Category Archives: Radical feminism

Does “transgender” make any more sense than “transracial”?

The case of Rachel Dolezal has put the concept of “transracial” at the forefront of people’s imaginations. Almost everyone has rejected it with laughter or disgust. It seems absurd to people that a person could claim to be of one race while actually being another. She has been quickly associated with blackface and minstrel shows for her behavior.

Self-identification was clearly rejected in this case: people do not care at all if she claims to “really” be a black person. But this is strange given that self-identification is the banner of the liberals, their rock. Where are all the liberals defending Dolezal’s “agency”? Why do they defend transgender people but not transracial people? Try as I may, I can’t come up with any other, non-circular, answer to that question than: because explicit racism is no longer acceptable, but explicit sexism still is. They care about black people’s integrity but they don’t give a shit about women’s integrity.

The challenge that this case has issued to trans theory is this: if a transracial person self-identifies as a different race, and a transgender person self-identifies as a different gender, and this is the only relevant fact in both cases, then why should we treat the latter any differently than the former? Why aren’t liberals treating transgender people like bigots and ridiculous clowns like they did Dolezal? Or treating transracial people with the respect they give transgender people, as in this satirical article?

Is it that race is somehow more “real” than gender? No, they are both social constructs. Although they are both constructed partially on the basis of biological observations, there is no biological reality behind either of these concepts: there is no more scientific evidence for the proposition that people of African descent are inherently lazy or violent than there is for the proposition that female humans are inherently emotional or bad at mathematics.

A trans theorist may argue that it’s sex we should be talking about, not gender, and that sex is a social construct. I’ve already debunked this latter brand of nonsense. In a great entry, Jonah Mix argued that self-identification makes even less sense for sex than it does for race. There are many more races than there are sexes, and there are far many more “biracial” people than intersex people; these are the two main criteria that trans theorists use to argue that sex is a construct and that we should respect people’s self-identification, and yet race fills the profile much more than sex.

I will add that you could replace “sex” with “gender” and still arrive at the same result. There are more races than there are genders (liberal make-believe genders notwithstanding), and there are far more “biracial” people than transgender people or non-binary genders from other cultures.

Is it that transwomen are “really” women “deep down” in their brain? I reject this position, because there’s no such thing as “being a woman” or “being a man” apart from the society that imposes it. I don’t dispute that some of these people have a very real issue (body dysphoria). At least, I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt. But why should we not also give the benefit of the doubt to Dolezal? Or does the concept of “body dysphoria” only extend to the genitals? That’s a pretty limited “body.” Why can’t Dolezal feel “deep down” that she’s really a black person?

The concept seems absurd, because it assumes that there is a “real race” in your brain somewhere that is dissociated from your ethnicity and actual body, disconnected from the reality of who they are. But that’s also what liberals say about transwomen (just replace “ethnicity” with “sex” and “race” with “gender”).

A long time ago, long before Rachel Dolezal, a kerfluffle was happening on tumblr about people (probably anti-SJW trolls, now that I think about it) identifying as trans-racial. Tumblr was up in arms about the issue, and I remember one post (probably long lost at this point) explaining how identifying as trans-racial was problematic because a white person hasn’t had the same lived experiences as a POC. “Yeah!” I said, “A white person hasn’t grown up experiencing racism! And besides, it’s really racist to say, ‘I like rap music and soul food, so I must be black’!”

But then I followed that line of thought. A trans woman hasn’t had the same lived experiences as a cis woman, I thought. She didn’t grow up experiencing misogyny. And isn’t it kind of sexist to say, “I like make-up and dresses, so I must be a woman”?

Trans theory is profoundly sexist, in that it reinforces genderist stereotypes (a child who loves pink must be a girl, a child who likes sports must be a boy, and so on) and demands that people self-identify as their “real gender.” This seems to be very hard for liberals to understand. However, they have no problem understanding how Dolezal “feeling black” on the basis of her liking of black culture and social activism (things which are much less offensive than the reasons behind men becoming transwomen) is racist.

Liberals are moral cowards who are perfectly willing to stab women in the back for the benefit of violent, entitled men. We already know this. The fact that they are not insane enough to believe in transracialism proves the sexist nature of their duplicity.

The masculinists’ hatred of men.

There is a paradox lying at the center of Men’s Rights Advocacy, and masculinity in general: while claiming that men are the superior gender, they hate men in a principled and systematic way. Not only is masculinity defined in a way that displays a complete lack of leadership quality, but they constantly endeavor to repeat to us that men cannot help their violent impulses, men cannot control their libido, men cannot stop themselves from raping women, men cannot stop beating women who cheat on them, and so on.

They treat men with such contempt that they become equated with little more than dumb brutish beasts. Not even the most man-hating radical feminist hates men with such passion.

Women, on the other hand, are portrayed in a diametrically opposite manner. We are told again and again by these fellows that women are responsible for every single thing that happens to them, because they can change their behavior (unlike men, who are unthinking, unfeeling beasts). We are told that “proper” women are a “civilizing” influence on the violent men (who are inherently uncivilized).

The paradox exists because gender rhetoric serves the purpose of rationalizing and naturalizing men’s domination over women, which is violent and insane, therefore they have no choice but to rationalize and naturalize violence and insanity by framing it as a natural attribute of men, a necessary attribute of men, and a desirable attribute of men; at the end of the magic act, violence becomes “competition” and insanity becomes “rationality.”

The obsession about competition is a peculiarly American one, because no other society in the world is focused on competing to the point of it being virtually a national religion. But the fact that Americans are particularly competitive, and that other societies do not exhibit this behavior, points to the fact that competition is not universal and therefore cannot be an innate trait. Because most MRAs are American, they obviously do not see any problem with labeling competitive urges as innate. In fact, most of us, regardless of gender, do not like to compete unless it’s been beaten into us by our parents and by society.

House Mouse Queen posted a comment she received on her blog which provides a clear statement of what masculinity is all about. I wanted to use this as the centerpiece because it is one of the clearest statements of the MRA/masculinist hatred of men I’m talking about. Its writer may be an extremist but the ideas expressed therein are the same as those of most masculinists, just expressed with more honesty than most would find necessary.

You have to realize that boys will never not be competitive… Men do not want peace, equality, or social harmony. Men do not even crave deep friendship. Men replace their social minds with a penchant for throwing spears really well. Men don’t sit around and build society. They build the buildings society (women) inhabits and then go leave to kill something. Then they kill other men so their preferred women can have more houses to live in. They are violent, and they will always fight among themselves. They are born like that, and they LIKE it.

