The need for feminists to challenge the practice of transgenderism

by Guest Blogger

Guest Post by Sheila Jeffreys

I was pleased to be invited to speak at the ‘Feminist’ Futures Conference that took place in Melbourne 28/29 May, because in the last couple of years I have been disinvited from or vetoed as a speaker at a number of feminist events such as conferences or Reclaim the Night marches.

Usually what happens is that members of a collective veto me, or they succumb to a campaign by transgender activists that pressures them to disinvite me, on the grounds that I am a ‘transphobe’. In the case of the Feminist Futures Conference the committee was brave enough to hold out against the campaign to disinvite me, which was mounted not just by transactivists but by pro sex work activists. I remained invited, but the campaign against me on the conference Facebook page, on a number of blogs and in letters to the committee was vitriolic and led to the committee inviting 4 representatives of the bullies to speak, and the placement of one of them on the panel I was to be on. I decided to withdraw and there follows the gist of the talk that I gave at an alternative event, named the ‘Real’ Feminist Futures Conference, which was organised at the last minute as a side event, and was very successful.

The campaign against radical feminists who criticize the harmful practice of transgenderism has been quite effective up ’til now in preventing any rethinking. But I think a tipping point has been reached. Support for the practice has been almost total on the left, amongst all those who see themselves as progressive, amongst feminists and queer theorists and activists. Now it is clear that a rethinking is beginning, in the medical profession and amongst an increasingly broad swathe of feminists. The fact that transgenderism has had such blanket support despite the fact that it involves sterilization, other brutal surgeries, and the ingestion of harmful drugs for life, is not without precedent in the history of ‘sexual surgeries’. The campaign to sterilize the ‘unfit’ was instigated by physicians and biological scientists, the very same groups of professionals involved in the construction of transgenderism, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was conceived as a practice of eugenics, to prevent the birth of ‘unfit’ people who would be a drain on the state’s resources and a social nuisance. These included those seen as mentally defective, criminals, sexual predators, homosexuals, prostituted women, gypsies and the chronically poor. The campaign led to the sterilization of tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of persons, mainly from the 1920s, when the practice was most widely taken up, through to the 1970s when it was abandoned. In Sweden, for instance, 63,000 persons were sterilized in this time period, 90% of them women. The medical campaigners represented a number of behaviours which formed the grounds for sterilization as biological, in precisely the same way that transgenderism is represented by the medical profession now. Tellingly, the vast majority of those on the left side of politics, and most feminists, supported the practice. It was considered universally just and the most reasonable way forward. There are few who think that now. Sterilization of the unfit is regarded with near universal opprobrium. This, I am quite sure, is the same fate that awaits the practice of transgenderism.

There are similarities and some dissimilarities between the two practices. The similarities include the forces that created the practice, scientists and the medical profession, the explanation, biology, the support from ‘progressive’ sectors of society,  in some cases a similar set of victims, lesbians and gay men, and the aim, social engineering,. In the case of transgenderism the social engineering should be abundantly clear. The practice straightens out those who are a problem for the politically constructed gender structure that founds male domination. Those who do not conform to gender rules, and homosexuals, are surgically reconstructed to fit in. A whole industry and politics has developed to carve ‘gender’ onto the bodies of adults and children. Maintenance of the gender system is vital to the survival of male domination. Any challenge to the idea of gender threatens the main justification for the subordination of women.

Another similarity lies in the result of transgenderism, i.e. the removal of reproductive capacity. The practices are different in that the majority of those who were sterilized pre the 1970s had no choice. They were in institutions and hospitals and were sterilized against their will, or their compliance was engineered by their being told they may only be released if they agreed. But there were victims who volunteered even then, particularly those who were homosexual and felt afflicted by urges to sexual behaviour that was socially disapproved. Sterilization was touted as a cure for this problem. So there were some who begged their doctors for the supposed balm of sterilization, and in some cases castration which oftentimes involved the complete removal of genitals. However, the offer by the medical profession of in the present of transgenderism as a cure for the extreme psychological distress that those who suffer anxieties created by the gender system can experience, can be seen as an inducement that negates the idea that the practice is freely chosen. Quacks have always thrived out of the despair of their victims.

But, most importantly, the practice of transgenderism is presently being extended to children, often at very young ages. The voluntariness of the practice is seriously thrown into question by this development. A campaign by transgender activist groups such as GIRES in the UK has led to acceptance of the treatment of children with puberty blockers, cross sex hormones from the age of 16, and surgery at 18. The campaign has been very successful too. In Australia girls of 13, and 12, and in 2011 a boy of 10, have been officially transgendered through the Family Court and placed on puberty blockers. In the UK in 2011 the government agreed to an experiment in which puberty blockers will be administered to children identified as failing to conform to the rules of gender from 12 years old. The age of puberty is declining. Since intervention is recommended before any physical changes occur and some children reach puberty at 9, the age of intervention is likely to continue dropping. The treatment of transgender children sterilizes them. It is necessary for young people to go through puberty if their ova and capacity to produce semen are to mature and enable them to reproduce. If the puberty delaying drugs are followed by cross-hormones at 16, as is expected to be the case, then the children’s fertility is removed for life.

I have no doubt that the questioning that is now beginning in earnest, particularly within the feminist movement, will eventually lead to the ending of this harmful cultural practice, in the same way as a different form of sterilization of the unfit was ended in the 1970s. Unfortunately this will not be a happy event for many of the victims of the practice. They have already lost much in body parts and health. They cannot reclaim them, and once the whole practice comes into disrepute, as it must, then their rationale for existence, their identities and sense of self, will be under threat. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that transactivists oppose feminist critics so very fiercely. I can offer no solution to their understandable disquiet. It is necessary for the severe harms that the practice inflicts on adults and now children to be brought to an end.

Sheila Jeffreys is an academic and writer, originally from London, who teaches in Australia. She has been a rad fem activist for 38 years.

56 Responses to “The need for feminists to challenge the practice of transgenderism”

  1. Thanks so much for this Sheila, especially for clarifying transgenderism as a ‘Harmful Cultural Practice’.

  2. thank you for this sheila. the stuff about “transgender children” particularly is just absolutely chilling, it really is. and thats such a great point that those who have already trans-itioned (unless they are already regretters and ex-trans) will fight us tooth and nail for criticising what the medical establishment has done to them, because obviously its irreversible.

    for anyone who would like to read more work by sheila jeffreys, please visit our radical perspectives page under “on second wave authors” or the resources page to find links to some of her books.

    http://radicalhubarchives.wordpress.com/radical-perspectives-lots-of-links/#secondwave
    http://radicalhubarchives.wordpress.com/resource/

  3. Thank you Sheila.
    I read hope into this post; and a firm condemnation of the silly little boys (the law makers, the men in white coats) who want to play God by mutilating the perfect bodies that women created–all because of their womb envy

    The stupidity of men… is what it boils down to . Sterilizing children (or anyone) is horrifying, monstrous, grotesque (the doctors who maim, not the victims)

    If women can see it, why can’t men?

    [I don't think I want to know the answer]

  4. Thank you, Sheila! I’m glad you are speaking out, particularly about the children. I believe that this demonstrates the harm that misogynist culture is willing to do for a political position. It is more than alarming to think of children being put in this position.

    I’m glad to hear that a rethinking is emerging in the medical profession and with feminists. One of the things that seems relevant is the nature of children and children’s identity development. The theory of identity development has been around for a long time (Erik Erikson). It is a staple of developmental psychology and I believe is taught (at least in the U.S.) in every teacher training program. Any psychologist would have this somewhere in their training as well. According to Erikson and others, children have a period from ages 14-through the early 20′s when they “try on” different identities. This is obvious in the current generation with tatoos, body piercings, brightly colored hair, different clothing, etc. A teen may be absolutely sure about a given identity or identity expression, only to later discard it. This is supposed to be the process. Sometimes this is referred to as an identity crisis. Choosing an identity without doing the “work” of this stage is called foreclosure. Foreclosure is not a good thing. Like a teen decides she wants to be a pilot, but never looks at what other career choices are out there. Of course, before this stage, a child is not even ready to declare an identity, the child is doing other work that provides a foundation for the identity development.

