There are a devastating number of trans folks and women of color in the comments of my last thread who are saying that Balloon-Juice is not a safe place. I wish I could hug you all.
EDIT: I’m going to state that I am a feminist who is white, and I appreciate all the feminists — women, nonbinary folks, men — who understand that we need to be able to critique those who label themselves as such but do not practice those principles in how they treat and speak about people. If you are feeling uncomfortable, then that is a moment to look inward, and engage in a mature discussion about it.
Here’s a lovely book report by @alokvmenon. If you like it, I highly encourage you to also check out their book report on the history of feminism and the sex binary, and how suffragists were called “Third Sex.”
Why the fuck do you want to prolong this argument.
@NoraLenderbee: Because it’s clearly the discussion that this website needs. I am not going to be a front-pager on a website that won’t have this discussion.
Gin & Tonic
@NoraLenderbee: Is that the best possible first comment for this thread?
Joy in FL
I only have time for this quick comment right now: I am deeply sorry for an unsafe environment here at BJ.
I appreciate you stating that, Planet Eddie. This will be in my mind this afternoon and I may comment again later. I didn’t want to be “silent” about this, even if I don’t have anything to add yet. It is a needed discussion.
@planet eddie: Good for you!
Keep on keeping on, because it’s clearly an education that’s overdue.
@NoraLenderbee: Not them, but maybe just possibly because the reality is that a rejection of minority experiences has been an issue in any number of social progress movements, including feminism. Demonstrating its original focus on white women exclusively draws a direct parallel to what they and the other trans commenters have been saying: at the moment there is a part of feminism that is largely comprised of white women for whom excluding trans issues and experiences from the discussion is as key as rejecting Black voices was then.
Is this really a surprise? White women overwhelmingly vote Republican, even more so than white men; do I need to preface it with #notallwhitewomen? Someone else’s lived experiences and negative interactions with particular social movements (and ESPECIALLY movements for justice) are valid and worth discussing.
Are we really so thin-skinned around here? FFS
@NoraLenderbee: Eh, anyone that can look at the state of current legislation and say the subject isn’t of topical interest and vitally important politically —- well, there are the gardening threads.
“White Feminism” was a term pretty much coined or at the very least mainstreamed by people who wanted to argue that they didn’t need to vote for Hillary Clinton because she was a White Feminist, just like Margaret Thatcher and Ivanka Trump, and therefore sucked. It has now become a term white women use to beat up on other white women they don’t like and score brownie points with the men listening to them. You’ll never go wrong attacking white women if you want to garner on-line support.
The actual school of feminist thought that is being targetted here is not “White Feminism” which is so broad it is close to meaningless (kind of like neo-liberalism, it attaches to whoever you don’t like at the moment). Rather, the critique is directed at liberal feminism, which is a distinct ideology, and has many flaws, including, over the decades a failure to be fully intersectional. It also is what got us things like the vote so it has its plusses too
(ETA: this shouldn’t be read as an attack on planet eddie, who I think got caught up in old hostilities. I appreciate your posts and your presence, planet eddie, though I may not agree with you about everything.
ETA2: No one is an it and TERFS suck. They aren’t liberal feminists though and they aren’t White Feminists. They are radical feminists — the label is right on the tin — which is also a distinct school of thought.)
I think it’s important to prolong this discussion, as there seems to be a great deal of misinformation around it.
The Second Wave Feminism movement was criticized at the time (i.e,, in the 1960s-70s) for excluding Black women, and we know how they regarded trans people. Considering how even mentioning this caused so much rage – although the phenomenon itself has clearly not gone away – I think its important to at least acknowledge it. The people who seek to keep us all dispossessed would love to be able to use techniques to divide us – and sending in nominal feminists who oppose LGBTQ rights appears to be an effective way to accomplish that.
(I should note I’m a 67-year old cis white hetero woman. Just barely too young to have been part of the initial Second Wave, but definitely part of it in the 70s and later.)
@NoraLenderbee: de-lurking after quite some time just to reiterate the best take I saw in said previous thread: you just don’t need to make it about you.
keep on, eddie — it’s a needed dialogue.
@NoraLenderbee: Not to pick on you, but:
Everyone here chooses what they want to read and respond to. If one doesn’t like or isn’t interested in a topic, they can click to the next one.
If one is infuriated by a comment or a post, one can do one or more of several things:
Click on to the next one.
Pie the poster.
Post something in reply.
It’s bad form to tell a new front pager that they’re posting wrong. Everyone here is a volunteer and mutual admiration societies are boring.
@planet eddie: I do appreciate you sticking around and I agree that sometimes uncomfortable conversations are the ones most worth having.
I also want to say, I’m very wary of getting into this thicket, as much as doing so is necessary.
We need to be very careful, or this will quickly devolve into one of those Self Criticism sessions imposed by (for example) Mao in China, where people had to basically denounce themselves before an audience who hated them.
“Check your privilege!” can be a weapon to shut down discussion, to silence and intimidate people. Let’s not do that, either, m’kay?
I think the second half (emphasis is mine) is not true. Data from 2020:
White women do vote majority Republican but white men are significantly worse. Given Dobbs I can only imagine that gap widening.
First, Planet Eddie, keep on posting! Please!
Second, a rising tide lifts all boats. When BIPOC feminists get their due, we all will win. As a white cis-het woman, I can have blind spots to areas of my ignorance. It’s posts like Eddie’s that can spur me to think “oh, yeah. I didn’t realize / I forgot / I erred.”
@planet eddie: you are making this place better through these efforts.
One of the biggest problems with expanding our circle of empathy is reconciling the shitty things we have justified doing to those who previously fell outside. It is not your responsibility to take the abuse resulting from people battling with that but thank you for making the effort. It is moving the needle.
@CaseyL: Seriously not at all my intention!
I am a big believer in restorative justice, and hope that people can take a breath and realize that we are, in fact, all in this together.
I wonder what Alok has to say about upper caste privilege. Its easy to criticize white people if you are not white even if most of the criticism is well-deserved.
Nair is a dominant caste in Kerala. Menon is a Nair last name.
For the most part, lurking and learning. But I do want to point out that are parallels that I see where in other certain areas of debate have excluded a set of experiences, and are therefore the poorer for it. I would prefer to see enrichened discussion.
I am happy to continue this discussion. It is all about listening. I know I have to remind myself to do it sometimes. Mostly I get caught up in my own defensive posture and tune out people I fear may hurt me. Or they are reticent and I don’t pick up on important cues. Kindness is also important. Harsh words put everyone in a defensive place and makes it hard to come down from that fear. So good to use your inside voice and take a few deep breaths. We can do this.
@CaseyL: +1 to the “check your privilege” thing.
I suppose I fail to see how calling out a continuation of feminism’s worst decisions into the 21st Century should generate this much heat. Trans women are women, and it would seem that looking back on the failures of women in each era of feminism would necessarily focus on white women, given their overwhelming numbers in the most public-facing aspects of the movement, thus translating those failures of inclusion from the past to the present using a shorthand. As we do.
Two cents worth of thoughts, in this economy???
George Francis Train was an interesting guy. He was a bit eccentric. He was involved in the railroad industry and was one of the founders of the Union Pacific. In 1870, he traveled around the world, inspiring Jules Verne. He supported the Paris Commune and various other revolutionary movements.
@Matt McIrvin: My mistake, I had thought that as of 2020 that had changed, but thank you for the correction!
Commenting before I even read. I am willing to take all the flack for white women because I am such a minority there. Most of them are what they are. I am ashamed but I am one of them. Not so much for women and feminists. JK Rowling and her ilk are nutcases from another country and I refuse to share any blame in their idiocy.
Years ago I thought Rowling might have a point until I realized what bogus science and social science she relied on. Thanks to ( surprise!) NPR and our own Sister Golden Bear.
@schrodingers_cat: They talk about it a bit in this article, actually.
@planetjanet: Sending love from planeteddie to planetjanet.
I am far (far) from perfect, but I’m willing to pick up and try to move forward with folks. <3
I’ve had to wrangle with a lot of my own privileges, and I understand how angering it can be to feel lumped in with others. I have to remind myself that that’s my own ego talking, rather than me listening.
Spent ages crafting a comment in the last thread and then you posted a better version of my general thoughts here XD
@planet eddie: Thanks will give it a read.
@planet eddie: Thank you so much for being here.
@schrodingers_cat: I am white in America and think about that every day. Invisible privilege.
@planet eddie: Glad to see you still posting, and happy to find that I am still learning about parts of history of which I was completely ignorant.
@planet eddie: We do need this discussion. Sister Golden Bear taught me a lot when I was thinking about my niece. I loved her but didn’t actually know or understand much.
@Damien: No problem.
I find that often, there will be discussion of some marginalized group not voting the way we think they “should”, and especially when it’s focusing on a change in a small number (like growth in the percentage of Black Trump voters), it’s easy for the fact that white dudes are nearly always worse to fall through the cracks.
@sab: There is a substantial number (not quite a majority) but a significant minority of white people, especially white women who are aware of their privilege. I wish I could say the same about my people. But I can’t. And I am not just talking about the diaspora. Who at least have the excuse of not growing up in India for their lack of awareness.
@planet eddie: thank you eddie, and glad to see you’re not gone
@planet eddie: Restorative justice is a fascinating area to delve into.
I worked for a while with a clinical law program (where law students take on real cases, under the supervision of faculty attorneys) and one of the clinics I supported was the Tribal Criminal Law. Restorative justice was a major part of their focus, since it was already a big part of their culture.
It was my first encounter with the idea.
@Damien: More white women voted for the Orange tyrant in 2020 than 2016 but the absolute # was still much lower than white men in both the elections. You will find the data at Pew Research.
@sab: ETA My personal experience is boys who are or should be girls. My step- granddaughter has a half sister going the other way. I only slighttly know him, so haven’t much opinon. ( Why should I?)
@sab: I do think there’s a real difference between US and UK feminism on this particular subject and I still find that difference slightly mysterious. Why is it easier for British feminists to think of transphobia as “progressive” or feminist? Not that the majority of them do, but there does seem to be a transatlantic difference.
I don’t usually comment here, but do a lot of lurking. I just wanted to add my thanks to eddie. It isn’t always fun, but it’s still a good and salutary thing to realize one’s own blind spots. Thanks to Sister Golden Bear, Alison Rose, and a number of other commenters as well.
I’m ignorant of the backstory here but divining that Eddie’s last post discussion devolved? Which, I’m trying to figure out how, because it seemed to me it was just about how good it feels when folks take the (small) extra effort to make room for trans people in this world. How it would get from there to somewhere bordering Terftown is hard to imagine.
@Princess: Thank you, Princess. I appreciate that we can have a nuanced discussion about this.
I really had no interest in attacking feminists, white or otherwise, the other day. I was truly surprised at the backlash. I thought I put enough qualifiers to be clear about who I was speaking about. I’m also speaking from my lived experience, and I, frankly, was trying to make light of it.
It’s hard to have someone agree with nearly all your political positions, but then call your community rapists, mentally ill, or mutilated. It’s very very hard. The way I deal with it is by laughing it off.
Thank you for continuing to post. It amazes me how heated things can get here on this site, and then I wonder why I’m so surprised by it…
I am not one to pile on; in fact, I hate it when folks pile on in the comments once a point has already been made.
But damn, if you see this post from planet eddie as prolonging the argument, then your comment needs to be buried in a pile on.
it’s just not possible to have a real, honest, vulnerable conversation about anything more complicated than the weather without someone or someones stepping in it sometimes. All of these things are going to happen in the course of a real and honest conversation about race or gender or anything that really matters. We are going to see some less-than-ideal phrasing, tarring with broad brushes, misunderstandings.
What matters is how we handle it when the conversation gets tricky. As long as intentions are good, and people are willing to learn, there’s a way through the discomfort.
Stopping the conversation, or bailing altogether, or throwing grenades – because it makes some people uncomfortable – are probably the least helpful things we can do.
planet eddie isn’t choosing any of those things, and I for one am grateful for that. If we want to move off the mark, then the only way out is through.
That said, if anyone on Balloon Juice were to refer to a trans person – or any other person for that matter – as an “it”, that person would be gone in a heartbeat. That’s not conversation; that’s unacceptable.
