Meghan Murphy quits rabble

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Sineed
Meghan Murphy quits rabble

Meghan Murphy wrote:

Hi friends. Just an overdue update:

About a month ago, I informed rabble.ca I would no longer be contributing to or working with the site. This has been a long time coming for a number of reasons, but I chose to stay on in the past because I knew that if I left, never again would we see an abolitionist or radical feminist voice or analysis there, and I felt it important to ensure a feminist analysis existed in a space that claims to be a progressive and leftist one.

Recently, I felt I had no choice but to draw a line due to a decision made by a number of editors to publish, then remove (about seven hours after publication), a piece I wrote that was critical of the dehumanizing language Planned Parenthood has adopted to discuss women, reproductive rights, and women’s reproductive capacities. (Here is the piece, for reference: http://www.feministcurrent.com/…/are-we-women-or-are-we-me…/)

Women's rights exist because women are discriminated on the basis of sex -- because they are the only people on the planet who can get pregnant. Erasing that reality poses a serious risk to hard-fought-for protections women have and to our ability to claim discrimination on a legal basis.After my piece was removed from the site, I waited for an editor to contact me to explain, 1) That this had happened, and 2) Why this had happened. No one contacted me, so I emailed the then-news editor (who had removed the piece) and the blogs editor, asking what was going on. The editor who removed the piece never responded to my query or accounted for her decision/actions, instead, the male blogs editor responded to me saying only, “Your article was removed because it contained transphobic language and violated our journalistic policy.” I responded, asking what specific "transphobic language" was contained in the article. I looked over the journalistic policy numerous times (and was, of course, already familiar with it) to see if something had changed within it, but could not find anything that defined any of the the language used in my article as “transphobic.” My follow up question was ignored by both the news editor and the blogs editor. To date, I have not heard from a single editor at rabble about this issue or my question.

When pressed, I finally received an explanation (though, again, not from any of the editors responsible for the decision) from someone at rabble, who repeated the claim that my argument contained "transphobic language" and added that my piece "erased trans male identity." I was told that to point out that only females have reproductive systems was "essentializing" and reduced "women's identity down to biology."

For the record, there is nothing in rabble's journalistic policy that says naming females as the human beings who can get pregnant constitutes "transphobia."

Sineed

Meghan Murphy wrote:

Here is my response to rabble:

“The literal dictionary definition of a woman is 'adult human female.' This is also the scientific definition. If making the statement that 'a woman is an adult human female' is 'transphobic' then the dictionary, Wikipedia, and science are 'transphobic.' Also, biology is transphobic. People are free to identify however they like, but the reality is that only females have reproductive systems. (Also, just as a note of clarification, there is no such thing as 'trans male identify' because 'male' is a biological term, not an 'identity.')

Beyond that, you seem to be unaware that patriarchy and the gender hierarchy that upholds patriarchy exists based solely on biology. 6000 odd years ago, men decided they needed a way to control women's reproductive capacities, and so turned women into property, to be traded among men. It is not 'essentializing' to state facts, to understand how biology works, or to acknowledge and understand the root and history of women's oppression. Women are not oppressed, under patriarchy, because they 'identify' as women -- they are oppressed under patriarchy because they were born female. We cannot fight patriarchy without understanding it's root. Surely trans people can fight for rights without erasing women and reality.

...

I am done with rabble. I am not wasting a second more of my energy producing content for and working with people who so brazenly seek to marginalize women's voices and destroy and silence feminist analysis and the fight against patriarchal oppression.”

Read it all here:

https://www.facebook.com/meghanemilymurphy?fref=nf&pnref=story

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

So, who are our mods now?

6079_Smith_W

I thought the last time there was an issue over her blogs the question of policy was not an issue because it was a linked blog, and not hosted on rabble. 

I know that was the reason given for continuing to link to Feminist Currents despite similar comments at that time.

Much as I disagree with Murphy on a lot of issues (including this one) this is an unfortunate decision on both parts, and one that should be reversed, IMO. As divisive as the gender issue is, shutting out feminist voices based on where they align on it is a really, really bad idea.

In fact, precisely because it is so divisive that it is important to hear those voices. Rabble doesn't do this over differences on the issue of sex work. Why here?

