Paris Lees, That Vice Article and Some Basic Facts about Radical Feminism

This is a clean link to Paris Lee’s “article” in Vice magazine entitled “THE TRANS VS. RADICAL FEMINIST TWITTER WAR IS MAKING ME SICK”. Now, I do agree with her title. The so-called twitter “war” does make me sick but only because threatening to rape, kill or otherwise harm another human being doesn’t exactly fill me with the same feeling that, say, fluffy bunnies do. Telling women who disagree with you politically to die in a fire or using the tag “die cis scum” isn’t covered under the heading of debate, conversation or discussion.

Hate speech: definitely.

Debate: not so much.

I don’t disagree with pretty much everything else in the article.

I’m going to assume that Lees isn’t very familiar with radical feminist theory when writing this:

The TERFs and the Meanies call themselves “gender critical” but they’re not, not really. They aren’t obsessed with David Beckham, or Katie Price, or the billions of other people who aren’t trans who perpetuate gender every day. Just trans people, who they can pick on. 

Less than 60 seconds on google will find radical feminist discussions of gender performativity as exemplified by both Beckham and Price. It would find millions of discussions of masculinity (which, for those who can’t follow the argument, is about men and women who perpetuate harmful gendered behaviours and stereotypes such as the girls are nurturning/ boys are violent bullshit we see every single freaking day in nurseries, playgroups and schools across the UK/North America). In fact, shocking as this is, it was radical feminists who pushed the discussions on gender, masculinity and patriarchy into the public sphere in the late 60s and the 1970s. To suggest that radical feminists do not talk about gender in any other context than that of transgendered people is a deliberate misrepresentation of radical feminist theory.

The utterly ridiculous conflation of a consensual relationship between two adults [and, you know, Brian Cox is probably aware of who his wife is – enough assholes tweet him telling him to shut his wife up on a weekly basis that he couldn’t possibly ever forget the woman he MARRIED FFS. Also, demanding a man control his wife is misogyny. It’s the freaking dictionary definition). :  

Asking someone why they are trans is no better than asking them, “Why are you so fat?” Gia Milonovich is the girl in the playground shouting “You’re not pretty like us!” but who never gets into trouble because she’s banging the head of science, Mr Cox. She’ll tell you what being trans is all about. Me, sir! Me! I know the answer! I’ve read the next chapter!

There is no such thing as a teenage girl “banging” the head of science. An adult male teacher engaged in any form of sexual relationship with a student is committing sexual assault or rape. It’s a deliberate abuse of power and should result in a lengthy jail sentence for the perpetrator. It is not a subject open to “jokes”. It isn’t “banging” – and the use of the term “banging” to refer to sex is heteronormative and lesbophobic. (And, just to be arsey: spelling Gia Milinovich‘s name right isn’t that hard. If you’re going to make baseless insults about someone, it’s probably worth checking you’ve got their name right.)

The naming of individual women as targets of derision is a direct contradiction of Lees’ demand that people on both sides of the debate stop attacking one another. Have to say, I haven’t seen any personal attacks by Sarah Ditum, Glosswitch, or Milinovich naming specific women as Lees did. And, I’m also not entirely sure why Sarah Ditum not hanging out behind the bike racks means she hates fun as this suggests: 

 I’m the girl with the short skirt and too much makeup on hiding behind the bike shed with a bong, a packet of Superking Menthols and Liam from 6th Form.

There are a million ways women can have “fun” that don’t involve performing femininity. Hell, there are lots that don’t involve leaving the house or skipping school. Granted, I never actually enjoyed school having been a victim of sustained bullying for 8 years but some girls actively enjoyed being there and found it “fun”. This doesn’t make them not-girls or unfun.

Oddly, the theory that the only girls who are “fun” are those in short skirts, wearing too much make-up and smoking is a gendered stereotype that radical feminists loathe. Having sex is not the only way to have fun – and suggesting that women who don’t fuck every single man they meet aren’t “fun” is misogyny. It is very clear from this statement that the only “fun” girls Paris Lees identifies are those who meet the patriarchy’s standards of acceptable girls (and that men will label these women sluts or that many of them will be victims of male sexual violence is totally irrelevant.) Dismissing women who disagree with you as “meanies” or “unfun” isn’t discussion or debate. And, really, if Lees wanted to change the nature of the discussions so as not to address radical feminists, why name women like Julie Bindel, Caroline Criado-Perez or Glosswitch? It’s hypocritical to demand people stop engaging in discussions they want to have by insulting them but demanding the right to do so yourself. And, really, a diatribe against “meanies” which uses disablist language and insults? Really?

Radical feminist opposes all gendered stereotyping and assumptions that sex dictates personality, behaviours or traits. Radical feminism argues against stereotyping women as nurturing and boys as rough and tumble. Radical feminist theory and transgender theory are polar opposites because transgender theory believes that gender is innate and radical feminists believe it is socially constructed. Radical feminists aren’t arguing for the genocide of transgendered people. They want an end to to the hierarchical structure of gender in which power is maintained by men for men through compulsory heterosexuality and the ownership of women and children.

Many radical feminist do argue about the exclusion of transwomen from bathrooms, change rooms, and other women-only spaces because the definition of trans is so open as to be pointless. If anyone who identifies as a transwoman can use women’s bathrooms, then any sexual predator can identify that way to access vulnerable women. There have already been examples of abusive husbands claiming to be transwomen to access the refuge their wife and children are hiding in. 60 seconds on google would find examples in the UK, US and Canada. This isn’t “what if” scenarios. This is actually happening and women are being raped by men in supposedly women-only spaces. This is without examining the issue of prisons where one man, incarcerated for raping his ex-girlfriend, claimed to be trans to be switched to a women’s prison. A convicted rapist, who still has his penis, is now in a prison for women – considering the vast majority of women in prison are incarcerated for non-violent crimes and have histories of child sexual abuse and substance misuse. And, they are being put at risk from a convicted rapist who claims to be a woman.

There is no such thing as innate gender. We are born female, male or intersex. Women get pregnant – I want to say adult here but we have all read stories of 10 year olds denied abortions. PIV is far riskier for women than it is for men – STDS pass more easily from male to female and the majority of urinary tract infections in women are caused by dirty penises. Women engaged in oral sex are more likely to get an STI than a man. Women are refused work or fired for the possibility of becoming pregnant – regardless of whether or not they can actually conceive and carry a foetus to term or even want to. A man with a post-secondary education who transitions late in life has had very different prospects in employment than a woman with an equivalent education. To suggest otherwise is utterly fucking ridiculous. These aren’t facts that women can ignore. We shouldn’t have to pretend they aren’t real or harmful. Women have been told to shut up by men for a millennia. There is nothing new or special in demanding women not talk about these topics.

Transwomen are raped and murdered for being trans. They are being raped and murdered by the same group of people who rape and murder women and children: men. So, why do transactivists focus their energy on a small number of radical feminists who have very little political power and wealth? Why don’t they target the group with actual power: men?

The real problem on our planet is men: they control 99% of the world’s land, most of the income and they spend their trillions of dollars on arms, drugs and human trafficking. Men would rather spend billions on pesticides and destroying clean water than ensuring that every single person on this planet has access to clean water. These are the issues radical feminists are concerned about: gendercide, education, war, famine, environmental destruction, the arms trade, rape culture, reproductive justice and the right of all children to grow up safe. Suggesting that it is only concerned with transgender theory is a malicious and deliberate misrepresentation of radical feminists.

After all, who the fuck do you think fought for rape crisis centres and refuges? Who were at the peace camps like Greenham common? Who continue to campaign against human trafficking, the arms trade and the total environmental destruction of our planet?

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