First we get a reframing of violence as competition, but there’s really no need for that since our writer is all too honest about the violence part.

Then we get the puzzling statement that men don’t have a social mind. This can hardly be interpreted as anything but an anti-evolution statement: humans, like all primates, evolved as a social species, and anyone who denies this must also deny that we are connected to other primates. If men are not social animals, then they are not human but something else entirely (and in the thoughts of anti-evolutionists, something inferior, since they believe humans are at the apex).

Now, I know the writer states later on, in what is by far my favourite line, that “men are basically dogs.” But even that does not work, since wolves are notoriously social animals as well.

Our writer asserts that not only are men violent killers, but they like it. That’s not the way you describe someone you like, or even someone you have no opinion about; this is a description of a sociopath, pure and simple. We would say things like this about the worse scum that has ever existed. And yet, according to him, this is what all men are like.

It sounds great at first – men without dominance struggles! So much suffering eliminated! Mens lives will be better! But it’s unattainable unless you pump male fetuses full of so much estrogen that they will develop into women, but with the wrong set of gonads.

This leads us to the delicious irony of what the paradox implies. If men really are innately sociopathic because they are males, then the only logical solution is to eradicate all males. Note that neither I nor any radical feminist I’ve ever read (even on blog comments) agree with this conclusion, but it is the only possible conclusion to the masculinist premises.

Of course masculinists themselves do not agree with this conclusion, but what else do they have to offer exactly? Basically nothing.

Men must be allowed to fight and be “toxic”, or else they will truly become toxic. They must have safe outlets for competition, hatred, and superiority, and those outlets must be fair so nobody ends up as a suicidal elliot rogers seeking revenge for being born “inferior” while trying to believe themselves superior.

Here the concept of “toxic masculinity” rears its ugly head. It makes little sense if taken as a self-contained concept, but it’s not hard to understand why the concept exists: if there is such a thing as “toxic masculinity” then there must also be such a thing as “healthy masculinity,” which leads more easily into a reformist (atomistic, liberal, anti-radical) position.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as “toxic masculinity” because I don’t believe there is such a thing as “healthy masculinity.” Individual men can be violent or caring, but masculinity is always unhealthy precisely because it is defined as violent, as a contrast to women who are portrayed as caring, with violence being seen as dominant and caring being seen as subordinate. I believe that the author of this screed has a toxic mentality, the mentality of masculinism, which he shares with all genderists out there no matter their allegiance.

The very idea that men are born violent sociopathic dogs directly contradicts this view that their energies can be channeled into “safe outlets.” If men really were born innately violent, society would be powerless to change this fact in any way, and any “safe outlet” would be a miserable failure. If men can be changed, and masculinity is not universal, then this leads us to the conclusion that it is a social construct.

Men are basically dogs. When you adopt a husky, it will destroy your house if you do not give it an outlet for constant play. A man is a dog. The dog needs to be walked.

Is this the kind of thing you say about someone you don’t utterly despise?

Skipping over the bizarre and illogical assertions about lower testosterone leading to even more violence (which makes no sense even from an MRA point of view), we end on an even more bizarre note where the writer seems to agree with the SCUM Manifesto (??). These are definitely not typical masculinist views, and therefore are beyond the scope of this entry.

The first question that comes to mind is, why did this writer leave such a comment on a feminist blog? Obviously, as House Mouse Queen posted, it is a mansplanation. But why post it on an old entry on a feminist blog of all places? I think this may be the writer trying to reinforce his own belief in the face of cognitive dissonance. But without knowing who the author is, there’s no point in psychoanalyzing.

Perhaps a more interesting question is, why do men trot out these tired rationalizations in the first place? Daily we are confronted with the end result of men’s violence against women. 98.8% of people arrested for rape are men. 97% of domestic abusers are heterosexual men. 88.2% of people arrested for homicide are men. Ridiculous claims about false rape accusations aside, it’s hard to argue with such figures.

In the light of the violence inflicted on women by men around the globe, these rationalizations are particularly heinous. We don’t find them particularly convincing when individuals bring them up, either: “I couldn’t help myself” doesn’t exculpate anyone from responsibility, it just demonstrates that they lack self-control and therefore are even more dangerous than previously thought.

Likewise, when the person who oppresses you tells you that he must be allowed to keep beating you up because he’ll kill you if you try to run away, that’s not exactly a statement of fact, more of an intimidation tactic. Its role is to keep women in their place and accept the present state of affairs. The message they’re sending is, accept the sociopathic behavior that comes along with masculinity or it’s gonna get a lot worse.

But suppose we take seriously the proposition that masculinity is innate. If that’s true, then why try to change anything about it? One of the points most often raised against MRAs is that, for all their rhetoric about human rights, they seem singularly uninterested in activism. But, seen in this light, it’s not surprising at all. They claim to be against the draft, but why be against the draft if men are naturally meant for war? They claim to be against prison rape, but why be against prison rape if men are naturally meant to rape?

I’ve raised the same criticism against evolutionary psychology: if one seriously believes that gender and race hierarchies are innate, then there is no point in fighting against them because no remotely reasonable solution exists. Within such a worldview there is no solution, there is no exit, all that’s left is to wallow in our own prejudice and personal misgivings, which is what they do.

Another way of seeing this rationalization is that this is perhaps a depraved extreme of the incompetence argument, which portrays men as incapable of doing something (such as housework) and making women responsible for it. Women are always expected to pick up the slack (no pun intended).

Masculinity is a socially transmitted disease. Its effects are widespread and it provides great breeding grounds for sociopathy and slavish obedience. Fortunately, we also know it is a curable disease. To think otherwise is a not only a failure of the imagination, it’s also a failure of reasoning.

[Feminists] are the only group that really believes in your [men’s] humanity. The feminists are the only group that believes that you are not born rapists, you are not born johns, you are not born pimps or batterers. In fact we believe you are born with the full human capacity that women are born with. And we believe, unlike the pornographers, that you are not life support systems for erect penises.
Gail Dines

What the fuck is “gender equality”?

If you’re at all interested in feminism on the Internet, you know that a lot of people equate feminism with “gender equality.” They point to things like unequal pay, discrimination in employment and sexual harassment to argue that what we need is more equality between men and women.

This of course is a surprising statement to those of us who think that feminism is about, you know, identifying the source of women’s oppression and bringing it to light, cure the disease, not just treat the most superficial wounds.