    I believe that we need to see some educators and developmental psychologists enter the debate, since this is a mainstream theory of development, widely known, even by child-care providers with 2-year training programs (in the U.S. at least). Instead, we seeing state-mandated programs that are little more than transgender PR/indoctrination in the name of accepting diversity, like the “Free To Be” program in California. They are targeting children, children who should be exploring a wide range of identities and for whom foreclosure has permanent physical harm. It is chilling that this could be happening.

    Again, thank you for speaking out.

  5. I echo all of the above comments and particularly your continuing courage Sheila in speaking out and condemning this latest wave of white male initiated eugenics masquerading as ‘transsexuality/transgender.’ It is heartening to hear that finally the tide is turning and instead of innumerable left-wing male misogynists drowning out radical feminists who know the realities of eugenic practices we are beginning to hear and see questions being raised.

    Intimidation of any one, particularly if the person happens to be female, who dares to challenge male supremacy is common and it happens because male supremacy and male domination over women must be maintained at all costs. The very fact many women are lesbian has long been viewed by male supremacy as ‘female deviancy’ and so transsexuality is the answer apparently to eliminating lesbian women because all females must serve men and male sexuality.

    Sadly we don’t know the numbers of women and men too who have already been subjected to surgical mutilation because their identities and lives do not accord with male supremacist dogma. Neither will we know for some decades the effect dangerous drugs will have on the bodies of biological females and biological males who have undergone surgical mutilation and are now having to rely on drugs in order to maintain a supposedly ‘appropriate masculine/feminine appearance.’

    It is indeed chilling that innumerable girl and boy children are being diagnosed as suffering from ‘gender identity disorder’ and that such diagnoses are emanating from supposedly medical experts who in my view are more concerned with maintaining male supremacist claims that gender really exists – rather than enacting the hypocratic oath which is ‘first do no harm.’

    I have no doubt that my childhood refusal to ‘play with dolls; help mummy with the housework; dress in frilly clothes’ would have been diagnosed by those powerful white male medical experts as my suffering from ‘gender identity disorder.’ Their solution would have been for my parents to authorise surgical mutilation in order that I became ‘male’ and therefore present no challenge to male supremacist lies that gender is biologically innate and not a social construction created by male supremacy.

    I’m very pleased to hear the Real Feminist Futures Conference was such a success – proves not all feminists are easily manipulated by this latest Harmful Cultural Practice masquerading as ‘transsexuality/transgender rights.’

  6. Thank you for this excellent article, Sheila. This whole area of surgically altering people is very disturbing. I think that you are absolutely right, that their hidden motives are to entrench gender norms by using the threat of the corrective surgery involved in the transexual movement. If a young person diverges from gender norms; what purports to be a movement to break down gender conformity will in actuality be a movement where the implicit threat of sterilisation, will force children to perform strict gender roles. Will girl children, expressing an interest in becoming an engineer or rocket scientist be at risk of being gender reassigned? I think parents will protect their children, from the threat of sterilisation by not encouraging girls in any activities that could be construed as masculine by her teachers/monitors, and lead to a recommendation for gender reassignment. It is becoming far too easy to diagnose a child as suffering from gender dysphoria.This whole thing could take on overtones of a modern day witch hunt, with all the accusations counter accusations and forced confessions, of that femicidal era.

    I hope the present resurgence in radical feminism will help to reclaim feminist space, and that we continue to be able to arrange alternative venues, like the one you describe, where our own view points can get the discussion they need .

  7. Yes, alternative venues. I was glad to hear about that. We need more women-only space as well.

  8. Thank you so much for contributing this post, Sheila! There are so many disturbing similarities with these practices, as you have laid out very well. There are also a whole host of parallels between transitioning and the ex-gay movement that claims it can ‘cure’ homosexuals and return them to their ‘true selves’. It’s absolutely just the same junk repeating itself.

    Also, it’s totally surreal to me that you have contributed here… I just finished a paper on queer theory and lesbian-feminism in which I cite your “Return to Gender” essay quite frequently. I’m radfem-star-struck!

    Thank you so much for being such an unrelenting bur in the side of patriarchy.

  9. It’s incredible that the Trans-gender movement cannot see for itself the shallowness that is inherent in attempting to surgically alter/ correct both adults and children who display traits that are deemed gender negative and as such need re-assignment through surgical and chemical means as well as adopting false personalities and gender fascist clothing.It is indeed worrying that if this malestrop is not halted the rigid boundaries of gender will become more and more entrenched which poses a direct threat to womon and girls as well as boyz.

    It is empowering to hear that Sheila and other feminists reclaimed the power to speech and re-located into another space where truth could be told to power…..
    I always laugh at the notion of Free Speech as understood by the bozone, our freedom for us to decide what you will speak!!!! True democracy that guards the patriarchy and its’ slaves…….

  10. What lishra said! The spinster and her enemies was a gamechanger for me, and I wrote about it several times on my blog. It’s so wonderful to have you contributing here Sheila, thank you.

  11. KatieS wrote: I believe that this demonstrates the harm that misogynist culture is willing to do for a political position.

    Exactly! My own feminist ‘awakening’ was based on seeing this politicisation of gender enforcement – the overwhelming support by governments, law-makers, policy-makers, the medical, psychiatric and educational Establishments etc.
    To me, it was like seeing the government support a return to leech bloodletting, or a return to lobotomies and electro-shock treatments etc, as clinical “best practice”.

    I saw a documentary recently on research into paraphilias – and one of the men interviewed was an amputee-fetishist. He would hang around the disabled car-parks trying to meet up with amputee women – he spent 12 years trying to find a surgeon, who would cut off his perfectly healthy leg, to make him an amputee. He felt suicidal, uncomfortable – in the “wrong” body, had unexplained “discomfort” in the leg he wanted removed, and self-harming behaviours etc. He spoke of all the same problems that most trans complain of. He did eventually find an unethical surgeon who did the amputation. Most people would find this case abhorrent – but, ask them about somebody ‘born in the wrong-sexed body’ wanting to remove (or render dysfunctional) perfectly healthy sexual organs, and its somehow reasonable, logical, understandable – So much so, that governments, laws, international human rights organisations, politicians, educators etc all support it, with little questioning. Thats when my red flag of alarm went up – I found it difficult to understand why so many people — society at large – was so supportive.

    Then I thought “gender” must be deeply political, if such enormous social and political effort is put into supporting it.

    I’ve even seen trans environmental activists, vegans, very suspicious of big pharma, toxins in the water, food supply & environment etc – but who see no problem with shooting up hormones, even black-market of dubious quality and dosage strength, or supplied through veterinarians for use in horses or cows.

    I have some old women’s magazines, dating from the 1950s and 60s. There are fiction pieces, and advice columns, about teen girls who are still ‘tomboys’, and yes, its plain gender-police propaganda – telling mothers “not to worry”, its just a “phase” and the girls will grow out of it – along with ‘hints and tips’ to encourage your “tomboy” daughter to become a “girl”.
    That was then – now, its medical and psychiatric propaganda, telling mothers how to help their ‘tomboys’ become sterile males. Can’t have them passing on the tomboy gene /snark

    Then to expand the political agenda – the M2Ts especially, are then socially and politically encouraged and supported in encroaching into and diminishing women’s rights.

    They cannot reclaim them, and once the whole practice comes into disrepute, as it must, then their rationale for existence, their identities and sense of self, will be under threat. It is not at all surprising, therefore, that transactivists oppose feminist critics so very fiercely. I can offer no solution to their understandable disquiet.

    They also oppose ex-trans speak-outers too, the ‘regrettors’ are effectively silenced. There are also similarities with the resistance to feminist activism against FGM, as a Harmful Cultural Practice. I also remember reading Mary Daly’s descriptions of the experiences of the foot-bound Chinese women after the revolution – they could not reclaim their feet, and their identities, sense of self etc was damaged.

  12. It was a good thing that you were able to scramble about and have the “Real” event, Sheila. Wish I could have there!

    And I am pleased to know that radical feminists will have been on the side of humanity when we DO bring the barbarity to an end. It all smacks rather a lot of a *bread and circuses* mentality that comes along with the waning of Empire, doesn’t it?