As they say on the signs: HATE HAS NO HOME HERE
So I’m pretty low-brow and come to this from a place of immense ignorance, but I’m also a big believer in the principle that every sufficiently large group of people has its share of assholes. Given that, I’m not sure what singles out “white feminists” from any other group of assholes we could talk about with respect to modern-day issues.
I’m all in favor of talking things things through, but I also feel that these discussions end up becoming abstract disputes over appropriate labels. It seems to me that feminists ≠ “white feminists” ≠ white women ≠ women who are feminists (or liberal or Democratic). At least the TERFs had the decency to choose a unique name for their brand so we can hate them with no ambiguity. I assume, however, that no “white feminist” actually calls themselves that, so that leads to a lot of confusion. Plus, I personally find disputes over labels a little tedious, but that’s a purely personal thing.
I also think we always lose some share of our coalition with every advancement of civil rights. The big one were the Reagan Democrats, but it still happens to a lesser degree today. But we also gain people, which is why we are still competitive and have a fighting chance.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’ll go back go being snarky in the appropriate open threads.
@Matt McIrvin: I wonder if the difference between British and US transphobia issues has to do with the Brits being a much stricter class based society? The wrong accent and the upper levels of society/careers are closed to you, and shades of gray of that depending how posh or not your accent is. Sometimes I have wondered if a deeper layer of the pain Britain inflicted upon India has some convoluted ties to how class based India society is as well.
@WaterGirl: Someone in the other thread (I think?) mentioned a couple of their students voluntarily adopting “it” pronouns as an expression of an “antihumanist” stance. I suppose that’s an exception.
(Me being me, of course that’s the thing I’m going to focus on…)
My daughter is prepping for a final project at college on feminism and intersection with the LGBT community. Your posts are uncannily timely for me, and I have shared them with her. Thanks.
I love this:
“I also think we always lose some share of our coalition with every advancement of civil rights. The big one were the Reagan Democrats, but it still happens to a lesser degree today. But we also gain people, which is why we are still competitive and have a fighting chance.”
It’s like a law of equalizing justice (or something).
I wonder how many people read this sentence in the first thread and missed the word reactionary.
If I haven’t read the word reactionary, then I totally get that it feels like women’s rights activists are totally being slammed, even if you’re not doing the particular thing that is being discussed.
@Matt McIrvin: I slept through apparently all of the contention last night. Wow.
I think you’re bringing up a good point, which is that American feminism seems not to be as captured by TERF assholes compared to the UK. (Not saying they don’t exist, by any means, but they are much less influential.) So I can see that many (most?) American feminists probably don’t see themselves reflected in an illustration of a woman being a transphobic bigot.
I have always tried to believe that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. No one’s rights and personhood are in opposition. At the same time, this is a hard time right now for both trans people as well as for feminists. Both groups are right in targets right now, and important liberties are being lost. It is understandable that this is incredibly stressful.
I would like to grant everyone here at BJ the good faith of assuming positive motives.
@Baud: The argument seems to be that White (upper caste in case of Indian women) feminists are white first and feminists second. They choose white privilege and can be tone-deaf and condescending.
Many suffragists for example were extremely pissed that black men got the vote before their genteel selves. I was shocked when I read some of the racist language I encountered while reading some of the suffragettes.
$8 blue check mistermix
Just wanted to chime in and encourage eddie to keep posting. My advice after being here for many, many years is to pick and choose which comments to reply to, and which to ignore. Also, part of the genius of John Cole is finding people with different voices and asking them to post. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. To pick one example — ABL is great and I’m still unhappy about the way she was treated. I hope it works out in this case.
It has also been a joy and sadness in my life to meet some of my daughter’s trans friends. The joy is meeting them and experiencing how they have decided to be who they are no matter the consequences. The sadness is the hate directed at them daily since they’re become the political shiny object that the R’s feel safe to treat like shit.
AJ of the Mustard Search and Rescue Team
@planet eddie: ty so much for all that you’re bringing here 💖🙏🏻
I cried with joy and relief the first time I heard alok speak
Older white het cis male fwiw
We are all humans. For the vast time we have existed we have been exclusionary of segments of humanity. And yes there are segments of humanity. And no I am not going to attempt to name them all, I’m sure I’d get some of them wrong. Some of the possible segments will have those who see their group as better and all others as worse in some way. It seems to be the nature of acceptance of ourselves that we see a cultural segregation of different groups. And this has been going on for the entire existence of humanity. I see it as likely that that will never go away completely, or easily. And a lot has changed dramatically in my short lifetime. And a lot hasn’t changed yet. And I doubt that it will ever change to equality of whatever in the lifetime of anyone alive today, because humanity moves slowly forward and at one human at a time. A lot of old farts such as myself will likely not change in their lifetimes because they’ve lived most of a lifetime thinking of humanity as one way and don’t have the skills/concepts/desire to consider that we will never all fit into 2 unequal categories, because they were raised that way and have lived a lifetime with only that consideration. The concept that there are many segments of humanity other than 2 is not an easy concept for many to contemplate. But without a concept of many equal segments, many people will never be able to be who they actually are, never have proper autonomy. And over the course of human history we have mostly not recognized that there are more than 2 groups and that one was superior to the other. This is a big change to bring out in the open that we are not and do not all fit into one or one other group. It is right that we do that, it is hard for many, likely most, that we do it and recognize the equality of humanity. I imagine that it will not go easy, because humans, but we owe it to each other to work at it, and to accomplish this. It will make the world a better place.
AM in NC
@NoraLenderbee: Please, let’s all try to be kind to each other, yes? I feel like that’s what our “side” should at least try to be attempting.
I am a middle aged white feminist. I am NOT a reactionary white feminist, and I think that’s who was being called out in the post(s) and comments.
It seems to me that we should be allying together against the reactionaries who are trying to make sure that everyone who is not a wealthy, white, straight, able-bodied Christian man knows their (inferior) place. And giving the benefit of the doubt those on our side who may not all be at exactly the same place on every issue, but are operating in good faith.
Just my $0.02
I get that the Suffragettes were racist. But apparently many of the civil rights leaders of the 60s were sexist too (although not to the same degree as white people in the 1800s were racist).
I assume, in the absence of data, that in 2023 in the U.S., the vast majority of white women who call themselves feminists don’t put their whiteness first. (Conversely, white women who put their whiteness first rarely call themselves feminist).
@Baud: At one point in my life I spent a lot of time in the human actualization world, mostly around body work. It seemed to me at the time that often there was lots of heat but not as much light around creating/claiming/refusing labels, and so many class discussions got so sidetracked on that stuff that we didn’t get to the ostensible topic at hand. It took me a long time to realize that for many people, they just needed someone to witness and empathize with the emotional pain they’d experienced in life, and always around not feeling accepted or loved by those important to them, as a child or currently. Yes, some got stuck at that point and it was uncomfortable to watch, and some got through it and moved on to a happier place in their lives. Everyone’s feelings were and are valid, and also sometimes triggering for some as well. Humans are complex.
I’ve learned a lot here over the years, and been triggered sometimes too and when that happens I try to dig into it to figure out why and hopefully work with it. I’m not a saint or perfect or more enlightened than thou, but I keep trying to be better and to grant the same space to others as much as I can.
@WaterGirl: I definitely own that maybe I could have phrased things better, but I read and reread what I wrote… and there were so many qualifiers that I was just surprised that people felt like I was speaking about “white women.”
Cole just shot me a call, and I was telling him that I’ve personally dealt with more day-to-day transphobia from women than from men, and I think it is because we are both marginalized. If you aren’t used to dealing with how your own privilege negatively impacts others, then that can feel extremely uncomfortable, especially when your heart is in the right place.
One of the toughest experiences I had was in a recovery group that was a Women’s meeting that a friend invited me to. There were a lot of nonbinary and trans folks in the meeting, but sometimes someone would share in a way that made a lot of those folks feel ill at ease. We were like, okay, so this women’s space is already full of trans women and nonbinary folks and they say they love us, so we asked about whether we could change the name of the group to “Women’s Plus.”
The amount of transphobia that was thrown at me and the other folks… I mean, I broke down in tears. I had been sitting in recovery next to some of these women for two years, TWO YEARS, and they said things about nonbinary folks and trans folks that I will never forget. All of those women were white and identified as liberal, and the women who spoke up to defend trans folks were all women of color. Not one white woman spoke up in our defense, but said that we had to hear all sides, when we were literally being called rapists.
I have dedicated my life to opening up spaces to make them safer for trans folks and everyone, but the truth of my lived experiences is that I have always faced the most pushback from women, especially in this arena where scarcity mindset and respectability politics come into play. But I don’t blame women for this, I blame the patriarchal systems that taught women that that was how to behave. And we can save each other.
I actually really love what Emily Nagowski says in her book Burnout, where she talks about the problem we have in women’s circles where we attack one another because we are all suffering so much from having given so much of ourselves and caring for others. I’ll try to dig it up because it’s a really wonderful book.
@Baud: Reagan Democrats were the re-alignment LBJ prophesied.
Of course, no one really thought the rhetoric about Nixonian Nazis was going to turn literal 50 years later…
@Suzanne: planet eddie’s post on trans issues and the “Gish Gallop” got an energetic commenter (a drive-by? I’m not sure) who was keen on Gish Galloping with every standard “what about…” objection to trans rights in exactly the manner they were talking about in the original post.
It was pretty amazing, and I also thought it was interesting that several regulars’ first reaction was to give the commenter the benefit of the doubt. I think none of the regulars here is actually posting in bad faith, certainly not any of the people who were fighting each other on the more recent thread, but it also means we can have a hard time recognizing bad faith when it pops up out of the blue.
Thanks for continuing the discussion Eddie. It’s clearly needed. And thank you for putting so much of your lived experience out where we can see it and hopefully make us all better allies.
@Breth: Highly encourage she read Susan Stryker’s Transgender History!!
The work of bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and adrienne maree brown is also top shelf
@Damien: I’m pretty sure that white men have been voting republican in higher numbers than white women for a long time. It’s part of the larger trend of men voting republican in higher numbers than women.
@Baud: I agree, well put.
One of the worst things the TERF movement has accomplished in the UK is that they are being referred to by the media as “women’s rights activists.”
I am of the belief that if you are a women’s rights activist, then you fight for all women, including trans women, and for your nonbinary and GNC siblings.
What I was referring to were the women who co-opted this terminology, just like trans-exclusionary feminists did in the 70s.
@Baud: I think this observation leans a bit too much on a binary version of racism and sexism, particularly when applied to current day society.
Society is a very powerful force for socializing people. And that society is male supremacist and white supremacist. The end result of that is that almost all of us are still spending time unfolding and processing a lot of our inner parts that this society has folded, spindled and mutilated.
@Matt McIrvin: Their govrnment supports them so they feel more entitled or privileged. We in US are just hanging on. Actually I wouldn’t want to be feeling as privileged as JK Rowling who has become a nutcase after years of being a positive example.
@Suzanne: One of the issues is that if you’ve studied gender theory, the trans-exclusionary movement in the UK is considered a direct descendent of the trans-exlusionary feminist movement in the US.
I am going to have to hit my textbooks when I have time to make sure I do a thorough thread on this, but it’s why I posted that snippet of that essay last night.
@planet eddie: Reading comprehension on online forums feels very probabilistic, such that if the audience is large enough, the odds that someone will fail to understand what you’re trying to say in an explosive way becomes an almost guarantee.
And defensiveness then throws fuel on the fire.
But we do genuinely have a ton of intersectionality problems on top of it. It can get exhausting at times.
I’m really glad to have you and Sister Golden Bear being active trans advocates here, because we desperately need it. I very much wish I had the energy to be as effective of a disability advocate.
There’s a long, ugly tradition of transphobia in US feminist circles, and the term trans-exclusionary radical feminist started here, IIRC. The main reason it’s become such an issue in the UK is because of proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act that would have allowed people to self-identify. There was opposition, mostly in lesbian separatist circles, but the movement really picked up steam when JK Rowling stepped in.