Sineed

It's a different issue now, Winston. Previously, a group accused her of racism and transphobia and tried to get her "fired" from rabble (I put that in quotes because she didn't have a paid position here). Now Murphy has removed herself from rabble.

Meghan Murphy wrote:
Historical revisionism and baseless accusations of "phobia" (which, in the current context of this debate, is a term equated with some form of "bigotry") have no place on the left or in our so-called progressive, self-proclaimed “feminist” publications. Women are allowed to speak about their own realities and oppression. It is not our job to accommodate men in our movement, nor is it our job to validate the chosen "identities" of a few individuals.

...

The so-called left is failing badly when it comes to critical thought and analysis, but also when it comes to upholding principles and ethics that are imperative to ensuring political discourse is rigorous, honest, and rooted in a genuine desire to create a better, more equitable society, free from violence and oppression. I will not stand by and watch censorship and silencing replace critical thought and while women -- the group of people who remain at the bottom of the social hierarchy, raped and beaten and murdered daily by men -- are made to shut up about their own oppression and the source of that oppression.

Here's some of that horribly transphobic article to which rabble objects:

Meghan Murphy wrote:
How is it possible for a human being — trans or not — to menstruate if they do not, in fact, have ovaries and a uterus? Well, hold on to your hats, folks — the answer is: it’s not possible. Every single person who menstruates has a female body. Does this make you feel uncomfortable? Apparently it makes Planned Parenthood uncomfortable, which is odd, as they, of all people, should understand these basic facts about women’s bodies, as experts and educators on the very topic of women’s bodies.

By degendering language around our bodies, we erase the fact of the oppression of women on the basis of our physical bodies. It's like this:

Meghan Murphy wrote:

You see, the reason patriarchy exists is because men decided they wanted control over women’s sexual and reproductive capacities. Not people’s sexual and reproductive capacities — women’s. Sexual subordination is a gendered phenomenon, no matter how you identify, and for an organization that exists to advocate on behalf of women — due to their female biology (you know, the thing that placed them, whether or not they chose it or like it, within an oppressed class of people) — to erase that is unconscionable.

A woman is an adult female human — it really is as simple as that. And understanding how that reality is at the root of our ongoing oppression under patriarchy is one thing that is not up for debate.

Pointing out how offensive it is to call women "menstruators" is not transphobic.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
So, who are our mods now?

MegB and Catchfire?

quizzical

i agree with both you Sineed and Meghan Murphy.

it's bs.

if women who can bear children are othered into nothing different to see here then how in the hell are we going to fight the oppression of ourselves and our bodies for us to provide society with children?

there's no position from which we can address our oppression.

this is just another form of oppression imv.

lagatta

Yes, calling us "menstruators" is ridiculous. Anyone buying so-called "feminine hygiene products" (tampons, pads, menstrual cups and sponges...) for that purpose would be a teenage girl or woman of menstruating age. Yes, people buy menstrual pads for other reasons (discharge etc) but I can't imagine them finding it offensive. Lots of products are addressed to men.

I don't agree with everything on Meghan's site either, though probably more than some other babblers do (for one thing, I don't think prostitution can be "reformed" any more than asbestos mining can be made safe, and that does not mean I "hate" either people in prostitution or asbestos miners) but hers is a valuable voice when so much of the feminism I took part in for decades has been drowned out by "feminism lite™" in which everything is a matter of choice.

Fortunately there have been some inspiring recent movements, such as those in Poland and throughout (!!!) Latin America, over abortion rights and sexual violence against women (we remember similar movements not long ago in South Asian countries).

Whether one agrees with it or not, Meghan's site is a valuable feminist voice, and I really disagree with shutting down significant voices in the feminist movement. I disagree with most of the comments at the "sex workers' rights" page on babble (especially when they are attacking people who can't defend ourselves without violating the criteria for that forum - so I simply don't comment there) but I most certainly don't think it should be shut down.

ygtbk

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
So, who are our mods now?

MegB and Catchfire?

I think that Catchfire's on hiatus, so it's just MegB, with occasional assists from oldgoat, so far as I know.