    (counting down to wild claims of violence at the hands of you and your evol radfem henchwomen! :P )

  13. The historical and structural parallels drawn by Sheila between transgender-ing and sterilization, and other “medical” models of mutilation are striking. Part of the way transgender gets supported and naturalized–and the violence of the practice mystified– is not only the empowerment and choice model that is so predominant in “feminism” today but the way that this choice model is part of an identity politics model of politics. Identity becomes a protective ideological bubble around this practice of amputating bodies, preserving gender norms, etc that guarantees that any critical intervention will be not only *labeled* but frozen in its tracks as “phobic.” Anyone who is attending Women’s Worlds Conference do come and see the presentation of myself and Nancy Meyer on the way identity politics (not in ways you usually think about it) has depoliticized feminism. Our session will be on Monday, no time yet given.

  14. Thank you so much for this, Sheila. Your comparison to earlier mass sterilizations especially hits home to me because many women of my ethnic background, Sami, were sterilized during the eugenics movement in Sweden. That under the banners of liberalism and tolerance many young children would suffer the same fate is absolutely terrifying.

    Many of these liberal 3rd wave feminist types argue that mass acceptance of transgenderism is part of liberating ourselves from gender roles. As if! If gender roles truly did not matter then we would not feel the need to surgically alter our genitalia to match the roles we want to pursue in life. I wore overalls and played in the mud with the boys as a child, but I am still a woman, thank you very much. The fact that puberty is beginning earlier makes this even scarier…because children who develop early are still socialized as children and are very impressionable to what adults tell them.

  15. Thank you so much for being part of this important work and leading the way all this time, Sheila. And thanks for sharing these ideas and what’s happening out there right now. It’s heartening to hear that more people are getting what a disaster the whole transgender movement is and that we might be able to convince liberals to see the light about this issue.

    As you make clear, sterilization in general is the patriarchal control of reproduction and has been used throughout history accordingly. It’s good to make the correlation between what trans activists want and the abusive uses of sterilization by people in power — it’s an argument that a whole lot more people should and do understand and will care about.

    At a basic level though, I think the argument against SRS is simple. Puberty blockers cause permanent physical damage. Surgery on the sexual organs causes permanent physical damage. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the physical damage isn’t accompanied by permanent psychological damage as well. Those are the reasons we must fight against the trans activists, medical professionals, and all other supporters of those practices, especially when they want to do them to children.

    But, analyzing at a deeper level, the only reason SRS exists in the first place is because there is a female sex class, where females are used by males for their own gratification (of any and every kind) and progeny. Without that as a basis, there would be no reason for females to escape from their gender- and sex-role-coded bodies and no reason for males to escape into them. For the former, the reasons couldn’t be more obvious. For the latter, trans activists have been obscuring the real reasons for decades: fetishizing the sex-class and submissive role (in their conceptualization especially) of “woman.”

    The anti-sterilization argument doesn’t fully address that and the core misogyny at work in the very nature of SRS (that’s the reason none of the classic trans arguments address reproduction). Nor does it provide a solution for the little girls who would even contemplate having it done to them. Protecting women’s right to impregnability won’t do much to help girls and women in the long run, because as long as there’s a patriarchy, pregnancy and child-bearing will continue to be weapons that males use against females. And given that, what little tomboy wouldn’t consider long and hard whether it was a good thing to get SRS and escape her designated (and oh so vaunted, by liberals and conservatives alike) impregnable status?

    It seems that the anti-sterilization argument (e.g., you can’t sterilize her, she must remain impregnable) could have the unintended consequence of throwing a bunch of women and girls under the bus (those who don’t want to conceive or who don’t want to be seen as that class of person by definition), in order to get more liberals on the right side of history. Isn’t that always the way?

  16. noanodyne, as far as I understand it, the radical feminist analysis has always been firm about the fact that side-stepping the truth of women’s bodies will never liberate us.

    If a female is sterilized to escape her sex, and women don’t protest this barbarism with all the strength we have left in us, it is a slippery slope.

    Sterilization has never really been about preventing an individual from having children. Well, yes that was also part of it, but the main purpose has been to “break” individuals: to break their will, and to *damage* them. Damaging bodies is a male pleasure. It has been used on women a lot more than men. THe *violation* … I can’t even get my head around the violation of this practice. Sterilization, when there is no medical reason for it, is on par with enforced pregnancy.

  17. Doctors take an oath to do no harm. For doctors, surgeons, psychiatrists, lawyers, and big pharma to purposely instigate gender confusion and exploit that confusion, which results in sterilization, life-long hormonal therapy, psychiatric therapy, litigation, and the removal of healthy organs and body parts, all in the name of profit (bonus – conforming people to absurd stereotypes and sex roles), is a clear violation of that oath and basic human rights. These so-called professionals need to be terminated from their positions, have the licenses revoked, and be brought up on criminal charges for their crimes against humanity.

  18. As I made very clear in my comment above, what trans activists and their medical allies are proposing to do to children is barbaric and obviously shouldn’t be allowed. But the point I’m also making is that using the bugaboo of “sterilization” will have other consequences that radical feminists should be considering.

    CBL: “side-stepping the truth of women’s bodies will never liberate us”

    Very true, and I highly recommend not sidestepping any of the truths of women’s bodies. There are many truths of women’s bodies, as biological entities and as objects in the patriarchy. But as a core reality, as sex we are generally impregnable; in the patriarchy that means we can be controlled through our reproduction. Because of these factors, radical feminists talk about the core female-specific harm of PIV sex and its attendant harms, disease and pregnancy. What would the harm of PIV sex be if not those two? They are the female-specific harms in the patriarchy.

    “Sterilization” is a hot-button word being used to call out the medical community and trans activists for what they are proposing to do to gender non-conforming children. Using that term will scare parents, it will scare policy makers, it will scare religious people, it will scare progressives, it will scare legislators, and it will scare feminists. It’s a fantastic idea to use that term to get more ideas and concerns on the trans movement’s plans for children.

    But using that term and that concept to talk to or around those actual gender non-conforming children will not only not scare them, it will convince them that they and their trans allies are in a fight to the death for the right to make decisions about their own reproductive choices (a concept that feminism is well-grounded in, by the way). Far from convincing a 12 year old baby dyke to not have SRS, the argument about sterilization will convince her that she is right in her choice — the whole point for her is that she not only doesn’t want to be impregnated, she doesn’t want to be seen as a member of the class of people who are, by patriarchal definition, objects for PIV sex and baby-making.

    Are you going to tell her and everyone like her, CBL, that she SHOULD be seen as an object for PIV sex and baby-making? Right, there’s theory and then there are women’s and girls’ lives. Pinning your argument on “sterilization” doesn’t answer her dilemma and that makes it very suspect as a radical feminist argument in general.

    We can argue theory all day long from our keyboards, using frames that we think are important and true, but there are girls out there who are on the front lines of this fight with trans activists, about to tip over the edge into transitioning, and theories about “the truth of women’s bodies” won’t help them one bit. And where theory not only stops helping women and girls, but has potential to harm them, that is where radical feminists should be asking a whole lot of questions.

  19. For people who are not aware of how significant the trend of young lesbians transitioning is, there is a whole series of posts at Dirt’s blog showing the young women doing so. Warning, some of it is NSW, some might be triggering, and all of it is absolutely horrifying and heart breaking, so fasten your seat belts. If you spend some time there, reading their comments, you will see why the argument against “sterilization” holds no meaning for them.

  20. I agree with CBL and also think here about the specifically *racist* history of controlling the reproductive capacity of women of color.
    Moreover, I am in running disagreement with the position that the impregnability of women is some core reality of women’s subordination or exploitation. In my view–and Christine Delphy and Colette Guilaumin and other French radical feminist materialists have argued this– impregnability would not be central to women’s oppression unless they were subordinated/dominated/appropriated (subordinated and used) by men first. Thus to me the core reality of women’s oppression is men’s access to women’s bodies, time, sexuality, labor, etc…
    I do absolutely think that under the conditions of appropriation, impregnation and impregnability become mechanisms of patriarchal control and consolidation of male and (in States) white power.
    Renate Klein and Finrage–a network of radical feminists- have been doing very important work connecting the control of reproduction, including sterilization, with prostitution, organ trafficking, etc.

    finally- the issue of sterilization can and has been framed in liberal terms of choice–that leaves the possibility that impregnation itself will go unquestioned as a patriarchal mechanism. It need not be and should not be. It’s an issue of power and control over portions of the population that cement patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism.

  21. Yep, sterilization has been used in evil ways and should never be forced, coerced, an approved tool of the state, or of the patriarchy. But that’s not what we’re arguing or talking about. We’re also not talking about whether getting pregnant is a happy thing for most women.