Rowling has an enormous platform, and a metric shitton of money, and when she started complaining about how the GRA would be harmful to women and eliminate “sex-based” rights, people listened, both in the UK and in the US. Her essay on why she’s a transphobe has been cited in state legislatures as evidence for anti-trans bills.
Rowling is also emblematic of how UK transphobia is anything but radical and not necessarily feminist. The message board Mumsnet, a forum for mothers that’s primarily white and middle-class, is a haven for transphobes who are deeply gender essentialist, and believe that a woman is defined by the ability to give birth and be a mother. Many of the Mumsnet posters are also horrified by their children–especially their AFAB children–coming out as trans.
@planet eddie: Keep on, Eddie. I remember Ibrahim X. Kendi (IIRC) said nobody in America is nonracist: the best they can hope for is to be a recovering racist, to be anti-racist. And the same is undoubtedly true of anti-LGBTQ prejudice: we all have some of it buried (or not-so-buried) in our psyche. I sure do, and I know it.
@Baud: I think the difficulty of whiteness is that it is coded as “normal,” so there are white women who haven’t reckoned with their whiteness as the lens through which they learned gender and feminism. The ideal is that we all keep learning.
@Eolirin: Well said, thank you.
I’m glad you are here Eddie, and Sister Golden Bear and everyone else who has trusted this forum with their identity, it takes courage and especially now given the politics situation. It should just be an ordinary, no big deal thing but we aren’t there yet.
@gwangung: I didn’t intend to be binary. I just wanted to point out a lot of people who do good things (voting right for women, civil rights) have had their blind spots. Just as people today often have their hang ups that they have inherited from society that they just can’t shake.
West of the Rockies
An observation: time and again a certain dynamic presents itself. For instance, in Eddie’s above post is featured a book cover emblazoned with “The Trouble With Women”.
Some people see that and are offended. They argue the title would be better as The Trouble with Some White Women. They will point out that a book entitled “The Trouble with Black/Jewish/Queer People” would be unacceptable.
Others will respond with a (to my mind a bit snarky and passive-aggressive) eye-rolling #NotAllWhiteWomen. Others more eloquently will say, Hey, if you’re not one of those white women, don’t make it about you. I love this wording!
I think all of us here know that language is sometimes used casually, perhaps inartfully. We all know that speaking of people in monolithic groups is not right, but we sometimes do it anyway to express a general idea succinctly. I know, for instance, that among the 100,000,000 or so white men in this country, I would probably dislike 40,000,000 of them. So if I roll my eyes and say, “JFC, white men!”, I don’t obviously mean ALL white men. It’s shorthand. It makes for an eye-catching book title or quippy comment. Sometimes though it appears to be less useful and helpful.
This dynamic distracts us from extraordinarily important issues. I know I worry for my 21-year-old non-binary daughter (is “non-binary daughter the right way to say that?) and their trans boyfriend. People (their own fucking family) have treated them contemptuously.
All I can say is that I am an imperfect ally, a privileged cis-white Gen X/Boomer-cusp male, who is trying to do good in a rapidly changing (thank God) world.
Anyway, thanks for reading. YMMV.
Balloon Juice shouldn’t be a place where people feel unsafe. Not going to lie, I skip these articles. I am here for Adam and occasionally WG or AR post something I read. So I don’t read everything, so I am unaware of most of these comment fights. However, I feel if people are behaving in such a way, they should just be removed. Dragging a comment war to the front page isn’t the solution though. On the internet, you don’t always get the reaction you want when you do that.
@planet eddie: I agree with that, but I think the UK side somehow just got more influential/visible over there. Maybe because of JKR. I used to hang out in lots of feminist spaces, and I can’t think of a single person I interacted with who ever said anything that was trans-exclusionary, at least around me. Again, I’m not saying that TERFs don’t exist.
I also think that #metoo made it clear that the work of feminism is not yet done, and centered a bigger concern. Maybe that has something to do with it.
I think invisibility is an important part of privilege. If the privilege were really obvious, it would be much easier to confront. But invisible privilege is much more insidious; it’s easy to convince yourself it doesn’t exist and people are just making it up to make you feel bad.
We also know that a majority of white woman are unfortunately conservative (at least in their voting).
But in terms of white women who have “learned gender and feminism,” I just have no sense of how large that group is, either in absolute terms or percentage wise, or in their influence.
Oddly, just noted a similar conclusion here in The chasm between mothers and childless women is widening only, of course, it applies to more than just women but all marginalized people and it’s not uniquely the patriarchy encouraging infighting, but generally whatever powers that be.
@Baud: I guess I can speak to my experience as someone who was raised as a white girl, and how limited that view was, despite coming from a mixed, international family.
I think the larger point is that we’re always learning. I sure as hell am!
Thanks for this great post. Bookmarking it for sure :)
Just to illustrate that even members of marginalized communities and people who have done crucial work for Feminism can have blind-spots, Alice Walker (one of the iconic black feminists who coined the term “Womanist”) recently stepped in it by defending JK Rowling and spouting some low-key TERF talking points. I won’t link it here but you can Google, but I think there are some good lessons about Intersectionality and Privilege we can glean from her missteps and the pushback they invited. You can listen to the Marsha’s Plate Podcast hosts discuss it here a couple minutes into this episode.
Hope this isn’t too OT, if so, feel free to delete
@Baud: I think of my own journey, where I’ve frequently shown my ass, even when in areas where I’m reasonably expert. Humility is a powerful aid to have when doing the work.
No One You Know
@planet eddie: I’m glad you’re persisting.
I reread the first post and then got part way through this one, but one thing really stands out to me.
You are everything I respect in a front-pager. Persistent, well-informed, educational, willing to engage in disagreement.
I am struggling to develop some informed view of trans. The only story I have is this (forgive me if it’s not quite OT).
In the library’s creative center one day, I saw a nervous young male in a dress doing some very complicated things with the 3D printer. Turns out “ze” is from Kentucky and fixing things by creating parts: gears, spindles, and such. My husband and I chatted with zim. I was so impressed I introduced myself and asked zis name.
There was a sudden shift in atmosphere. His eyes were fearful and his voice shook.
It hurt me to think of the courage that took.
“I’m glad to meet you, Stephanie. Looking forward to seeing you here. ”
She did come back several times. But I haven’t seen her lately.
It was hard to write that because I didn’t know what pronouns to use. I guess I should have gone with the advertised choice (the dress) and not the sound of the voice (baritone). But I just didn’t know. Not a lot of practice…
And it seems to me that when we take things into the specifics of a person, it’s so much easier to make better decisions about how we want to show up as human kind, one at a time.
It’s difficult to do if we can’t use better category thinking, and very precise language to express it. And to be received, the recipient would have to be equally thoughtful. Not just reacting to what they thought or feared you said, or to the opportunity to give a speech of their own they’ve longed to say. Or have simply got used to giving.
I’m glad you’re here.
Yes. This, right here.
In the spirit of this book-related post, I’d like to recommend Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism. She’s a fellow Black woman from the South Side of Chicago, and she has a lot to say about intersectionality as a call for action, not just a buzzword.
Absolutely nothing to say except my dad’s name was Edwin and my mom always called him Eddie. I like the name. 🙂
@planet eddie: Yeah, personal experiences are weird. They tend to isolate us from everyone else, and also allow us to make connections with people who have gone through the same thing, but that process isn’t always a smooth one.
@planet eddie: This.
In one simple post, it is readily apparent I have gaps in knowledge and blindspots. It is my responsibility to get educated and open my eyes to what’s happened before, and what is happening now.
As a privileged white male I have a duty to open all the doors possible and invite (sometimes pull or perhaps push) others in. Your writings provide fuel for the journey to make that happen, and I look forward to your posts.
@$8 blue check mistermix: Seems we walk similar paths. To read and hear daily that one of the political parties of this country actively, forcefully promotes hate and fear in order to deliberately fuck over people like my daughter and her friends only steels my resolve.
A short (as in not many pages) reading list (academic is fine) about this [migration of ideas] would be greatly appreciated.
@gwangung: Oh yes. Like when I tried to get people here to stop using the C word and had at least half a dozen people explain to me why it was not just okay but important for them to use it and they were not being misogynists and it depended on the context in which it was being used. I went away for quite a while after that. Sometimes the oil of society is just too slick, too invisible, too well embedded for you to even realize you too need to shower off some stuff.
And for what it’s worth, the criticism of second wave feminism as basically, settling for a seat at the table with the rest of the ruling class has been ongoing almost since it started. But I don’t think that criticism has ever adequately provided for a strong alternative that would loosen or flatten those hierarchies, let alone bypass or dismantle them. Which is just one reason our discord often seems like it has nowhere to go but inward.
I think the point you are discussing is that we seem to have to put people in some group, so that we can be better (or worse!) than them.
I’ve often wondered why people have to be in any group. If equality is the goal, why are there groups to belong to in the first place? We all belong to the group humanity. Of course, not all of us are good members of that group. Many of us have to feel superior but with 7 billion or so humans on this planet how is any one group superior? And why? And in some way we never can be equal because of skills or size/strength or on and on and on. There are limits to grouping people because there are many differences. But there is one reality, we are all human. There is one drawback. And that is that animals for the most part seemingly have a need to fit in somewhere, some group, herd, gathering, description. Tall/short, Dark/light, male/female, conservative/liberal, hateful/loving, and on and on and on……. As if that one thing makes us superior. Or that the group we place someone in makes them inferior.
Are we herd animals that have to fit into a select, artificial group or we can’t survive?
@Ruckus: I probably wouldn’t survive if I weren’t a jackal.
@WaterGirl: That was me. Or rather, I saw the word but I didn’t understand that it had a particular meaning in this context. I have seen the term TERF, but never looked it up before today.
I was initially upset, but I approached the discussion like I do family disagreements: “This person is not trying to offend me, there is probably a misunderstanding”. A couple of thoughtful commenters answered my questions and I was then able to interpret the post as intended.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@AM in NC: @WaterGirl:
The stereotype for decades of ALL feminists is that they are angry and reactionary. That is why that original comment was not helpful. To quote the dead Limbaugh, ‘feminazis’.
I went back to see what that discussion looked like, and I think “wow, honestly I don’t understand the anger and the way this is blowing up, in either direction.” I see the inflamable elements, mostly just present in sub-optimal phrasing (like almost everything we write on here,) but I don’t see why it actually lights up.
BUT…I’m old enough and been schooled enough to recognize that when anger seems bewildering to me, it’s almost certainly a sign that I’m naive. Innocent, in that original sense of being ignorant. And usually lucky for not having that experience, even if it leaves me clumsier and stupider. Most of what I took from the temperature of that conversation was the realization that people are tired and frustrated and on something of a knife’s edge when it comes to things that sound like a lack of support. I don’t think anyone told Eddie that she needed to express solidarity with the woman calling her “it.” Nor do I think anyone told Kay or anyone else that their whiteness made them suspicious or some kind of ally of the Terfs or particular women denying trans existence. But it’s probably a good idea to understand that this is how the conversation was received or came to be received, and to reflect on why.
I missed all of the hoopla as well. I’m sad to see that it went haywire, and hope that you will continue to post here, planet eddie.
Thank you, planet eddie. Also Sister Golden Bear. Commenters like livewyre and siddhartha on eddie’s last thread, too.
I don’t comment much and don’t plan to change that. I do read, though, and I wanted to say I’ve learned a lot from you. Be strong and be well.
Missed last nights thread comments so won’t speak to that.
I am glad you’re here @planeteddie. I shared the first TikTok you posted with my kids last night. Great discussion followed.
I approached this thread with trepidation after last night’s kerfuffle, and the first comment didn’t help, but planet eddie’s response was perfect………. this is the discussion that we need to have and I’m glad it’s going on so I can keep learning about this stuff. Thanks again y’all.
Jacqueline Squid Onassis
I remember when the TERF’s first started calling themselves that. And that was after years of online Radical Feminism being mind bogglingly transphobic. This was over a decade before I transitioned and before I understood that I was trans. I was just a cis het white guy who couldn’t understand wtf they were talking about. Trans women infiltrating women’s spaces for the patriarchy? That’s like Qanon levels of weirdness.
