Ask a Question 7

I have three questions this time. That’s 1.5 times the usual levels of FUN!

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Name: ondrea
Comment: is the world today more towards a culture of life,or towards a culture of death ,and why?

That’s a complicated question because the terms can be used in many different ways. From an antinatalist standpoint, we can meaningfully say that we live in a culture of life, in the sense that people do not question the necessity to create new human beings and the assertion that sentient life is worth preserving. From another standpoint, I’ve written an entry about how we live in a culture of death, in the sense that we are desensitized to death, preach death, have death-oriented religions, and want to stamp out all that’s vital in children.

So it’s really a matter of the metaphorical aspect you’re using when you’re using the terms “life” and “death.”

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Name: Louise
Comment: Hi –

First of all I really like your posts on sex positivism and couldn’t agree with you more!

I’m also interested in your opinions on anti-natalism – would you mind elaborating on your stance a little? I’m working towards a PhD on motherhood and I know very little about this movement – would love to know more.

Thanks and all the best,
Louise

Your question was not very specific, so I don’t really know what you want me to clarify. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject. For a sort of introduction-level reading, I would recommend the following:

A little lexicon: childfree, antinatalist, efilist.
Making the case for antinatalism.

Please don’t hesitate to ask me another question if you want to get into more specific issues.

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Name: Ethan
Comment: Hello there. Awhile ago a friend had linked me to your work that was discussing critique of radical feminism from a transgender persons perspective. It’s my understanding that some radical feminists or “TERFS” as they’re commonly called, don’t believe that transgendered women can rightly claim womanhood. Could you elaborate more on your position in relation to this? I understand that gender is purely a social construct, but I don’t understand what’s inherently wrong about choosing to make your biological sex match up to what’s in your head, or as Gloria Steinem says “making the shoe fit” and I don’t understand why we shouldn’t ally ourselves with transgender people in the struggle against patriarchy. I condemn people like Cathy Brennan that actively seek to stand in the way of transgender rights, but it also seems that the word “TERF” is often used as a snarl world to dismiss legitimate points such as biological femaleness being an integral part of women’s oppression. Could you offer some clarity or insight into this issue?

I do have entries on this term “TERF” and criticizing trans genderist arguments coming later, but I will answer your question in general terms.

You say “some” radical feminists are TERFs (although you should be aware that the term “TERF” is used as a slur most of the time), but this is incorrect. All radical feminists are against gender to some degree and must therefore be TERFs, because the concept of “trans inclusion” necessarily means acceptance of the doctrine of trans genderism in toto– including the belief that gender does dictate behavior, and that people who act in ways incompatible with their gender must switch to the other gender for their behavior to agree with their gender.

This is why your statement that we should all ally with transgender people against patriarchy doesn’t make any sense. Trans genderism is just another form of genderism and is no more liberatory for women than traditional genderism (patriarchy).

You also refer to “make your biological sex match up to what’s in your head.” The latter is the concept of innate gender, which is a construct made up by trans genderists, as I’ve discussed here. I honestly don’t care what transgender people do with their own bodies, and they can adjust their bodies to fit some imaginary mental gender if they want to. I no more begrudge them that right than I begrudge a religious person’s right to worship the god they feel exists in their “hearts.” But that does not confer any obligation upon any feminist to recognize gender as valid, any more than revelation confers any obligation upon atheists to recognize God as real. And most importantly, I also recognize that both the religious believer’s feelings and the transgender person’s feelings are heavily conditioned by society: they did not appear out of nowhere or out of some hidden part of their brain.

The primordial issue is protecting women’s spaces. That is a vital issue because women’s spaces are absolutely necessary for feminism to advance, and that’s always been true historically. People who are born and socialized as men do not understand male privilege (unless they make the effort to listen to women and understand their position, which is something very few men ever attempt) and should not participate in feminist dialogue. Most transwomen believe that, by becoming transwomen, they are automatically entitled to the status of woman, while retaining their socialization as men.

You will note that most treatments of this issue, even the more serious treatments of the issue by transgender people, do not discuss socialization, because they have no ready answer to it (except the very weak gambit of “but we’re all raised differently,” which is not denied by the framework of socialization anyway). I am aware that such treatments do exist, however, and I intend to address them at a later time.

As an anti-genderist, I don’t believe in the validity of “womanhood,” and neither do most radical feminists, so this is not a concern. The issue of whether transwomen are “really women” or not diverts attention from the fact that they were socialized as men, which is the real issue. On that issue, I definitely think they were socialized as men: that’s an undeniable fact. On the other hand, transmen were socialized as women, which is why they are considered part of women-only spaces.

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3 thoughts on “Ask a Question 7

  1. ellahawthorne100 October 15, 2014 at 09:25 Reply

    Our culture is about life and death at the same time. We’re big on creating a lot of new life and we’re also big on destroying as much life as possible. Instead of focusing on the life already in existence and trying to make it worth living, we’re just trying to destroy, create, destroy, create, in an endless barbaric cycle. I would also argue that we’re more invested in destroying than creating, and it’s starting to catch up with us.

  2. Heretic October 15, 2014 at 10:00 Reply

    One point of contention: “TERF” is highly controversial because the label comes with threats of violence (rape, death) by m2f trans. Radical feminists are not AGAINST trans people and their rights, all they ask for is female-only spaces just as trans people have theirs. That happens to include the “spaces” of their physical and sexual autonomy against the “if you don’t sleep with me, you hate me” rhetoric (cotton ceiling) hurled against lesbians. I have no issue with the criticism of the social category of “woman” (as an inferior or submissive) for both females and gender-nonconforming males. It’s a valid point to not enjoy the gender role forced upon oneself; however, females want to be considered fully human and trans women (born male, and hence considered human) want to be considered women. And sure, female-only spaces may be considered “trans-exclusive” but only in the sense that m2f are excluded, not f2m, since they were born female and socialized as women – this is the “shared girlhood” experience.

    • Francois Tremblay October 15, 2014 at 11:19 Reply

      I agree entirely. Thank you for clarifying, I will do a couple of small edits to reflect this.

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