards. Not to dismiss any benefits that I get from being white, but to put that into context in terms of power/privilege.

I think it would be more useful for radfems to engage in discussion over the ways patriarchy divides us, or conditions us into displaying behaviours as Token Torturers (Mary Daly’s terminology).

I agree that it would be useful. I think, as Valerie says above, black women are women; they are what we are all about, as feminists.

feminists outside of patriarchal institutions, are the least likely to express structurally racist behaviours, but the most likely to be blamed for it.

This perhaps is also way into talking about the questions posed by fcm about the difference between callousness and racism.

As I am understanding the discussion, white women can be racist towards WoC (being mean, excluding, abusing and all other types of behaviour) but because we don’t have any power, we are not able to enforce inequalities? But as the ‘property’ of white men, when we exhibit racist behaviours, are we not calling on the class of ‘whiteness’ to back us up and enforce our prejudices?

129. rainsinger - December 22, 2009

But as the ‘property’ of white men, when we exhibit racist behaviours, are we not calling on the class of ‘whiteness’ to back us up and enforce our prejudices?
TBL, I see women doing that in many situations, not just in racialised situations – Survival mechanism, consciously, or unconsciously. We are socially conditioned to be dependent on patriarchy, so must please our masters – but the masters face is multiple, many and varied.

There are prostituted women who advocate sex-possiness, who call on the class of liberals, socialist left-wingers and libertarians to back them up, and re-inforce the status quo. There are lesbians who identify more closely with the gay-male led queer movement, than with mainstream women’s issues, and take other feminists to task for het ‘privilege’.

But the radfem analysis I prefer in my own thinking, is that such women have no broader structural power in themselves – neither as individuals or as a group. When the conflict is between females, there are no ‘winners’, only two (or more) sets of ‘losers’. The po-mo language of the po-mo masters is stll using the Master’s Tools, males have defined and socially constructed race as they have defined gender, and while radfems have resisted and challenged the gender discourse and definitions, they have not resisted or challenged the race/class/religion etc etc (the list is endless) – but when that man-made language is applied to women (who are always structurally powerless), it will always be a “Heads I win, Tails You lose” argument.

Interesting in male-dominated political groups, there isn’t often claims of racism, or even other isms. Why are feminist groups, and radfem ones in particular, always targeted for racism? Amazing how quickly males will bond and stand in solidarity regardless of class/race etc when its in their interest to do so.

Such women collaborators are patriarchy’s cannon-fodder. Some name them the Handmaidens of Patriarchy (HOPs) – males use females, to police other females to re-enforce Divide and Conquer tactics, so women cannot identify with each other, at best only with sub-groups of women, like lesbians, mothers, race, class etc.

On intersectionality in feminist groups, I prefer the multiple-axis roleplay games, to encourage understanding and empathy, or good old-fashioned consciousness-raising, so to speak. Which takes it right out of the man-made language of adversial competition. I also think class and education are often bigger dividers than race. For example, I move in circles with many woc who have degrees and PhDs out the kaboodle, and I find myself irritated by some of their educated condescenscion in feminist groups – using their intelligence to put others down, honed to sharp point by classy education. Secondly, they often turn out to be more liberal feminist, and not radical. Yet because they are woc, they are often given a free pass for their displays of callousness and disregard for others.

I wrote a blog post months ago about the “Divide & Conquer” tactics, at http://rainsinger.wordpress.com/ but I must revisit it, for there are some things I dont like about it now🙂

130. Valerie M - December 22, 2009

Sorry, I really don’t get where all this existential and meta analysis is coming from. I merely pointed out that referring to the OOB fiasco as a ‘black woman whining about not being thrown a birthday party’ is inaccurate and dismissive. I linked to her personal account of what happened to clear up any confusion about it. She was treated with obvious racism, ie. worse than the white women. End of story.

131. Loretta Kemsley - December 22, 2009

I’ve been reflecting on this discussion all morning. I’m going to ruminate out loud here and do not intend it to be a well-formed opinion, more like a necessary path toward a well-formed opinion.

It seems that the root of all the various things we’ve discussed on this seed and another about fun fems vs rad fems boils down to this: rad fems aren’t emotionally engaged on a one-on-one basis as it applies to feminism. rad fems are into understanding the dynamics behind oppression, especially the oppression of women, which in turn leads to understanding other class oppressions, thus they tend to end up defending most oppression when they come across it. Of course, this means the rad fems are into theory, changing the laws as a means of changing culture. Rad fems look at the broad spectrum and aren’t too interested in the one on one dynamics or drama.

Fun fems and other fems are more into the social aspects of feminism. They are looking for personal interaction and personal caring between feminists. When they don’t find that when they are in company with rad fems, they get offended, calling it sex-phobic, racist or whatever reason they use to attribute the lack of personal interaction.

But this focus by rad fems has nothing to do with their feminism. It has to do with their personality needs. I am an introvert. I do not enjoy extensive social contact. Like all introverts, it wears me out. I energize by retreating into solitude and silence, by bringing new ideas into my realm and by synthesizing them into new ways of viewing life.

That opposite is true for fems who are looking for more social contacts. Again, their personality needs do not arise from their feminism. They are extroverts who are energized when in the company of others. They enjoy the contact and seek it out. They dislike being alone with only their thoughts.

This could be the essence of whatever happened to Jennifer (Celie). She wanted the social contact from other(s) who are more into solitude and theory. I don’t know because I do not know any of them, but I think it is worth considering.

When I was in college, I discussed this with my speech/communications prof. I told him I did not understand why some people did not like me when they did not know me. I found that very confusing. He said, “When you enter a room, you have a purpose. You walk in, accomplish your purpose and leave. Quite often, you not only don’t acknowledge others in the room, but you don’t even seem to notice they are there. People don’t like feeling invisible.”

He was right. That is exactly what I do. Sometimes I make an extra effort not to do that if I think I must have a way of working with these people on an ongoing basis. But if not, I’m not interested in people enough to bother. I’ll never see them again, so I’d rather focus on what I’m doing than on what their reactions are to what I am doing.

Knowing this about myself, I’ve deliberately chosen fields of work that allow me to be me without affecting others. I enjoy working alone, so I work alone.

I’m sure that others might feel that is strange, but it works for me. And I don’t change because I’m in the company of women or even feminist women. I’m an equal opportunity ignorer.

132. Loretta Kemsley - December 22, 2009

Um sorry. Mispoke in that when I said rad fems “defend” oppression. Should have read the other way around. They speak out against oppression.

133. SheilaG - December 23, 2009

Makes sense to me Loretta. My partner is also very introverted, and gets energy from being alone, writing and reflecting. She’s very much the writer / hermit type person. It would be sheer torture for her to have to interact with brash radfem types. She doesn’t like the meanness of radical feminism, or the fights on the Internet and has her own blog that draws kinder artistic types. None of the drama there.

I, on the other hand am very social, and have had great friendships with lots of radical feminists. I tend to hang out with my older group. The young radfems tend to wear me down, and pomo just exhausts me.

I do believe it is common for radical feminists to be very idea driven, at the expense of kindness and good manners… well actually a lot of lesbian groups I’ve seen are kind of mean. This introverted focus on issues at the expense of genuine one-on-one liking is the source of a lot of the blow ups I think.

Lately (must be my age getting to me) I actually feel a lot more loved within straight women’s groups. The women are just kinder, more connected.
Radical feminism can have a vulgar edge to it… the swear words, the hostility, the unrelenting attitudes. It’s just meaner on the Internet maybe.

We need to honor women’s need for introversion, and our personal likes and dislikes. If you don’t like a particular woman, you should be under no obligation to invite that person into your home, even if you do work together. No one in corporate America would ever have that expectation, so why should a feminist group or business expect this. Honestly.

Oops, don’t know if this is on topic or not, sorry. Just could relate to Loretta’s dilemma… the personal is sometimes just the personal🙂

134. Miska - December 23, 2009

Fun fems and other fems are more into the social aspects of feminism. They are looking for personal interaction and personal caring between feminists.

I agree that fun feminism is very much more concerned with the personal, and individual feelings. A radfem may write something about high heels being symbolic of feminine weakness under the patriarchy. And then a bunch of funfems will be offended and get huffy, and defend their personal choice to wear heels in angry posts on their blogs. Of course, missing the point that the radfem’s post wasn’t about their personal choice to wear heels, it was applying a political analysis to the societal phenomenon of heel-wearing. But libfems and sex-pozzers always personalize everything to the point where it is very difficult to apply a political analysis to anything.

It’s the same reason why we are not supposed to analyze trans-activism at all, because such a thing is “hurtful” for trans individuals.

This could be the essence of whatever happened to Jennifer (Celie). She wanted the social contact from other(s) who are more into solitude and theory. I don’t know because I do not know any of them, but I think it is worth considering.

I can see your point here but I find it troubling, because it is very much a “Well, we don’t know all the facts” kind of thing.

But if there is an all male group, and one woman joins, and then there is some kind of fallout between all the men and the woman, even without all the facts, we can bet that sexism/misogyny played a role in there somewhere. It is just too deeply ingrained in male/female interactions for it to be otherwise.

I think it is the same with white/black interactions too. Despite all the circumstantial factors that we know of or don’t, of course racism was involved in the OOB/Jennifer fallout. Where there is a group of WW, and one BW, race (and by extension racism) will be a factor. I just don’t think it could be any other way.

Reading Karla Mantilla’s response to what Jennifer wrote, it sounded reasonable, she essentially made it seem like a personality clash. But the problem with putting it all down to individual personalities is that in a society where structural racism and sexism is built into its very fabric, no one is free to be solely a ‘personality’ when interacting with others. Because we are continually hemmed in by our race/sex, and their associated privileges and oppressions will always affect our behavior.

I don’t think that the particular racist-sexism WoC experience, and seek to address represents a diversion for feminism. The difficulty in achieving solidarity between women may be the biggest thing holding feminism back. The one thing the funfems have over the rads (aside from male-approval) is that they are better at intersectionality. But they have taken it to the point where they’ve forgotten that intersectionality means the ways in which multiple oppressions *intersect* with female oppression, and in the libfem sphere everything under the sun is now a “feminist issue”.