The fight over feminism and trans people in the US was mostly fought up through the aughts. At that point it seems like American Feminism mostly came down on the side of “trans women are women” and the TERF’s were a fringe group. Alas, that fringe group is the mainstream in the UK, it appears.
Nevertheless, feminism – like all other social justice movements, ever – has its own bigotries and prejudices. Are we allowed to call those out? Are we allowed to talk about problems within feminism? The last 2 comment threads drew a lot of fire for a tangential comment about a certain kind of feminist and that fire will certainly make some people think twice about ever speaking out. I find that counterproductive, but maybe I’m just not getting it. That happens from time to time.
It should also be pointed out, because I’ve seen a lot of people here saying otherwise, that the “Radical” in “Radical Feminism” doesn’t have the same meaning as it does in politics. In this case, “Radical” means “root” and Radical Feminists (at least used to) believe that gender is the root of all prejudice, iirc. I have friends who called themselves Radical Feminists until that term was coopted by the TERF’s. Radical Feminists are anything but politically radical.
Major Major Major Major
@planet eddie: It was clear enough to me on the first post, but I think if you aren’t steeped in online activism & twitter fights and stuff there’s a lot of missing context, so I can also see how somebody might misread your thoughts. Which again I thought were clear enough, but obviously not everybody did. Just a note. Not everybody here is terminally online, especially regarding more niche (for lack of a better term) issues, and it’s apparently super easy to misread a blog post. Apologies if this sounds weird or harsh, just my own learnings from writing here.
@Jacqueline Squid Onassis: Interesting. I had no idea about the etymology. I could blame my ignorance on the right wing going on about radical feminists, but frankly, the word lends itself to confusion. Seems like “root” is a perfectly cromulent word.
@NoraLenderbee: Take a seat.
@Damien: No white women do not vote republican more than white men. that is not the stats. And the Democrats have routinely been getting more of the women’s vote from all groups for decades, since at least Clinton. Sometimes the gap has narrowed.
Being a jackal is one way to learn, to at least attempt to be a better part of this thing called humanity.
This discussion of part of the basis of what makes us – us, is vital to making a change, because it is a huge change from the centuries of making slight or no change from what had gone before. We as a species have language, which allows us to discuss/inform/shout/hate/like/learn from others that we’ve never met because we now can communicate over thousands of miles and make points that many generations have never even considered, because it was almost impossible. This post is one of those, it’s not just a backyard fence to share yesterday over. Change comes much faster today because we can communicate ideas that each of us may have otherwise never considered, because most of us live in rather small bits of the greater society. And that makes learning about others, about differences in basic living and showing each of us that the world is never one thing, that none of us live in a binary world. We live in a world of 7 billion individual humans, that are not all alike in so many ways. Still humans but really what do we gain by being all the same? Do we all have to be on one or the other side of the gender fence? Do we all have to have one skin color? Do we all have to even have to follow a religion? And the differences – don’t they make this a better place, because think if we were all vlad… Our world has gotten a lot bigger over my lifetime because we can do this – discuss our differences, actually like that there are differences, rather than 7 billion identical beings. We have languages, concepts, thoughts other than eating and sex, we can be better. Or worse. We can change how we see others, we can grow the hell up, we can learn new and nuance. Life is an experience, not a set timeframe, not a set journey. We are part of a thing far, far bigger than any one of us. We can learn to accept those that don’t fit into some arbitrary group, who are different in some way(s) that actually enhance living, for at least them, and likely don’t hurt or effect us in any way.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
I will add, as I said in the last thread, I don’t think eddie intended offense. I think eddie has clarified what they meant. I’m fine. My main point is if you are calling out TERFs, say TERFs. Don’t assume we all know that is what you mean. In general, criticizing what you think are the feelings/views/intentions of broad groups of people (especially if you aren’t part of that group), rather than criticizing specific instances/behaviors in specific people, is problematic. It is easy to be imprecise in your language and then be surprised that people react to it. I also don’t like the “if you aren’t X, they don’t mean/aren’t talking about you”. That’s just lazy. If you don’t mean X, say you don’t mean X.
Because here is the thing, sometimes people think, “Oh, they mean people like X, not me” when they DO mean you. That isn’t just an issue in spaces like this. I’ve seen flaming misogynists say awful things about women and watched right wing women just nod along and laugh because, ‘They are talking about those other women, not me’. Except those horrible men did mean ALL women.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: I think that much of the reason that white feminists (not White Feminists) often get defensive is that there seems to be some belief that we’re done and we’re not in danger anymore and we’re relatively privileged. And while some of us are relatively privileged, we aren’t done. The fight is far from over. In about half of the states of this country, our bodies are essentially the property of the state. We still bear much of the responsibility for caring for the senior citizens of this country because there is only an inadequate safety net. To say nothing of domestic violence and shitty pay and no childcare and sexual harassment at work and the utter hair-falling-out-in-clumps stress of raising one’s own kids during a global fucking pandemic. So even a shade of an inadvertent implication that feminism as practiced by many white women is not centering the right concerns seems, well…..
Major Major Major Major
IMO there are so many issues like this that boil down to a fundamental difference between liberalism and leftism: liberalism seeks fluidity within hierarchies, and leftism seeks to dismantle them. A lot of liberal policy goals are stepping stones to leftist ones, so they’re often fellow travelers. Given the glacial pace of change in this country, you can go years jointly advocating for something without even realizing you have different end goals, and then these sort of fights erupt where people can feel blindsided and betrayed and whatnot.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: the lens through which you read “reactionary feminist” is apparently the Limbaugh one. I’m not sure why, as that’s not a phrase he ever used. “Regardless,” there are and have been for centuries some “feminists” who have not been inclusive, and have sought to exclude from social progress those they deem less worthy. That’s another lens.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@Suzanne: Very true.
I have read every word of your recent posts, Eddie, and I appreciate your effort. As well as the efforts of all the Jackals who identify differently than I do (cis, feminist, childless [and happy to be] old white woman). I learn so much and, though I am reluctant to chime in with all my ignorance, these conversations are some of the most rewarding for me. We are getting so many students who are trans and non-binary and all I want to do is make sure they are comfortable around me. I have so far to go but I know learning from people here has helped me to examine my own interactions with these students. I am endeavoring to always do better and I value these discussions immensely.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: My hair has finally grown back in, but it took some time.
@gvg: You’re right that white men are the worst when it comes to voting Republican with 57% voting for Trump in 2020 — but that was down 5 points from 2016 (62%)
What was eye-opening and depressing is that the percentage of white women voting for Trump inexplicably went up 6 points from 2016 (47%) to 2020 (53%) and breached the majority mark.
Put a differently way white men were way worse than WW in 2020 (by 15 points) in 2016, but only 4 points worse in 2020.
*all numbers from Pew Research and can be found here:
@schrodingers_cat: It’s unnatural and only possible by “doing the work.”
Both of my parents were apparatchiks in Cuba, party commissars in the army, my father had a position that afforded him chauffeur and secretary, we live in kinda the Manhattan of Cuba.
All my siblings and their spouses were like my parents in the army or the interior ministry. All 9 of them.
some of them live comfortably in the USA but none have ever say a word about all the privileges we had. I escaped being in the army and would be exactly like them if I weren’t gay — for which I am deeply, deeply grateful.
Oh, and I have proven with actions that I can be a major selfish asshole too — being oppressed makes you understand certain things but pushes you on the asshole direction at the same time.
maybe I am trying to say than being compassionate involves seeing the capacity to be an asshole on ourselves so that we are not to harsh on others. Let’s be easier on each other.
Same with this privileged Black male. But in thinking about Black Women in — and critique — Feminist circles, I’m reminded of a oft-misused quote:
Audre Lorde wrote that in 1979. I don’t think about it a lot, but it’s top of mind for me, right now. there’s been a small press worth of of works devoted to breaking down “The Master’s Tools,” but we miss the “learning how to take our differences and make them strengths” just before it.
And that’s crucial, right now. We have to respect those differences, y’all. Sometimes that’s gonna mean a fight to get there, but that can be OK, too.
Lorde knows there was enough of that fighting, back then and ongoing.
Sister Golden Bear
Insert the important caveat that eddie and I keep repeating, not all feminists who are white, not all women who are white (I’ll defer to you regarding upper caste Indian women). But yes that’s been critique made by BIPOC feminists, dating back to the 1970s, of some feminists who are white. In 1969-71 there was a similar critique, regarding sexual orientation, made by lesbian feminists after some hetero feminists tried to exclude them from the movement. See the Lavender Menace. It was after their pushback that in 1971 the delegates at the national conference of NOW (in the State) adopted a resolution recognizing lesbianism and lesbian rights as “a legitimate concern for feminism.”
(If you know this history great. But I’m not lecturing you, I’m talking about it for those who don’t know.)
But what do I know? I’m just someone who bashes feminists at every opportunity. /s
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@Bobby Thomson: I am well aware that have been many feminists over the years that have been racist, transphobic, etc. Very well aware. I’ve heard it over and over. I’ve seen examples of it. Do I get why trans people are sensitive about this issue? Of course! I get it. I really try to very careful about the language I use when I discuss these issues. I try very hard not to misgender, etc.
However, the Limbaugh quote is an example of MANY comments in the media and personal interactions I have had with people who have implied that all feminists are reactionary and angry. Are you aware of the crap women are still going through and have gone through for decades just because they want to be treated equally? Are you aware of the verbal abuse we have dealt with? Do you understand why some of us might be a bit sensitive? Do you extend grace when we get touchy because of that or do you expect us to always be the understanding party? Because understanding and empathy should not be a one way street.
@Major Major Major Major: Oh, that’s a good point about the distinction between liberalism and leftism; the two perspectives are really quite distinct, but both drive people on the progress side of things. And some of the conflict might come from not know where we are (or where we ultimately strive for).
Sister Golden Bear
@Sister Golden Bear: And since I’m apparently obligated to counter-balance any critique of some feminists with a praise for feminists/feminism /s, let me point out there were also a number white feminists, straight feminists, cis feminists who not only took these critique to heart and addressed, but also those supported the “out groups” from the beginning.
To take one example, Sandy Stone was a key member of Olivia Records, a radical feminist collective that essentially created the “women’s music” genre of the 1970s. In her anti-trans screed, “The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male,” rad fem Janice Raymond launched an ad hominem attack on Stone because Stone was a trans woman. Raymond accused Stone of infiltrating Olivia Records to destroy it — apparently unaware that Stone had been open about being trans with the collective. The collective responded in turn by publicly defending Stone in various feminist publications of the time. Stone continued as a member of the collective and continued to record Olivia artists until political dissension over her transgender status, exacerbated by Raymond’s book, culminated in 1979 in the threat of a boycott of Olivia products. After long debate, Stone left the collective — in part to spare them from the death threats the collective was getting.
@Matt McIrvin: I think it is because their country is better and more protective of women, which makes feminism less relevant, and them therefore more militant. When they demand what they expect I think only in my wildest dreams would that even be possible.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: Mainly I would like us to agree that critique of feminism on the part of trans feminists counts as self-critique, and not an outsider attack. Defensiveness on behalf of feminism as a whole gives me a certain amount of alarm, especially being compared with Limbaugh.
There’s a history to these things that a lot of us newcomers won’t be familiar with, but do we take part in the whole or don’t we? Does the door open for self-described “radical” ones at the same time that it shuts for us, no matter how many words of inclusion? It’s harrowing.
I do think that this division (between old-school feminists and intersectional feminists) is being heartily exploited by the fascist wannabes right now who seek to scapegoat and remove the rights of women and LGBTQ+ folks, and we must be on guard about that. The kind of internecine scrape-up we saw last night is exactly what gives their sick little psyches hope for toppling Democracy. They desperately want to divide feminists and trans people into separate bubbles of hate. We must be wary.
@planet eddie: You seem so interesting. I hope you stay on the front page.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@CaseyL: I was the right age for 2nd wave feminism (graduated HS in 1969) and at first, being a white hetero woman, the total emphasis on white middle-class women felt right, since that was what I was – it was my life experience being discussed. Just talking about lesbians felt very exotic and daring (I had been a very sheltered kid). But after a while, the disregard for black women, poor and working class women, and the total hostility to trans women felt creepy. Not to mention the hostility to sweet nerdy men. It wasn’t even crab bucket politics. It was like they didn’t count and weren’t important. A huge blind spot in the women’s movement. I wish everyone could just be seen as people
ETA: planet eddie, please stay! You bring an important viewpoint and life experience to BJ. Thanks!