And then we are told that we are supposed to “respect their position” because they are women, all women have the right to define themselves however they want, and we have the duty to buy it wholesale.

But even if we accept the whole “gender equality” concept, it still elicits a lot of questions. For one thing, which men should women be equal with? Each gender contains its own gradations: a gay man is “less of a man” than a heterosexual man, a prude is “less of a man” than a sexually active man, a frail or weak man is “less of a man” than a strong, muscular man, and so on. For every attribute of masculinity there are men who fulfill it more or less, and they are “more or less of a man.”

So if we have gender equality, which women would be equal to which men? Would a lesbian be equal to a gay man, or to a heterosexual man? Would a butch woman be equal to a bodybuilder dude, or to an effeminate man?

There’s a [problem] with the equality definition. Even if we could figure out which men are the ones to whom women should be equal, that way of putting it suggests that the point of feminism is somehow to get women to measure up to what (at least some) men already are. Men remain the point of reference; theirs are the lives that women would naturally want. If the first problem with the equality definition is “Equal to which men?” the second problem could be put as “Why equal to any men?”

Of course these questions are stupid. And in issues like equal pay or harassment, we just want everyone to be paid and treated the same. There are no gender considerations there. So they are not issues of “gender equality” at all, but issues of “equality,” period.

By definition there can be no such thing as “gender equality” because gender is a construct which divides human beings into a hierarchy where men are superior and women are inferior. Gender means, by its very nature, inequality, and that’s the function it serves in society: to classify human beings into two categories, one which is active, aggressive, empowered, and another which is passive, surrendering and disempowered. There are only two options: genderism (inequality) or anti-genderism (equality).

Likewise, there can be no such thing as “racial equality,” “status equality,” “worker-boss equality” or “child-parent equality.” Any term that implies hierarchy is incompatible with equality, because by definition a hierarchy has superiors and inferiors, with directed control flowing downwards.

Some people may be goofing by using such a term as “gender equality” when they really just mean equality between all individuals. But then why add the word “gender”? This seems to serve no purpose apart from associating whatever cause you’re advocating with feminism. If you advocate for equality, well, that could mean a lot of things. But if you advocate for “gender equality,” then you’re a great feminist oh my god have all the cookies.

The “equal rights” definition of feminism basically tells men that they can be feminist without ever changing their behaviour or the way they think about women. Ending sexual assault (and patriarchy!) is going to take an actual change in behaviour and social norms. And that’s probably going to feel a little “uncomfortable.”

Another term I don’t like is that of gender as performance. I posted this Judith Butler video last year, and Heretic made a good point in the comments about the flaws of this idea of gender as performative.

But just take the idea completely at face value for a minute. Gender is performance… performance of what? Not of gender, as that would be circular. A performance is based on some template, some script, some role which must be imitated. So what’s the template?

If you incorporate the FETA concept of “innate gender identity,” then it all makes sense. Gender is performance of something we know deep down, of an ingrained behavior pattern that we must follow in order to be happy, said behavior pattern just happening to coincide with our society’s description of one or the other gender. And, get this, every single person’s behavior pattern happens to fit into a gender (however many there are) that exists in their culture, too. How utterly amazing.

So gender as performance seems to me to be closely allied with the FETA concept of “innate gender,” and therefore ultimately reflective of female exclusion.

If gender was performance, then there would be a way to perform that didn’t result in rape for women. But men rape housewives. Men rape butch lesbians. Men rape quiet women in dresses and lipstick. Men rape snarling punks in leather jackets and safety pins. Men rape every type of woman. There is no way for a woman to be that doesn’t risk rape. There is no way to perform that lets women escape the confines of gender because gender is not performance; it’s the designator of who can rape – us, the people called men – and who can be raped – them, the people called women. Performance has nothing to do with it.

Pornography: what’s the magic number and where’s the magic line?

I have previously discussed the issue of human sacrifice and the question, which I think is fundamental if we’re going to discuss any policy (or lack of policy) which involves harming people in some tangible way, of how much harm is deemed acceptable in the name of that policy (or lack of policy).

People balk at quantifying this harm, and for an obvious reason: doing so means they lose the moral high ground. If a person comes out and says, yes I am perfectly fine with up to 3000 innocent people dying or getting beaten up in order to uphold my policy (whether it’s an anti-abortion policy or the death penalty or greater police powers or whatever), that makes them look like persecutors. No one is going to support someone who just comes out and says they don’t mind that innocent people die as a result of their beliefs.

So the cost has to remain implicit and silent. In this they must follow the motto: “the only good victim is a silent victim.” So you see, for example, the “sex workers lobby,” which is led by pimps and which devotes itself to (amongst other things) silencing the voices of ex-prostituted women.

If you can’t do that, then the next step is to demonize the victims. So you get the police talking about black men hulking up, pinning any crime they can on them, and so on. Generally speaking, defending existing policies is easy to do because anyone who goes against them is by definition a criminal, and we scapegoat criminals.

And if that doesn’t work either, then you can always blame the victim. One way to do that is to use the rhetoric of “agency” and “choice,” which I’ve talked about many times before. You can use New Age talk to argue that victims attracted their misfortune because of karma, negative energy, or, if you’re more of a Christian bent, sin.

I’m sure some people may reply, what about cases where a policy can cause harm but where inaction can also cause harm? Prisons cause an incredible amount of harm, but they may also prevent harm from being committed. In such cases, yes, there may be some room for discussion (although I am still very much anti-prisons).

But that’s not the situation in most cases under debate, where we discuss policies which, when brought about, cause additional harm which would not otherwise exist.

The legality of pornography and prostitution are two good examples of that. No harm comes about from making the demand side of prostitution illegal. In fact, doing so eliminates a lot of the harm that already existed. The production of pornography also entails a great deal of harm which would not exist otherwise, both for the actresses and for women in general. Maintaining legality, therefore, entails a great deal of harm, mostly against women.

People may object to the statement that no harm comes from making the demand for pornography or prostitution illegal. When I say harm, in the context of the “magic number,” I am referring mostly to physical harm: how many people may die, fall ill, receive injuries, and so on. No one’s going to die or receive injury from not having access to pornography or prostitution (“blue balls” myth notwithstanding).

There’s also no harm done from a political standpoint. I’ve already debunked the myth that pornography falls under “free speech” rights. Prostitution advocates do not even try to argue for the rights of johns, preferring to exploit the prostituted women themselves as their political motivation; but since feminists are against johns, not prostituted women, this is just irrelevant. The harm to prostituted women is overwhelmingly more important than some men’s hurt feelings.