Sineed

lagatta wrote:
for one thing, I don't think prostitution can be "reformed" any more than asbestos mining can be made safe, and that does not mean I "hate" either people in prostitution or asbestos miners

Yes, I've been called "whore-phobic" on babble for speaking out against prostitution. That's like saying if I condemn pedophilia, I must be against children (or perhaps, "kinder-phobic?").

lagatta wrote:
Whether one agrees with it or not, Meghan's site is a valuable feminist voice, and I really disagree with shutting down significant voices in the feminist movement.

If you can't win an argument with someone, getting them censored is the next best thing.

 

6079_Smith_W

Sineed wrote:

It's a different issue now, Winston. Previously, a group accused her of racism and transphobia and tried to get her "fired" from rabble (I put that in quotes because she didn't have a paid position here). Now Murphy has removed herself from rabble.

No, I got that (which is why I refered to changing the decision on both sides). Somebody unlinked her blog, which precipitated that decision.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Somebody unlinked her blog, which precipitated that decision.

Should she be inclusive of transmen who may become pregnant (or menstruate)?

I'm not asking because I think I have the answer, but I think that's the question.

Sineed

Mr Magoo wrote:
Should she be inclusive of transmen who may become pregnant (or menstruate)?

We live in a world where there are over 3 billion of us, and in no place do we have total reproductive rights or autonomy over our bodies. In no country is there parity with men in terms of who holds power, or who earns the most, or who has the most. This oppression is based on biology, not identity. The fact that post-modernist queer theory posits that we can identify our way into or out of our physical bodies does not mean such a premise is based on anything other than wishful thinking.

Our physical bodies are our most basic contact point with reality. So the answer to your question is yes, transmen are included.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

OK.  I'm not sure how to reconcile those two paragraphs, even as I don't strongly disagree with either.

But if transmen are included, wouldn't it be a bit inappropriate to try to lump them under "women"?  Or else what's the specific problem with pregnant "people"?

So again, I think that's the nub of this.  Can a man (who has a uterus and suchlike) become pregnant?  Or is that man "really" a woman?

Sineed

Mr Magoo wrote:
But if transmen are included, wouldn't it be a bit inappropriate to try to lump them under "women"?  Or else what's the specific problem with pregnant "people"?

Meghan explains it best:

Meghan Murphy wrote:
Women's rights exist because women are discriminated on the basis of sex -- because they are the only people on the planet who can get pregnant. Erasing that reality poses a serious risk to hard-fought-for protections women have and to our ability to claim discrimination on a legal basis.

It's like this: gender is a hierarchy, with women as the oppressed class. Using gender-neutral language to describe something specific to women's bodies, that is actually responsible for their oppression, is not a neutral act, but serves to ignore the reality of this oppression.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Isn't gender the social-construct part (e.g. "who wears dresses and nurtures, versus who wears pants and competes?").

And isn't sex the biological part, all about things like chromosomes and uteruses and penises and hormones and such?

That's been my understanding for a while too.

But evidently, when we weren't looking, trans-activists decided that there's no difference.  Here's an interesting blog post on the female penis.  One might easily enough flip that to the male uterus.

I'm not posting that because I believe in the female penis (or the male uterus).  But if we're going to talk about this, this is where the rubber meets the road. 

If we believe that a man can have a uterus, then it follows that a man can become pregnant (or menstruate). 

If we believe that that man is really a woman acting in the social role of a man, then only women can become pregnant (or menstruate).

quizzical

offs

go ahead magoo menstruate and have a baby.

you can do mental gymnastics all you want.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The thing is, though, that not all female bodies can reproduce, which doesn't make them any less female. That fact hadn't, however, made any difference to reproductive concerns being extremely important in feminism up to this point. The existence of trans bodies shouldn't change that, and taking offense that your body isn't recognized in every aspect of feminism is absurd.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Why couldn't Meghan have left it at saying "cis women are the only people who can give birth"?  That would have been biologically correct and would have made the point she was, I think, trying to make about recognizing historic cis female oppression, without getting into the territory of apppearing to argue that trans women shouldn't "count" as women(and should, instead, be seen as male oppressors who are simply pretending to be women, and whose recognition AS women would undermine feminism at an existential level-an argument which, taken to a logical extreme ends up dovetailing with the right-wing transphobic argument for "bathroom bills"). 