@ planet eddie
I laughed out loud when I saw this post – I had just told the same story from a different viewpoint on your earlier post. Now you done it faster, shorter and with pictures!
@Major Major Major Major: Historically, I can’t think of any case where leftists have dismantled a heirarchy but have not established a new one (see the French Revolution, Soviet Union, PRC, etc.) I don’t think that’s a particular characteristic (or hypocrisy) of leftism, but rather a function of our propensity as humans for tribalism, individualism, and selfishness. It seems impossible to organize larger numbers of people into effective working units without some kind of leadership structure, and, at the same time, as individuals, many of us will use whatever social structures exist, whether formal or informal, to benefit ourselves and our families to the detriment of others or society as a whole.
@planet eddie: Planet Eddie, thank you so much for the info in your post! Love the receipts. And thank you in general for being here. Your comment about the recovery episode makes me wish I could introduce you to one of the baddest-ass people I know; she would have HAD YOUR BACK in that room!
Two of the most fortunate things that have happened to me were growing up in an atheist family in a small, pretty Catholic town, and, for the last 11 years of my working life, working for an LGBTQ+ organization. Both of those experiences (along with many others) provided me with so many opportunities to learn, to continue to expand my mental boundaries, to rethink (or throw out) my assumptions. To continue to GROW.
Did you read my mind? This was my thought after I read through last night’s comments! We have legislators and other powerful people who are A-OK with consigning trans people and women to their deaths. If that isn’t stressful, I don’t know what is…
We really, really need freedom from fear.
I’ve been caught up in my own stuff, missed all of this.
I want to add my bit to the conversation:
I keep learning that my perspective and belief–which seems so logical because it’s what I think and feel based on my lived experience–may not mesh with others’ lived experience in the world.
I’m learning that I can impose my views and offend another while I’m just bumbling along, in my bubble. This continues to be painful learning for me, and it is so tempting to be righteous and to look for someone to blame for how bad I feel.
The only way to go forward is to admit my mistakes and hear the other instead of defending myself.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@planet eddie: YES. I keep rediscovering this truth about me as I learn more about the struggles of so many people. Thank you for being a front pager! Just as an obvious example, the videos from cell phones forced me to realize the murderous racism black people experience from police, which I had never seen personally.
I’ve seen a couple people mention Leftist Feminism. I’d be curious to hear from Trans/NB people if Leftist Feminism is any less riddled with Transphobia and blindspots, than other Feminist spaces? I suspect that adding “Leftist” as a modifier doesn’t reduce the prevalence of Transphobia in those spaces, any more than it reduces the Racism, Misogyny, Ableism etc. My understanding from listening to a lot of Black and Transgender voices is that it’s really about groups/spaces being intentionally and proactively intersectional that matters
To quote Imani Gandy one more time (sorry): If your Feminism isn’t Intersectional, your Feminism is probably bullshit!
This is absolutely true. So is the fact that Black women have to deal with all of the above, plus systemic racism and misogynoir. This is not new discourse. The defensive response to Eddies’ mention of a “certain kind of (usually white) women” has been pretty disheartening. Even a heavily qualified, mild callout got framed as “attacking white feminists,” and the idea that the trans and BIPOC women have different experiences of gendered oppression was erased in the subsequent conversation.
“Conundrum”; :The Riddle of Gender”; The Well of Loneliness”; there are plenty of sources for humane persons to glimpse a little of what lies at the heart of the question that is presently of so much concern to people who have little direct experience with the topic. In my generation the message was “You can be anything this time around”.
I think everyone is keenly attuned to slights, dismissals, diminishments, insult, etc. The reason for it is because we’re all dealing with a lot of it. It’s not a good way to live. I try to always remember who the real enemy is, but that can be difficult.
@Darkrose: For sure, and not just erased – it’s hard to read the relentless, unresponsive drumbeat of “you’re attacking all feminists, you’re attacking all women” as anything but an accusation of not being those things. But such is the fight, even here.
Are you referring to the UK? Because that country is in no way more protective of women than in the US.
The main difference between US and UK feminism is that women of color, and Black women in particular, have been instrumental in developing the concept of intersectionality since the 1970’s. While there are absolutely Black feminists in the UK–and some prominent Black TERFs–feminism in the UK is currently being driven by gender essentialist ideology that positions gender as the only relevant form of oppression, and centers womanhood in the ability to bear children. (Not only does this deny that trans women are women, it erases trans men by claiming they’re women suffering from internalized misogyny.)
ETA: The other difference is that for the most part, feminists in the US learned from the sex wars of the 1990’s that making alliances with Christian conservatives will always bite us in the ass. British FARTs (Feminism Appropriating Reactionary Transphobes) are literally praising horrible misogynists like Andrew Tate because he’s anti-trans, with zero self awareness.
@Darkrose: I read that and I just threw up my hands.
Trans rights are women’s rights. Black rights are women’s rights.
From the ACLU:
This is happening in this country, and there are women who claim to be proponents of women’s rights who are supporting it!
@planet eddie: Um. That definition would exclude a LOT of cis women, wouldn’t it? I cannot imagine being in the intended target audience and seeing a definition of womanhood based on ability to produce eggs as anything other than a threat.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@livewyre: Are trans feminists feminists? Yes! Of course! Is my point that people can’t critique the behavior of non-trans feminists or white feminists who haven’t been accepting of others? No. My point is language matters and when people are overly general instead of specific in who they are criticizing, people are going to get offended, especially if they’ve frequently been on the receiving end of a lot of attacks because of membership in that group. That is only natural. We all have are buttons and sensitivities because of our lived experiences. We should all try to be mindful, including me.
@Matt McIrvin: I can attest that there’s a certain comfort to living in a closet and conforming on an “oh, I know what they mean” basis, until one can’t. And that’s not accounting for other labels that might take priority.
@livewyre: I often joke that there’s nothing more important to everyday White People than the ingrained presumption that we are entitled to set the parameters and definitions for conversations about Racism. We love to pull out our Dictionary Definitions (that are usually very out-dated, wrong and notably written by our fellow White People). Obviously this also applies to Men/Misogyny and Cisgender People/Transphobia and every other variation of Privilege/Oppression. I think it is a huge component of Privilege since we see pop up, any and EVERY time a marginalized group tries to center their perspectives in conversations about their own oppression. It’s so predictable and exhausting.
Sorry you all have to deal with this shit.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@Matt McIrvin: @planet eddie: That definition of women is a threat to ALL women (inclusively defined). Its been ridiculous these last couple of years watching right wingers “defend the santity of women’s sports” when my whole life these same type of people have criticized women’s sports as being basically a poor imitation of sports and taking resources away from men. The same kind of people who have claimed that MeToo is about hating men and have bashed women who want careers in male dominated fields, suddenly claim they are defending the rights women. They are so full of crap.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: Yes. I have often said I CAN REMEMBER BEFORE TWENTY MINUTES AGO. Those people don’t give a shit about women, girls, cis, trans, whatever. They don’t care about sports or fair play or equal access. Just like they don’t care about “free speech”. They’re co-opting the language of liberalism to their own ends and I hope more people don’t fall for that shit.
@planeteddie, I hope also that you will stay, along with Sister Golden Bear and all others from minority/marginalized backgrounds. I have learned so much from you and my in–person transgender, non-binary, queer, gay, BIPOC, and other friends. [suburban cisgender white gay male here who came out at 30 even though I remember checking out guys’ butts when I was in 2nd grade].
I understood your nuance, including the phrase “there is a kind of”…or words to that effect. There is a kind of white gay male I want desperately to hit upside the head with metaphorical 2x4s because of their obtuse political stances (looking at you, Peter Thiel and the Log Cabin GOPers).
Your voices are valuable and I value them. You help me be better and I will listen. Might even ask questions.
I believe that we do need to recognize that the way a lot of humans view gender and especially relatively newish definitions of gender makes this entire concept of more than a binary humanity a relatively new concept. I’m pretty sure that during most of my lifetime of almost 3/4 of a century I’ve known humans who did not think of their gender as what others saw. But back then you fit in or were rather forcefully rejected out of the greater society. IOW this is not new but how we see it and how many may or may not accept this, it is, in the gist of the timeline of humanity a rather new concept of this humanity. Now that said, there are going to be people that stick their noses in where they really, really do not fit or belong. Humanity changes slowly, often glacially slowly. I’m not say or implying that people that think they “know” all about “normal” are correct because they are not correct or normal in any way. Because they are trying to stop the unstoppable of humanity understanding that life is not always the way they see it – with zero exceptions. They are rigid non thinkers, they stumble through life, likely fucking up most of the way because they are stumble fucks. It’s their nature to live with their heads up their asses, in the dark and smelly place their brain occupies. But, and it is a very small but, we should at least try to inform them, if at all possible, that this change in concept that humans are not exactly as they appear but are as their brain operates and that it is none of their fucking business how people see themselves and how true they are to that vision.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: I find it very hard to read Eddie’s comments as overly general, given how qualified they were. And some people continued to ignore their clarifications that they weren’t saying what those people thought they were saying.
At a certain point the problem stops being about language.
Yeah, you let me know when there’s a BJ post titled “the trouble with white men”
Cold day in fucking hell before that happens.
@Kay: The trouble with white women is lynch mobs. There’s your history.
Well , good. Now we’re clear. It was the womens! Again. The culprits. That’s your understanding of feminism. Got it. Unclear why you would want to be one with this view of feminists, but that’s your business.
@Kay: You’re pure. You don’t see race. I understand.
I was not ware that that’s how TERF people are referred to. So that flew right over my head.
I knew that TERF people are anti-trans, assuming that the T was for trans, but I had no idea that the RF referred to Radical Feminists. So the radical feminists being a reference to TERF went right over my head, too.
in short, “radical feminists” didn’t translate to anti-trans, for me.
@Kay: Okay, I’ll try again. I can’t adequately convey my disappointment, especially with how on fire you’ve been about the antiwoke crowd. Once you get hold of a target it’s as good as gone. If this is alliance, I’d hate to be in the opposition.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: absolutely! That is what I have been saying from go, while being accused of being anti-women.
Trans rights ARE women’s rights. They are inextricably bound.
@Kay: would you like me to make a post about the Trouble with White Men? I’d need to sit down for about a month to get it together given that it’s, oh, most of human history?
@WaterGirl: yes, essentially in the UK, the media is following the battle of “women’s rights activists” against “trans rights activists.” It’s deplorable, since trans women are women and simply want… women’s rights!
@planet eddie: I also could go on and on about the Trouble with White Men. I have inside information.
I am asking you to extend the same thoughtfullness and courtesy and understanding to me that I extend to you. It’s really not complicated. The response to “I think this paragraph is sexist as hell” (I do) should not be “that’s because you don’t understand the history of feminism/are unenlightened/are secretly a TERF”. Is there ANY POSSIBILITY that it’s sexist? Or is that unimagineable?
Defend the paragraph! Explain to me why it’s ok to say this shit about women but not about anyone else?
Speaking of the trouble with white men, from the next post: The asshole TX judge invalidated the FDA approval of mifepristone. The government has 7 days to appeal.
@Kay: If I wished to reciprocate the consideration, I’d be less polite. If I wasn’t dead tired from debating my right to exist with you, maybe I’d have resorted to snark sooner.
How about some slogans? White women are women. All women matter. Gotta be inclusive.
I tire of it, I really do. I could set a damn timer. Post goes up about abortion or womens rights (rare post- , incidentally- if I didn’t comment on abortion there would be little or no discussion of it here) by the third comment someone is telling me women deserve it because X number of white women vote for Republicans. Always. Like clockwork. There is never any discussion like that about white men. Just women. It is intended to shut me up. I know it in my gut like I know my own name. I have heard it my entire life.
So that’s my “context”.
@Kay: I’m going to be really clear:
Lots of trans women and women of color spoke up in the various comment sections about how hurt they felt, and you just blew right by them because you are, apparently, the only woman who matters in the world.