I challenged people to give me their number in the case of abortion, and I have, understandably, not gotten any answer (except for people who are already pro-abortion, in which case the answer is a proud zero). So I don’t expect answers to the following questions either. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth asking.

1. What is the maximum number of rapes in the production of pornography that you are okay with?

We know women are raped in the production of pornography: they are raped when they are coerced to perform acts they do not wish to perform (all the way from threats of firing to being held at gunpoint, as in the famous case of Linda Lovelace), they are raped when they are “underage performers,” they are raped when they are prostituted women used for pornographic purposes (half of prostituted women report having been used for pornography).

It will not do for someone to reply that the industry needs to be cleaned up, but that there’s nothing wrong with pornography as such. By its very nature, which is the exploitation of women for increasingly violent depictions of sex, pornography cannot be produced without some amount of rape. Any “rape-proof pornographic industry” would not look anything like what we have today; we probably would not even recognize it as pornography.

Women are hurt making all porn, at all levels and types of porn. Sex slaves and children have been found in every single genre of porn, from mainstream Penthouse all the way down to foreign snuff films. Women and children have been exploited at every single level of porn. When one consumes porn one fuels a market that does hurt women and children, at every single level. There are no exceptions to this rule. Sure, not every woman in a given photo is a slave or a child, but they do exist and they have been uncovered almost universally in every manufacturer of mainstream porn…

Traci Lords starred in 77 full length movies before she reached 18. Seventy-seven movies. Seventy-fucking-seven. She was a child of 15. A freshman in High-School. MILLIONS of men, around the world, masturbated to this child, to this little girl being raped by 3 or 4 men. Millions of men and women alike got off to images of a 15 year old girl.

Given the proven fact that any pornography that a person watches carries with it the risk of being the product of rape or coerced sex, what is an acceptable number of rapes? One can also ask, what is the acceptable level of risk? These questions are equivalent: a certain level of risk translates into a certain number of actual rapes.

2. Where should we draw the line of “acceptable violence” against porn actresses and women in general?

Since most popular pornography depicts violence against women, we must assume that people who support the pornography industry also support violence against women. The question then becomes, how much violence is too much violence?

Violence in pornography is escalating. And this violence in pornography translates into violence in the outside world. Men want to reproduce pornographic violence on the women they have sex with.

I’m 23. Mine is the first generation to be exposed to online porn from a young age. We learnt what sex is from watching strangers on the internet, we don’t know anything else.

Here are some of the things that I have experienced…

– having my head shoved into his crotch, and held down while I sucked him off

– being told that my gag reflex was too strong, couldn’t I work on it?

– bullied into submitting to facials. I didn’t want to. He said (joking?) that he’d ejaculate on my face while I was asleep. He wasn’t joking – I woke up with him wanking over me.

– bullied into trying anal. It hurt so much I begged him to stop. He stopped, then complained that I was being too sensitive and it can’t be *that* bad, he continued to ask for it…

THIS IS NOW NORMAL. Every single straight girl I know has had similar experiences. Every. Single. One. Some have experienced far worse. Some have given in, some have resisted, all have felt guilty and awkward for not being “liberated” enough, not giving him what he wants.

Pornographic violence translates into real life violence against women, especially prostituted women. When does this violence become “too much” violence? Or is any level of violence acceptable?

In a similar vein, Independent Radical talks about the “rape line”:

Liberals spend a great deal of time debating the exact location of the “rape line” (they made an entire documentary devoted to it.) They ask questions like “exactly how drunk does a women have to be before a man who has sex with her can be deemed guilty of rape?” or “how enthusiastic should her consent sound before it could really be considered consent?”. They fail to recognise that such questions would not even come up if our culture did not push the view that sex is an act of conquest and encourage men to mix drunkenness with sex or pursue sex acts which their female “targets” were likely to find horrific and degrading.

Where is the magic line when pornographic violence becomes “too much”? This question must be answered reasonably, if the pro-pornography side is to have any credibility at all. If their answer is “no violence is too much,” then we must be talking to brainwashed, pornsick fanatics. Normal people will only admit to so much violence.

3. What is the maximum number of raped and murdered prostituted women that you are okay with?

Making prostitution legal, or keeping the current system, entails support for the widespread rapes, murders and PTSD that are inflicted on prostituted women. So the question becomes, how much of this suffering is acceptable to maintain the institution of prostitution?

The standard answer from prostitution advocates is to move the exploitation indoors, to hide the abuse, keep it off the streets. But that’s what abusers do, they keep their actions out of the public eye. Hiding abuse does not counter it, quite the opposite.

The legalization model has proven a failure: it attracts human trafficking and greatly boosts street prostitution (despite the insistent claims that it would move everything “indoors”). Furthermore, the Nordic model has proven itself in reducing violence against prostituted women and giving them some amount of control, which they cannot have in our current system where they are deemed criminal and have no rights.

These are inconvenient truths that advocates cannot address, for obvious reasons. They cannot simply come out and admit that they support policies which entail unnecessary rapes and murders. They also cannot associate themselves with human trafficking, which is why they waste so much breath arguing the bizarre proposition that prostitution and human trafficking are vastly different things.

4. Where should we draw the line of “acceptable violence” against prostituted women?

If prostitution must exist, as its advocates contend, then some women will always be more vulnerable, seen as social inferiors, and seen as legitimate targets of violence. So how much violence is too much violence against prostituted women? How many murders of prostituted women are an acceptable tradeoff for the continued existence of this institution?

If you’re a supporter of pornography or prostitution and wish to give your personal answers to these questions, then post them in the comments. I’d like to hear from you, because anyone who has the courage to do this exercise deserves, I think, a fair hearing. I think you are an absolutely disgusting human being, but at least you have the courage of your convictions.

Male entitlement as a cause of mass violence.

Yes, this was a real ad.

I’ve previously discussed the male sense of entitlement to sex. Because of the tireless work of anti-MRA advocates, we’re becoming more and more aware of the importance of entitlement to sex in male mass violence, and this deserves to be discussed widely.

Unfortunately, two facts are going against this urgent need: the mass media has muddled the discussion by refusing to discuss entitlement as a cause of male mass violence, and anti-feminists are confusing the issue by denying the very existence of male entitlement, even though it’s confirmed by their very arguments.

