What radical women want

When I launched PWMR a couple months ago, I had no intention of centering gender politics. I defended Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie because I saw a prolifically wise woman getting shut down by her sisters. Trans allies were saying, ‘Trans women are women. Period.’ and I wrote about why rational, informed and compassionate radical women might disagree.

That post got far and away the most views and shares (look Ma, I’m famous!) So clearly we need another way when talking about gender and biological sex.

I’d love to devote more time to less divisive, less potentially hurtful women’s issues. But I personally believe that if we don’t defend women’s rights to speak out freely, then we risk all the progress of feminists before us.

So why are gender politics so important to so many?

Here are three of my concerns (in no particular order) out in the sunlight. I don’t claim to speak for all women, or all gender-critical people, or even all radical feminists. Others will want to add or respond to this list–please comment or tweet me @pwmroundup.

The radical feminist perspective has never been popular. We’re asking for the same thing that women have always asked: to have our concerns taken seriously. Trans allies can help by acknowledging and owning the problems emerging on the fringes of the trans advocacy movement.

1. Our children deserve a fair shot at growing up without surgery and a lifelong dependence on hormones.

A liberal feminist friend asserted that doctors wouldn’t advocate transition if they weren’t ‘1000% sure’ a kid was trans. But that’s not how it works today. More and more doctors and ‘gender therapists’ advocate hormones & surgery for teens.

I was a dysphoric kid myself. I grew up to be a happy, healthy, and reproductively in-tact bisexual woman (as many do.) We need to be cautious about the narratives we employ. We need to support research and understand implications for kids.

Oh, and we definitely need to stop shaming parents who resist the ‘trans’ label for their gender-non-conforming kids.

2. Protect the definition of ‘woman.’

By changing legal protections to enforce them per gender identity, rather than sex, you disempower women from challenging men who enter their spaces. You risk the legal protections and the space we’ve created for girls to compete in sports. Regardless of the intentions of most, certain males will always take advantage.

3. Lesbian women deserve respect.

Challenge people who shame lesbians who aren’t attracted to male genitals. Would you tell a gay man he has to have sex in or around a vagina, and like it? It’s homophobic.

And please, stop reclaiming the identities of lesbians for the trans movement simply because they didn’t perform to gender stereotypes.

Conclusion: the caricature of radical women

Trans allies regularly equate denial of free access to women’s language and spaces as a denial of human rights and bodily autonomy for trans people.

That’s disingenuous. It paints a caricature of radical feminists, it discredits us as ‘TERFs’ and ‘bigots’ and ‘transphobic’ worthy of the same scorn applied to bigots and sociopaths.

There must be a third way that respects the experience of trans women without dismissing the valid concerns of women. If you’re an ally, be bold enough to help us find it.

2 Replies to “What radical women want”

  1. This is shameful.
    Your three points depend on misinformation, exaggeration, the extremist fringe, and hate.

    As a cis woman, I resent the insinuation that my identity resides purely between my legs, and that is exactly what your narrow definition of womanhood demands.

    My feminism is based on equality, not on exclusion, and I challenge you to reconsider why yours doesn’t.

    Shame on you, and all your TERF cohorts.

    1. Can you please show me where I’ve dealt in ‘misinformation’ or ‘exaggeration’? My statements here are plainly backed up with direct quotes and citations.

      I agree, and have acknowledged in the piece, that these are extremist elements of the trans movement. I am deeply disappointed in liberal feminism for failing to call out the misogyny that exists in the extremes of trans activism. I have been told outright that we should allow hateful language and death threats. That’s bullshit; trans activists can and should be held to the same standards of civil discourse as everybody else.

      My ‘narrow definition’ of womanhood recognises that women are oppressed specifically because of what’s between our legs; not because of any feminine identity we claim (or fail to claim.) Women throughout history have been castigated, even harassed and killed, exactly for refusing to adopt your presumably ‘wider’ definition of womanhood that relies upon an intrinsic sense of ‘woman-ness’ and/or outward displays of femininity.

      I have spent a long time thinking about my positions with respect to gender and the biological basis of oppression. My convictions have cost me friendships. You can read some of my earlier pieces on this very topic.

      I encourage your to question why *your* feminism silences women with slurs like ‘TERF’ and ‘transphobe’ while enabling people born male to claim women’s language and spaces.

      Patriarchy, innit?

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