135. Valerie M - December 23, 2009

Loretta, your argument can be summed up thusly: ‘When I think “feminist”, I think “white woman”, and I have no interest in examining this belief. I am willing to expend a lot of energy typing out excuses rather than direct that energy towards learning about how I am hurting women by claiming to be all about ending their oppression and then choosing who will be part of my brave new world and who won’t based on skin colour.’

Not very radical.

FCM, I am disappointed you let these comments stand, and without rebuttal from yourself. It’s such a shame – I very much enjoyed your trans analysis and thought I had a great new place to come and read. As we all know there are not enough decent feminist blogs out there. I won’t be coming here anymore.

136. TBL - December 23, 2009

Valerie, it was me who started the metaphysical discussions, with my 101 style questions. I can’t speak for fcm but I think it’s fair enough to take a back seat and let a discussion unfold.

I agree with you that racism was obviously to blame for what happened to celie. I don’t really think it’s possible to talk around that and it wasn’t my intention to do so.

Loretta, have you ever been in a situation where you experience sexism, but men (and maybe other women) insist on coming up with any other reasonable-sounding explanation for it instead? Same thing applies here I think.

Not that you’re wrong necessarily about introversion, or rad fems being more into theory than people (maybe?), but that can all be true and the problem of racism would still stand.

factcheckme - December 23, 2009


FCM, I am disappointed you let these comments stand, and without rebuttal from yourself. It’s such a shame – I very much enjoyed your trans analysis and thought I had a great new place to come and read. As we all know there are not enough decent feminist blogs out there. I won’t be coming here anymore.


suit yourself valerie. but there is something awfully strange about your posts. as in, you say you want to discuss privilege, then when we carry on with the discussion you say “well golly gee, i dont know what you people are going on about!” and make extreme demands on my time, when its all i can do these last few weeks to log in and approve comments now and then. let alone write very much, myself. you are on my radar. if you thought you could come in here and call all white feminists racists, and expect us NOT to dicuss it, you came to the wrong place. i very much appreciate the discussion of privilege thats happening here, and as i told you, it will be allowed to continue. full stop.

miska, i also agree that “personalities” are very much tied to comfort zones, which are tied to values and biases. thats why whenever “discretion” is allowed in any context the door is flung wide open for abuse, including sexism and racism. i hate to rehash this particular instance because its very specific, and there are such bad feelings on both sides still. my understanding is that its still going on. but then again its good to have examples to refer to. i dont know how much further we can go by discussing that particular instance, but i think the conversation is still an interesting one and i hope it will continue. although the most i can do the last few weeks is think about things, and not write a whole lot. got shit to do IRL and all.

factcheckme - December 23, 2009

miska, i meant to add that the illustration of the group of men having a falling out with a woman is troubling to me, because it begs the question: *is* it really the same? men, all men, are schroedingers rapist, to all women, as we have discussed here before. but white women are schroedingers….WHAT? what are we, to WOC/POC? what power to we have? thats the whole point of this discussion, isnt it? to get to the bottom of that. but to equate it with sexual oppression of women by men is only a stones throw from saying that XYZ transgression is “just like rape”. and i think we all know its not.

137. Loretta Kemsley - December 23, 2009

<osla wrote:

I can see your point here but I find it troubling, because it is very much a “Well, we don’t know all the facts” kind of thing.

I don’t have all the facts. I do not know the people and, quite frankly, am not interested in getting all the facts. I’m not into the drama of things like this. If that’s callous, okay. It is still me. If it’s any consolation, I don’t try to “get all the facts” within my own family of origin, much to their dismay, because, again, I don’t want to participate in the drama. Had enough of that as a child. It was traumatizing then and a trigger now.

TBL wrote:

Loretta, have you ever been in a situation where you experience sexism, but men (and maybe other women) insist on coming up with any other reasonable-sounding explanation for it instead? Same thing applies here I think.

That might be true. But I have to wonder why what a complete stranger thinks is so important. Many feminists who did not know the people were contacted to get involved (myself included), then attacked when they either chose not to get involved or expressed opinions contrary to what the people who did the contacting wanted them to say. The whole thing felt very dysfunctional. When I see every white woman being accused of racism simply for not obeying a black woman (not Jennifer), then I begin to question the origial claims of racism. How do I know the original charges of racism were fair when subsequent charges of racism were unfair?

As I keep saying I do not know any of the parties involved and only had parts of explanations on both sides. I walked away from the entire situation with a bad tasted in my mouth because the abuse seemed to be coming from the people claiming the other side was abusive. Making false claims is typical of an abuser. On the other hand, an abuser also does a good job of being squeaky clean in public and abusive in private. So which is which in this case? I don’t know and don’t feel compelled to know. Because I do not know, I refuse to make a judgement that anyone was right or wrong.

The entire situation is a perfect example though of why feminists are splintered. Everyone is so interested in pointing fingers on a personal level that they are not focused on the issues we should be addressing. That was and remains my point in discussing this situation at all. Other than that, the situation does not interest me.

I grant men a concession that they do not see subtle sexism because they have never experienced it. I grant that same concession to white women towards racism and the rich toward economic injustice. I grant the same concessions the other way around. We cannot know what we do not know or have a way of quantifying how much we do not know (except perhaps in math but even that is problematic).

Schizhophrenia is a disease where the person who has the disease cannot know they have the delusions it causes because, to them, those delusions are reality. Those delusions are as real to them as my reality is to me.This is one of the problems in treating the disease. If you do not know you have a disease, why would you seek treatment? Who knows how to meld the difference? I don’t. Perhaps I am the delusional one, and they are the sane one.

In the same way, all of us experience our personal realities as different than all other personal realities, even the realities of those who are like us. All white women have unique realities that are distinct from other white women. Same holds true for all groups of people no matter how the group is framed.

I am friends with a woman who is very patriarchal. That world works for her and she does not want to venture outside of it. I, on the other hand, cannot bear the thought of living her life for even a minute. The difference is in how we perceive our individual realities. By recognizing that, we can maintain our friendship even though we disagree on deep fundamental issues.

Sometimes when I saw sexism, others have not. If I believe they are genuine, I grant them the same leeway, even if I disagree. And they grant that to me too. That’s how our relationships work.

If I were to demand that they change how they perceive their reality, I would not convince them. I would lose their friendship. It would be me driving them away, not the other way around. I would have to take responsibility for that. In fact, I have done that in the past: I drove people out of my life, usually because that is what I wanted but sometimes because I valued my perspective more than I valued them — but did not know that until much later.

Sometimes I regretted it. Usually not. Even if I wished I had handled it better, I was happy with the result.

If we apply that on a broader scale, is that the goal of those who want fights between feminists rather than solidarity? If so, then what is the reality they seek? Is it valid? If so, can it coexist with others who want a different reality?

I don’t have those answers for people other than myself. Sometimes I view the dynamics around me as pure social schizophrenia. It makes no sense to me at all. When that happens, I don’t try to join in the reality being manifested. I just leave. I don’t have any other way of coping with it.

138. SheilaG - December 23, 2009

Sounds like a reasonable way of life Loretta. I don’t take Internet fights all that seriously anymore. I’ve never met any of the people involved, and a lot of what people say has no connection to IRL. I have yet to meet any group that has all the information on other groups. The lived experience is just too different. Sorry to say, feminism really created windows of opportunity for a lot of women that just didn’t want the wife/mother/patriarch personal life.

There are gazillions of women completely and utterly happy as patriarchal women, and they have no reason to change. It doesn’t matter what you or I have to say about it at all. Feminism is a gift for women who want it. It is a gift for creating the change some women want. That’s all it will ever be.

There will be no instance where fairness will ever be possible if you are the “only one” in a group of people not of your same background. Ain’t gonna happen ever. That’s why tokenism is so stupid and clueless and why it never ever works. We shouldn’t waste time with it in feminism either. I’ve been the token lesbian, I’ve even been the token white, and it’s still just the token, nothing more. Is it a waste of time to be the only lesbian or the only white woman? Sometimes yes, but I believe the world never gets better for lesbians if we don’t go out in the world as our powerful authentic selves.

In every real life feminist fight I have seen and been involved with, nobody ever truly figured it all out. 30 years ago, it was all a big hurtful mystery, now I guess I just don’t care all that much.

Women can contact you and ask for support. You’d think in this day and age, we’d say that women who choose not to know everything are as valid as those who try to find out everything. Again, when I was a thirtysomething clueless person, I did think I knew it all. I got involved with every damn fight, and if a blow up occured, I’d get involved. Now, forget it.
I feel sorry for women who didn’t get access to feminism soon enough. They married bad men, they sometimes had a few divorces, and then suddenly they found feminism. They wasted a large part of their life in failed relationships with men, and get really mad at the world for this. They’ll blame lesbians, they’ll blame women who started successful businesses, they’ll feel that they missed out on a life of freedom. And to a certain degree they did.

I am very thankful that I discovered feminism at a very early age, and knew it when it was exciting and supportive of women. I feel proud of lesbian progress in the world, and truly joyful for the little things, like Mary Glasspool and Mary Hunt, and Carter Heyward, and Nancy Wilson, Yvette Flunders, and so many wonderful lesbian women who inspired me.

Feminists and women I know IRL are supportive, interested and caring. Maybe we just gained more emotional maturity with age. In blogland, women are always telling other women who they are, calling them all sorts of names, just going off the deep end in the latest Internet battle. We can all get caught up in that I think. But guess what? It doesn’t really matter at all, it’s cyberspace.

Occasionally, we will all learn something new, or feel supported about ideas that trouble us. Every now and then, I feel deeply connected with straight women who get it, at other times, I realize how truly different my life as a lesbian really is from most straight women out there. Does it get me all mad? No, not in the least, because I know that straight women and lesbians on this scale never really shared much direct information with each other at all. Straight women were not a part of the lesbian feminist world, and didn’t really know us at all for a very long time. But now, we have a new lesbian bishop on the front pages of newspapers all over the world, and how great is that. Patriarchy the radical feminists will say, but you know what, I wouldn’t join a mainstream church, but I do know many lesbians who will feel spiritually supported in Mary Glasspool if she gets confirmed as assistant bishop of Los Angeles.