I agree that she was owed a response and an explanation(any writer whose article is first published and then removed from a website is owed an explanation for the removal of the article-that is simply a basic level of respect and courtest to which anyone is entitled), and she should have been offered the chance to defend the article or to revise it to clarify her intent, but the removal isn't entirely unjustified.

Trans women ARE women, and it is both transphobic and sexist to define female identity primarily in terms of reproductive function.  If femaleness is defined solely by giving birth, do we then state that women who are childless by choice, or due to health issues, or who are past childbearing age are NOT women?  Wasn't one of the points of the feminist project to free women from the repressive concept of biology-as-destiny?

 

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

There are horrifically transphobic comments at Meghan's site.  Many, if not most of those posting comments there see trans women as possessors of male privilege and trans men as gender traitors.

How the hell did Meghan develop such a vicious and reactionary gender analysis?

6079_Smith_W

Timebandit wrote:
The thing is, though, that not all female bodies can reproduce, which doesn't make them any less female.

And you can be post menopausal and still need to buy pads. Frankly I found the terminology pretty awkward and stilted too, not only because it reduces people to a function.

But I did recognize it as a poorly-executed attempt at inclusion, not an attack. Which is why I really don't like where Murphy goes with her rhetoric on some of these issues.

And I feel pretty much the same about the pile-on she gets in these threads. Yeah she has strong opinions on it, and yeah I do find some of them objectionable in in a similar way to how I find Mr. Johnson's views objectionable. The difference is I think she has some things to say which are of greater value, and most importantly, her opinion on gender is actually coming from a feminist analysis which makes sense and points out some deep flaws and inequities in our society (even where she goes with it is wrong, in my opinion). It isn't all just based on the right to do whatever you want, and lame arguments about protecting English, and rote memorization.

But both wind up attacking marginalized people, which is a problem.

Having said that, I didn't actually post here to try and hash that out, because we aren't going to do it. My only concern here is that for some reason she has decided to remove her blog. Whether what precipitated that was an inadvertent mistake or by intention, I do think it would be better if both sides changed their minds and that her blog was still present here, because it is an important perspective.

I can appreciate this is a serious matter for both sides of this divide, but is all this bile and vitriol really necessary, especially considering it is not going to change anyone's opinion? We manage to accommodate divisive (and offensive) issues like this in other areas. Why not here, epecially considering we are talking about an important voice within a marginalized group?

(edit)

And Ken, this is the feminist forum, and that is where her analysis comes from. Maybe you should go read what she is talking about before calling her names, and dismissing her as reactionary.

Yeah it is harsh, but sitting in a position of privilege and wondering why that bitterness is there says more about our ignorance than their anger.

 

 

quizzical

Ken Burch wrote:
There are horrifically transphobic comments at Meghan's site.  Many, if not most of those posting comments there see trans women as possessors of male privilege and trans men as gender traitors.

How the hell did Meghan develop such a vicious and reactionary gender analysis?

what site you talking about? feminist current? if so where did you find this? big site and i'm not going digging

and who are you to judge?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Ken, there's layers and layers to this, beyond the biological. I think the first point Megan is trying to make is that the oppression of women does have its basis in biology. But there's more to it. While accepting trans women as women, we also have to acknowledge some differences in experience. Trans women have largely grown up boys to men. Their socialization has been different. They cannot speak to experiencing expectations and limits imposed on females from the cradle. So they're stepping into something at a later date and demanding that the conversation and the focus be modified in all cases to reflect them. Gee, does this sound familiar to anyone?

There's also the issue of essentialism. The idea that one has a "female brain" goes largely against the best science we have on sex differences, or the argument that one has always been female inside a biologically male body reinforces the idea that women are fundamentally and essentially different than men. Basically, essentialism asserts that there are Seperate but equal spheres for men and women - that men don't nurture because they are men and women just aren't good at math, when the reality is that there is so much individual variation and overlap as to make statistical difference negligible and potentially at least partly based in socialization. That complicates the goal of equality. This is feminism 101.