The most blatant example is that of Elliot Rodger. Rodger was a frustrated young man who made a video where he said he wanted to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut” because they wouldn’t have sex with him, and wrote a 140 page manifesto detailing how “women are like a plague” and should be put in concentration camps. Despite all this, the media has refused to utter the obvious statement that male entitlement to sex had something to do with Rodger’s mass shooting.

I think this tells us that male entitlement is so ignored that we think this sort of massive rage against women is abnormal and can’t possibly be a reflection of social misogyny. Instead, we fall back to the old ableist standby that they must be “crazy,” which is just a stigmatization of mental illness. Most serial killers are in possession of their mental faculties and are not “crazy” (one trait most serial killers share, however, is being men).

This seems to be not just a reflection of male entitlement, but of privilege in general, because a similar thing happens when race is concerned: white killers are treated with kids’ gloves, while black victims (let alone black killers) are treated like absolute scum, regardless of who they are. No matter what, the issue of the killers’ racism must never be examined.

But the fact is that socialization as a man does lead to rage against women. Men are raised to believe that sexual prowess is an essential part of masculinity, and that those who don’t have sex are defective. Men are raised to believe that you’re a loser if you don’t have a girlfriend. Men are raised to believe that women exist to receive men’s attention and fulfill men’s needs.

They learn it from their fathers. They learn it from a media that glorifies it, from sports heroes who commit felonies and get big contracts, from a culture saturated in images of heroic and redemptive violence. They learn it from each other.

In talking to more than 400 young men for my book, “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men,” I heard over and over again what they learn about violence. They learn that if they are crossed, they have the manly obligation to fight back. They learn that they are entitled to feel like a real man, and that they have the right to annihilate anyone who challenges that sense of entitlement.

This sense of entitlement is part of the package deal of American manhood — the culture that doesn’t start the fight, as Margaret Mead pointed out in her analysis of American military history, but retaliates far out of proportion to the initial grievance. They learn that “aggrieved entitlement” is a legitimate justification for violent explosion.

It is therefore not especially surprising that someone like Elliot Rodger, son of a successful movie director and part of a privileged entertainment family, who no doubt was sent to the best schools, felt frustrated by his inability to gain the favors of women. Like most MRAs, he was probably a mediocre man who had little to offer to women, and he knew it. So he lashed out against the women who refused to provide the attention he naturally believed they owed him.

Again, there is nothing “crazy” or bizarre about events of male mass violence in light of the male entitlement to sex in our societies.

Studies have found that men get anywhere from 10% to 25% of full erection (on average) from seeing non-sexual violence (Earls and Proulx 1987, Barbaree et al. 1979). While rapists show a higher level of arousal, any man can experience it. So men get some sexual charge from the idea of violence against women. This is not an issue of conscious decision (arousal rarely is), but rather an issue of indoctrination.

Entitlement is the belief that one is owed something simply by virtue of one’s social role. The typical example is that of bad customers who thinks they’re entitled to a refund or to tell employees what to do simply because they’re customers. Privilege magnifies that tendency many times over, and male privilege is no exception.

There is a toxic dynamic between male entitlement and masculinity: male entitlement is the carrot, the incentive for men to invest themselves more and more into the gender system, and masculinity is the stick, because it provides the threat of “not being a real man” (i.e. of being a woman, which of course is the worse thing a man can possibly be, because it represents the negation of one’s gender, which is seen as a primary part of our identity).

Two of the most conspicuous forms of male entitlement are PIV and pornography. They are conspicuous in that these two topics, when even lightly broached, attract the most attention from men who rally to defend them and attack anyone who dares to question the entitlement.

The defense of pornography by pornsick males reflects the entitlement mentality under which they operate. A man watching a pornographic video has no idea whether the video was made by a prostitute without their consent. He has no idea whether the video is a recording of a rape (whether of any woman or of a porn actress who doesn’t want to perform a sexual act). In many cases, he has no idea whether the video features a minor. Defending the use of anything under such conditions requires a very big sense of entitlement to that thing. It also requires a great deal of selfishness.

A pornsick dude is like a drug addict: he will try to justify his use at all costs because he’s stuck. In many cases, he can’t get an orgasm without it. In some cases, he can’t get an orgasm without escalating the violence of the pornography he’s watching. Not only does entitlement exist, but it may also, in some cases, be a cover for desperation (he “must” have pornography because he “can’t live” without it).

Male entitlement is a cause of mass violence, and pornography is no different. From studies, we now know that pornography use, no matter how light or severe, makes men more prone to rape, child rape, incest, and sexual harassment. It also makes men more likely to support rape and violence against women perpetrated by other men, and to accept a wide range of rape myths.

It’s a vicious circle. The more entitled a man is, the more likely he will be to support things like pornography, and the more pornsick he becomes, the more likely he is to double down on the entitlement. And the net losers are women.

Empowerment, and the perverting thereof…

As part of the “post-modernist” ideology of “third wave feminism,” I’ve seen people on the Internet use empowerment as an excuse to support anything from makeup and high heels to female genital mutilation (to be fair, I’ve only seen the latter once, but I have also read testimonies from willing victims of FGM who said the same). This should give one pause.

Empowerment, in my opinion, should be reserved to things that actually, you know, give people more power: schooling, money, status, fame, access to legitimate violence, influence on executive or legislative power, access to the media, and so on. Those are all things that actually give people more possibilities and more leeway to go against other people’s wishes.

As a radical, I oppose such forms of power because they are, again, about getting others to do what you want and to conform more closely to your values instead of theirs. These forms of power can only bring freedom to the individual at the expense of other individuals, and cannot lower harm or bring more good to society as a whole.

In radical terms, what we want to perpetuate is not power but what is called counter-power, processes which prevent the natural accumulation of power. Every form of power has a general tendency towards accumulation, and has a form of counter-power which prevents it from doing so. Empowerment, from a radical standpoint, should have something to do with resistance. I like this statement from bell hooks:

One of the most significant forms of power held by the weak is “the refusal to accept the definition of oneself that is put forward by the powerful”. Janeway call this the “ordered use of the power to disbelieve”.

I find this quote extremely interesting because criticism of imposed labels is precisely the one thing that “empowerment” junkies do not consider empowering. In fact, criticism of the labels they peddle seems to be the one thing they feel perfectly free to speak up against and threaten.

The cardinal rule they use is: anything that makes you feel empowered is, by definition, empowering. But the corollary to this rule is: anyone who claims to be a victim of what empowers you and dares to criticize it must be stopped at all costs. Because otherwise all we have, from their standpoint, is one subjective opinion against another: maintaining the credibility of their ideology therefore demands the suppression of all criticism.