Funny how when something really great happens to a lesbian, no feminist blog reports it. Oh well.

As the world gets smaller, more groups are brought together, but we will never end sexism or racism or any other ism. Nor will we get anywhere in the state of tokenism either. We will connect on a personal level and break ground if we are the first open butch lesbian to join a largely straight women’s group. That’s good, it’s not revolutionary, just good.

I’ve learned that there are sometimes very few commonalities at all out there, and sometimes the miracle of genuine connection.

It is an unrealistic assumption that we can all know all the facts of Internet fights. Ain’t gonna happen, and ultimately it is a waste of time. We can find genuine commonality, but remember, it is only the internet. If you have struggled with major family fights or dysfunction Loretta, you won’t have time to indulge in Internet battle. You’ll waste your own life and time. This individuality in the face of constant feminist battling of course is annoying to the hardened political types, but at the end of the day, you’ll ask yourself: who are my true friends, who would cause me to light up in happiness at the sight of, and who would I go to great lengths to cook a fine dinner for?

I learn the most from women I meet in daily life, and with whom I connect with in a geunine way. I suggest that if a feminist group wants to be truly lesbian supportive, that it have a lot of lesbians working together with a lot of straight women, for example. No more token lesbians, token Asian women, token blacks. It’s a waste of time. Tokenism is not revolutionary at all, and the majority will never listen to the minority. That kind of listening/transformation really only occurs one-on-one, we people we learn to love or come to love.

And although lesbian self can seemingly separate me from straight women, and it does, and what lesbian out there doesn’t get a bit hetero’ed out at holiday time, we are still connected to women.

But Loretta, the bottom line is we do choose. And we have a right to our own protection, our own safety, and our own inner life. Introverted or not, extroverted or not. When we do what’s truly best for our womenselves, we heal from family fights of the past. So I salute your healing and simple honesty. I find your quietness, your truth both real and touching.

And I also really liked your blog Loretta! The goddess is alive! Hope this isn’t so off topic here, sorry for that. I just was touched by Loretta’s vulnerability; I thought she might be an artist, and she was!🙂

139. rainsinger - December 23, 2009

….because the abuse seemed to be coming from the people claiming the other side was abusive….How do I know the original charges of racism were fair when subsequent charges of racism were unfair?
I *personally* felt that way too. I also felt it demonstrated that the power dynamic is very different between women, when applying male-defined isms.

i meant to add that the illustration of the group of men having a falling out with a woman is troubling to me, because it begs the question: *is* it really the same? men, all men, are schroedingers rapist, to all women, as we have discussed here before. but white women are schroedingers….WHAT? what are we, to WOC/POC? what power to we have?

Women dont have structural power over each other,its assumed that it exists, but it doesn’t. The claim that woc cannot hurt ww is also false. Using the “male gaze” we hurt each other equally, abuse for abuse. Both have the power to exclude, abuse, sabotage and betray the other. Because of how patriarchy/society sees women, which does not distinguish between us. Its not how woc see ww, or how much internalised racism ww have been conditioned with. Outside of the patriarchal institutions, its always seen by patriarchy (the truly powerful) as just a conflict between females, who are all powerless. And if there are casualties on both sides, who cares?

The entire situation is a perfect example though of why feminists are splintered. .
I call it the ‘Name, Blame, Shame Game’. We all have anger at how patriarchy treats us all through the isms, racism and the rest of the list – but its less risky to find a target for that justifiable rage in other women who symbolise the oppressor. Perhaps women will just have to be whipping posts for each other for some period of time?

Its also the peculiar duality that women are often forced into. We have to live within patriarchal heirarchical structures, which are socially constructed on relationships of groups of males to other males – ie “human”. Females are not “human” as far as males are concerned and never fit with males within those structures. So we forget those structures dont always apply when applied to relationships of women towards other women. Especially as far as structural/social/political power is concerned.

140. SheilaG - December 23, 2009

P.S. Sorry for the long post! Oy, delete it if you want. I’ve got to go back to my haiku class….
Must be the holidays bringing out the holly and ivy in me.

141. SheilaG - December 23, 2009

rainsinger, I also thought it was not an apt comparison for fights within feminist groups being the same as fights with a woman vs. a male group.

A male power dynamic has no similarity at all.

142. polly - December 24, 2009

I have to disagree that you can equate racism and the situation WRT trans women seeking entrance to female only spaces. Because black women are female and because white women can, and do, oppress WOC. It’s really that simple. And to say you can’t be racist by subtly excluding/marginalising someone just isn’t true.

Yes certainly, certain groups, notably the trans lobby will try to use this to their advantage. They try to claim that because all women do not have a common history, they should be included in women’s space, ignoring the fact that the one very important thing they lack is an experience of being brought up female. Yes it’s true that a lot of feminism marginalises black women. They don’t become less marginalised because someone with a penis turns up (and those pushing this line are quite often white, which makes it doubly unlikely that their presence will neutralise privilege).

I don’t think it’s that ‘fun feminists’ are better at intersectionality, I think it’s that they’re better at using it to muddy the waters quite frankly. Anyone with half a brain can see that yes differences exist, but whatever social grouping you’re talking about, women in that social grouping are worse off than men in that social grouping. Which is the bit they always conveniently ignore.

You don’t get to trade one lack of privilege off against another privilege and they cancel each other out. They seem to approach the issue like Algebra.

I remember a (white heterosexual naturally) feminist arguing that a poor black male trans woman who transitioned at the age of 15 didn’t have any male privilege. A poor black female may disagree with that of course, but it’s still no justification for white trans women who transitioned at the age of 50 to be in women’s space in any case. Which doesn’t stop such persons lecturing about cis gender privilege and demanding such access of course.

And yes white privilege is at the discretion of white men, it’s not bestowed by white women. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist though, even if it’s contingent. And I don’t think feminism can just ignore it without being justifiably accused of being institutionally racist.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009


I have to disagree that you can equate racism and the situation WRT trans women seeking entrance to female only spaces.


whoa, polly. hold the phone. i *never* said that, and i dont think anyone else here said that either. clearly, feminists ought to be concerned with all born-women and issues that affect them. full stop. i would only add that saying that WW have the power to oppress WOC (in the same way that men sexually oppress women) is only begging the question. do we? is it really the same? how is it different? thats what we are trying to explore here.

my point was that there is alot of cognitive dissonance with white feminists trying to “own” various privileges, when (as females) we dont have any institutional power. yet there is no dialogue about or even acknowledgement of that dissonance, i believe because theres a lack of safe places to discuss it. feminists (as relatively enlightened and good-intentioned people) are deathly afraid of being “outed” as ignorant, or racist, or whatever, to the point that they wont even discuss what the privileges we have mean, and what they dont mean. so they (we) have learned to live with a certain level of cognitive dissonance, specifically related to privilege, and intersectionality. it feels normal to feel that way. and its become the norm to silence any discussion about it.

enter the transactivists. they are abusing what is an obvious vulnerability in the movement: we dont *really* talk about privilege unless its to own it. and we are more than willing to accept that we are oppressing everyone who is *different* than we are. (talk about *othering* WOC, we take it as a given that we have power over them. is this not in any way problematic?) and transpersons are *different* alright, oh yes. and we are buying what they are selling, wholesale. thats the problem. its obviously not that WOC arent women, or that WOC are causing the same problems for feminism as transwomen are. i hadnt thought to make that explict, but clearly the point should have been made earlier if there was any question.

143. rainsinger - December 24, 2009

my point was that there is alot of cognitive dissonance with white feminists trying to “own” various privileges, when (as females) we dont have any institutional power.

And yes white privilege is at the discretion of white men, it’s not bestowed by white women. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist though, even if it’s contingent. And I don’t think feminism can just ignore it without being justifiably accused of being institutionally racist.

Privilege does not equal power, women with privileges have no control over them, and they are wholly temporary, fragile and highly context-specific.

If you live in an urban environment, its almost impossible not to have privileges at the expense of others. That doesn’t mean you have the institutional power to oppress those others.

On the other hand, taking as given that ww are oppressors and feminism is institutionally racist –
I keep seeing this statement made as fact, I dont agree with it – but lets take it as given for argument’s sake – then, What is the solution? where do we go from here? Restating the problem, is not solving anything.

Tit-for-tat, abuse vs abuse, betrayal vs betrayal, “revenge” politics? A trite cliche perhaps, but its smacks of ‘Two wrongs don’t make a Right’. For thats all I see happening on the internet in particular, but also in real-life feminist activism. What does that achieve? For ww to “own” it and agree that they behave as racists and they wield power to oppress woc? Trading sarcasm and insults? Guilt-tripping? Bending over backwards to self-consciously check every mannerism for its potential to be read by others as racist?

While I agree racism does exist within feminism, I dont think feminists are “ignoring” it at all, but as FCM mentions, I see any such silence as more to do with fear of the consequences, and feeling unsafe.
but more importantly, I also think the way the arguments have been framed to date, using man-made language and definitions and po-mo concepts of ‘privilege’ as a basis – is just not working.

144. Miska - December 24, 2009

miska, i meant to add that the illustration of the group of men having a falling out with a woman is troubling to me, because it begs the question: *is* it really the same? men, all men, are schroedingers rapist, to all women, as we have discussed here before. but white women are schroedingers….WHAT? what are we, to WOC/POC? what power to we have? thats the whole point of this discussion, isnt it? to get to the bottom of that. but to equate it with sexual oppression of women by men is only a stones throw from saying that XYZ transgression is “just like rape”. and i think we all know its not.

I agree that the power dynamic is different – racism is not the same as sexism, and it does manifest in different ways. But even if the ways it manifests are different, I think they are analogous to the extent that race/racism will always be a factor in situations where there are BW and WW, just like how sex/sexism always is in interactions between males and females.