That's not to say that trans people should not be included in feminism. Of course they should. It's a big tent, after all. But it's complicated and there needs to be dialogue. There are entrenched parties on both sides, and they both have valid points to make. It's going to take some time to shake out.

Diaochan

  I can't help but think in all this, that if it was a male who wrote an article about a large organization labeling them "Sperm-Bearers", he would not be treated in such a way. And men certainly would take issue with it.

  How typical, that I have never heard, nor seen of a male writer or commenter burnt at the stake for refusing to call his penis a "dangling appendage" because it wasn't "inclusive". I've seen no restrictions on male speech when it comes to knowing and recognizing their own biological parts. This is what scares me so much about this current culture of censoring feminist thought, and all opinions that deviate from the Orthodox.

 It's disturbingly misogynistic.

 

 Edited to add: The article on "Girl Dick" Mr Magoo posted is insane AND frightening. This part?

 "Comedian Avery Edison writes at length about how it is hurtful when lesbians don’t want penis inside them".

 " Dear lesbians, have you considered not being violently transphobic and opening yourself up to Trans women"?

 

 What in the world? Lesbians are "violent" for sexual preferences? For not wanting to be penetrated by a penis? ... and we should listen to these people and let them re-write the rules of medicine and biology? If gender and sex have *no difference*, does a gynocologist accept "girl dick" and pretend throughout an appointment that it is female? How far do we humour this?

Paladin1

ikosmos wrote:

So, who are our mods now?

 

I'm working on my application.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Why couldn't Meghan have left it at saying "cis women are the only people who can give birth"?

Remember Thomas Beatie?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Right. So we do have a very small number of exceptions in the trans man group. Most trans men don't seem to want to get pregnant, however. So while exceptions can be acknowledged, this is a somewhat different case.

I suppose the question there is: Is a trans man facing the same discriminations as cis women in regard to reproduction? Does it impact, for example, income and job prospects? Does the trans man, after giving birth, find himself the default primary caregiver? What issues overlap and what issues don't?

I don't really have the answers to those questions, but I would argue the overall issues for feminists around reproduction don't chnage as the vast majority affected by those issues are cis women.

PS: I don't really like the "cis" thing. I use it for expendience, but it has always felt like a label I had no say in adopting.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

quizzical wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:
There are horrifically transphobic comments at Meghan's site.  Many, if not most of those posting comments there see trans women as possessors of male privilege and trans men as gender traitors.

How the hell did Meghan develop such a vicious and reactionary gender analysis?

what site you talking about? feminist current? if so where did you find this? big site and i'm not going digging

and who are you to judge?

The comments were at the link to Meghan's article posted at the top of this thread.  As to who I am...I'm just an ordinary, flawed human being who is trying to be as anti-oppression as possible.  I wasn't meaning to judge, I wrote that in shock about the comments I saw.

It should be possible to passionately and uncompromisingly defend reproductive choice without accusing trans women of being gender infiltrators and oppressors. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Timebandit wrote:
Ken, there's layers and layers to this, beyond the biological. I think the first point Megan is trying to make is that the oppression of women does have its basis in biology. But there's more to it. While accepting trans women as women, we also have to acknowledge some differences in experience. Trans women have largely grown up boys to men. Their socialization has been different. They cannot speak to experiencing expectations and limits imposed on females from the cradle. So they're stepping into something at a later date and demanding that the conversation and the focus be modified in all cases to reflect them. Gee, does this sound familiar to anyone?

 

There's also the issue of essentialism. The idea that one has a "female brain" goes largely against the best science we have on sex differences, or the argument that one has always been female inside a biologically male body reinforces the idea that women are fundamentally and essentially different than men. Basically, essentialism asserts that there are Seperate but equal spheres for men and women - that men don't nurture because they are men and women just aren't good at math, when the reality is that there is so much individual variation and overlap as to make statistical difference negligible and potentially at least partly based in socialization. That complicates the goal of equality. This is feminism 101.

That's not to say that trans people should not be included in feminism. Of course they should. It's a big tent, after all. But it's complicated and there needs to be dialogue. There are entrenched parties on both sides, and they both have valid points to make. It's going to take some time to shake out.

