Why do straight feminists hate lesbian and trans feminists?
Don’t you want to know the answer? Do you? DO YOU? Well you had better click on this article. It’s very important that you click on this article. Please click on this article. Oh god I’m begging you to click on this article. Have you clicked on this article yet? Please click on it. Please. Just one more click, I promise. I need clicks, click please, please click, click click click
Welcome to my article! Thank you for falling for the clickbait, we’ll be bigger than Huffington Post just yet!
— HuffPo Spoilers (@HuffPoSpoilers) August 5, 2013
There is a really gross person who writes for Huffington Post, which isn’t exactly the shock of the century considering it’s a site that makes money by being like, “look how Progressive we are!” then uses exploitative pornographic images to pay the bills, and neither the writers nor the often-unwitting models are compensated. Yay capitalism! Therefore it’s only natural that Victoria Brownworth, who was nominated for a pulizer by sexually exploiting trans children, would go together with Huffpo like “shit” and “sandwich”.
Since Brownworth considers it free speech to publish articles about children’s genitals–does she have a Read It account or something?–I will now consider it free speech to take an article she wrote and rewrite it and enhance it to be way more intersectional! Please enjoy it.
If you want to read the original for some reason, here’s a version that fell off the Free Speech Truck: http://i.imgur.com/UlJpyu8.png
“A trans-inclusive ENDA will happen over my dead body.” That’s what the president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Elizabeth Birch, the largest LGBT advocacy organization in the United States stated regarding including gender identity and expression in employment nondiscrimination acts. Her bad attitude toward transgender people is rooted in second wave feminism, spearheaded by groups like the National Organization for Women (NOW), whose president Betty Friedan once described lesbian feminists as “the lavender menace.” In both cases, a fear that “those people” would make the movement look bad would damage the image of the cause; we couldn’t have “mannish” lesbians or “freaks with beards in dresses” representing feminism or LGB causes could we?
Here we are now, some 20 years later and the Internet has enabled trans people to organize and advocate at unprecedented effectiveness, yet has achieved this mostly by hiding in plain sight. It’s been over 40 years since NOW hand-wrung about the “lavender menace” and the man-hating lesbian trope is as strong as ever. White, cisgender, straight, liberal feminists practically trip over themselves to make sure their voices are heard above the marginalized people they otherwise pay lip service to representing. Book deals are given to white women who “don’t give a shit” about including people of color in Girls, and pulitzer prize nominations are given to cis lesbians who write disgusting, exploitative “exposes” describing the genitalia of 15 year old trans men in lurid detail. Intersectionality, the binding glue that gives feminism purpose for all women, is tossed aside to further the causes of cis, striaght, able, and white supremacy.
Transphobia and homophobia are incredibly pervasive in the mainstream feminist “movement”. Trans issues are outright ignored at best, embittered second wave “radical feminists” like Cathy Brennan dedicate their lives and fortune to forcibly out and demean trans women and then litigate against them when they lash out in pain in response, taking a page from the Westboro Baptist Church, at worst. Third wave meanwhile often takes things too far in their assertion that women can “choose” to be feminine and enjoy sexually gratifying males to the point where there is no respect for those that don’t “choose” to be feminine or sexually gratify males exclusively, and jump at the chance to talk over and undermine feminists who aren’t in lockstep with, ironically, patriarchal ideals.
The poisoned well of factionized political discourse plays no small part in this. Cisgender and straight liberal feminists think in newspeak, though not in the way the types of horrid people that crow on about “PC gone mad” would have you believe. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for feminists cloying for mainstream attention to think outside of the right-and-just-right-of-center dichotomy of Republicans and Democrats; time and time again they prove that this lack of critical thought extends to gender as well. The scant lip service paid to transgender issues rarely if ever includes people who don’t stay on the binary (“male to female” or “female to male”) or queer people who identify as pansexual, bisexual, asexual, or any other sexual identity that’s not simply “gay” or “straight.” Additionally, feminists who are not white or of significant means and the myriad of issues that come with these intersections are ignored, left to struggle to be heard or even survive.