What I am saying in other words, is that the question is how this power dynamic manifests, not whether it manifested or not (in the Jennifer/OOB situation specifically, or in similar situations). I do think it is important to unpack the specific ways WW oppress BW, because we must have a clear understanding of what privilege means for WW specifically, in order to be accountable. But even if WW do not have structural power over BW, we do have the power to dismiss BW’s charges of racism, and not “read” it as racism when it occurs, and I do think this is a function of WW’s privilege.

And yes white privilege is at the discretion of white men, it’s not bestowed by white women. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist though, even if it’s contingent. And I don’t think feminism can just ignore it without being justifiably accused of being institutionally racist.

This is my understanding too.

145. Miska - December 24, 2009

I don’t think it’s that ‘fun feminists’ are better at intersectionality, I think it’s that they’re better at using it to muddy the waters quite frankly. Anyone with half a brain can see that yes differences exist, but whatever social grouping you’re talking about, women in that social grouping are worse off than men in that social grouping. Which is the bit they always conveniently ignore.

Yes, after I hit “submit”, I thought more about what I wrote. Can it be true that funfems are really better at intersectionality? Or are they just better at paying lip service to it, by unquestionably owning any and all privileges laid at their feet? And as you say, ignoring how absolutely every oppression will affect women, and affect them worse than the men in that group.

But then, among women who bear multiple oppressions, there does seem to be a perception that fun-feminism/sex-pozism is better at addressing intersectional concerns, and that radical feminism is less apt. I don’t think this feeling has come out of nowhere (but I do think this charge has grown into mythic proportions, and has become a easy, convenient way for fun-fems to dismiss radical feminism).

Surely there must be a happy medium somewhere, which is why it is so important to untangle what having privilege actually means for women. Because I agree FCM, that it is a muddy understanding of what privilege is and how it works that has gotten feminism into this whole trans mess in the first place. It is a vulnerable spot in feminism, and it does warrant a lot more focus and discussion.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009

rainsinger, i wanted to mention that i have been reading and re-reading your posts with much interest. i am still thinking about them, and havent commented directly due to not having anything intelligent to add just yet. but this has got my interest piqued:

I see any such silence as more to do with fear of the consequences, and feeling unsafe. but more importantly, I also think the way the arguments have been framed to date, using man-made language and definitions and po-mo concepts of ‘privilege’ as a basis – is just not working.


i think it would behoove us all to remember, at all times, that language, definitions, questions and answers are ALL man-made, all the time. even seemingly simple concepts (like “consent” for example) are framed in ways that benefit men. and the way issues of social justice are framed are done so from a male perspective, always. the language of social justice does not exist outside the larger context in which we all live: where men have all the power, and to the extent they arent all treated as well as straight, white men, they will identify their oppression as men relating to other men.

i still dont think i have anything to add here, and i am still thinking about the issues you brought up relating to the language of social justice. i hope you will feel free to elaborate and expound on that (or anything else) because i think you are on to something here. i will revisit your comments as i digest them. thanks for posting, and for sticking your neck out. thats what i love about my readers. this is a great group!

146. polly - December 24, 2009

when (as females) we dont have any institutional power

You see this is the bit I disagree with. Females do hold institutional power to an extent, yes it is contingent on male agreement and CAN BE TAKEN AWAY, but you can’t say that Margaret Thatcher for instance didn’t hold institutional power. Females hold less institutional power, and it is always subject to removal by males, but they still hold it.

Privilege can equal power even in disadvantaged groups. Temporary, contingent power, but power nevertheless. I am very concerned that there is a tendency to throw the baby away with the bath water here, and say race is irrelevant in a patriarchy. Which is bullshit, basically.

147. polly - December 24, 2009

And I’m not ‘owning’ cis gender privilege btw because it doesn’t exist.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009

polly, we have our own version of margaret thatcher right here in the US, but i dont think hillary clinton and margaret thatcher combined constitute “class: female”. in other words, we might have some individual women in powerful positions, but thats not the same thing as WOMEN having institutional power. is it? whereas when i think of mens institutional power, it seems to trickle down to empower all men who only have to follow male rules, made by men to benefit themselves. have hillary clinton and margaret thatcher had the same affect on women, as a class? i think the answer is an emphatic NO. for example, even as hillary is a champion of international reproductive rights, and i think thats clearly a positive for women worldwide, her stance on that issue could have easily gone the other way. to the extent that women have benefitted from hillary clintons leadership, it is her stance on the issues that are pro-woman. its not that she gave all women institutional power, just by being there. did condi rice give women or WOC institutional power? or did she just show the world that “even” a WOC can play with the big boys…if she doesnt marry, doesnt have kids, and follows their white, conservative male rulebook exactly? i dont know much about thatcher, except that she was a conservative (and indeed a powerful) woman. can you describe how she gave class: female institutional power, if you believe that to be the case?

and again, i never said that race is irrelevent in patriarchy. i believe very much that WW benefit from racism and therefore it *is* a privilege. its just seeming more and more clear that its not the kind of privilege we have been lead to believe, when the way we have been framing it this whole time has ended in this cul-de-sac of transactivism. where feminism has ended up, and is currently, in regards to privilege and intersectionality, seems like the natural endpoint to a course that was off-kilter doesnt it? i think we need to back up the truck, and see where we went wrong. thats all.

148. Loretta Kemsley - December 24, 2009

Some great discussion going on here. Too many interesting points to be able to address them all. Need time to ponder anyway. Here’s a couple of thoughts to throw into the mix:

On the Internet, we can be whoever we choose to be. Unless we relay particulars about ourselves, no one knows who we are. We could be male or female without distinction. Same for every other facet of ourselves. We can deny them or embrace them or try on an entirely new persona with ease.

On the Internet, none of us has power over anyone else except in a very limited space. FCM has power to accept or delete comments here. But we can leave here and she has no further power over us. The same for all of us.

Some people use these two realities to become lesser versions of themselves, hence the ugliness we see in many, if not most, forums. Others learn how to become better versions of themselves because at last they feel no one can stop them from speaking — and they want to do it well.

Most of us are somewhere in between. Some of us don’t realize that we do have that freedom to morph away from our lived self into someone else we’d like to try being. Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto is dense reading but is worth plowing through as she explores how we can transition away from our time, body and location as ways of referencing our Selves. In Cyberspace, I can be this WW — or not. I can be in California — or not. I can be in the here and now — or not. I can remain within the rigid boundaries I call “my Self” — or not. I can choose to flow into another Self — or not. My choice.

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/HPS/Haraway/CyborgManifesto.html

I was fortunate to find Haraway’s work more than a decade ago. I found it liberating. Others might find it threatening, but we all engage in this morphing to some extent, either through resistance or via embracing and exploring. How dependent we are on our treasured belief in our lived Self will make that determination. I was ready to let go, so I let go. Others may feel trauma and dislocation if they let go. Our choice.

Letting go made sense to me. As a writer, I am practiced in adopting different voices and writing about different characters in different times and locations. As a writer, letting go of my Self and burrowing into another Self is a practiced habit. For instance, I am currently researching five generations of women who happen to be in my family but also happen to be representative of the women in their generation. In order to understand their dynamics, I must let go of mine. In order to write in their voice, my own voice must disappear.

Each of us have that luxury in Cyberspace. We can cling fast to the persona we are used to inhabiting. Or we can choose to inhabit another persona, perhaps one we’ve longed to be. We can hide our “normal” persona or flaunt it with gusto. I believe we should do both. At least we should give it a try.

I have changed being on the Net. I grew in confidence in using my voice and in not artificially allowing others to stymie it. Oh, they try. They almost order me to silence — as if their orders had impact. But how can they have impact if they are nothing more than words on the screen? They can’t, unless I choose to allow them to impact me. Of course, for each of those who would seek to silence my voice, there are others who want to hear more of it. I can choose or reject that too.

Perhaps becoming skilled at adapting personas is the answer for feminists, using our choice of cyber-Self to enhance our lived Self and to navigate away from the restrictions imposed on us because of body and/or location.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009

loretta, thanks for that. i have changed since being online as well. for those of us who are old (and *really* old) we remember when the “internets” were brand new. i remember when instant messaging (intra-net only even-haha) was absolutely cutting-edge, and how strange and vulnerable i felt being online with people i didnt know. of course, that was before cell phones too, when you also werent used to being accessible all the time. it took some getting used to. remember “you’ve got mail” with meg ryan and tom hanks? that was on TV the other day, and it was so idiotic as to be laughable. meg’s character was really into her privacy, and “not giving personal details” which literally made me LOL. i remember that as well, clearly. and of course, that was WAAAAAY before anonymous blogging, where you really do have to keep the details to yourself, particularly if you are a loudmouth feminist “pretend lesbian” bitch. like me. or not, whatever. some people use their real names (like loretta and nikki craft). things have really changed.

when i first started my “column” at newsvine i noticed how frequently the antifeminist (you know, “normal”) men would try to shut me down. and they absolutely expected me to comply! they really did! i think it came as quite a shock to them when they turned out to be completely powerless to stop me from saying just about whatever i wanted (subject to some very selectively-enforced “rules” of course). when i got “suspended” for a week for crossing the line (calling out said misogynists, with some swearing) i started this blog, using some of the material i had created while i was a still a regular newsvine contributor. and i have even more readership now than i had before. you can tell how my voice has changed. you might even say my balls have dropped. or not. it feels good.

heres some background on my newsvine experience, which includes a link to my newsvine column if anyone is interested.

https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/on-newsvine/

149. TBL - December 24, 2009

This discussion is really interesting and thought-provoking. I’m not ignoring it, just not sure what I want to say yet.

Perhaps becoming skilled at adapting personas is the answer for feminists, using our choice of cyber-Self to enhance our lived Self and to navigate away from the restrictions imposed on us because of body and/or location.