Agreed that trans women weren't raised as women and didn't face the same oppression from birth(although I'd guess that they did face their own oppression in terms of having to spend years and years hiding their truth and living in public denial of that truth, as has been the case in a different way with lesbians, bisexuals of both traditional genders, and gay men, some of whom lived lives of race and class privilege even while hiding in plain sight).  I doubt that trans women are disputing this point(though I can't claim to speak for them).  And dialog is essential.  But it's hard to see how dialog can be achieved with the elements of cis feminism who simply don't accept the validity of trans women as a group and, especially, those who still see trans women as possessing "male privilege".  It's hard to imagine what privilege trans women could posssibly have over cis women, or of how their existence in some way threatens the anti-oppression struggle of cis women.  It doesn't sound as if Meghan accepts that gender dysphoria is a real state of benig, or that she sees it as something a person can get over.  And from my perspective as a cis man, it's hard for me to imagine a less-privileged person than, say, a trans woman of color.

Frankly, this reads to me(and I recognize my status as an outsider to this debate) as one oppressed group refusing to recognise the oppression of another opprressed group.  But I need to learn more about this and I'm sorry if anything I posted was unconscious cis-mansplaining.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I think that feminist analysis of trans issues is primarily (and understandably) interested in transwomen, so there's plenty to talk about there with regard the validity of transwomen as women, or the difference between being raised as a girl and being raised as a boy, and so on.

But it seems to me that Murphy's piece wasn't really about transwomen so much as about transmen, and how attempts to include them as people who menstruate or can become pregnant can erase the word "woman" from the discussion.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

Agreed that trans women weren't raised as women and didn't face the same oppression from birth(although I'd guess that they did face their own oppression in terms of having to spend years and years hiding their truth and living in public denial of that truth, as has been the case in a different way with lesbians, bisexuals of both traditional genders, and gay men, some of whom lived lives of race and class privilege even while hiding in plain sight).  I doubt that trans women are disputing this point(though I can't claim to speak for them).

It's not about oppression, though. It's about socialization and how that socialization teaches one how to engage with the world. Trans women who grow up regarded as male are taught different ways to approach things. They are taught a level of entitlement that most girl children are not. And there are times where that way of engaging exacerbates the argument between how much we shift our language or positions on issues that primarily relate to cis women. And there is dispute about this - it's often called "violence" to point out that, hey, you and I grew up in different circumstances and while some of your circumstances were painful to you, there are some things you're not reflecting on. It's another sort of intersectionality, along with race and class, but referencing it is considered "erasure".

Quote:
...And dialog is essential.  But it's hard to see how dialog can be achieved with the elements of cis feminism who simply don't accept the validity of trans women as a group and, especially, those who still see trans women as possessing "male privilege".  It's hard to imagine what privilege trans women could posssibly have over cis women, or of how their existence in some way threatens the anti-oppression struggle of cis women.  It doesn't sound as if Meghan accepts that gender dysphoria is a real state of benig, or that she sees it as something a person can get over.  And from my perspective as a cis man, it's hard for me to imagine a less-privileged person than, say, a trans woman of color.

I don't think it's true that feminists don't accept the validity of trans women. What some feminists are saying is that there are aspects of the experience of having always been female that is not the same as the trans experience of being treated as male and then later treated as female. That privilege may not be in effect currently, but it shapes and informs the experience of the individual differently. Not better, not worse, but different - and sometimes that will affect how feminist concerns are framed.

I don't know what Meghan thinks of gender dysphoria. It's not something that I as a feminist would argue against, but I also can't speak to that. If someone wants to live life as a woman, have at it and welcome to the struggle. It's not up to me to tell that person they can't. On the other hand, I wouldn't take kindly to that person telling me that my life experience as a female is invalidated because it isn't inclusive of her experience as transgender any more than I would expect a feminist of colour to include my experience as a white woman in how she approaches feminism.

Quote:
Frankly, this reads to me(and I recognize my status as an outsider to this debate) as one oppressed group refusing to recognise the oppression of another opprressed group.  But I need to learn more about this and I'm sorry if anything I posted was unconscious cis-mansplaining.