    We’re talking about lesbians and other young women who do not want to have the bodies specific to the female sex and unless your theories take that into account, they hold zero weight in this argument.

  22. We’re talking about lesbians and other young women who do not want to have the bodies specific to the female sex

    My own perception/experience is that most women and girls are raised to not want to have the bodies specific to the female sex, or hate all or some ‘bits’ of it in some way, and this manifests socially in various ways, transitioning being just one of them. Many women will speak of, how their bodies “betrayed” them at puberty – Some reactions are designed to reduce the harm that can then be perpetrated on them.

    The argument based on sterilisation is just one of many against transgenderism – as there are various different arguments against for example, beauty industries. Say, the anti-capitalist argument, might reach socialists, but generally many of those arguments will also ‘hold zero weight’ with those women who seek labioplasty, breast enlargement (the list is endless). Does that mean we should stop using the argument, just because many women will not agree with it, or even think it supports their personal reasons for seeking out risk-reduction and/or self-harm?

    When it comes to harm-reduction, or risk-reduction – rather than frame it in terms of female-specific harm, I tend to think more in terms of male-specific harming behaviours – as it puts the focus on who-is-harming-who, rather than implying that females just have bodies that are born weak, inferior and harming, and it just ‘happens’ to them. I disagree with many others I know, but I don’t believe pregnancy is a harm in itself, it is a natural physical HUMAN condition. It is not diseased in itself. Things can go wrong, as it can with any part of the human body. We dont need our appendix, it just sits there, not causing any harm – but sometimes it can become diseased and cause life-threatening illness. Same with hearts, spleens, livers etc. It is male-specific harming behaviours that exploits the condition for their own benefit. It is male-specific harming behaviours that make pregnancy so dangerous for so many women.

  23. Rain, I agree that pregnancy might be natural. But what is natural? Certainly women’s bodies themselves under patriarchy are not as they were meant to be. Pregnancy can never be natural under patriarchy, for various reasons. Women do not have access to good nutrition (including rich women in the corporatist culture we have today, given a diet of “food products” and crazy diets.) Nor are we in touch with how our bodies should work since we live out of sync with natural cycles and rhythms. Including rhythms of the natural world that has been so utterly destroyed by men. Women who live or work together often have synchronized menstrual cycles. What is the function of that, or is it just an oddity? Does love and bonding between a group of women make a difference in pregnancy? I mean a group of free woman who live together. What would be women’s natural knowledge of their own bodies and the bodies of their peers? Heterosexism is designed to prevent this knowledge.

    Privileged women may have some access to relatively better medical care, but as we have seen, that is designed to make money for rich white men. But that highly touted medical care is a bandaid (sorry, pun) solution to a very unhealthy lifestyle. That lifestyle has its roots in patriarchy. How might pregnancy be for physically strong women who were dominant over men? Who had little contact with men? My guess is that their hormone balance would be different. What about the woman’s sense of and control over her own body in a significant way, a free woman, in other words. I mean control, not just taken from men (which needs to happen) but control of the well-being of her body.

    My guess is that women in such a circumstance would know who should and should not get pregnant and when. It would be much safer. I’m not even talking about the horrors of gynecological medicine, but rather would include free and talented women who understood women’s bodies, not just midwives, but much more than that. Ok, that’s my perception.

    One thought your post gave me is that it seems likely that the young women who are choosing to have these procedures done are saying something related to this, “I get to choose how to handle my own body.” In patriarchy and our “advanced” science of medicine, this is a horror, not a choice. But the impulse is there and I think it’s the same impulse that women under patriarchy have. But it’s been warped by an evil that will mutilate women’s bodies promising them freedom but giving them a prison.

  24. Thanks, Noanodyne, for articulating some of the reservations I’d been having about some aspects of the sterilization argument. Thanks, too, to CBL for pointing out the crucial fact that coerced sterilization is really about breaking and damaging people. I think both your points of view on this are in fact complementary, and this becomes clear if we shift the focus to another fact about so-called transition, which is that it involves castration (as Gallus Mag has pointed out on her blog). That conveys the harm done, without making it sound like it’s primarily a reproductive choice issue, which I agree is something of a red herring. The term “castration” is startling enough that this argument would have to be presented carefully to a mainstream audience, especially when talking about girls. (People don’t usually think of girls and women in those terms, which is really appalling, when you think about it.)

    That 12 year old lesbian or just plain gender non-compliant girl who thinks the sterilization part of becoming an F2T is A-OK, because she’s desperate to escape the female social role and knows in her heart she doesn’t want kids, might think twice if it were pointed out to her that this process is essentially a form of castration. At the very least, it might give her parents pause.

  25. (Continuing same thought.) For some of the young women who are trans trending, it may be necessary to put it in macho language they can relate to: “Susie, do you realize that your quest for manhood involves getting rid of your own body’s version of balls?”

  26. “We’re talking about lesbians and other young women who do not want to have the bodies specific to the female sex and unless your theories take that into account, they hold zero weight in this argument.”

    The trans argument is not a tenet of radical feminism. We argue the opposite. The rejection of the female body comes about through being raised in a female-loathing society.

    I’ve only noticed just now NOanodyne that your focus is lesbians and this is a red herring because lesbians are the least likely group of women to be impregnated against their will unless they happen to be prositutes.

  27. Or if they’re raped… which again, is not something that happens to lesbians *more* often than to heterosexual women.

  28. Katie, I just want to address your last post. What is natural for women is for her only to have PIV when she is actively trying to conceive?

    She should be of an age when her body has matured, and ideally she will have had access to decent food throughout her life so that her pelvis has formed correctly. Then she will make sure that she stays the hell away from the medical fraternity. The maternal (and infant) death rate in the U.S is sky high and it doesn’t surprise me because the U.S uses the most highly medicalized model of childbirth in the world: what is called the technocratic model.

    The ignorance of women’s bodies of men who promote this model results in the death and mutilation of women. So epistiotomies, having the baby taken away as soon as you’ve given birth, timed labour, epidural, stirrups: these are all unnatural and they result in a sky-high c-section rate (remember: men love cutting into women’s bodies) which is in itself unnatural. Countries with a high c-section rate tend to have higher maternal mortality rates and rates of complications (excluding those countries were women suffer from malnutrition or have babies too soon or too closely spaced)

    Childbirth is not in itself unnatural, however, and child-bearing is not the source if women’s oppression. I know this because in Japan, where women are not having children at all, their status remains very low. In other countries, such as Iceland, women have children in university, and their status is very high.

    So there is no causal link between child-bearing and female oppression.

    in other words, women are not faulty men, they are not the second sex> There is nothing that needs “altering”.

    But the misogyny stemming from their ability to bear life is one of the roots of patriarchal oppression, if not *the* root.

    I remember a Greer quote, something along the lines of: If men flee the female, we will surive. If women flee themselves, we’ve already lost.

    There is no reason for *any* woman to get pregnant if she doesn’t want to. But to achieve this end we have to continue to focus on the “PIV is a problem” argument. Rapists must receive harsher punishments and that is what we must focus on as radfems.

    It’s a woman-hating opinion, rooted in society,to focus on the “right” of women to ask the medical fraternity to mutilate their bodies by sterilizing them (even if the sterilizing surgeon is a woman you can’t take her out of the patriarchal context).

  29. Thank you, Sheila. Your work against Lesbian community being appropriated and stolen by non-Lesbians has been so important. It is horrific what has happened. I’ve been fighting the “transsexual” invasion in our Lesbian communities since 1973 when I first wrote about it in “Dykes and Gorgons,” and, more recently, in my article, “Defining Lesbians Out of Existence — the Pretenders — Part One: ‘Transwomen Are Merely Castrated Men.’” (Part Two will be about FTMs.) My blog is at http://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/

    I’ve mostly been focused on how men who identify as Lesbians have destroyed female-only space, women’s centers and shelters, rape crisis lines, etc. around the world. But when I was living in England in 1997 I saw an English TV documentary about girls who identified as male going to Amsterdam to have surgery and testosterone before puberty and was horrified. At the same time, a friend sent me a tape from a US radio show about a 3 year old girl who was considered “transsexual” because she hated dresses and said she wanted to be a boy. (When she was told she would have to have a penis to become a boy, she said she didn’t want one, so it was clearly about a strong little girl adamantly rejecting the humiliation of male-identifed and male-defined femininity.) Not once was the word “Lesbian” even mentioned or that it was reasonable for a girl to hate dresses.