That’s an idea… I certainly feel like a part of my life is online. But it’s not enough. I mean, I hardly know any feminists in real life, and certainly none as smart and well read and fun as you lot. So I feel like I have to be online if I want to be my authentic self. But it doesn’t really alleviate any of the pain or difficulties of being a woman in real life.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009


I hardly know any feminists in real life, and certainly none as smart and well read and fun as you lot. So I feel like I have to be online if I want to be my authentic self. But it doesn’t really alleviate any of the pain or difficulties of being a woman in real life.


totally agreed TBL. its really nice to be able to talk to you peeps online, and to keep an intellectually honest dialogue going that cant be censored…BUT its not enough. i like that i can be a “writer” and not have to turn out a finished product thats dated before its even finished, and try to shop it around to a bunch of doodbro publishing houses that wont publish anything radfem anyway, since genderqueer and trans! is more popular now. BUT it doesnt make it any easier to be a woman IRL. rape culture and all that. i dont really know what to make of it.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009

oh, and blogging DONT PAY THE BILLS. in fact it takes away something that women DONT HAVE A SURPLUS OF, by design: time. ultimately, i dont know if women or feminist bloggers will EVER have the voice that the doodbro bloggers have, because men have leisure time, and women dont. and feminists particularly are going to be targeted for elimination by everyone who doesnt like what we have to say, or even that we exist, and thats just about everyone. because as loretta says we are free of body and location, it will take the form of a psychological cyber-attack that compromises womens TIME and their ability to be effective IRL…by placing extreme demands on their time with unrelenting spam and going round-and-round on every fucking issue. and by threatening them and making them so otherwise uneasy that they lose sleep or any preexisting anxiety/depression is exacerbated (and most women have either or both, to some degree, it kind of goes with the territory).

perhaps ultimately what we wil have is feminists that arent silenced by other feminists, or by “gender studies” academics. and i think thats important. the discussions we have had here, for example, have been very unique. there arent alot of spaces where we can discuss transpolitics, or even what privileges WW have (and dont have). imagine feministe or feministing allowing a radfem to guestpost! HA! not gonna happen. in fact, my first really radfem post here, the porn-is-rape post, was not coincidentally my LAST guest-post over at womanist musings. i “came out” as it were, and i showed myself the door. even though it was renee at WM who had initially contacted ME and offered me the spot, because she liked my “holocaust only sexier” post and asked to x-post it over at her place. she didnt kick me out, but i knew better than to contact her again, after my first interactions with the sex-pozzie transwomen who flooded my site after that first radfem post went live. (and no, the porn-is-rape article was not about sex-pozzie transwomen…although as usual they made it all about them. the “sorry, sex pozzy transwomen” post came shortly thereafter).

150. TBL - December 24, 2009

I realise the discussion has moved on some since the discussion of racism, but it’s been on my mind very much. I think that my initial reaction to Loretta’s post was the reaction I am most comfortable with expressing, and although I’m interested in debating privilege and intersectionality, and feel my current understanding isn’t all that sophisticated, I also feel that I should be clear that I do see racism and white privilege expressed in online feminism, and I think Loretta’s comments are a good example – they seem reasonable and interesting, but there is a problem with invisibilising racism. As Miska says, in any interaction between WW and WOC, racism is going to play a part. It’s just too much of a big deal for it not to.

Polly said, I have to disagree that you can equate racism and the situation WRT trans women seeking entrance to female only spaces. Because black women are female and because white women can, and do, oppress WOC. It’s really that simple. And to say you can’t be racist by subtly excluding/marginalising someone just isn’t true.

I agree with that, and as I said in an earlier comment, the analogy made by Loretta between the trans woman being pushed over in PE and the issue of racism experienced by a black woman in the feminist movement, doesn’t make sense to me.

STILL doesn’t make sense to me, after reading and re-reading and thinking about all your comments. In fact, started making *less* sense to me than it did before we started talking about it. Which sometimes for me indicates that I’m processing – a period of mild confusion leads to the clarity of insight. But in this case, not so much!

151. Loretta Kemsley - December 24, 2009

TBL wrote:

I hardly know any feminists in real life, and certainly none as smart and well read and fun as you lot. So I feel like I have to be online if I want to be my authentic self. But it doesn’t really alleviate any of the pain or difficulties of being a woman in real life.

Although I’ve been among feminists for a long while, I too feel like I meet more people on the Net with shared interests and not just as a feminist: more writers, editors, and such.

I’ve been on the Net long enough to know that by defining myself online, I am also defining myself in real life because I am changing myself according to my wants, desires and wishes. There is no one granting me permission to be who I Am. I simply Am.

In real life, women are told who they can be. They are put in the position of asking permission to be anything other than the “norm.” On the net, there are no gatekeepers. We are who we say we are. For the first time, we can define ourselves as we wish without giving consideration to anyone else’s opinion. We don’t even have to make our presence known as we lurk and soak up new ideas. If we do make our presence known, we can do it behind an alias.

I’ve used the Net to peel off layers of my perceived Self and decide, “Who gains by this being a part of me?” If the answer is not “Me,” then it’s time to chuck that aspect and adopt a new stance. If it is “Me,” then the question becomes: how can I enhance and expand that to better serve the person I want to become?

We are always in the process of becoming, from the moment we are born until the moment we die. There is no final destination, no final “Me.”

the analogy made by Loretta between the trans woman being pushed over in PE and the issue of racism experienced by a black woman in the feminist movement, doesn’t make sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense to you because I was not comparing them to each other. The comparison was to feminist issues. What I said was the lack of a birthday party and being pushed in PE are not feminist issues. It would not matter who complained about either one, including if a WW was the one complaining. They still aren’t feminist issues. They don’t become feminist issues by attaching the label of racism or transgender to them.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009

TBL, i dont think its moved on, like you i am still processing whats been said. i hope that the discussion will continue, at least i plan on revisiting it when i have digested the comments some more. currently i am trying to figure out how WW have institutional power, and how margaret thatcher for example is an illustration of female institutional power, as opposed to a woman who was basically allowed into the boys club. same with hillary and same with condi. and as we have all heard a million times before, oppression = privilege + power. no? so where is this female power? just saying it exists dont make it so. in fact, just assuming it seems very problematic to me, and a little too much like this “empowerfulized” fun-feminism i absolutely hate. it also comes from the same source: fun-fems embracing multiple privileges, including ones that dont even fucking exist, like cis-privilege. i think this needs some serious attention, and the whole thing is suspect, especially considering the source. i am *not* sure however that i am going to be able to give it the treatment that it deserves. for reasons that are not crystalized in my own mind yet, this article over at UP’s place stuck out at me as being relevent here. see what you think, if you havent already:

http://feminsttheoryreadinggroup.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/philosophy-is-not-a-luxury/

factcheckme - December 24, 2009


It doesn’t make sense to you because I was not comparing them to each other. The comparison was to feminist issues. What I said was the lack of a birthday party and being pushed in PE are not feminist issues. It would not matter who complained about either one, including if a WW was the one complaining. They still aren’t feminist issues. They don’t become feminist issues by attaching the label of racism or transgender to them.


ah ok. TBL, i think you were begging the question. thats where you were getting stuck. are the instances that jennifer/celie noted *really* examples of WW oppressing WOC? thats the whole point. we still havent worked through whether WW are even able to oppress WOC. several people here have stated that they can, but saying its so dont make it so. and some comments here suggest that its *not* so.

one thing that i took away from the whole celie/OOB thing was that its never a good idea for WW to let personalities rule, when dealing with WOC. (or with anyone really, when you are anything except close friends). because thats where you are going to use judgments based on emotion (ie. discretion) and thats where you are going to be literally unable to control your own biases. whatever they are. celie complained that she was never embraced as a friend by the WW of OOB. the women of OOB shot back that they never liked her or felt close to her, so they didnt engage her in that way. the WW charged basically that celie was cold, and difficult. maybe she was. but to judge a WOC for being “cold and difficult” is problematic, because it involves judgements that are probably rooted in racism (and sexism). celie’s expectation that she would be welcomed into a loving embrace with the women of OOB (just because they were women?) is also problematic.

but what was the net result? celie left what i believe was a volunteer position at a women-only collective. one of about four in the world probably (thats just a wild guess). this will not have implications for her future employment. it didnt cause her any physical harm. it didnt cost her any money. in fact, one of the things that celie blasted the OOB for was that they werent “supportive” of her when she did lose her paying job. but OOB didnt cause her to lose her job. what are the affects of this “oppression” doled out by the WW? perhaps contrasted with (or maybe you dont even need to contrast it with) the affects of a racist capitalist patriarchy (RCP), on a WOC who is now unemployed, in the worst economic downturn since the great depression? of course, that wasnt lost on celie, who recognized that she was up a shit creek, and that its a fast track to welfare, sex work etc when a WOC loses her job. and that was one of the reasons that it stung so badly to not get a big warm hug from the feminists, who in all fairness probably should have recognized that. but again, the WW at OOB had nothing to do with her losing her job. and they are FAR from being supporters (or even silent bystanders) of the racist capitalist patriarchy.

i think (correct me if i am wrong) lorettas point is that its not up to feminism to make sure that women get along, and are emotionally supportive of each other when the racist capitalist patriarchal shit hits the fan. its to bring down the RCP, and short of that, to make sure that women have a social safety net (ie. welfare; enforced child supprt); that they arent terminated unfairly or harassed at work; and that crimes against their bodies are seen as PREVENTABLE CRIMES and not acceptable collateral damage. etc. etc. if they want to give out big warm hugs too, they can.

i agree with celie that a WOC losing her job is a fucking catastrophe, and the WW should have seen that. but frankly, theres no proof that they missed it. if they just didnt like her, they wouldnt have bothered discussing it with her. and now we are back to “personalities” again.

152. TBL - December 24, 2009

Thanks for linking to FRG, I shall read and process some more.

I’m wondering whether when ‘personalities’ come into play, WW’s personalities could be effectively characterised as racist, when seen from a WOC’s point of view? So what to me is a ‘personality clash’ might equally be perceived as a racist display of entitlement/arrogance? If that’s the case, then I guess I think that probably I have a responsibility, as you say, to not ‘use’ my personality, or be personal, in dealings with other people. I’m still thinking that one through. I always get personal, in some way or other. I use my personality very much in many of my interactions with others.