I don’t think you’re interested in solidarity, I think you’re in pain, and I’m sorry for that, but your pain does not justify you to lash out at the rest of us.
I also find it interesting that your defense at every turn has been that we’re attacking feminists as a whole when we’re actually calling you out for very specific behavior that you are demonstrating.
I hope you can find some healing.
Can you fucking imagine a post entitled “The Trouble with Black Men” with a link to their incarceration statistics?
Obviously, some black men commit crimes so we can ethically shit on all black people. Some white feminists hate transpeople so we can shit on all white feminists.
Now let’s talk about who doesn’t feel safe here anymore.
For what it is worth, I have always appreciated your comments regarding abortion and agree that there is far too little discussion of it anywhere.
Thank you for sticking up for us demon white feminists. Now I should probably leave this thread before I say some shit I will regret.
@Kay: so you decided that because you were mad that no one was calling out white men (which to me I see called out in… pretty much every post?), it justifies attacking a trans non-binary person, who has dealt with a lot of sexism from cis-women?
Why are you mad at me? I said in my first post that reproductive rights and trans rights are the same fight. Do you know what it’s like being a non-binary person with a uterus? I am fighting a LOT of fights right now, and it hurts when someone who is supposed to be my ally shivs me because she has more protection than me.
I have been assaulted not once — but twice — on the street because I looked like a woman with a mustache. I was beaten until I had a concussion last fall due to both transphobia and misogyny.
@hervevillechaizelounge: I don’t. Thanks for the contribution, and the confession.
@Kay: Have you ever realized that you were in the position of attacking somebody who you didn’t wish to be harmed? Hypothetically speaking, of course.
Were you beaten by white feminists? FYI, white feminists perpetrate a statistically negligible amount of crimes of violence according to the FBI.
OTOH, 85% of all violent crimes are committed by men between the ages of 18 and 40.
Shall we retitle this The Problem with Men Between the Ages of 18 and 40? I love the smell of misandry in the afternoon!
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@Eolirin: I addressed that in the thread before this one. I’m not going to repost my comments. I think eddie tried to qualify their statements and did not mean to offend. However, I think those qualifications were not obvious to people who are less familiar with TERFs, the history, and the language around those issues. I think people who use ‘reactionary feminists’ and ‘radical feminists’ as short hand for anit-trans feminists don’t get how those words have been historically used to tar all feminists as crazed loons who hate men and families. I realize you don’t see how people could have been offended by what eddie said or take it as a more broad attack, but I do. They read something different into what eddie said than what I think eddie meant because of coming from a different perspective. I feel like these conversations sometimes just devolve into ‘Well, it isn’t offensive to me, so the problem must be you’ instead of understanding that the same language can mean different things to different people and come with a different set of baggage.
@hervevillechaizelounge: In case it wasn’t clear, no one is obligated to justify the circumstances of their own vulnerability with you. That may be frustrating when accustomed to everyone having to do so, but let’s just say times are changing.
@planet eddie: Just being a lowly non-academic feminist in the US I missed all that. I thought transwomen were just more women. Welcome to our club.
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
Dog Dawg Damn
I take issue with the framing of “safety” by the new young left.
jusr because someone holds an opinion different than yours doesn’t mean you are unsafe. As a gay man who was often engaging with people who held different views than me, I don’t see the utility of screaming “safety” and shutting down all conversation.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: That’s not what I’m saying though. The initial offense is a misunderstanding and would be fair enough if that’s all that had happened; the subsequent refusal to listen to the clarifications which make it very clear that that’s not what’s going on is not a failure of language.
@Dog Dawg Damn: Then you were safe, and you don’t trust anyone to say when they aren’t. That’s fine for you.
@hervevillechaizelounge: Given that there has been a demonstrated history of anti-trans behavior from feminists (and from a time mostly dominated by white women), I found your comment to be tasteless. This isn’t ancient history we’re talking about; it’s within living memory.
I can’t tell you how dispirited I am by this choice of title and the escalating tones of these posts. It is possible to have something important to say and still inadvertently offend people with the way you say it. It is important to be open to the idea that your explanation wasn’t as clear as you thought.
I really appreciate Eddie’s posts on trans issues. They are moving and informative, and I am learning so much. But damn, that paragraph on women’s rights hit me hard. I have been reading BJ forever and I don’t think I have ever been so angry. Thankfully some commenters helped to clarify, and I now understand the intent. I think. Maybe. I thought it was just TERFs but as this drags on now I am wondering if it was actually white feminists…
If you aren’t going to be aware that not everyone knows all the lingo, and that feminists from older generations experienced different levels of sexism that caused different sensitivities, then this discussion is not going to go well. I have zero interest in engaging in finger pointing or a victimfest of who has it worst. I wish I could stop reading these posts, but I can’t seem to help myself. Feminist and masochist!
Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony
@Dog Dawg Damn:
I struggle with that too. To me, safety means I won’t be evicted, fired, beaten, or murdered just for being a lesbian. Being told I’m not really gay or that my marriage isn’t valid or that I’m a sinner who will go to hell wasn’t unsafe, it was just normal for the first 10+ years of being out.
@Spanish Moss: I wish I knew how to reassure you. These are centuries-long debates and they’re bound to boil over from time to time as things (hopefully, usually) progress. You correctly (IMO) highlight the racial tension at the heart of this particular eruption – no one is glad to feel blamed for something they can’t help.
The thing is, race has that little wrinkle where it’s imposed rather than inborn, and the consequences go way further back than this country. It’s not going to be separable from questions like “what is a woman” and “how do we progress feminism”. At least, as long as we’re not okay with a paper bag test on those questions.
When writing, how many qualifiers are enough? If someone says ‘certain members of group X’ or ‘some members of group Y’ is that not clear enough? How many sentences have to be spent reassuring every possible group of readers that no, I definitely didn’t mean them, or their parent, or spouse, or kid, pet, neighbor, cousin, pastor/hairdresser/bartender/UPS driver, before I am allowed to express what I actually wanted to say?
If I’m spending half my words and three-fourths of my time and energy worrying about every possible way I could be misinterpreted, why would I even bother?
Dog Dawg Damn
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony:
yes it was sadly very normal. We were all missionaries for a long time. We didn’t have the benefit of mass media framing our opponents as bigots. The generation of gay men right before me are dead now, literally dead, because of government inaction.
And yet, I don’t recall the framing of “safety” being germane when it came to debating our rights in the public square.
The new young left has a lot to learn from the civil rights fight gays and lesbians engaged in the 1990’s. What succeeded. What didn’t. Unfortunately, they just dismiss me as a “privileged cis white gay” instead of listening. Strange how putting “white” in front of a word magically erases all hardship, agency, and wisdom someone embodies. It’s very destructive.
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: It shouldn’t be normal, is the thing. The less it is, the more progress we’ve made. We shouldn’t need to compare battle scars to validate our travails. The fact that we were already doing so before you mentioned it should say enough.
@Dog Dawg Damn: The reason whiteness was invented was to always come first, before any other consideration or affiliation. That’s why, like clockwork, it’s the first thing to be defended whenever a mix of this stuff comes up. “So you’re saying everybody white is bad”, “suddenly everybody’s against me because I’m white”, ad nauseam. It was enough to turn poor white laborers against the newly emancipated, and it’s still useful today.
Dog Dawg Damn
I think that’s right but I also think the converse is true. It’s the first weapon to be deployed against people from the other side. Dismissing someone or their opinion because of their skin color is not progressive, rational, or productive. It’s become a tactic online, and shuts down conversation. It’s almost a silly trope at this point but yet here we still are.
In New Zealand a group using a thin veneer of feminism just attempted to bring over a really awful British woman to preach hate (following on from an event in Melbourne where she continued speaking to the seig heiling nazis who had showed up to support her).
There were feminists who showed up to oppose her but it’s undeniable that there are groups attempting to use some of the language and concepts of feminism to demonize trans people in a really disturbing way.
Just as I think there is a particular onus on christians to stand against the worst actions committed in the name of christianity, I think there is also an onus on us feminists to stand against anyone attempting to use feminism in this particularly ugly way.
I also think we’re in a grey zone when it comes to no true scotsman for both christianity and feminism (although obviously christianity has the longer and uglier history).
@Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony: I would suggest that the suicide rates for our communities point toward safety being a bit more complex than simple physical violence or access to housing and employment.
Community matters, the exhaustion that comes from constantly having to defend our existences matter, and the intersectionality with mental health issues matter.
I’ve slowed down posting a bunch despite an outpouring of support after I blew up on someone for being intensely bigoted on mental health issues and forced hospitalization because it’s exhausting to deal with being expressive in an environment where you’re exposed to things like that even when you have lots of support.
And I know that’s exactly the kind of thing Kay is dealing with and I absolutely sympathize with her pain. (And Kay, I know I’ve personally called out the people talking about white women voting patterns as being bullshit, every time I’ve seen it come up, so people here are doing that, and I agree it’s maddening that it’s happening at all)
But she’s also not listening to what Eddie is actually saying. And I’ve also had to deal with that repeatedly, and it’s also exhausting.
These things can lead to actual tangible harms, and are reasons for people to leave communities. I’m glad you had enough emotional resiliency to be able to tolerate that without any harm, but that isn’t everyone.
And if you want to talk about painting groups with broad brushes, be aware that you’re effectively doing so by complaining about a more mental health aware youth being concerned about a different set of issues than the ones you’ve had to deal with that are literally killing them.
Because Eddie referred to a specific woman, and then noted that there are certain women who call themselves feminist but who define feminism in a way that excludes trans and BIPOC women. They put in qualifiers to make it clear they weren’t talking about “all women,” “all white women,” or “all feminists, and it still wasn’t enough. A post where a trans person is talking about their experiences, including being misgendered and othered by someone who considers herself a feminist, has become about how we can’t criticize other feminists who fail at intersectionality.
Dog Dawg Damn
Teaching children they can externalize their mental health onto others is setting them up for failure. There’s a reverse placebo effect here. Telling people everyone hates them, and it drives them suicide, and there’s a literal genocide occurring — actually makes things worse. We have a mental health crisis in our youth (across all groups); the “safety society” is exacerbating the problem in a myriad of ways.
@planet eddie: The interview of Alok is great!
We encountered a group of hijra in Gurgaon (suburb of Delhi). They were in “scare the tourists in the stoneyard so we get paid to go away mode”. I was curious to get to know about them. It’s awful that the BJP wants to maintain, and ramp up, the British reactionary sexual morality while pretending that it is tradional Hindu values.
That judge in TX just banned Mifepristone. But continue with your circular firing squad.
@Dog Dawg Damn: I’m trying to give space to where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure you’re aware of the stakes. The “toughen up” routine is a conservative fiction. We’re as tough as we get already. We’re being killed. We’re not too weak, we’re not emasculating ourselves (get it?), we’re not snowflakes or pansies or whatever characterization you congratulate yourself by putting yourself on the other side of. This isn’t something you can blame on the target. This is extermination.
@Ken: This is all the same fight. There’s no need to belittle anyone.
@livewyre: Thanks, but you give me too much credit. I was just trying to understand the flow of grievance.
White or not, my quibble with the original post was with the association of victimhood with feminism. Apparently this characterization wasn’t meant as broadly as some of us interpreted it. And in a style that was reminiscent of mansplaining, we were told that there is no way that we should have misunderstood it.
Now the comments are filling up with examples of bad feminists, of which I am sure there are many. I freely admit that there are bad feminists. But how is this helpful? This discussion has turned into an avalanche of defensiveness, and I don’t see how it is advancing our understanding of important issues.
This is an excellent point. I thank you and Sister Machine Gun for making it. Particularly that it reads differently to people without the context of who is being discussed. You have both been open to the point that there are people claiming the title ‘feminist’ in order to make misogynistic arguments, and that they are not reflective, indeed enemies of mainstream feminism. I know that I personally will watch to be more clear about who I am talking about.
I am cis male, but two thirds of my friends are trans women and I am constantly exposed to TERF rhetoric. The similarity to conservative beliefs about women constantly stands out to me. It is an ugly set of assumptions about men and women both.