    I hadn’t thought of the eugenics idea and it’s brilliant since it makes the link from the US founder of eugenics, Henry Laughlin (who gave the German Nazis the idea, which they thanked him for with honorary degrees) to Nazis — who then took eugenics to even more horrific levels. (I like to remind everyone of Nazi eugenics originating in the US, which isn’t common knowledge here.) This issue is personal to me because my aunt, Evelyn Moore, was sterilized against her will at age 16 in the Thirties for being a “criminal.” (She had been kidnapped by a man who forced her to stand by roadsides so that men would stop and then he would rob them.)

    I am completely against reproduction when human overpopulation is destroying the earth, but I also am against that choice being taken away from women. And it’s terrible with all the torture of females that has been committed by the medical system, that any women would willingly choose to give themselves to that industry. It is so clearly all about business for most doctors who participate.

  30. I’m not sure that over-population is the problem: more that “growth economics” and patriarcho-capitalism is the regime under which we live, and that is not sustainable. THe “economic growth” ideology, which includes all men’s gadgets (nuclear weaponry and power) are destroying the planet, not women.

    If a woman suffers (or is glorified) in any way for having a child or for *not* having a child then that is a sign of a patriarchy.

    Society can be reorganized in a way that supports women: rejecting heterosexual coupledom, for example. Real policy changes etc.

    I do get worried when an argument boils down to women’s *bodies* being the problem, or somehow part of the solution because that is an argument men have been making for a long time. Enforced abortion has been very popular in China under the guise of “population control”. Women in their *eighth* month of pregnancy being forced to kill their baby under the orders of the government!

  31. Bev Jo, what happened to your aunt, Evelyn Moore, was an evil atrocity. Evil. I can’t imagine what she went through, being wheeled into the operating theatre as a frightened teenager just so that men posing as doctors could get a hard-on from knowing they were mutilating a woman. She would have been treated with utter contempt by both the police and surgeons, and her vulnerability would have titillated the surgeon who chose to make a living out of carrying out the utterly unecessary procedures on healthy human bodies, namely women.

    Men have proved themselves to be unfit to run society.

  32. Yes cherry, that’s such an important point: the stuff we are talking about here, whether its rape, porn, or surgical mutilation of women GIVES MEN BONERS. We have to keep this in mind, always. We can’t even critique porn using actual images in their presence, because the images are titillating for them. Reporting the details of rape and sexual abuse, including to the cops and in court, titillates them too. The most horrific crimes against women by men, give men boners, and many times the men committing the most horrific crimes against us have boners WHILE they are doing it ie. Rape). We cannot forget this, and we cannot forget who we are talking to, when we talk about these things with men, or try to report the crimes done to us BY men, TO MEN. That’s largely why radical feminist spaces are women-only.

  33. Thank you, Cherry. My mom said all Evelyn would do when she came home again was cry. Evelyn was 8 years older than my mom, and my mom said it was when she was 8 that their mother left them to go off with a man, so all the kids went into foster homes. My aunt was trying to visit their mother when she was abducted. Since her main value as a poverty class woman was to be married and have kids, it really affected her status, and tormented her for her whole life.

    The thing is, though, patriarchy mostly does want women pregnant and having as many kids as possible. China tried to stop their overpopulation because, with over 1 billion people, they were going to have famine if something wasn’t. Pressure didn’t stop on women to have sons though, still being patriarchy, so horrific abuses occured.

    But really, if you talk or write about Lesbian community and how women who choose to be het collaborate with patriarchy, the result is irrational maniac responses about how humans will go extinct. Every time I write on threads about how human overpopulation is destroying the earth and the most important thing that humans can do for the environment is to simply not reproduce, I get these responses — which make no sense at all considering humans are nowhere near extinct. In the US, it’s forbidden in the media to talk about overpopulation, and there is an obvious pressure to over-reproduce, including glorifying the families who have 20 kids (not by adoption.) It’s obscene, but very calculated. It’s really important to see where the pressure is in the media, including what’s allowed and what’s not. For instance, “transgenderism” is extremely pushed and supported in the media, while Lesbian community is ignored.

    And we really have almost no women-only (let alone Lesbian-only space anywhere.) There is virtually a ban on talking about that though. I was accused yesterday about exaggerating when I said how bad it was and how we have nothing in the SF Bay Area (we were discussing the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ focus on taking money from Lesbians but helping everyone else, including our enemies.) My friend kept naming events, saying, “Well what about ___? That’s women-only!” She hadn’t been to any of these events. So I kept answering, “Well, of course it isn’t. It’s full of men, etc.” The only events called “women-only” never are because men claiming to be Lesbians go.

    We really do have virtually nothing left. Some think we don’t need it now because of how wonderfully things have changed. But you don’t have to do far to see how patriarchally entrenched almost every woman is. You are lucky to find any woman, ever, who doesn’t immediately call any animal she meets “he.” That is so basic, but so deeply telling.

  34. It makes me sick what parents and others are allowed to do to children. In the last couple of weeks, we had the mother who was injecting botox into her eight year old daughter’s face so she wouldn’t have “wrinkles” for the beauty pageant. (beauty pageants are a horror in and of themselves) After child services got involved, she stopped bragging about it said she made it all up. How sickening is it to “make it all up”? That’s a sick parent, either way.

    And then we have the myriad parents who agree to let their teen girls have plastic surgery, breat implants and the like. It’s barbaric, all of it.

    Kudos to Ms. Jeffery’s for revealing the cruel practice.

  35. Hi Bev Jo,

    I really do think that for too long men have been overly-preoccupied with whether or not women are reproducing. I think the population control measures in China were more about controlling women than anything else, just like the dodgy abortion laws in Ireland and the U.S. China’s laws are just patriarchy in another form. Draconian measures have been used to enforce the one-child policy.

    Got to go back to Greer: ” a technology that cannot feed its people is worse than useless. Technology exists to serve us, we do not exist to serve technology”

    The matter of there being too many mouths to feed is a patriarchally-created phenomenon. It makes no sense in a world where a single man can own lots of yaghts and cars, a private jet etc. THat one man is taking up more of the world’s resources than a hundred poor women and their children.

    Men would like us to believe the opposite is true: that poor, brown women and their children are destroying the planet with their rampant breeding. I know this is not *your* point of view, but it is one that I have heard for too long now.

    Deciding not to have children is a good decision for a woman to make in a patriarchy. An honorable decision. But the blame for the depletion of the world’s resources and the destruction of the environment lies firmly at the feet of men. Their hare-brained schemes have been getting out of hand for a while. Nuclear energy is a good example: an entire nuclear power plant is needed in Japan in order to power the vending machines alone. All at great profit to men, not women. Corporations leak mercurary into the water supply. It is men who reap the rewards for environmental destruction while women are busy running around mopping up their mess *as* *usual*

    I also feel very uncomfortable with any talks of population control because when any society talks like that it is usually vulnerable women who are the target of the tutt-tutting, the kind of women they would like to have sterilized.

  36. Brilliant post SJ- Thank you so much. The Eugenics history is an apt comparison, although horrifyingly this newest iteration includes not just sterilization but “therapeutic disabling” of transgender children and adults. Blood clots, impaired bone density, cardiovascular disease, liver and other cancers, removal of homeostatic endogenous hormonal production, feedback systems and hormone precursors, impairment of insulin resistance, chronic bladder and kidney infections, incontinence, vaginal prolapse, interruption of the lymph system, osteoporosis, I could go on all day with a list of known, EXPECTED disabilities caused by transgender medical practices. Of course many of the effects of permanently halting maturity in gender non-compliant children are not yet known and won’t be for decades to come- the studies have never been done. These kids are truly guinea pigs but we DO know many of the ways their formerly healthy bodies are being “therapeutically disabled” by the medical establishment. And we DO know that most gender non-compliant kids referred for “treatment” will grow up to be gay adults without GID, if medical disabling is averted. This is truly a human rights violation of Lesbian and Gay children.

    One of the things that really struck me about your post – and that I’m still contemplating- is how best to be mindful of the transgender survivors of this awful chapter in the history of modern medicine and the ways in which they can best be supported as the eugenic transgender medical movement comes to a close. Transgenders are the true victims in this, having been told that their gender malaise can be “cured” through therapeutic medical disabling. Ex-trans and trans regretters are not only unsupported by the trans “community” but they are actively shunned and silenced and attacked. We must find ways to support those exiting genderism.