I guess there is this big disconnect, in that I don’t think that I’m racist, but I’m aware that what I say and do could be perceived as racist. I suppose I think it’s like a man saying he’s not sexist, and yeah he might talk the talk to a certain extent, but something about how he phrases things, what he chooses to acknowledge or emphasise, how he listens and what he listens to, all of that would still give away the fact that he’s male and has male privilege. And I think that’s probably how my whiteness works for me.

I guess that I am talking there on an individual level, rather than a more theoretical level, and there are aspects of this discussion I really don’t get still. So I will keep reading and thinking.

But – it’s christmas, and I have to go now and drink a lot of alcohol to drown out the pain of spending xmas with my brothers who are prone to periodic outbursts of misogyny. Yuk. If anyone responds to this in the meantime, thanks – I’ll read and respond when I can.

factcheckme - December 24, 2009


I suppose I think it’s like a man saying he’s not sexist, and yeah he might talk the talk to a certain extent, but something about how he phrases things, what he chooses to acknowledge or emphasise, how he listens and what he listens to, all of that would still give away the fact that he’s male and has male privilege. And I think that’s probably how my whiteness works for me.


well, for my part, i will never, ever accept that anything that any woman does to another woman is “like” what men do to women. unless and until a woman can be schroedingers rapist to another woman, the power dynamic as well as actual outcomes not only are not the same, they cannot even be compared. and as far as personalities…i meant that WW proabably should refrain from judging a WOC on the characteristics of her personality. its probably best that NOONE judge ANY woman on her personality for that matter, as there is no way that any woman can ever win, when it comes to a female personality. there are quite literally NO personality characteristics that are acceptable for women. and thats not an exaggeration!

merry xmas TBL! have fun with the doodbros!

153. rainsinger - December 24, 2009

Thanks for the welcome FCM, I am in the middle of my own holiday bash but will be back in a couple of days.

154. thebewilderness - December 24, 2009

the analogy made by Loretta between the trans woman being pushed over in PE and the issue of racism experienced by a black woman in the feminist movement, doesn’t make sense to me.

It doesn’t make sense to you because I was not comparing them to each other. The comparison was to feminist issues. What I said was the lack of a birthday party and being pushed in PE are not feminist issues. It would not matter who complained about either one, including if a WW was the one complaining. They still aren’t feminist issues. They don’t become feminist issues by attaching the label of racism or transgender to them.

If you are saying that the racism expressed within a feminist group is an issue for the group to deal with and not a feminist issue for all other feminists to deal with, I sorta agree. Racism is an issue all peoples need to deal with.

It still doesn’t make sense to me that the examples of non feminist issues you cited were men insisting that transgender is a feminist issue and a black woman claiming that she was subjected to racism in a feminist group.

I think we are back around to that goofy argument that if a self identified feminist does it it must by definition be a feminist act.
No. Just no.
That or else I still don’t get it.

155. thebewilderness - December 24, 2009

The other thing I am having trouble with is the idea that feminist issues are the only issue feminists should concern themselves with what with our lack of resources and all.
I would not want to be a person who could wear the sort of blinders that would require.

156. Loretta Kemsley - December 24, 2009

TBL wrote

I’m wondering whether when ‘personalities’ come into play, WW’s personalities could be effectively characterized as racist, when seen from a WOC’s point of view? So what to me is a ‘personality clash’ might equally be perceived as a racist display of entitlement/arrogance? If that’s the case, then I guess I think that probably I have a responsibility, as you say, to not ‘use’ my personality, or be personal, in dealings with other people. I’m still thinking that one through. I always get personal, in some way or other. I use my personality very much in many of my interactions with others.

The answer to your two questions are yes. However, you cannot stop being you and should not stop being you. That would place you in the position of walking on egg shells, always afraid to offend, and that’s not healthy. In fact, women in abusive relationships have to do that all the time.

If you want to change how you exist in the world, you should do so. But you should not do so as an attempt to not ever hurt someone’s feelings.

Everyone who has an opinion is going to offend someone at some time, perhaps a lot of someones. My dad told me if two people always agree, then one of them is not necessary. Do we want to be unnecessary? I don’t. I don’t want anyone else to be either.

Women are taught from birth to “play nice.” They’re supposed to “play nice” even at their own expense. “Nice” is a word used to enforce the subjugation of women, so I reject that as a description of my Self. Nice should be a decision we make, not a way of life. If I so choose, I can act nice in the moment — or not. It should not be my role in life and it should not be yours.

You also should not fear someone thinking, “Oh, she’s not nice.” That is not a proper judgment to pronounce upon someone. If they think, “She’s not being nice,” that’s okay. So keep in mind that nice is a verb, not a noun.

One of the epiphany moments I had in life is realizing I cannot change the events in my life, but I can change how I feel about them. That may sound trite to some, but to one who has been abused, it can be a sea change in life. I don’t need to do my abusers’ work for them. I can set down that heavy load of self-condemnation and walk straight through life with my head held high. I don’t have to replay the ugly tapes in my head. I can toss them out and replace them with something new.

I do not doubt that Jeniffer was extremely hurt. She said so, and I take her word for it. I also do not doubt that the other women involved were hurt. I only heard the voice of one of them, but it was a hurt voice. The same with the boy who was pushed on the playground. We should accept the pain he expressed because it is his truth.

If they were in my circle of friends, I would offer comfort all the way around, including both women who disagreed. The same for any one I felt close enough to. But I would have to fake it to pretend to provide comfort to someone I do not know and I would not ever offer comfort to someone who was abusing me (as happened to the white women who tried to respond). I don’t have that in me.

Your being personal with these issues is you being you. Will you make mistakes? Sure will. So do I. We all do, and that’s okay. That does not make us bad people. It simply makes us people.

157. on whiteness « the bearded lady's radical feminist disco of rage - December 27, 2009

[…] feminist, and I want to talk about racism. This is largely in response to a discussion over at femonade, and because as a new rad fem blogger, I want to articulate my views on this. It’s a work in […]

158. TBL - December 27, 2009

I’ve just posted a sort of response to this discussion over at my place. It doesn’t fully address everyone’s points here, by any means, but I needed more space to articulate my views.

159. TBL - December 27, 2009

Loretta, I am not so concerned about not hurting feelings as I am about not being racist. And where you see hurt feelings, I see hurt feelings due to racism. It’s not a question of being nice or not nice, really.

I think I’ve addressed some of your other points in my post – but if I haven’t, I’m happy to discuss further here or there.

160. Loretta Kemsley - December 27, 2009

TBL wrote:

Loretta, I am not so concerned about not hurting feelings as I am about not being racist. And where you see hurt feelings, I see hurt feelings due to racism. It’s not a question of being nice or not nice, really.

I hope in your discussion you’ve also addressed the hurt feelings of the WW caused by the BW attacking them for simply being white and holding an opinion. No woman should have to endure attempts to silence her because the person who she is speaking to is hearing something they don’t like. That’s verbal abuse. No one should have to endure abuse, and no one should use race as an excuse to be abusive.

What do you call a BW attacking a WW because she is a WW? People argue that isn’t racism because the BW don’t have the political power to inflict racism. But WW also don’t have political power to inflict institutionalized racism. Any such power is only derived from WM.

So how can it be racism from WW to BW, but not racism from BW to WW when neither has that power?

FCM is right. These are points that need to be fully discussed.

I hope your discussion delves deeply into this.

161. TBL - December 27, 2009

Loretta, I disagree. I think WW do have power to inflict institutional racism. I think it’s ‘borrowed’ power, and it’s contingent on WM’s cooperation, but it still has the same outcome of silencing, discrediting, erasing, humiliating, and invisibilising black women’s voices. Therefore it is racist. BW calling WW names may well be hurtful, and it might be unfair sometimes, too, but I don’t believe in reverse racism anymore than I believe in reverse sexism. I do address this in my post, but probably not in a way you would find agreeable.

162. Loretta Kemsley - December 27, 2009

I noticed you did not address the behavior of the BW in this particular instance. When you spoke abou Jenifer, you were addressing the experience of one woman. Why keep going to the broad spectrum when discussing what WW experience? Are WW not important as individuals too?

What is your opinion of how the BW treated the WW in this particular instance? Do these particular BW have the right to abuse these particular WW because they are white? They made it very clear that’s why they were attacking the WW. That and the WW would not obey their dictates to, without question, attack other WW on the BW orders. Should WW have to be obedient to BW?

What about the WW who were present at OOB. The one who spoke out (I only saw one, so if there were more, I don’t know what they said) said she did not want to give Jen a birthday party because of the way Jen treated her. Do WW have the right to not be around or do things for BW when there are hard feelings between them? Are you so sure that those hard feelings were caused by racism and not abuse on the part of Jen?

Because what I witnessed was WW being abused by BW, not the other way around. If your argument is that WW cannot then recoil, react or speak out about their exprience, then that means WW are being denied their human rights, does it not? They are being rendered invisible — which is what is happening in the way you discuss Jen as an individual but WW only as a class.

If your argument is that the WW are automatically wrong because they are white, then how is that not reverse racism? Is racism not based on a person’s race? If you do not want to call it reverse racism, then tell me what you do call it. The fact that WW were abused by BW just because they were white must be recognized and have a name.

WW seem to have become the easy whipping girls. It’s easier to blame them than to confront men or themselves over their continued acceptance of patriarchal imbalances. And WW are too accepting of that role. They are participating in their own abuse because of a cultural myth that they are inherently racist. No one should expect WW to be silenced by abusive BW anymore than they should expect any women to be silenced by abusive men.

There are important questions to answer if we are going to solve this problem between women. I have spent forty years as an advocate on behalf of women who are victims of DV. I’ve sat in court, supporting women of all races while they endure the arraignment and trials of their abusers. I got news. Blood pouring from a broken nose is always red. Eyes that are swollen shut are always black and blue. There is no other color when a woman is appearing in court looking like someone wanted to maim or kill her.