@Spanish Moss: Here’s the thing – there are no such things as bad feminists. I’m going out on a limb here, but bear with me.
Anyone can abuse. Anyone can perpetuate systemic prejudice. That’s the nature of society, is its interconnection. What I’ve been contending against is the characterization of calling out specific acts by individuals and groups affiliated with feminism that result in harm to others, including other feminists, as attacking them for being feminist. Or white. Or women, where applicable.
That started out as a mistake, as best I could tell, and became wrapped up in the existential struggle at large. No one is being marked as “bad”. But it’s easy to read that way, these days.
Dog Dawg Damn
@livewyre: this is just simply not true. Trans people are less likely to be victims of violence than gays and lesbians who are in turn less likely than bisexual people. (Source below). Yes, trans people are more likely to be victims than cis people across al demographics. But the hyperbole around the actual risk is not reality and it’s causing mental distress in young people who are being fed this lie constantly.
Getting back to “i am what I am” and teaching people that their value is not dependent on society’s approval is a huge step forward. Nearly every organization is trans friendly and has trans spokespeople.
You’re lecturing someone who lived through AIDS which literally killed more people than the Vietnam war.
@Dog Dawg Damn: With respect, please speak for yourself. I don’t meant to belittle what you’ve been through, but I think there may be some unfamiliarity with the kind of harassment that occurs these days. Warfare has changed. You don’t need a physical virus to do the job. And characterizing it as mollycoddling the whippersnappers just makes their work easier. In fact, it is their work.
I’m just catching up to all the BS in the previous threads (and this one too, presumably? Guh), and I just really want to give you a hug for going through this whole experience, eddie.
For the few people who are doing their level best to make minoritized writers, commenters, and lurkers feel like shit, go fuck yourselves.
@Dog Dawg Damn: You are so far off base on this issue, which isn’t even trans specific, but mental health specific, that I can’t even begin to expend the energy to try to explain it.
I don’t actually believe that anymore. I’ve seen the gleeful pile on of feminists too many times now on this blog to believe that these shots are directed at some specific “bad” group of feminists. I once believed it- no longer. Every time it’s raised on this blog I read 15 comments bashing feminists (always from the same people) except carefully modified to “white” feminists, which to me is NOT actually about “white” but is instead about women.
Again- it’s pretty easy. If you mean TERF say TERF.
Dog Dawg Damn
@livewyre: it’s more than that. Maybe you’re right. And I’m just old. However I think the narrative is destructive and counterproductive. There’s a starling commitment to the hyperbole and less commitment to truth, consequences, and science. Is it possible that constantly focusing on the obstacles creates mental distress ? What about a world where we focused on the people who have overcome those obstacles. What if trans people were told they could live happy fulfilling lives and showed examples of just that. Anyway, thanks for listening. I’m off to watch “Yellowjackets” or “mean girls lord of the flies” as my husband calls it.
@Kay: You are referring to my comments I suppose. Are you accusing me of trying to shut you up by pointing out demographic statistics and voting patterns?
I am with you on abortion and women’s rights. I like to see facts and figures before trying to figure out how to tackle a problem.
Right. So not TERFS after all- instead, white feminists. So we can put the whole “eddie meant TERFS” thing to bed now, right? Because that isn’t true. Now we’re in the much larger group of white feminists- it’s actually even larger than that, because it’s now white women.
I feel like I’m screaming into the void. I read Eddie’s post as talking about a specific subset of women who consider themselves feminist while erasing and ignoring the lived experience of women who aren’t cis and white. I didn’t think that would be controversial. But despite all of the qualifiers, Eddie got accused of criticizing feminists, and white feminists in particular.
I saw Eddie doing something I try to do in conversations about identity, bending over backwards to assure people that no, I don’t mean all white/cis/het/abled people, and still getting put on blast for doing exactly that. They’re literally talking about how some women don’t want to acknowledge the experience of trans and BIPOC women, and some folks here are saying “How dare you single out white women!” as though that erasure hasn’t been a problem in the feminist movement since the suffragists–which is exactly what this particular post is referencing. It’s exhausting and disheartening.
Do let us know when you intend to begin extending that “thoughtfullness [sic] and courtesy,” won’t you? Because, to date, you haven’t done so.
QFT. And I’m going to move on from this thread, as well.
Planet Eddie, please do continue speaking up. There will be some here who, intentionally or unintentionally, misconstrue what you write. The rest of us need the occasional reminder and education to make ourselves better people and better allies.
Yup. It’s a way to shut down any discussion of womens issues. It works too. The whole discussion turns into The Problem Is White Women. I don’t think there’s ever really been a substantive abortion discussion on BJ since Dobbs but I’m extremely well versed in all the ways women deserve what they get.
It’s not just you. It’s real common here. I could set my watch by it. Post goes up, issue is now Problem of White Women. The contraceptive case has been pending for months. Everyone who cares about and follows this issue knew and knows about it- everyone but BJ. To you-all it’s a shocker.
@Kay: Yes, you’ve caught me! You’re the victim! Congratulations.
@Darkrose: A group of radical feminist women in a group called Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell, WITCH, very tongue in cheek. They’d dress as witches and stir their cauldron in public places and people would take their literature because they weren’t the typical serious radicals. Speaking of intersectionality they attended a couple Chicago Gay Liberation meetings. This was at a time when lesbians were not welcome at Women’s Liberation meetings. About half the GLF activists were women (not all lesbians, but most). We also had guys from the Blackstone Rangers.
When we started a group on the north side that intersectionality was quickly squashed. It was a big part of my getting burned out. How do you fight discrimination when you’re practicing it?
I was scolded repeatedly and told it was TERFS and I was just too stupid to figure it out. Which of course was not true and was obviously not true even in the original post. I just want to be clear. Not TERFS, was never TERFS. Which I knew because I read it.
@Kay: Just the anti-trans ones. Which is yes, more than TERFs, but no, isn’t all white women.
@Kay: Tell me, does blatantly lying work on the other forums you inhabit? Because it tends to not work very well here.
It’s pie time. Moving on to the other threads.
@Kay: It’s just about white women again? Oh, still. Anyway…
After a breather, I went out on a limb earlier about the “bad feminist” thing, if that’s still in contention. One place we might have our wires crossed is where we get caught up in deciding who’s in and who’s out of the club. The way I figure it now, there’s no such thing. Inclusivity means no one gets kicked out – in fact, it means it can’t be about kicking anyone out.
That means even the dour, dire TERFs aren’t technically bad feminists. Arguably they deal in a twisted philosophy of fake feminism, but even that’s hard to say. It came from somewhere real. The problem is what it’s being used for – exclusion. That’s why they have to specify and euphemize as “gender critical” and so on. They’re screwing up feminism by not drawing from it in the first place.
So maybe where we come together on this is unifying (or universalizing!) a definition of feminism that doesn’t in itself fail, since it’s an aspirational philosophy. All feminists are feminists. We just each lose sight of some portion of it in our ongoing existential struggle. This is what I’m going with for as long as it holds up to critique.
@Kay: Yes, but by the time I actually responded to you — and if you go back, you can see that when I did respond I began with kindness — you had already fixed me in your mind as your aggressor.
As I explained many times, the kind of person I am talking about isn’t a feminist. I was referring to a group of women — and yes they are women — who uses that label to cover for transphobic, homophobic, and racist actions. Why on earth would you, a feminist, think I was talking about you?
In trans circles, we call these folks “reactionary” because they are reacting to trans existence. That’s been common lingo, for, gosh… 15-20 years?
The reason I don’t say TERFs is that many of these women do not think of themselves as TERFS and it’s truly mind-boggling!
Paul in KY
@Another Scott: Well said, Scott.
@Frankensteinbeck: Thanks. My trans nephew and his nonbinary spouse lived with us for about a year, and one of my sons is a sociologist, so we have many interesting discussions at our family gatherings. One of the important things I have learned is how differently our generations look at things, and how easy it is to say something that is interpreted in unintended ways, even though we share values. I try to keep it in mind.
@Kay: Odd, I distinctly remember telling you the opposite, and there being no such invective directed towards you. There must be some kind of mistake.
I understand this is an existential conflict and all, but misrepresenting others for advantage is something I’d rather leave to those on the oppressive side of it, ideally speaking.
@Kay: I think that all our pushback against MAGA, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Republicans in general is implicitly “the Trouble with White Men”.
@Kay: I’ve been calling myself a feminist since I read Girls Are Equal Too in 1978, when I was 8 years old. I don’t know if that gives me enough feminist cred to be able to point out that second and third wave feminism had a real problem with intersectionality, especially as it related to queer, trans, and BIPOC women. Fourth wave feminism is doing better, but there are still problems with racism and transphobia–and yes, homophobia–in the movement. And if marginalized women call that out, then clearly we hate feminists.
Has anyone indicated that they’re shocked? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve been expecting this decision for a while. Dropping it at 6:30 on Good Friday is about par for the course.
@Dan B: That sounds like the Lavender Menace era?
@Kay: I hardly comment here anymore. If you find my comments offensive use the pie filter.
I have never once said or even implied that. You are mind reading.
No, I agree that feminism had and has those problems. Absolutely. I have read a lot on feminism including intersectionality. I actually took a law school elective on it where we read widely.
I just wonder why we talk about how bad feminists are in literally every context, including when women are bleeding out in bathtubs because they can’t get medical care for a miscarriage. It’s an oddly…abstract way to approach this right now. It seems the worse it gets for women the more we talk about how much feminists suck. Perplexing!
@Darkrose: That case has come up a number of times in comment threads at least. I’m not sure if it’s been front paged, though I feel like I saw something there.
My memory is not what it used to be.
Paul in KY
@Ruckus: I think humanity will not become ‘unified’ until we meet another, very, very different race, from another star system.
That may be millennia away from happening.
@Paul in KY: We’ll be unified in death way before then the way things are going.
But callling feminists “reactionary” has a history within feminism. It’s a slam, an attack on us, an attempt to discredit all of us by labeling us reactionaries and radicals. That goes back much, much further than ten years. I mean, you must be aware of this. “Radical feminist” is almost a punchline to a joke at this point. On the Right it means “any feminist” – always.
@Kay: Technically speaking, you’re the only one talking about that. Only that. For three threads.
It’s really hard to agree with someone who’s convinced you’re responsible for what’s threatening them, argues the part, and is really, really good at arguing. Not sure what to do about that.
If nothing will convince you that everyone in this place except for you isn’t trying to destroy feminism in its entirety, where do we go from here? I’d like to move on, but at the same time, leaving an existential conflict unresolved seems like a recipe for trouble. But then that’s just called history.
Hi Eddie! I’ve enjoyed your posts and hope you stick around.
Confession, I started typing this around comment 125 and then got called away to dinner. I’ve read the thread, but am going to post my original thoughts from there.
As to why TERFism took hold in the UK and not the US, I think there were several reasons.
Do women have it easier in the UK? I know from friends that cis gender relations are abysmal. That said, there is universal healthcare, parental leave, and abortion is legal and not contested. That alone removes huge amounts of energy spent on those fights in the US. Evangelical christians are not a solid quarter of the population, nor is the Catholic Church politically powerful. For all there may have been some personal issues with trans people, feminists pretty much realized that we have the same enemies. Therefore, we fight on their side.
I was hanging out out feminist blogs in the late 00s, so I remember the early days of the TERF fights. I remember seeing the term TERF appear! One thing I noticed was that a lot of the arguments from the UK were really more from the anti-psychiatry perspective than a feminist one. I recognized this, because I had taken a course on the history of madness, and tried pushing back against their denialism on those terms, but the fight really became a “feminist” one, rather than acknowledging that the roots of this section of the fight were in anti-psychiatry. I think there was a major error in tactics in terms of allowing the anti-psychiatry/medicine folks to fight under a feminist banner.
I have found in general that fighting people on the non-ideological front first and then bringing up their bigotry often catches them off guard. You think penises are nothing but organs of rape? Not going to listen to anything you have to say about trans people cause that’s kinda ‘effed up. You want spaces for women who are AFAB and still identify as female? Have you thought about how you are going to do that without being unkind to our trans sisters? Nope? That’s just sad and rude. And yes, transphobic.