    Your post gave me much to think about and again I thank you. Truthfully I absolutely adore you. (((((SJ)))))
    Yes, I “internet hugged” a contributor, lol.

  37. i think we need to address, at some point, what seems to be a fundamental divide between radical feminists as to whether its dom/sub or the MAAB problem thats the root of womens oppression, under patriarchy. i think i have made my position very clear in my own work: i believe the MAAB problem is the root of womens oppression, so my argument against SRS would go as follows:

    i oppose SRS because it conflates sex with gender. this is harmful because it erases the MAAB problem, where everyone is funneled into an oppressive female gender role (FAAB) *unless* they are reasonably expected to be able to *cause* female-specific harm (pregnancy, or unwanted pregnancy) as adults; then they are groomed as rapists and oppressors of women, instead (MAAB). anything that conflates sex with gender obfuscates the known harms to women, of the penis, and obfuscating this fact is demonstrably harmful to all women, and is more harmful than the individual harms to the individuals who undergo SRS, whether they are FAAB or MAAB.

    for medical interventions on children, add an analysis of child abuse; for girl children, misogynist child abuse. for SRS on adult women, add an analysis of misogynist medical practices, and men getting boners from cutting into female bodies.

    i do *not* believe that there are any compelling arguments for the “men hate us because we give life” kinds of arguments, and have yet to see this argued from a radical perspective (ie. why and how is this the root?) not only that, but it seems demonstrably false. if we start with the premise that men hate women, and i think its obvious that they do….if men actually hated women *because* we give life, they would REFUSE to stick their dicks into women, because they would have to believe that in doing so, they were giving us what we wanted, and playing to our strengths. but this isnt what we see.

    not only that, but the dom/sub as “root” doesnt answer what appears to be a glaringly rhetorical question: why do men stick their dicks into almost exclusively women (and almost exclusively not into other men, or even “sub” men) in the contexts of both sexuality and rape? this is a serious question. i have not seen anything here or anywhere that satisfactorily addresses it, let alone answers it.

    regarding the MAAB problem:
    http://factcheckme.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/decoding-faabmaab/

    regarding men raping women and not men (and why):
    http://undercoverpunk.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/rape-as-oppression/
    http://scumorama.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/the-female-specific-harm-of-rape/

  38. “…… anything that conflates sex with gender obfuscates the known harms to women, of the penis, and obfuscating this fact is demonstrably harmful to all women, and is more harmful…..”

    “.. of the penis…”…. Ummm.. I’m doubtful of following clearly here, but I don’t think the penis is harmful, its the social and political culture of using it in harmful ways. There is no hard-wired set-in-concrete natural law of the universe that males are biologically forced to use the penis in such ways. For me, and I may be a lone voice, its like the old slogan “Its not about sex, its about power”. Man can choose not to use his penis in such ways, but under patriarchy, he deliberately chooses to use it this way, and insists on training younger males to follow suit.

    i do *not* believe that there are any compelling arguments for the “men hate us because we give life” kinds of arguments, and have yet to see this argued from a radical perspective (ie. why and how is this the root?) …

    Humans, like other species, do need to reproduce. The power of reproduction is a critical one for any species. The fact that males are physically dependent on females for a critical step in the biological reproductive process, is at the root-tip of their hatred. In my own view. Others may disagree.

    It is extended into concepts like “Nature” which is conceptualised in the abstract, not as ‘feminine’, but as female. A force, a power, that is not controlled. One that is external, and ‘outside’ of man’s body and male-bodied experience. A force, a power of also making life – and death – decisions, that man (sic), in his natural state, has little or no power over.

    His deep-seated fear, is that if She can give life, she might also give death. Ancient Goddesses, ruled not just life, but they ruled who should die as well. Because they understood like “nature”, that you can’t have life, without death. Its not birth-rates that are the main issue with population pressures – its death rates. Babies don’t eat much, babies don’t consume resources – its adult males who consume resources far in excess to their needs, and for years beyond their need. This is why some radfems always use ‘patriarchy’, rather than just “male supremacy” – it is the rule of Old men. The other side of the coin, is the historical search for male immortality, and increasing longevity at any price. Religions on the “afterlife” and “eternity” and “paradise”. Blah, Blah, They want to conquer Death, and/or Control Life, and if they can’t do it for Real yet (but they are working on it – always) – then they will continue to make do with the Surreal.

    How dare female bodies have this? Well..if we males can’t be born complete, we will still make sure that the power is still ours. The power over Life – and Death. We men must “own” it, and control it, and never, never share it with females.
    As a related aside, I recently finished reading Marilyn French’s ‘From Eve to Dawn’ – and empire after empire, century upon century – of abortion, and what-have-you – as long as the Male Owner made the decision. Only males had the right to decide, they could public infanticide, with impunity – but no woman could. No woman could have an abortion on her own decision.
    If she did so, it was considered “treason” – a crime against the State! Several thousand years ago, an Empire decreed, that the female was no “parent” of that which she carried, so she had rights to determine its future.

    The first power-over-Nature, that males usurped was female reproductive processes. Control over life-and-death. A big part of this, involved male-bonding and homophilia.

  39. yes, i said “the root of womens oppression, UNDER PATRIARCHY.” the line drawn in the sand *under patriarchy* is the FAAB/MAAB distinction, which is literally whether or not someone is expected to be able to impregnate, as an adult: this is even more important than the ability to be impregnated. this is why intersex FAAB that cannot reproduce are assigned female: they cant be impregnated, but they also cannot CAUSE female-specific harm. ie. theres not enough of a dick there to be a threat.

    is this not the case? when the patriarchy falls, we will still reproduce…but i am talking about now, and in the past, under the P. thats all i am saying, and this appears to be demonstrably true, considering the case of FAAB intersex. doesnt it?

  40. FCM, womb envy is everywhere, That’s what I mean when I say men hate women because of their ability to bear life. Men’s obsession with robots, with reproductive technology,with forcing their way into the labour room etc makes it clear that they are adamant that they *will* have what nature has not given them. And if they cannot have it, then it will exist on their terms, or not at all.

    A misogynistic family member of mine told me outright that I never had the right to complain about any treatment of women because men will never get the chance to experience giving birth. That was the explanation and justification for the rampant abuse and misogyny of women: that they are born with the evolutionary prize. He was very blatant about it, and very certain that he was right. I listened to what he said and took it on board, and have never forgotten it because it gave me such an insight into the minds of men.

    THat man was my brother, BTW.

    Zeph made a good point on her blog that I’m going to quote here:

    If women become free, only some men will become fathers, the rest have their genetic futures to lose, which is why those men will fight to keep us suppressed. I think it was Andrea who said something like “It is always the losers at the back of the bar who are most anti women” the ones who no woman wants to go into labour for, and then of course, there are wealthy old men who, in countries where patriarchy is still absolute, continue to demand young girls for reproductive purposes. What girl would choose an ageing rapist to father her children? Women should be free to select from men and share them if other girls select the same ones, and men should accept our choices, but most won’t. This is the heart of the battle between men and women, it is the men we would choose and us, against all the rest . Under such circumstances being chosen could be a bit of a poisoned chalice.”

    It’s obvious that men would lose their chance to pass on their genes, to spread their seed. *This* “spreading of the seed” is what motivates them to stick their dicks into women.

    Men would do without women (trans is the most obvious expression of this: fine by me- let trans women take the role that women are supposed to) , except they know that they need real women in order for patriarchy to thrive, so they make concessions.

    Greer has made a clear radical feminist argument in The Whole WOman to show that not only do men envy women because of their wombs, but this envy manifests through trying to control women in every which way they can.

  41. . this is why intersex FAAB that cannot reproduce are assigned female: they cant be impregnated, but they also cannot CAUSE female-specific harm.

    I think they’re assigned female for deeply misogynistic reasons. Because the medical fraternity believes that any “faulty” (in their minds) human being, especially one without a penis, MUST be a woman, because women are the non-males. They have to cling to their belief that males are full human beings.

    Biology tells us the opposite. All females are fully XX, women are always whole, hence the name of the book THe Whole Woman. All other people, males and intersex are variations of XY.