163. TBL - December 27, 2009

What is your opinion of how the BW treated the WW in this particular instance? Do these particular BW have the right to abuse these particular WW because they are white? They made it very clear that’s why they were attacking the WW. That and the WW would not obey their dictates to, without question, attack other WW on the BW orders. Should WW have to be obedient to BW?

I am not familiar with this particular instance, except from what I’ve read here and the links Valerie provided upthread. I don’t know of any abusive behaviour on the part of jennifer/celie. You’ll have noted that my post is on the subject of whiteness/white privilege amongst women and feminists – not on this specific instance which I wasn’t involved with in any way.

I object to the framing of the question ’should WW have to be obedient to BW?’ Obedient? Orders? Dictates? Should anyone be obedient to anyone? Who is supposed to be dictating here? When have you been ordered to obey? What are the consequences of not obeying? I don’t get this language, at all.

If your argument is that the WW are automatically wrong because they are white

It isn’t.

WW seem to have become the easy whipping girls.

Bullshit. I rarely get called on my whiteness, on racism, on white privilege – I never get excluded or isolated from mixed groups of women – I’m never the only white woman – I never get told I’m making something out of nothing because I’m white – I never have to worry about not being accepted in women-only space – I never get told that I’m a deficient woman because of the colour of my skin. But black women are constantly told they’re ‘playing the race card’, are excluded, are seen as deficient, etc etc. You are seeing this from a very particular, very partial point of view if you really believe WW are worse off than BW/WOC.

They are participating in their own abuse because of a cultural myth that they are inherently racist.

I don’t believe that WW are inherently racist. But I think we are taught to use our whiteness to our advantage. I’m not a racist. I strive not to be racist. But it’s pretty impossible to grow up as a white person in white supremacist society and not to adopt some sense of superiority over non-white people. How this plays out, in feminism, where most WW would see themselves as anti-racist, is of interest to me, and understanding how white privilege works for white women is of interest to me. The reason it’s of interest to me is because I think that WW need to work out how to develop the bonds of sisterhood with BW.

factcheckme - December 27, 2009

its ok TBL. i initially fixed it for you, but since you have now fixed it for yourself, i trashed the other one and posted your edit.

164. Loretta Kemsley - December 27, 2009

TBL wrote:

I object to the framing of the question ’should WW have to be obedient to BW?’ Obedient? Orders? Dictates? Should anyone be obedient to anyone? Who is supposed to be dictating here? When have you been ordered to obey? What are the consequences of not obeying? I don’t get this language, at all.

That is what happened over the OOB incident. WW were contacted with an urgent email, demanding that they support Jen. (not by Jen). When WW declined to get involved because they did not have all the facts or disagreed with the view of the BW who contacted them, they were viciously attacked. If that was not demanding obedience, then what was it?

But I think we are taught to use our whiteness to our advantage. I’m not a racist. I strive not to be racist. But it’s pretty impossible to grow up as a white person in white supremacist society and not to adopt some sense of superiority over non-white people

I agree — but that’s not the same as being a racist, which you obviously recognize. Yet WW are being accused of being racist if they disagree with BW. That’s isn’t fair and BW need to be called on it. I’ve heard many excuses for it, but there is no excuse for abuse.

You are seeing this from a very particular, very partial point of view if you really believe WW are worse off than BW/WOC.

Where did I say that WW were worse off than BW? Extreme rhetoric keeps us from being able to discuss this and make progress. Please reread what I wrote. WW should not be attacked just for being WW. That isn’t right. It especially isn’t right when those doing the attacking (in Jen’s case, BW) are doing it using patriarchal class distinctions and tactics. Abuse is abuse. It all must end, not just the part that harms BW.

If you reread the comments made here and elsewhere about the OOB incident, you will see those who claim it was racism (which we cannot know if we were not there) also argue that the WW who were involved should not be able to deny what they did was racist. That is unfair. It silences their voice. They have an equal right to express their perception of what happened there and to have their perceptions weighed in the balance.

We should not create a new injustice because we recognize an older injustice exists.

165. rainsinger - December 27, 2009

I’m late again as the discussion has moved on.
fatcheckme wrote:
well, for my part, i will never, ever accept that anything that any woman does to another woman is “like” what men do to women. unless and until a woman can be schroedingers rapist to another woman, the power dynamic as well as actual outcomes not only are not the same, they cannot even be compared….

*nodding* along here – for some women, the *personal * trumps the *political*.

As a lesbian I can feel excluded and marginalised by majority non-lesbian women in feminist groups – as a mother I often feel out-of-place with other lesbians who are mostly child-free who have some bigoted ideas about mothers-as-a-class. As an older woman, I can sometimes feel uncomfortable and irritated around young women, with either being ignored, marginalised, or being stereotyped as the Eternal Maternal.

My own biggest personal issue, is socio-economic class related, and I have had life-long issues of rage when around a majority of middle-class educated women, socially or politically – as I was raised poor-white trash, with a mixed ‘league of nations’ genetic parentage and have close cultural roots with poc.

My own personal experience in the world, has been class generally trumps race, but I have been told that my experience is “not representative”, and hence my experience is usually invalidated and discredited. On the internet, I don’t see too many woc understanding or unpacking their own sets of privileges. I have worked in countries where Americans are hated for their nationality, and black American women are perceived to have equivalent social and political and institutional power to white American women. To some women, the nationality trumps the skin colour. They see Oprah, Condi Rice and others in film and music and politics, and think American black women have it all.

But, I don’t see any of these interactions or my discomfort with it, (even when I have felt full of rage by the playing out of these intersections) as an exercise of structural or institutionalised “power” or “privilege” by the other women-as-class inside feminist groups.

Because such power between women is not institutionalised or structural in the broader political and social sense, and at the end of the day – it is nothing like the power of what men can do to me. It cannot be compared, chalk and cheese…as FCM mentions.

Of course individual women can exercise ‘borrowed’ institutional power from all these isms, but they are mostly ‘exceptions’ that prove the rule inside patriarchal institutions, but inside feminist collectives those rules don’t hold anywhere near as much weight anyway.

Individuals may have internalised racism and ageism and classism and so on, and the power to hurt me personally by their internalised shit, but I also have an equivalent power to hurt back if I choose to use it. In my own personal way, I call this female-female conflict, “8th grade girls bathroom politics”. And like the junior high-school girls bathrooms, it doesn’t resolve anything and the outcomes are usually two sets of losers with men laughing on the sidelines.

As for the outcomes in this particular case, what resulted? A feminist magazine goes under. A handful of feminist women scatter in the aftermath, lose energy, lose interest and go elsewhere. Who cares in the mainstream? Men were probably laughing all the way to the bank.

166. TBL - December 27, 2009

I am frustrated beyond words at what I’m reading here. Don’t assume that my disagreement is because I haven’t read and re-read the comments. Loretta, I’m not surprised if you’ve been accused of racism. Seriously. I’m not interested in continuing this discussion with you. I’m out.

factcheckme - December 27, 2009

rainsinger, TBL has invited this discussion to continue over at her place, and has written an article specifically addressing this issue. i am willing to further this discussion there, if you and TBL want to? i dont think we have “moved on” as much as (at least i) dont feel i have anything intelligent to add, at this point. let me know if you head over there, and i will check in. thanks for posting.

167. Loretta Kemsley - December 27, 2009

rainsigner wrote:

My own personal experience in the world, has been class generally trumps race, but I have been told that my experience is “not representative”, and hence my experience is usually invalidated and discredited. On the internet, I don’t see too many woc understanding or unpacking their own sets of privileges.

This is what I am trying to say: that individual women’s experiences are not being respected, depending upon who the challenger is. If the challenge comes from a man, it is damaging. If it is another woman, it can be just as damaging when the same structural tactics are used and the woman is abused.

As for the outcomes in this particular case, what resulted? A feminist magazine goes under. A handful of feminist women scatter in the aftermath, lose energy, lose interest and go elsewhere. Who cares in the mainstream? Men were probably laughing all the way to the bank.

I had not heard that OOB went under. I hope that did not happen. It is the oldest feminist publication we have. But yes, this is the aftermath in too many situations when women choose to fight other women instead of standing firm against the common enemy of patriarchy.

I suspect not enough women have bothered to learn the principles of patriarchy and how they infect all of us. Certainly I saw them on display in the OOB debacle, used by BW against WW. Like men who use its ugly tenets, the BW denied they were abusive, and yet they obviously were. Anyone who wanted to compare what they were saying to the traits of verbal abuse listed at http://verbalabuse.com could plainly see what was happening.

Women of all classes need to reject the abusive practices that have been used to hold all women down. We will never overcome subjugation and abuse if we practice it ourselves.

168. Loretta Kemsley - December 27, 2009

TBL wrote:

Loretta, I’m not surprised if you’ve been accused of racism

I tried to avoid this whole exchange by talking about larger issues. You chose to relate everything I said to race. So I finally respond and now you don’t want to discuss it.

I stood up for the WW who were being attacked, and so I am a racist. Do you see how WW are being told to STFU? I regularly stand up for anyone who is being unfairly attacked. We need to do this if we are going to eliminate abuse. That should be the goal of everyone. Why should WW be exempted from wanting to be free from abuse? Why should they have to STFU when they are the victims of abuse from BW? BW are not in a special class that gets to be abusive without repurcussions.

It has to be discussed, not run away from if we are ever to achieve equality, whether it is equality based on sex or equality based on race.

169. Nikki Craft - December 30, 2009

factcheckme wrote:
“i have some limited but firsthand knowledge about the celie’s revenge/OOB “flap” that loretta is referring to. specifically, i was personally contacted by both celie’s revenge and nikki craft to take sides, and i declined both times. what i found problematic about the way this was handled was that the racism that was observed/perceived was likened to rape.”

Can you please remind me when, according to you, that I asked you to “take sides”? In fact it’s my memory that I did just the opposite. At that time I wrote to you offering you support, to send you information and connect you with several women I felt might be supportive to you. I didn’t not know you at that time and since then have only had a few email exchanges with you. At no time do i recall asking you to take sides. Refresh my memory will you please?