As for “White Feminism”: Yes, feminism in America, like every other fucking thing in America, has been steeped in racism, white supremacy, and all sorts of other toxic swill. There is also a history of each generation of young feminists declaring that they are the true feminists, not like those older women who pretended to be feminists. It is also a terrible history, and deeply misogynistic. Each new generation wasn’t lying, but they also weren’t acknowledging where that generation was starting from. I’m always fascinated by the people who can see shiny new possibilities for the future, but can’t imagine letting go of their own baggage and prior assumptions. It’s important to learn about the past, but when it comes to judging them, I don’t. I do have my “Holy fuck!” moments, and look for patterns, but I try to keep my focus on worrying about how future generations will judge me and my actions.
Yes, feminism needs to have a reckoning with how it has intersected with white supremacy, but so does everything else in this country. People who use the term “white feminism” need to remember that it came into popular use to allow people to feel that they could not support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and still be feminists. That it got co-opted by feminist “allies” who used to belittle feminists in general, especially the sorts of organizing done by suburban moms. It also meant that comedians could go straight back to their misogynist bullshit if they prefaced their whining complaints about women with the word “white.” Yep, white comedians, to a room full of white people, saying “Can we talk about white women for a moment?” And the crowd roars with laughter. Great work folks.
Those four percent of women who voted for Trump in 2020, but didn’t in 2016? They were Republican women who crossed the aisle to vote for Hillary. Didn’t do it for Biden. Authoritarian follower is a personality type. They will always be with us. Pretending that white women who have this personality are somehow going to not vote for Republicans is delusional. The best place to read about this (and you probably shouldn’t be an activist at all without knowing about it) is Bob Altemyer’s The Authoritarians. He is a Canadian professor of psychology who wrote this book after he retired and made it free to download.
Part of the issue here is that if someone says “I’m not a racist, but” and then starts spouting racist shit, we immediately put them into the category of racist. People realize today that being a racist isn’t a good thing. So they lie about it. It a lot of our world, it’s a bad thing to not be a feminist. So people lie about it. But when this self proclaimed feminist goes and does stupid garbage, everybody goes “look at how terrible feminists are!” It sucks. Stop doing it.
Why does transphobia seem to just pop up like some ugly sewer monster? It’s new for a lot of people and uncomfortable. America has a deep, deep streak of sexual puritanism and transness is profoundly unpuritanical. The construction of whiteness in America means that there is a real pull towards “respectability.” There is a deep gender divide where men are assumed to be in charge of women and their bodies. Not enough men question this. Women presume that giving in to this control means that they are allowed to police everyone else’s behavior as if it reflects badly on them. This includes white women who pretend that they can exclude themselves from the history of American feminism by calling everyone else a “white feminist.”
@Darkrose: Yes, Lavender Menace era. WITCH was pushing back against it as were the Blackstone Rangers.
Well, not just me. Anne Laurie has always been a feminist and has always posted about feminist issues. Betty C is one too, and (oddly enough!) mistermix. Mistermix is actually a pretty good feminist, if paying attention is the measure and I think it is. DougJ was the first person I read who predicted Dobbs would be politically important and bring women out. He was right and he said it when no one else did. So that’s pretty perceptive about women and politics, I think, for a man.
@Kay: Sorry if my quip fell flat; I specifically meant “why we talk about how bad feminists are in literally every context“, which didn’t help my appetite to type out, but has a sincere concern behind it that I feel obligated to address.
What I’m trying to do in a lighthearted way with the “no bad feminists” thing is to short-circuit the conflict loop where it becomes about who’s in or out. It seems like a lot of the contention is revolving around that point of exclusion, for instance where it seems like TERFs (on the less contentious side) or white women generally (obviously more so) are being judged unworthy of the mantle, when it doesn’t really seem necessary to divide things that way to begin with.
If feminism is aspirational, then we can each and all mess up at it, and we can hold abusers accountable where needed, but there’s no reason to cast out anyone from the legacy and philosophy of women’s full participation in society. It doesn’t even make sense to.
@livewyre: Nevermind, that answers it.
Paul in KY
@Eolirin: True dat!
I like this philosophy!
I’m not really comfortable discussing this with you, because you said earlier that my objections are “denyng your existence” which I do not do, but if you feel I am you probably can’t engage with me – too upsetting for you. I can sense it’s exhausting for you and I don’t want to do that to you either.
@Kay: No worries about that. I lost my temper, took a breather, and thought some things through. That’s on me. For sure I don’t mean to insult your chops on this and other issues.
What I’m looking for out of all this is a way through without everybody being enemies. You’ve made a tenacious case that this really is for all the marbles. As green as I am, I need that kind of feedback to learn from. It came at the expense of some of my hide but I don’t regret that at all. When we feel attacked, we respond. I think it’ll work out.
ETA: Original comment seems to have disappeared, but appreciated all the same.
ETA2: Seems back, probably a glitch.
@Darkrose: A Washington State Federal Court filed a demand that the FDA continue to offer Mifeprestone. Yay hometeam! The judgement / ruling may only cover the state.
I would respectfully request that everyone here take a breather. We’re at the stage where nothing fucking good is coming out of this, because we have people with differing lived experiences each yelling past each other with everyone feeling as if the other is invalidating their time here on earth. People feel villainized, unsafe, threatened, and angry, and we all need to cool off. I think this is something uniquely online, because were we in person and able to address each other’s humanity and clarify our thoughts in real time, rather than an asynchronous back and forth with at this point no charity being granted for miscommunication or poor communication, this discussion would be far more fruitful and much less acrimonious.
As to what is going on now, it’s a fucking train wreck and I’d ask everyone to pack their kerosene away for a bit and stop chucking it on the fire.
Deleted after reading John’s post.
@Darkrose: I’m out of this one, so thanks for this.
ETA: Acknowledged all around.
@hervevillechaizelounge: yes, because I have seen that frequently from ugly conservative white racists. Now look at a post labeled the trouble with white women and….don’t do that. Even though some white women hurt you, are still hurting you and you are explaining it well mostly, don’t do that title because it is exactly wrong for the same reason you pick the example you did.
if you need to explain that you mean “not all….fill in the blank anything” maybe we should not be saying that anyway. Sure we mostly know it, but it’s still not right.
Some words get in the way of understanding instead of helping.
Thank you for bringing your perspective to Balloon Juice. It has helped me examine some of my blind spots.
I will admit that it’s been a bit heartbreaking to watch people I greatly admire (even though I’ve never met them in person) essentially fail to understand each other. In this climate, where the forces arrayed against non-conservatives seem to be gaining power in the courts and some legislative bodies, it becomes so important to understand and strengthen the ties that bind us, even when we disagree.
A fractured coalition on the left is what fascists are betting on, so I hope there is a way forward that allows for everyone to feel heard/seen/understood, because we are all vulnerable to right wing attacks.
@Matt McIrvin: That would be me. Using “it” is such a painful slur for the vast majority of transpeople that I avoided the term by just sticking to their names instead of pronouns. It’s rooted in a whole other line of critique by posthumanists pointing to the planetary destruction wrought by humans. Donna Haraway is still the dominant theorist on the front, from “Cyborg Manifesto” (1985) to Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (2016).
The small but growing number of young people requesting “it” is almost certainly overrepresented in graduate schools.
Members of our community have reported experiences that they have lived – they do not need those experiences parsed or dissected or proved with election results. How about pausing and reflecting? Have I ever said or done anything like this in my life? If the answer is no it’s not about you.
Being feminist doesn’t automatically confer anti racism or anti oppression or acceptance and allyship with our LGBTQIA+ family. It just doesn’t. It’s something we have to keep working at. As a cis het white woman i experience this world differently. My interactions are not the same. I get to move through spaces differently. I do not necessarily notice things that are happening to other people because those things don’t happen to me or happen differently. I certainly don’t get to decide which experience of oppression was worse and I do not believe that human nature has changed so dramatically that oppression and discrimination is better now than it was 20-30-40-50 years ago. It may have changed – doesn’t make it easier to live through. And even if it happens less you don’t get to let your guard down any less. Living 24/7 with your guard up is exhausting and harmful. I’ve seen with my own eyes G protesters be absolutely vicious to T protesters – while marching together for the same cause. Humans are complicated and imperfect. We just are.
Feeling safe for a trans person is a full fucking time impossible job. Members of our beloved community are under coordinated attack – from media, politicians, moneyed interests, municipalities, schools, Legislatures, the courts, almost 50% of the population. I don’t think we need to pile on here FFS.
It really hurts my heart that members of our community do not feel safe and it pisses me off that this has turned into defense of all feminists no matter how dismissive we have to be of LIVED EXPERIENCE. I don’t know what feminist spaces some of you are living in, but if you can’t imagine a few of those white women saying some stupid shit – you are in a unicorn feminist group. Seriously that’s a super rare occurrence.
Less defending and more listening and evolving PLEASE.
I found this post and the two related ones very informative, but probably not in the way they were intended to be.
“Yup. It’s a way to shut down any discussion of womens issues. It works too. The whole discussion turns into The Problem Is White Women. “
I always marvel at how those whose privilege and lack of understanding has been pointed out by those less privileged (with centuries of scholarship, lived experience, empirical evidence, contemporary manifestations and permutations, etc. behind them) in specific ways seem to assume that THEY get to decide what constitutes opening up of discussion vs. its foreclosure, or what actually constitutes a discussion of women’s issues, or what the correct framing should be (with a condescending “mmm’k to boot). You do not. For those with privilege, equality does feel like oppression.
FYI: This IS a discussion of women’s issues.
Then there’s the false equivalence, as though the statements “all white women” and “all black women” were the same, as though they refer to two equal groups in the same position, experience the same “oppressions” in the same way, as though we have seen any legislative onslaught against white males as the predominant category of school shooters and perpetrators of right-wing violence that we see against the perhaps 1 in a 100, 000 trans child that may want to play sports. People with privilege have the luxury of being individuals. Generalizations (and in this case, this was NOT an incorrect one) may hurt one’s fee-fees but they will not become determinants of your destiny (or cause you to be shot in a park while playing) no matter what the reality of the person buried underneath as they do for black men, WOC, trans people, low caste people in India, tribal women, etc.
The trouble with white women is exactly right (or cis-het women or any privilege). No amount of declared allyship, law school electives, or voting for democrats makes one a finished product of history, as though that somehow cancels out that one is a beneficiary of, complicit with, and a perpetrator of white privilege. Not even a lifetime of research, teaching, activism, etc. means that one knows or understands. If that were the case, then we could just reach a state of enlightenment and “end” all these “isms” and the slave codes would not have changed into the black codes, which would not have changed into Jim Crow, which would not have changed into the prison industrial complex).
I often hear white feminists speak about the US turning into the world that is in the Handmaid’s Tale, which we somehow seem to be forgetting by making the whole discussion about bad feminists or bad white women given abortion, birth control, etc. What is in fact forgotten is that The Handmaid’s Tale is not some future dystopia. It is actual US history for black women. This stuff has already happened. There is nothing to imagine. Where we are now is a manifestation and permutation of THAT history. What exactly do you think happened to black women? How exactly does one think America was created? And that portended doom, in being racist in its selectiveness, is also sexist. Just like transphobia towards trans women is sexism.
As for infighting and remembering one’s common enemy, some us are not “in” unless we adhere to your understanding of what is or is not a productive discussion or helpful or keeping one’s eye on the ball.
Maybe it’s time to think about why you may not be seen as an ally or may in fact be seen as the one who is preventing things from moving forward because you should in fact know better, as we are being asked to relitigate centuries-old debates that by now should not have to be relitigated.
One final point:
Planet Eddie has by now provided multiple pieces of evidence of their claims in terms of actual texts, analyses, and empirically verifiable historical events.
Not only has Kay not felt the need to provide counter-evidence, a different analysis of the sources/pages/selections provided also with other textual evidence, or other conceptual frameworks one could use, but they have not felt the need to present ANY evidence at all–for a single one of their claims. Just declarations. And yet they assume they are an equal (and worthy) interlocutor entitled to a seat at the table (indeed when evidence is provided they claim to KNOW already.)