We Must Not Call Him Sister
July 28, 2014 3:39 PM   Subscribe

The elasticity of the term “transgender” has forced a rethinking of what sex and gender mean; at least in progressive circles, what’s determinative isn’t people’s chromosomes or their genitals or the way that they were brought up but how they see themselves.
Having rejected this supposition, radical feminists now find themselves in a position that few would have imagined when the conflict began: shunned as reactionaries on the wrong side of a sexual-rights issue. It is, to them, a baffling political inversion.
What Is a Woman?: The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism.
posted by tofu_crouton (7 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This kinda feels like a big fight in the making for no particular good reason. -- cortex

Abusive posts proliferated on Twitter and, especially, Tumblr. One read, “/kill/terfs 2K14.” Another suggested, “how about ‘slowly and horrendously murder terfs in saw-like torture machines and contraptions’ 2K14.” A young blogger holding a knife posted a selfie with the caption “Fetch me a terf.” Such threats have become so common that radical-feminist Web sites have taken to cataloguing them.

Hmm. I wonder if this is going to go into equal detail about the reams of death threats and abuse trans women face?

Stone [a trans woman] received death threats, but...

Yeah, pretty much what I thought.
posted by dekathelon at 3:51 PM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is some seriously transphobic TERF rhetoric from the New Yorker. I don't even know where to start with this article - it hits all of the elements of transphobia, ranging from misgendering to homophobic speculation to 'male socialization' to the conflation of TERFs to radical feminists, which most radical feminists themselves oppose. This is not a balanced portrayal of issues. This is entirely propaganda and TERF talking points and I'm disappointed to see it propped up as factual.
posted by Conspire at 3:52 PM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

"(TERF stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” The term can be useful for making a distinction with radical feminists who do not share the same position, but those at whom it is directed consider it a slur.)"
Radical Feminism is a term that means something, specifically, feminist models that rest on the hypothesis of patriarchy as a system of power that organizes society into a complex of harmful relationships and is based on the assertion that male supremacy oppresses women. What it does not do is lend support to bigots. Anti-trans theorists seeking to co-opt the theories of Radical Feminism are a new, different thing that needs a new different name. TERF is about as neutrally descriptive as it gets, though maybe bigot would be more accurate.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:54 PM on July 28, 2014 [9 favorites]

Postmodern theorist Judith Halberstam once said, ‘If Sheila Jeffreys did not exist, Camille Paglia would have had to invent her.’ ”

Clearly I need to read more Halberstam because that is hilarious.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:55 PM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got the impression that the author believes the radical feminist stance to be transphobic. When I look at individual items like the juxtaposition dekathelon points out above, though, it's hard to tell if that's the case and Goldberg just went too far in an attempt to be evenhanded or if she really wrote it in bad faith.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:55 PM on July 28, 2014

I rarely agree with radical feminists on much (see my screen-name) but I will say this: if you state that "being a woman" is a state of mind (that is, somebody with XY chromosomes and a penis is a woman if they declare themselves to be a woman), then feminism is basically meaningless.

The fundamental weakness, in my mind, with third-wave feminism is that it basically boils down to "Whatever a woman says is Feminist, is feminist", and from that to "anyone who says they're a woman, is a woman".

From there, all bets are off. Rick Perry could declare himself a woman and his assault on abortion clinics to be a feminist uprising and, logically, we'd have little choice but to agree.

I'm not saying that transgender rights are dumb or inappropriate (I'm a huge fan, actually), just pointing out that a broad acceptance of the trans-genderist "ideology" (for lack of a better word) probably means the end of feminism as we know it.
posted by Tyrant King Porn Dragon at 3:57 PM on July 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

The author is the same person who wrote "Feminism's Toxic Twitter Wars," another piece that was rather controversial and arguably trollish, so that cuts into my benefit of the doubt a bit.
posted by dekathelon at 4:01 PM on July 28, 2014

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