I would say, first of all, that respecting people’s subjectivity only when they agree with you is no respect at all. But I would also say that empowerment, if it means anything, must include the ability to be intellectually independent and criticize the ways in which people evaluate themselves and each other. A person who cannot do so, and is a slave to all the social constructs that people use to define them, will never be able to live their own life.

So why aren’t they encouraging the people who empower themselves by standing up for themselves? Because they don’t want you to think for yourself. They want you to accept their subjectivity uncritically.

I was born male, socialized as a man, and I could never be a woman. I think anyone who was socialized as a man and claims to be a woman is delusional and being manipulated for the sake of a woman-hating agenda. Certainly it makes me feel empowered to be able to point that out and understand how it all works. But according to them, I’m an evil monster for wanting to empower myself: I should just go along with the program and accept that their delusions are true for them.

Likewise, many women who were in prostitution feel devastated by their experiences (no wonder, as prostituted women experience PTSD at a higher rate than soldiers who served in combat zones). When they speak up, they feel empowered by being able to clearly state their experiences and how the current pro-prostitution discourse hurts them and those they love. And the “empowerment” wonks do their best to silence their voices, because they must oppose anyone who disagrees: while they constantly harp on the exploitation of prostituted women being a “choice” that should be respected, they most certainly do not respect the “choice” of ex-prostituted women to speak up against what was done to them.

Finally, many women are truly empowered by women-only spaces, but they are hated by “empowerment” junkies because they believe that men who are “empowered” by calling themselves women should be accepted in those spaces without question. The actual lives and well-being of actual women do not matter: women should concentrate on the lives and well-being of people who are not women but feel “empowered” by pretending they are.

“Empowerment” (in quotes, to distinguish it from real empowerment) is an inherently subjectivist concept. I’ve already pointed out that liberal feminism in general is half subjectivism and half blaming their opponents for imaginary inadequacies.

“Empowerment” is part of the whole liberal mentality. They believe that the liberation of women comes from feeling “empowered” by such things as makeup, high heels, shaving one’s body hair, stripping, pornography, prostitution, BDSM, objectification in general, “gender identity,” hundreds of different made-up genders and sexual orientations, and so on. They believe that anyone who disagrees with their “empowerment” is ignorant, uninformed, a bigot, a conservative, a hairy lesbian, denying women’s “agency,” denying women’s rights, “cis,” “TERF,” “SWERF,” scum, and so on.

‘Empowerment’ is thus a central tenet of raunch culture, and has become a common buzzword in marketing activities and products such as pole dancing (see Donaghue, et al, 2011), as well as in some women’s positive accounts of their experiences with them (e.g. Holland & Atwood, 2009; Regeher, 2012; Whitehead & Kurz, 2009). This conceptualisation of empowerment is based on a view of female power as being the ability to incite desire in men, and hence wield sexual power over them (see Hakim, 2010). Subjective feelings of empowerment are also constructed as stemming from the self-confidence that (apparently) ensues from being found desirable under the male gaze.

Laura Thompson, Desiring to be desired: A discursive analysis of women’s responses to the ‘raunch culture’ debates.

What all the examples of “empowerment” I’ve listed previously, and I think most examples of “empowerment,” have in common is that they portray the world in a fairy tale fashion, completely omitting inconvenient facts like exploitation, oppression and victims. Everything is all hunky-dory as long as you wear the rose-tinted glasses. No one’s ever a victim if you wear the rose-tinted glasses. And it’s all about you, you, you.

This brings me to the other weird belief, that feminism victimizes women by virtue of calling them victims: that, in essence, using the label “victim” is what turns people into victims, because being a victim is a purely subjective state.

This seems to be a form of positive thinking, or even a Life Lie, the bizarre concept that by concocting an imaginary, positive storyline for your life, you will magically make your life better. It seems they believe that by weaving a story of “empowerment” (a Power Lie?) where you are not the victim, you magically become something other than a victim. But a prerequisite to such delusion is to ignore facts.

[T]he meaning of ‘victim’ has changed from being someone who has been abused or exploited by someone else, to a character trait that implies personal weakness. The intention is to make being a victim something to be ashamed of, and to imply that a person cannot be both a subject and a victim at the same time. This means that no one wants to admit to being a victim, and saying that someone has been victimised by someone else is akin to insulting them…

[S]ome sex-positive feminists have taken this logic to its natural conclusion, declaring that even prostituted children should not be considered victims, but rather active subjects. This is a completely false dichotomy – of course people (including children) in desperate circumstances are often resilient and intelligent. This shouldn’t excuse the abuse and exploitation they suffer at the hands of perpetrators, nor mitigate the urgent need to change the structures of oppression that facilitate their abuse.

Is calling a prostituted child a victim a statement of fact? Yes. Is refusing to call a prostituted child a victim empowering? No. What you label the child does not change the social conditions which created eir hardship. Does calling a prostituted child “empowered” help eir liberation? No.

The quote also highlights the confusion between stating that someone has been victimized and believing that they are powerless. “Empowerment” junkies seem to believe that they are the same thing, but they clearly are not. Saying someone was victimized refers to what happened to them, not to who they are.

It is vital for us to be able to clearly identify acts of victimization in order to understand how oppression works and how to argue and fight against it. To claim that doing so “turns people into victims” shuts down critical faculties. It is oppressors, not people trying to identify the oppression, who “turn people into victims.” We are the ones who want to change that.

Stating that you are “empowered” but being utterly unable to identify the institutions, hierarchies and ideologies which exploit and oppress you is not liberation or power. But that subjectivist mentality ultimately feeds exploitation and oppression: letting woman-hating happen without a word, without even acknowledging that it exists, sends a clear signal that woman-hatred is acceptable in our societies.

People who silence victims’ voices to preserve “empowerment” are guilty of aiding and abetting woman-hatred. Such people cannot hold any pretense of feminism. There can be no feminism if every principle of the Patriarchy is explained away as a “choice.”

And we see that, taken to its logical extent, “empowerment” feminism leads to anti-feminism. Take for example this quote from an MRA that I’ve commented on before:

You are so detached from your power as a human being. I am subordinate to no, one nor will I ever be controlled… Women are not oppressed by men.