    MEn will not believe it. THey refuse to believe it. Women have been relegated to penis-less non-males, as I have argued before, and this is the basis behind relegating intersex to the “feminine” role, even though they’re not female

  42. No rights I meant to say :)

    But back to male-bonding.

    In nature, for mammals in particular, all males born do not get to reproduce. Indeed, the percentage of reproductively successful males is quite small. There are dozens of mechanisms in nature to cause this, but one of the common ones, is male-male competition (sometimes to the death, the successful males kill all the competition). Other mechanisms in early human societies relate to male puberty rites, they also had exile from the community or village, and all-male sub-societies like priesthoods, armies and trade guilds that temporarily, or permanently, denied some men’s access to females. But it was alpha-men, the “Fathers” who controlled other, especially young, males access to women. Through male-bonding and homophilia, the “right” to reproduce, as well as live longer easier lives, was extended to all males, not just the alphas.

    The other side of this, was to break communal female-bonding – especially between non-bearing and bearing women.

    With the assumption that all females would/could/should reproduce. Well, thats the males socially constructed view of the ‘natural’ world – that is a lie – but for males, females aren’t really good for much else, as far as men are concerned, because thats all they need females for. They don’t care how much harm they cause, from their point-of-view, enough females survive the harm. They dont care if we like it or not, or even if we get some benefit out of it. They don’t give a flying fuck what breeding animals think or feel.

    because they would have to believe that in doing so, they were giving us what we wanted, and playing to our strengths. but this isnt what we see.

    I don’t see that at all — males don’t care, because its not ‘playing to our strengths’, and they wouldnt care even if it was – because it obviously hasn’t worked out that way :) Even if it was strength, we can’t use it – because men took all the power away.

    Remember, females (and their reproductive organs) are not “human”. Only the male body is “human” – made in God’s image blah, blah – from the male point-of-view, the female reproductive organs in particular are truly animal organs, and they really (really) hate “needing” them in order to reproduce.

    In nature, plenty of females do not reproduce as well. In many mammals, non-bearing females form the ‘core’ defence perimeters of the community. The non-bearing Amazonian females of the community. Mammals, almost by definition, live in large communal groups – herds, pods, packs etc. Mammals, by definition bear live, but weak, immature offspring, that need long periods of physical care to reach maturity. This means that many adults need to be involved in keeping the young safe, from predators etc – Safety-in-Numbers. Nuclear families would have been species suicide for ancient humans. pair-bonding is not natural for most mammals, or humans. So the mothers with young are often in the safest “centre circle” of a much larger community – the non-bearing females, adolescents and older children, and the post-menopausal females and so forth – congregate on the outer rings or defence perimeters, keep all the nasties away from the young and their carers.

    In many such human communities, males were encouraged to move out at adolescence – and they would live separate on the ‘fringes’. Elephants are like that too – all male elephants are expelled from the herd at adolescence. The big post-menopausal Great Big Momma elephants stand guard around the younger females during breeding season – and the females choose which few males (not all of them) may be allowed to enter.

    The first thing male-bonding had to do, to get access to the bearing females (the only females of any ‘value’ to males), was smash that outer ring – delete, remove, erase and kill all the non-bearing females. Male-bonding and ‘teamwork’ – force of greater numbers, divided the women dominant communities. The only females left alive were vulnerable bearers, (because males only need bearing females, and hate the fact they they do need them, and work on reprotech is to reach the ultimate goal of getting rid of any need for females) Any female not able, or willing – died – not strictly necessary to male survival, so they are expendable. and so began the myth of biology-is-destiny.

    The other thing that male-bonding did, was divide females into madonna/whores and make ourselves hate ourselves, and each other – so they set up bearing females versus non-bearing females. We keep getting caught up in the same old binary of assigning social status, or “social value” – and still in men’s frames of Good vs Evil on pregnancy and childbirth.

    What CBL and others have been trying to say, at least in part, is – framing sterilisation/castration (including voluntary) as a “good” thing, or at least a “less harmful evil” than remaining fertile, is still making a social “value statement”, just reversing the patriarchal Good/Evil binary in the other direction.

    Anyway….. I’ve just remembered, that I have blogged all this before – at great length – in a series of posts, in enormous thought-out detail .. and I really should not have bothered spending all this time, trying to do it again – all from scratch… *sigh* :)

  43. I do not think they hate us because we produce human resources. I do think that is why they do everything they can to control us. In its simplest terms women are the means of production.
    The ruling class strives to control the race and class and sex of people produced. High production of poor people is necessary to keep labor costs down but at the same time they fret that another race will out breed them and overthrow the “natural order” of the masters of the universe.
    Everything they say when they discuss immigration, abortion, marriage, family values, screams that message.

  44. this is why intersex FAAB that cannot reproduce are assigned female: they cant be impregnated, but they also cannot CAUSE female-specific harm. ie. theres not enough of a dick there to be a threat.
    is this not the case? when the patriarchy falls, we will still reproduce…but i am talking about now, and in the past, under the P.

    I just don’t think it matters how MAAB/FAAB are assigned, or where the “line is drawn” – when talking about social and political sex class-oppression in the here-and-now, in the past, let alone the future – because whats the point? Does agreeing on dick-size assignations in infants, lead to either mitigation of, (ie harm-reduction, or improved Survival), or ideally, removal of sex-based oppression for a majority of the worlds women? What do you want to achieve in practice?

    I may be slow in picking up on what you are trying to say, so please forgive me if I seem like I’m just not *getting it*…

    Are you saying all women should do whatever is necessary to avoid pregnancy at all costs? Are you saying men can’t help it in causing female-specific harm because they have dicks, so women should do all they can to mitigate the risks? But that also completely negates male responsibility and accountability for their actions. Its continuing to let men off the hook for how they behave. It supports their “but I can’t help it”.. “I have my needs” excuse, and all females are good for, are to be available to satisfy men’s physical and emotional needs. It also denies reality for the majority of the world’s women-as-a-class – the options of pregnancy avoidance, and voluntary sterilisation/castration as a harm-reduction measure, is only available to a small group of women, in a small handful of countries – and even those options for harm-reduction are fairly recently introduced, and constantly under attack. The vast majority of the world’s women have no such options anyway.

    Even if large numbers of western women were to follow that reasoning, and refuse pregnancy in large numbers – at best, the harm would just be shifted disproportionately to other groups of women. Patriarchy just wont sit back and let women-as-a-class get away with it – not in large numbers. Some will get it, and shown up as “tokens” – see? women have this option! yay – well, only some women will have the option. Women-as-a-class will not.

    Radfem theory has never been all that gung-ho supportive of contraception/abortion – only in recognising they are “bandaids”, they reduce harm, for some women lucky enough to have access to it – but they don’t address the cause, let alone remove the cause of it. They don’t go to the root of patriarchy – and neither does voluntary sterilisation, or any other option available to women. They don’t do diddly-squat against systemic patriarchy, no matter what the libfems, socfems and others say. But despite this, radfems have often supported it in practice – because its better-a-bandage and stop the immediate bleeding (and worry about the cause of the injury later), than nothing at all, in the “here-and-now”. Harm-reduction measures, still help some women improve their Survival, today, on a personal, individual, small group level – but they can’t do much against the system.

    I am against SRS or more correctly, the entire institution of the transgenderism ‘industry’, and its ‘ideology’ and theory, beliefs and practices, as it is now grown to be globally ‘political’ and beyond a handful of individuals making unhealthy choices – and it is a profoundly anti-woman, anti-feminist ideology, up there right alongside religion as a political institution, or political tool of oppression, built on woman-hatred, and designed to control females for the political benefit of males-as-a-class.