Mainstream feminism, therefore, is as mired in single-issue politics to the detriment and exclusion of people who are gender and sexual minorities (GSM) and/or people of color. Abortion, for instance, has long been THE feminist issue. Whenever it’s in the spotlight, disgusting gender essentialism is everywhere, with cis feminists equating womanhood to having a vagina or uterus, something that is incredibly insulting to cis women as well. Despite trans women being right there helping the fight, abortion access being extremely important to many trans men and nonbinary people, and that the issue of bodily autonomy for women and everyone is at the core of the fight for access to reproductive rights, trans people are talked over and completely forgotten about in order to make room for cutsey but hatefully exclusionary rhetoric reducing gender to the general shape of one’s genitals.
While an ineffective and bought-out right-of-center Democratic party struggles to prevent assaults on Roe v Wade, worldwide problems are ignored. When gay rights are championed, the face of it is always put forward as sickeningly bourgeois, heteronormative and almost always white couples that just happen to be gay. Great pains are taken to ignore and marginalize and shove out of view anyone who is any of a person of color, poor and queer, poor and trans, and the relationships thereof that don’t look straight out of a 1950s educational reel in a disgustingly futile effort to pander to the “silent majority” types they imagine will be the ultimate savior of “the gays.”
When worldwide problems crop up such as Uganda’s “kill the gays” bills or Russia’s recent spat of horrifically homophobic legislation, that the aforementioned bougie image of gay issues is the driving cause of them is beyond flat-out ignored, it’s incomprehensible. Stuck in a capitalistic mindset, well-meaning but dangerously uninformed western liberals immediately jump to answers like boycotting Russian vodka which are ultimately counter-productive and exacerbate the problem. The reason Russia, for instance, is having homophobia problems is not the reasons the west is used to; these homophobic laws and attitudes are not formed by Christian fundamentalism but by a hatred of anything bourgeois and western, which the west and the US in particular has worked very hard to ensure is deserved.
The very source, the wellspring from which this new wave of Russian homophobia stems from, is a disgusting mixture of terrible, exploitative foreign policy by western countries, and organizations like NOW and the HRC that work hard to “save the image” of “the cause” by attempting to appease middle class and up white Americans. When the unidentified Russian teenager was tortured and killed for being gay to the delight of his community, the hatred that fueled it came from failing to present GSM issues to the world with the intersectionality required for a worldwide audience to fully understand them. This may surprise many Americans, but the rest of the world aren’t, well, rich white Americans, and maybe, just maybe, there’s some well-deserved animosity toward the same.
This blindness to the experiences of anyone who wouldn’t be allowed to star in a Hollywood feature film permeates the rhetoric of straight white feminists. While Malala Yousafazi was speaking about her experiences surviving an assassination attempt at the hands of the Taliban for advocating for girls’ education on her 16th birthday, calling for feminism to rise and respond to the horrible abuse of women around the globe, Amanda Marcotte was writing an article for Slate about how we don’t need “radical”, read “intersectional” feminism because it’s too hard.
Cis, straight white feminists such as Caroline Criado-Perez and Caitlin Moran a few months later would use the abuse that they get from misogynists on Twitter trying to silence her and other feminists to call for a “day of silence” in order to do, well, I still don’t know what, but it didn’t go over very well with those of us that struggle to be heard at all, as we experience a day of silence every day due to our feminism not being whitebread, incomplete, and non-intersectional mass-market gruel like Moran’s. While people who aren’t all of white, cis, and straight have been ignored by Twitter as they’ve been reporting abuse and threats they’ve received for years, getting either no response or a form letter saying to just block abusers and deal with it and it’s probably their fault anyway, even when reporting someone creating many accounts to get around said blocks. It wasn’t until Caroline and Caitlin are paraded in front of mainstream news outlets within the last week and given airtime to talk about this “new form of online abuse” that Twitter responded to the abuse problem at all, but so far have only saved PR face with restated “just deal with it” rewordings of existing policies while continuing to be very careful to avoid spending any money or resources on anything that isn’t directly involved with corporate brand exposure.
The nearly complete erasure of feminists that adhere to intersectional theory and especially those that don’t adhere to the precise intersections that make their very being “palatable” (cis, straight, able, and white) is pervasive, and as we try to shout louder, we’re shouted down with nearly equal fervor. We’re finding solace in each other, banding together, and organizing, but none of us are given book deals or offered other well-paid writing gigs that put us on book tours and talk shows and otherwise in front of the media. The “gay rights” section of the Huffington Post is full of vacuous drivel and the people writing it aren’t even getting paid for it. Comment counts for the latest celebrity oopsie number in the thousands, while intersectionally-aware issues aren’t even anywhere to be found.