Not at all. The oppression is recognized. It's just not necessarily being granted primacy in all discussions.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I think that feminist analysis of trans issues is primarily (and understandably) interested in transwomen, so there's plenty to talk about there with regard the validity of transwomen as women, or the difference between being raised as a girl and being raised as a boy, and so on.

But it seems to me that Murphy's piece wasn't really about transwomen so much as about transmen, and how attempts to include them as people who menstruate or can become pregnant can erase the word "woman" from the discussion.

Right. I guess the idea that a trans man who can get pregnant is still a little bit biologically female is troublesome, but I just can't see a way around the biology. I'm in favour of the right to terminate a pregnancy for all who can gestate, but we need to acknowledge that the vast majority of those persons are biologically female *and* have a female gender identity.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Are trans women actually asking for primacy in the discussions, or just parity?

I ask that, again, out of a lack of personal knowledge.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Having said that, I'm not going to post in this thread anymore.

6079_Smith_W

Timebandit wrote:

On the other hand, I wouldn't take kindly to that person telling me that my life experience as a female is invalidated because it isn't inclusive of her experience as transgender any more than I would expect a feminist of colour to include my experience as a white woman in how she approaches feminism.

Yup. A valid concern. Though not everyone coming from any of these perspectives is doing that. Just having a conversation with a friend in the real world about this, and she pointed out that in some sensitivity training she took the first lesson in dealing with stuff that pushes your buttons is to first assume good intent when asking for clarification.

A wise bit of advice, IMO.

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

Are trans women actually asking for primacy in the discussions, or just parity?

I ask that, again, out of a lack of personal knowledge.

Depends on the discussion and the trans woman, I guess. I'm happy to give parity, but if choice is something that the trans community feels is no longer a women's issue, I have a problem with that. The funny thing is that the struggle for reproductive rights and for trans rights are actually pretty similar and there should be some common ground there. I think it's the strident in the further ends of the spectrum that makes it seem like a bigger fight than it actually is.

6079_Smith_W

Exactly, and well said.

There should be a way to hold that understanding without denying the reality of either side of this divide.

(edit)

I was responding to your previous comment, but on your most recent, I agree as well. There are hard liners on both sides of this. I think it is best to recognize them for what they are and focus on that common ground you mention.

But even with those hard liners I think it is important to recognize their valid concerns, even if they are wrong-headed,

 

Misfit Misfit's picture

Ken, if you are interested, there is an article you can look up in Feminist Current called "Why I no longer Hate TERF'S" by Penny White, Nov 10, 2015. It can help clarify some of the questions you have on this subject.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Yup. A valid concern. Though not everyone coming from any of these perspectives is doing that. Just having a conversation with a friend in the real world about this, and she pointed out that in some sensitivity training she took the first lesson in dealing with stuff that pushes your buttons is to first assume good intent when asking for clarification.

A wise bit of advice, IMO.

Agreed. But when stating your own experience is branded violence against transpeople, it's difficult to assume good intent.

quizzical

i looked for it couldn't find

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Agreed. But when stating your own experience is branded violence against transpeople, it's difficult to assume good intent.

Well, certainly not good intent toward you.

Of course this isn't at all exclusive to this battleground.  Evidently everything is now a life-or-death struggle.  Everything is a violation of someone's human rights, or the violation of a safe space, or naked bigotry, or the death of the planet, Or something BIG, anyway.  I guess you don't get support for your cause by claiming that it's "kind of important... worth thinking about, at any rate!"

And to be fair, even though I mostly agree with criticism of terms like "pregnant people", it's pretty much the same sort of extremism from the other side that turns a phrase like that into an "erasure" of women.  I'm pretty sure that if you asked everyone to picture one of those "pregnant people", approximately 100% of them would still picture a pregnant (cis)-woman.  They're not being drowned out in a sea of pregnant transmen.

So to some degree it seems like the argument is over where the line should be drawn.  How many "exceptions" should be required before a change of language is reasonable?  How many female "firemen" did there need to be before "firefighter" was a reasonable change to language?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture
Timebandit Timebandit's picture

quizzical wrote:

i looked for it couldn't find

http://www.feministcurrent.com/2015/11/10/why-i-no-longer-hate-terfs/

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

So to some degree it seems like the argument is over where the line should be drawn.  How many "exceptions" should be required before a change of language is reasonable?  How many female "firemen" did there need to be before "firefighter" was a reasonable change to language?