Or this image:

You might say, well, these are silly extremists who hardly reflect the opinion of a great number of people. But how does one draw the line? If we are obligated to accept delusional thinking as regards to pornography, prostitution, BDSM, transgender dogma, and high heels and makeup, then on what criterion should we stop there and not buy anti-feminist ideology wholesale? Or is any sort of logical consistency too much to ask for at this point?

The false dilemma of anti-feminists.

Elevatorgate was an infamous incident in the atheist community where Rebecca Watson was accosted by a man in an elevator at four o’clock in the morning. They were both attending an atheist conference. The backlash inflicted on her for daring to speak up about it was legendary and, if anything, proved that men are assholes no matter the community and that their sense of entitlement will manifest itself even in such ridiculous circumstances.

I am not particularly interested in talking about that backlash, because so much has been written about it that there’s nothing I could say that hasn’t already been said a thousand times. But there is one part of it that I find particularly interesting.

Richard Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” response to Elevatorgate was despicable. But I think it exposes something interesting about the anti-feminists. Here is the text of his response:

Dear Muslima,
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and…yawn…don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with. Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so…And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Despite his ongoing sexism, he has at least apologized for this diatribe after being suitably chastised. He recognizes now that treating every situation like an Oppression Olympics is a crummy thing to do. Fair enough…

I write this entry not to blame Dawkins (who is still an asshole either way), but to point out the false dilemma contained in this line of reasoning, because it is one used by many anti-feminists. Here is another example from tumblr, the favourite refuge of bigots everywhere:

The woman on the left had acid thrown on her with no consequences for her husband that did it, while girls can’t wear that shirt in school which problem should be solved first?

This makes obvious one problem, which is this notion that we have to pick between Western issues and non-Western issues, one or the other. Anti-feminists even try to argue that we must pick between Western issues, that, say, rape must take precedence over pornography. But social issues are not like a queue at the grocery store: they don’t need to be lined up and addressed one at a time. Nothing stops us from talking about, and agitating about, more than one issue at a time.

But the problem I wanted to talk about is that this reasoning is really a double bind: they demand that feminists choose between arguing that Elevatorgate is as bad as female genital mutilation or speak over the Arab and African feminists who are fighting the issue in their homelands.

Of course we don’t think about that because of the inherently racist and colonialist attitude that Westerners know what’s best for the world and that non-Western positions are not relevant to the conversation.

A real feminist response, I think, would be to state that there’s no reason for Western feminists to speak over their non-Western counterparts, that Western feminists should be concerned with the issues facing Western women today, and that male entitlement (as exemplified by the backlash after Elevatorgate) is a cause of these issues. While it is true that women’s rights are, on the whole, more advanced in the West than most other places, that’s no reason to stop advocating for women’s rights.

You know how 1st world feminists get told that they don’t need feminism? They’re told that they should be glad they’re not “really oppressed” like the women in 3rd world countries. That things could always be worse.

You know what my mother tells me? She says I don’t need feminism because I should be glad I’m born in an urban city of Pakistan. She says, at least I wasn’t born in a rural area where girls are married off to men twice their age. That things could always be worse.

And our house maid, Shabana, who was married to her uncle at 15 and, at 18, has 2 children, she doesn’t even know what feminism is. She was told by her father that she should be glad her husband doesn’t beat her and hasn’t thrown tehzaab (acid) at her. That things could always be worse.

Am I the only one seeing a very disturbing pattern here?

Now, I do want to specify some things here, because I can imagine people reading this thinking that I’m supporting cultural relativism. This is absolutely not the case. I think female genital mutilation is a horrible crime, as should everyone. Cultural relativism is a bankrupt ideology which essentially reduces morality to whoever has the power to define what culture includes and does not include. You will note that the unwilling victims of cultural practices, mostly women, are somehow never included in this notion of “culture”: neither are the local feminists who fight against these practices. “Culture” is generally meant to only include what the elite believes is legitimate.

It also does not mean that Western feminists should not talk about these practices when they are performed in Western countries. Western feminists are well within their rights to act in self-defense against woman-hating practices performed locally, even if they originate in a non-Western culture.

For example, many people believe that Westerners have no right to take a stand against FGM performed in the West, women wearing hijab or burqa in Western countries, or other forms of woman-hatred because they originated from non-Western cultures. But for a Western feminist to fight against such practices performed in Western countries is self-defense against misogyny. To claim that misogynistic actions performed against some women do not affect the status of other women in that same society simply because they come from different cultures is silly and probably racist.

FETAs accusing radfems of essentialism: the ultimate trans projection.

I’ve already shown how FETAs rely massively on projections to defend their transgender ideology. There is, however, one projection that stands above all others for its sheer irrationality: the accusation that radical feminists are essentialists.

Essentialism as applied to human beings refers to the belief that there are fixed attributes of individuals (such as gender, race or ethnicity) which are the “essence” of an individual and dictate behavior (e.g. gender roles, racial stereotypes). This is contrasted with constructionism, the belief that these attributes are social constructs and are not the “essence” of an individual.

FETAs believe that gender is innate and biological sex is a social construct. To be more exact, this is the conclusion they have to uphold in order to maintain their rationalization. They have to believe that there is such a thing as an “innate gender” which dictates how a person thinks and acts in order to make sense of the proposition that a person’s gender is whatever they believe.

And if there is “innate gender” then biology must be swept under the rug. This is why FETAs are also science denialists: they must deny the facts of biology at all costs, and they do so by calling people who uphold those facts of biology “essentialists.” As we’ll see, they use this attack blindly, without actually understanding what essentialism is.

FETAs are essentialists because they believe that an “innate gender” dictates how a person acts, i.e. whether they conform to the man gender stereotype or the woman gender stereotype. That’s why their accusation is a projection: they seek to accuse their opponents of what they’re doing.

Radfems are against essentialism: the radfem position about gender is that gender is a prison, and that neither gender nor sex should imply anything about people’s behavior. Essentialism is a form of authoritarianism, and FETAs are authoritarian supporters (for more on FETA essentialism and radfem anti-essentialism, see this great entry by Women of the Patriarchy).

Cathy Brennan expresses the radfem opposition to sex essentialism in this quote:

What are the behaviors and roles considered appropriate for one’s sex?

If you are a Feminist (even a Liberal Feminist or a Fun Feminist), the answer to this should be “There are no behaviors and roles considered appropriate for my sex because Females can be and do anything.”

So FETAs have to wrangle essentialism from an explicitly and adamantly anti-essentialist position. What kind of mental contortions are necessary for such a pseudo-intellectual magic trick?

