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Gender, Peace, Transgender

Radical Feminism, Peacemaking and Transgender Politics

I am a radical feminist, and I have been for, by now, many years. By this I mean I am interested in understanding deeply, and working to change, all of the structures and institutions and mechanisms by way of which girls and women, are harmed, used, exploited and mistreated. Of course, the same structures and institutions that harm girls and women also harm men and boys, all humanity, animals and the earth. Everything is connected. We are all in this together. We are all just walking each other home, as the saying goes. Consistent with historic radical feminism, I am also a peace activist, nonviolent and a civil rights activist. Radical feminism came out of the anti-war, peace, nonviolence and civil rights movements of the ’60s. The reason radical feminists created a new movement apart from these movements is, women and girls were being mistreated by men in those movements, treated as second class citizens, and sadly, too often raped, sexually assaulted, physically abused and harmed in other ways. Being progressive, in other words, did not protect us from sexism.

As a radical feminist, my studies have taught me to oppose the structure that we understand as and call “gender.” We all “have” sex — we are male or female or intersex. But gender is something that is imposed on us externally. Men are schooled in dominance (masculinity), women are schooled in submission (femininity), to put it very simply. These views place me as a radical feminist at odds with those who disagree with respect to gender. There are many people right now who believe that gender (the rituals of masculinity and femininity) is a real thing, something people are born with and can’t change, something to be pursued, assumed, embraced. While I deeply believe this view is dangerous to female people, I do not reject the people who hold it, and I certainly respect their right to believe and live what makes sense to them. But this latter respect has not been and is not being returned. Consistently, whenever we as radical feminists have sought to hold conferences or meetings, we have been aggressively, in a very threatening manner at times, de-platformed, petitions launched, the owners of venues approached and told, essentially, that we should not have a right to gather, hold conferences or other events or to speak publicly. In a staggeringly bizarre move this week, the Multnomah Friends Quaker meeting house decided to pull a venue for a conference that is open to the public and has been organized to facilitate dialog among people who differ on this issue. Folks who oppose our views and politics around gender contacted the Quaker folks and convinced them to pull the venue. This, despite the fact that registrants for the conference, that is again open to the public, span the gambit of political beliefs and include transgender persons. We intend to speak peaceably to these issues and to work towards understanding with those who differ with us. This is the way of nonviolence, it is the way of peace. It’s become scary, really, the aggression we are experiencing. It may well be, as I have long said and thought, that this is a battle we, as radical feminists, cannot win and have likely already lost. But we do not deserve to have to fight simply to hold conferences designed for dialog and peacemaking.   The aggression in our direction is serious and scary and more and more people deserve to know what is happening to us.  More here and here.  Also, Gender.



3 thoughts on “Radical Feminism, Peacemaking and Transgender Politics

  1. Kind and honest assessment.

    Posted by pantypopo | April 19, 2014, 9:44 am
  2. This capitulation by the Friends is saddening and ill-considered; born women no longer have the freedom of privacy in assembly, and those who prevent this are lauded as being enlightened. Contempt for women’s collaboration and even physical safety are being written into law in the 21st century.

    Posted by cabochon | April 24, 2014, 10:06 am
  3. The Multnomah Quakers have sadly decided to have peace by avoidance rather than discussion. I had such a high opinion of Quakers before this. I used to be a Quaker. I can’t help but suspect that as with any traditional religion, the decision was driven by male members. These members had different interests from the women members. They had nothing to gain from the conference as they told themselves they had no horse in that race. But their personal peace was being threatened. There was no balancing of competing interests for them. For the women Quakers, there was the fact that it was a women’s conference, so they must have understood that they were balancing threats to their personal peace with the rights of women.

    I don’t know if male members drove the decision; it is just that I have seen this dynamic many times before in business and the arts. A woman is the initial contact, but soon the man behind the scenes steps out and assumes control.

    To think this pains me, because I know how hard women Quakers worked to achieve some degree of equality in the church. I think radfems should make it a general policy in setting up these conferences to deal only with women-owned-and-operated venues.

    Posted by Dar Guerra | April 28, 2014, 9:18 am

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