The few issues that do get a bit of attention are horribly mangled. Employment discrimination is a fundamental issue for GSM people of all backgrounds, especially those who intersect as a person of color and/or with disabilities and/or any other group of people who have a difficult time getting hired and staying employed just because of who they are. Why are self-styled “radical feminists” who go to great lengths to exclude and/or exploit trans women and ignore trans men and nonbinary people working so hard to ensure that ENDA doesn’t include protections for gender expression, something that is a problem for many cis women who, say, look and/or dress “butch?”
We can’t even be bothered to straighten out the basics domestically and have to push back against affronts to basic rights, yet act superior to the rest of the world and try to be their Great White Savior, usually making things worse in the process. Outrage over “corrective rape” in South Africa ignores our pervasive domestic rape culture that encourages the same but less explicitly, lesbians murdered for being gay in Jamaica ignore our calloused capitalist system that encourages poor GSM people to just go ahead and die, “honor killings” of lesbians throughout the Middle East are used as an excuse to hate and terrorize anyone with a brown skin tone or a “muslim-sounding” name, horror over lesbians sex-trafficked throughout the Eastern bloc and lesbians forcibly married in India and Pakistan while democratically elected representatives require spousal approval for, or squabble over whether or not sterilization should be a requirement for, trans people to be legally recognized in their correct gender.
If we go back to our own vacuous and uncaring domestic pop culture, GLAAD gives awards to bigoted assholes like Katy Perry that make chart-topping homophobic hits like “I Kissed a Girl” and transphobic garbage like “Ur so gay.” It took until 2013 and an entirely new media paradigm, Netflix, until someone in Hollywood even bothered to cast a trans person as a trans character in a show meant for mainstream consumption who has a story arc that trans people find believable. While exciting, the show’s not entirely off the hook; it still couldn’t resist The Putting On Makeup scene filmmakers seem to see as a requirement for depicting a trans character, and its portrayal of the main character of the show as a “former lesbian” and sometimes over the top assertions that lesbianism is A Prison Thing means the show isn’t entirely lacking in problematic elements. Pulizer prize nominations are given to trans-exclusionary radical feminists that describe the genitals of 15 year olds in lurid detail instead of being thrown in jail like they would be if they did that to a cis 15 year old. Males considered philosopher-kings of stand up comedy (and many women as well) continually use the very existence of trans women as a cruel punchline, and sketch shows portray lesbians as butch lumberjacks exclusively.
Transgender people of color were the ones who started the Stonewall riots. Prominent figures of first and second wave feminism are proud lesbians. The image we need to send to the world depicting feminism and the GSM experience is the true one, the one that spans every imaginable intersection and combination thereof. Intersectional feminists never owned the phrase “I’m a feminist, but,” unlike white feminists and trans exclusionary “radical feminists” who, for instance, tell trans women that it’s not their time, or “I’m a feminist, but I don’t think trans women are women.”
The second wave is over, and the embittered holdouts looking to hoard rights at the exclusion of other women not like them and generally embrace the ugly side of the second wave and none of the good are thankfully becoming the shrinking, shrieking parody of the Westboro Baptist Church that they deserve to be seen as, down to funding themselves by litigating against the people that defend themselves from their attacks. The third wave is reaching a breaking point, branching out into intersectional feminism and the part that, like the second wave holdouts, embraces the worst of it. Where we need to recognize the needs of all women, these third wave holdouts are feverishly promoting their books glorifying their strict adherence to patriarchal standards as a “choice” and ignoring the needs of any woman who isn’t rich and white, or worse, mutating it into a grotesque parody of feminism by using it as a trojan horse to convince women to “lean in” and become slaves to their male corporate taskmasters.
Most women are at risk. While cis and usually straight feminists use their media platforms they are awarded for being bland, milquetoast, and pandering to the patriarchy and second wave holdouts use the same to attack types of women that they don’t like, feminists of color, trans feminists, queer feminists, disabled feminists, poor feminists, and combinations thereof and more toil away in obscurity.
White, cis, straight, and able feminists need to ask themselves, are they really feminist if they don’t care about issues faced by most women, only those that look exactly like them?
In conclusion, my rewrite of Brownworth’s article is objectively better, more comprehensive, and as a bonus has more pictures than the original, and Brownworth is a Pulitzer-nominated “journalist,” so where do I pick up my award? Do I have to exploit children to be nominated, and if so, can I please just provide proof I have an active Read It account instead?