Someone sent me the information on this thread and other than what I am posting here I will not be able to keep up reading it, or be be able to reply to any further accusations made in it. I will be posting some related documents to this discussion at the url included with this post in case anyone should be interested to read them.

The articles that are currently there are:

TWENTY (or so) SMALL REASONS WHY NIKKI CRAFT
CANNOT BE A WHITE SUPREMACIST (!!)
http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/twentyorso.html

Sheila Jeffrey is a WHITE SUPREMACIST RACIST!!
http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/ShielaJeffreysisaWHITESUPREMACIST.html

170. Nikki Craft - December 31, 2009

Here’s the index listing for the files I’m loading up now:
http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/

Here’s a section i just added:
The Lie Detector: The case of Kim P. being a WHITE SUPREMACIST RACIST… according to Jennifer McLune & Jennifer McLune’s misrepresentation of the White Woman Shopper backing up the Racist Store Clerk in the video “Shopping While Black …”. [
http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/KimP.html

factcheckme - December 31, 2009

nikki, i am letting these through because you included links that people might be interested in reading. but thats it. cut it the fuck out. m-kay?

factcheckme - December 31, 2009

after doing some reading over at nikkis place, i wanted to comment (nikkis is a website, not a blog, so i cant comment over there). something i noticed is that theres is a tendancy to notice how racism affects US, as white women. as in, this racist thing i saw really *upset* me. this white guy doing a horrible thing to a black man *upset* me. and IT IS UPSETTING. yes it certainly is. to see any man acting aggressive and entitled and abusing another person, quite frankly, is a big fat fucking red flag that he is very likely to be a RAPIST. and thats nothing that any woman should ignore. when nikki jumped out of a car rather than spend the rest of the night driving around with 2 drunk, aggressively racist men, frankly i think it was a great idea, as she was probably in the car with two fucking RAPISTS. and i suspect that instinctively she knew that. or at least, recoiling at the sight of it was consistent with her own self-preservation. (for a WW in a dependant relationship with a racist white man, recoiling at the sight of it might *not* be in her best interest though. as i have said, many women put up with shit from men including being raped by them, to survive.)

but obviously the discussion cant end there. if you were the 7-year old white girl on the bus that saw the white male bus driver abusing a black man by leaving him behind and not allowing him to catch his bus, you would rightly be *upset* and concerned for your own safety as well. you might start to realize that, as a girl, you are utterly dependant on THE CHARITY of aggressive and entitled men *not* to abuse you. this is a terrible realization, and one that many women and probably all feminists ultimately make. its fucking horrifying when you do. this is something that should be discussed, absolutely.

but if you were this black mans 7-year old daughter, the affect would be that this racist white male bus driver might just have cost your dad his job. so where the 7-year old white girl was *upset* and concerned for her safety, and starts realizing that she occupies a tenuous position in life, the 7-year old black girl is facing some seriously hard times, where she might be exposed to repeated rapes by being rendered homeless. and each result, to each 7-year old girl, is the direct result of this racist white mans actions, on one day. this racist white man has set some things in motion: the white girl is on her way to becoming a feminist perhaps. shes scared, and very rightly so. and the black girl is on her way to being homeless. i dont see why they cant both be discussed.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/twentyorso.html
http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/

factcheckme - December 31, 2009

i also wanted to re-post one of my earlier comments because it seems that its been misunderstood. or rather, it seems as if TBL has taken my words, interpreted them correctly, taken credit for coming up with the idea herself, and then critcizing me for “not getting” the very point that i made here, in this discussion of race, when i brought up the idea of “personalities” and how judging women based on perceived personality charateristics in problematic. obviously, it also bothers me that TBL seems to have left in such a huff, when we had been engaged in such a fruitful conversation here. but whatever. i know that having your own blog is a cruel mistress, as they say, and takes up a lot of your time. not enough hours in the day to participate in every discussion that resonates. so…bye, TBL! it was really nice chatting with you.

now, heres the comment i am talking about:

https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/its-pat-privilege/#comment-1809

i said that when WW judge WOC as having an undesireable “personality” and treating her acordingly, that its problematic, because that personality-assessment is likely to be rooted in racism. i never said that its OK to judge WOC based on their personalities. i said the opposite of that. although TBL for some reason is taking me to task over on her blog, and taking credit for the statement that i made:


It doesn’t help when those taking part in the discussion try to obscure racist discourse by focusing on ‘personalities’. That is a diversionary tactic, a silencing tactic. It suggests that black women are wrong to be concerned about racism – there is no racism amongst women, just different personalities. It also implies that black women ‘play the race card’ when really they should just understand it’s not racism. BW don’t understand about women having different, complex, personalities – they just want to reduce everything to a question of racism. This idea, too, is racist.

http://teebeeell.wordpress.com/2009/12/28/white-feminists-have-a-credibility-problem%e2%80%a6/

WTF, TBL? seriously. sheesh.

EDIT: the broken link to my own comment has been fixed. i had initially copied and pasted the link while in “admin” mode and i dont think it would have been visible to anyone that way. again, heres the correct link:

https://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/its-pat-privilege/#comment-1809

171. Loretta Kemsley - December 31, 2009

FCM, your girls on a bus analogy is great. It clearly reveals both girls are affected early in life. It does neither of them any good to cling to the other or to rail at the other because they share the danger, even though they experience it in different ways.

During the second wave of feminism, this was clearly understood. Their focus was on changing the laws that affected all women. Martial rape became a crime, as did domestic violence (new phrase that did not exist prior to that era). Laws were passed to insure women could obtain an education and a career. Birth control and abortion were made legal. Divorce went from almost unobtainable to fairly easy under no-fault. For the first time, women could obtain their own credit and control their own finances.

Since then, women have come to take those legalities for granted (although they shouldn’t because there are forces out there who would love to take them away again). Today, women are looking back and saying that because white middle-class women accomplished those goals, their movement was racist. That’s an unfair assessment. They were the group who could afford to make the noise and lead the protests. They used their white, middle-class privilege to help all women. Why should they be disrespected because of their race or finanical status? If they had not been as dedicated as they were, no woman would need to worry about whether other factors, like race, in her life affect her. Her reality would include patriarchy’s oppression in every respect. Even though patriarchy is not yet eliminated, its effect is lessened.

What needs to be done in the current and next phases of feminism is for those who feel the oppression the most to take responsibility for changing it. Only the people living in a community can adequately define where the issues are and what needs to be changed. The rest of us can assist, but we will inevitably miss the nuances that we do not experience.

US feminists work in solidarity with feminists from other nations every single day. We rely on the feminists in each nation to tell us what is happening, what they need to change it and the most effective means of accomplishing those changes. It is the norm in international feminisim for women in one nation to take the lead in all things relating to their country and then be followers in things relating to other nations.

We need to build that same system here in the US as it relates to the various communities and classes. A woman who is black in Detroit, for example, will have a totally different persepective and experience than a Latina woman in New Mexico, the Native American woman in the Dakotas and a white woman in Oregon. We must learn to trust one another to know what is best for each community on each issue and to take turns being the leader and the follower.

Being a leader requires different skills than being a follower. Most women never receive any training in how to lead. They are universally expected to be followers. The female leader emerges, not by appointment, but because she has learned the necessary skills. Too often, those skills are so hard fought that she has also earned a “bitch” reputation, and people shy away from her, thinking she is too “unnatural.” But if we refuse to follow those women who’ve fought that hard to be leaders, then who will we follow that can accomplish the same agenda?

The answer lies in changing our perceptions of a female leader. Hillary Clinton is a good example. People expressed the idea that they would support a woman president — but not her. She’s was too “bitchy,” too “rude,” not “womanly” (as in wearing pant suits or having thick ankles) or, conversely, “too female” (as in when she cried and when her cleavage showed). And so they ignored her obvious qualifications and engaged instead in a sexist rejection of her because she did not conform to the “nice” woman our society demands — “nice” being equated to the personality traits that keep women being nothing more than followers.

Women are doing this to themselves and allowing themselves to be goaded into doing it by their worst enemies: those who espouse the patriarchal “norms” they want to keep.

factcheckme - December 31, 2009

i case anyone is wondering WTF i am talking about with the “girl on the bus,” this is from nikki’s website. she uses it as an example of how she has been observing racism from a young age, in a discussion of what she has done about racism for the 50 or so years since:


[…]when I was 14 or 15 I wrote a poem. It was inspired after I was on a bus and saw a black man just behind the bus running after it took off to try to get on it. He was hitting on the back of the bus and the driver knew he was running after it. And the bus driver was going just slow enough where the man chasing the bus hoped he could catch it so he kept running. The bus driver knew what he was doing and I could see him looking in his rearview mirror. I did identify this as intentional humiliation (racist sadism tho I did not know the word) at the time and I identified with the man and was very upset, and yes I have cried over remembering that incident in the past. At the time I was very upset about it but I was only a child and could not/did not intervene….

heres another example that nikki cites about being upset at the racism she observed:


Then there something else I’m a little embarrassed to mention here, but it’s on topic so I will include it. I want to put my “Mommy” poem into a particular time frame as well. It was the mid 1960s and there were still “white” and “colored” drinking fountains at Fair Park at that time, and it was upsetting to me to see them. They were not in use and the water didn’t even come out of the fountains, but I can remember one time when I was probably 19 or 20 and on drugs, perhaps acid, trying to find someone to complain to about them so they would remove them and how shameful it was that they had left them there all those years. There was no one I could find in that area of the fairgrounds (my walking capabilities admittedly limited) but I did look for someone in charge for quite a while and talked to everyone coming and going from the bathrooms about the injustices about that and racism in general. This is a petty thing, but chasing around Fair Park trying to demand to anyone who would listen to get the segregated drinking fountains out of there, in retrospect, should count for at least something so I make it number 7 on my list.

http://www.nostatusquo.com/liedetector/jennifermclune/twentyorso.html


Sorry comments are closed for this entry