Possibly more than a small fraction of .3%*?

Not advocating one way or the other. Just that the far ends of the spectrum could both use a little dose of meeting each other halfway.

ETA: It's estimated that .3% of the population is trans (could be higher now, but let's run with this for the moment.) Guesstimate half are trans men = .15%, then reduce by the larger majority of trans men who cannot or do not get pregnant... Pretty small number, I'm thinking.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Not advocating one way or the other. Just that the far ends of the spectrum could both use a little dose of meeting each other halfway.

You're effectively prescribing some centrism, or moderatism. 

As a centrist moderate I completely agree.  But know that by taking the "easy" road down the middle, you're ensuring that radicals on both sides can dislike you and scorn your betrayal of them equally.

I'll confess that I'm having trouble, personally, wrapping my head around the idea that for tens of thousands of years we had "men" and "women", and that this has in some way or another become embedded in every culture and every language everywhere, except that for a few decades now we've had transmen and transwomen, and for a few years we've had the gender-fluid, agendered people, the asexual, the "questioning" and a whole host of new identities, and we have to immediately weave them seamlessly into the fabric of our collective existence or else it's the second Holocaust and we're all "complicit".

I hate to be the shitlord to break it to everyone, but I do sometimes think that expecting everything to just change overnight is looking for too much, too soon.  The world just doesn't turn on a dime like that.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Yes. I'm used to getting hostility from both sides. I don't take it personally. ;)

What's really interesting to me are the discussions I have with my teenagers about gender identity. Both of them accept transgendered people unequivocally, but I don't think they've thought overly deeply about it. They respect chosen pronouns as a matter of course and don't think of gender dysphoria as a weird thing.

On the other hand, I see such a struggle for many of their acquaintances over how to "identify", not just as far as gender is concerned, but with sexuality. You've got trans, gender-fluid, bi, gay, lesbian, furry(?!), pansexual... And the funny thing is, a lot of kids try them on for size for a bit, then decide no, they're not that, then try another on for size. It's almost as if just being straight is too boring, although I suspect most of them are. Not that it's a bad thing - I remember when coming out was terrifying for my gay and lesbian friends, and I'm glad it's not nearly so fraught as it was.

6079_Smith_W

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I'll confess that I'm having trouble, personally, wrapping my head around the idea that for tens of thousands of years we had "men" and "women",

Maybe we did, but not everyone.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/01/23/two-spirits-one-hea...

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
You've got trans, gender-fluid, bi, gay, lesbian, furry(?!), pansexual... And the funny thing is, a lot of kids try them on for size for a bit, then decide no, they're not that, then try another on for size. It's almost as if just being straight is too boring

How could they ever understand that when we were tweens/teens, the options were pretty much limited to heavy metal satanist, goth vampire and punk nihilist?  How our generation ever managed to push back, and to frustrate the establishment, is beyond me.

J. Baglow J. Baglow's picture

Not sorry to see her go. Let her TERF and SWERF with RealWomen Canada.

milo204

Honestly getting sick and tired of all the petty, obnoxious in fighting amongst the left.  We can't even talk about things without generating a huge shitstorm (none of which will talk about the issue but rather how talking about it is bad) and this whole stupid "team" mentality where if you're perceived as not being 110% supportive of "the team" you must then be an enemy who must be banished and beaten up on.

IT'S THE SAME SHIT ATTITUDE THAT MAKES PARENTS DISOWN THEIR TRANS KIDS

we are now censoring ourselves and each other, deleting articles and silencing debate and it's getting out of hand, and it should really stop. 

This is nothing new to rabble, it's been the subject of much debate here for sometime, and i think the importance of that debate is more urgent than ever.

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

J. Baglow wrote:

Not sorry to see her go. Let her TERF and SWERF with RealWomen Canada.


Personally, I reject both those labels as caricatures. Dialogue and common ground are not possible as long as they're being flung around.

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