  45. Sheila doesn’t address the issue of men who haven’t had surgery, and have no intention of having surgery, but claim to be women because, they say, they “feel” like women. They claim rights to women’s restrooms, and have won legal access through NY courts after being challenged by working women who must use those restrooms during the workday. In academia, “women’s space” commonly makes room for men who “feel” like women — and it is politically incorrect to call them anything other than women! Men who “feel” like men can be allies to feminists, while men who “feel” like women are treated as women. Maybe if women informed the rapists and pimps of the world that we “feel” like men, they will leave us alone? I’m surprised Shela doesn’t address this topic. Maybe because she feels pressured to treat trans people as victims, so she is not seeing as quite such an “oppressor” as she is being portrayed by the trans community, and the left, and liberal feminists. What about the aspect of colonization, by men who want to be women? Surely if whites were becoming “black” this would be the primary analysis, regardless of their suffering from an inner sense of alienation from their biological race. And women who become “men” — is there at least sometimes, if not usually, the desire to escape the humilated, subordinated gender class? I read an article about Cher’s daughter turned “son” Chastity, now Chas (I believe), in the NY Times. She reveals her stereotying attitude and disrespect toward women (though she has a long time girlfriend), and revels in her new status, saying that men are so great to each other. If only they were so great to us too. This was reported without any critical reflection in the article, of course. Even most feminists are reluctant to object since to do so would make us “oppressors.” The way Sheila and others are treated as oppressors for raising critical questions.

  46. Oh, whoops, I called Chas a “she”. I didn’t do that intentionally, but to be honest, I don’t feel completely right about complying with transgender pronoun requirements. I don’t want to show disrespect for individuals, either. Usually I try to avoid pronoun use in such cases. I’m the only feminist I know who does this. Is there anyone else out there with similar reluctance to linguistically obey in this way?

  47. Adriene – I agree Sheila hasn’t addressed that (and several other related themes) in this particular post, focussing only on one theme or thread, among many – but she has addressed these points in other venues over the years, and/or supported other writers/speakers who have done so. Generally, blog pieces do tend to be short anyway – and it would take a whole book ( or more than one!) to address all the issues.

    One of the things I dislike most about transgenderism is the mainstream politicisation – the attacks on women’s spaces and service access in the mainstream. Even into hate-crimes legislation, UN Human Rights lobbying etc. A lot of trans folks aren’t politicised, just caught in the ideological net, as the powerless often are as victims – similar to prostitution – the bulk of prostituted women being silenced and victimised, while the handful at the ‘top’ of the industry, are the political power-brokers and activists with a political agenda. Politicised trans-activists are unbelievable ( to me, anyway) in their fucking power, and the support they are gaining. They may as well be Big Pharma, or multinational oil companies, with the power they are wielding.

    I know a woman who works in women’s health services, and was stunned to find that health workers have been taken to mandatory “training” courses in the treatment and care of artificial vaginas, but have been told to refuse services to F2t’s who have female-bodied health needs.

    I’m also concerned, about these sort of sexism inequalities being invisibilised – its automatically assumed that F2t’s and M2t’s are “equal” in their trans status – but their experience is different, as shown in one example above. I have also read of a case, where an F2t wanted to join a gay male club, but her membership was rejected for not being a “real” man. If a lesbian group tried to reject a M2t, all hell would break loose in the law courts and in the media … which reinforces the idea that only Man (sic) has the ‘Power of Naming’ ( Mary Dalyism).

    And women who become “men” — is there at least sometimes, if not usually, the desire to escape the humilated, subordinated gender class?

    I think that is mostly the case myself, or at least a big part of it, as it mostly appeals to butch-identified lesbians.

  48. “I just don’t think it matters how MAAB/FAAB are assigned, or where the “line is drawn” – when talking about social and political sex class-oppression in the here-and-now, in the past, let alone the future – because whats the point?”

    It does matter insofar as those people assigned at birth to one particular group will become either the oppressors or the oppressed, and it matters in the trans argument. Even though intersex are not female, the fact they were assigned “as” females at birth is extremely relevant because they have not been socialized into the oppressor class.

    And lets face it, we, as radfems, are going to have to believe men’s universal disgusting behaviour across time and geographical space is down to their social conditioning. Otherwize I will pack my bags right now and go home!

    FCM’s MAAB/FAAB argument is slightly in tension with Greer’s argument that women should not accept anyone who isn’t a woman as “one of us”. Greer argues that in male eyes, women are the “catch-all sex” for anyone that the patriarchs deem not quite man enough to be a man. INtersex males are “not quite man enough.” Trans women too. But they are all male or non-female. The doctors will have to accept that fact sooner or later.

    But both FCMs and Greer’s ideas can exist alongside each other because Greer’s is ideological, and FCM’S is practical. INtersex non-females who are FAAB pose no threat at all to women and so they can be allowed into women’s spaces.

    it makes me ANGRY, so fucking ANGRY that trans activists insist on dragging the intersex condition into this argument.

  49. But both FCMs and Greer’s ideas can exist alongside each other because Greer’s is ideological, and FCM’S is practical. INtersex non-females who are FAAB pose no threat at all to women and so they can be allowed into women’s spaces.

    Ohhhhhhhhhh…. Duh! No wonder I wasn’t *getting it*, I thought that had all been taken as given, in basic feminism 101, since the Year Dot (well in my own linear time-sense – if this is still an argument, I must be out-of-the-loop? Sorry, my Bad).

    Yes, you are right CBL, Greer was arguing about the ideology of sex-class boundary-setting, and patriarchy ‘Naming’ – or setting the boundaries on who-is-in-which, and then defining those boundaries in the female eunuch sense.
    Ergo, patriarchy assigns the two categories as both referenced to the male as ‘norm’. So the patriarchal sex-classes are actually assigned as “Male” (ie passes the man test) and “Not-Male”. (ie fails the man-test). On superficial physical presentation at birth.

    She was right in saying females, are their own sex, in their own right (not deformed, mutant or “failed” males) – and not a garbage-bin “catch-all” for all other people, who Fail-the-Man-test, (voluntarily or not) – and have the right to define our own boundaries for our own class – which boundaries, were then set on the socialisation pathways into the oppressor or oppressed sex class.

    I still don’t see any ‘tension’ , but that might be just *me* :)

  50. I suppose the tension is that doctors are insisting on assigning female status to (the very RARE minority) of people who are born intersex, when they are not female but are a variant of biological male (they have a Y chromozome).

    Greer would say they are firmly in the male box, and should be assigned as such from birth, or at least not in the female box and she is 100% correct and I back her because, as you say, we’re not a garbage-bin “catch-all” for all other people, who Fail-the-Man-Test….

    But if we want to make *concessions* , and be kind and generous, then we could say that intersex FAAB can enter female spaces because of the social conditioning they have received.

  51. Cherry, I wonder if you realize how not only non-radical but fundamentally un-feminist this statement is:
    Cherry: “your focus is lesbians and this is a red herring because lesbians are the least likely group of women to be impregnated against their will unless they happen to be prositutes [sic]….Or if they’re raped… which again, is not something that happens to lesbians *more* often than to heterosexual women.”

    Cherry shorter: lesbian experience can be discounted and ignored because there are so few of them having the really important experience I want to talk about.

    Lesbian experience is at the heart of the transition issue. Reproduction is a tangent.

  52. I have not participated in this conversation because I have made my opinion on sterilization clear elsewhere; most publicly, regarding male castration on my own blog.

    I strongly agree, however, with what Noan has said above. Dismissing the lesbian POV on the trans issue is not acceptable. And yes, glorifying reproduction is a tangent.

    The core purpose of transsexuality is continued enforcement of heterosexuality and its attendant norms– most obviously by legitimizing sex roles (aka gender). Radical feminist theory seeks to expose transsexuality’s destructive conservatism; and the *subject* of feminism’s concerns is the *sex* class FEMALE. Feminism does this by highlighting the ways in which trans theory, like patriarchal reality, denies female autonomy and imposes upon females their own false (read: male-serving) definition OF female. Who is better positioned to see this and to make this urgent radical feminist critique than females living and experiencing patriarchy in open defiance of heterosexuality? Yes, I am talking about lesbians. Please do not dismiss us or our POV’s relevancy to the trans issue.

  53. Moreover, I am in running disagreement with the position that the impregnability of women is some core reality of women’s subordination or exploitation. In my view–and Christine Delphy and Colette Guilaumin and other French radical feminist materialists have argued this– impregnability would not be central to women’s oppression unless they were subordinated/dominated/appropriated (subordinated and used) by men first. Thus to me the core reality of women’s oppression is men’s access to women’s bodies, time, sexuality, labor, etc…

    Er, I think you’re quibbling over extremely minor SIMILARITIES (can’t even use the word ‘differences’, there). “who controls women’s reproduction” seems rather equivilent to “who has access to women’s bodies”.

  54. In case it’s not obvious, controlling reproduction ends up by default controlling time, sexuality, labor, etc. So it looks like no distinction actually exists.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distinction_without_a_difference

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