This entry from Transadvocate is a good starting point for analysis because it purports to be a very sophisticated attack against radfems on essentialism. Advocates of irrational worldviews trip themselves up when they start talking too much, and this is no exception.

The entry starts with a constructionist quote from Monique Wittig, who was a radical lesbian (precisely the kind of women that FETAs hate with a passion that borders on insanity), discussing how sexual difference leads to the domination of women, and how that domination is portrayed as natural. But the author, Cristan Williams, seems to have confused this radical understanding of sex (as the difference on which oppression of women is based) with the belief that sexing people itself is oppression.

If you strip the pedantic language, this confusion is the same rationalization that many FETAs use to equate radfems with conservatives: conservatives believe in sexual difference, radfems believe in sexual difference, therefore radfems and conservatives have the same agenda.

What they don’t want to discuss is that conservatives believe in sexual difference as the valid (natural) basis for gender (as the Wittig quote illustrates), while radfems acknowledge that sexual difference is the source of the (constructed) oppression of women. Conservatives (and FETAs) hate women and want to keep them enslaved to gender roles, while radfems want to free all women from gender.

You see this equation of radfems with conservatives, with prudes, with moralizers (or even rapists), all over the place. What they want you to believe is simple: anyone who fights for women is just as bad as the people who hate women, anyone who tries to defend women’s freedom is just as bad as the people who want to exploit women. Above all else, they desperately want you to not confront anything and just accept FETA and liberal subjectivist claims as absolute (as bizarre as that sounds).

Williams then directly equates the truth that sex is used to justify gender oppression as natural with the FETA belief that sex does not exist, quoting one Sandy Stone:

What I am saying is that one of the ways that people justify oppressing people of any alternative gender or sexuality is by saying that the social norm is natural. That is, it originates in the authority of Nature itself. In other words, it comes from god, an authority to which to appeal. All of this is, in fact, a complete fabrication, a construction. There is no ‘natural‘ sex, because ‘sex’ itself as a medical or cultural category is nothing more the momentary outcome of battles over who owns the meanings of the category.

Sex is a basic biological concept, and it is natural. Now, as I’ve discussed before, sex is a human concept and, like all human concepts, it is subject to reframing. The issue therefore is not “is sex a transcendent term?” because there’s no such thing. The issue is “does sex actually exist?” and the answer to that is yes. To deny this is just plain science denialism, and believing sex does not exist is no more rational than believing in Creationism or free energy.

While much of the rest of the feminist world is confronting both the causes and effects of oppression, TERFs spend a significant amount of time and energy in preserving, supporting and appealing to a binary sexed body system constitutionally incapable of working with concepts like cis, trans, gender queer, agender, intersex as it relates to reality of human bodies because such views of humanity are supplanted by the asserted preeminence of an ad naturam binary sexed essence.

Radfems are very much concerned with sex, because understanding sex is the basis for analyzing the gender binary. People are assigned gender roles on the basis of their biological differences. The terms “cis” and “trans” cannot lead to any understanding of the gender binary, because they assume a non-existing “gender identity” which is natural and unquestionable. This “gender identity” forms the basis of FETA woman-hatred.

As for the bizarre belief that radfems cannot understand terms like “agender” or “intersex,” I have no idea where that comes from. This is probably an attempt to portray radfems as old hat, passé, a dying breed, and ignorant of anything FETAs consider to be on the “cutting edge” of gender theory.

Phenotype is the physical manifestation of a person. When we hear an anti-trans troll assert that because what is taken to be an acceptably long phallus was discovered at birth, a male sex was established and therefore cannot be changed, they are appealing to a fallaciously constructed concept of phenotype permanence. If a baby is born with a phallus – the phallus being the “essence” of a man – the person is said to have been born a man.

Now Williams degenerates into simple lying. Radfems do not state that a person was “born a man,” let alone on the basis of a penis. No one is “born a man” or “born a woman” (despite the FETA belief in “innate gender”). The labels “man” and “woman” are assigned at birth on the basis of sexual difference, but these terms have no realities apart from the social context. A baby cannot be a man or a woman because it is not yet located within the social context. A person becomes a man or a woman because they are socialized as a man or socialized as a woman.

The phallus is not the “essence of a man.” A man does not act “like a man” because he has a phallus. A man acts “like a man” because he was socialized as a man. The penis is only relevant because it is one of the signs of the male sex, which is then used to assign gender.

The trouble for FETAs is that they must deny the existence of socialization at all costs, because it directly contradicts their religious belief in “innate gender.” They will either deny that socialization happens or deny that it happened to them.

What radfems do say about phenotype is that penises are male. Again, this is a biological fact and denying it is science denialism. FETAs believe that if they imitate the penis with their own flesh, they can become men. But having a penis, or a simulated penis, does not make one a man.

Now, there’s a lot of whining and poisoning the well in these sections. For example, the section “Critiquing the trans essence argument” is mostly one long attempt to portray radfem arguments as silly (calling it a “caricature,” fallacious, hypocrisy, cruel, and so on), but Williams doesn’t explain why it is silly. There is very little attempt at a “critique” here.

The meat of the critique, instead, seems to be in the section “Trans: the non-essenced experience”:

There is no gendered essence haunting the brains of trans women, forcing us to like pink, and gender identity doesn’t just mean social identity.

So here Williams seems to be specifically addressing the issue of FETAs being essentialists. Let’s see what she has to say in response:

When trans people talk about “gender identity” we can be talking about:

A: One’s subjective experience of one’s own sexed attributes;

B: One’s culturally influenced sex identification within the context of a social grouping; or,

C: Both A and B

TERFs like to pretend that “gender identity” only ever means the penultimate Category B because the former and latter deviates from the trans-experience-as-Dualism argument – an anathema for TERFs.

This is one point on which I agree with Williams: the concept that they designate as “gender identity” is purely subjective and culturally constructed, and has no biological reality. But for FETAs to use gender as a replacement for sex, gender has to be innate and immutable.

If that was the extent of “gender identity” for FETAs, then there would be no debate at all, because it makes no claim about reality. It is because FETAs make claims about reality that there is a debate. FETAs claim that sex does not exist, FETAs claims that a person who was socialized man can actually be a woman (and vice-versa), FETAs claim that penises and vaginas are not sexed organs. These are false claims about reality that are important in undermining feminist thought, and they all rely on “innate gender identity” as their support.

Williams then mentions socialization, which is rather surprising in a FETA article since, as I mentioned before, it’s the elephant in the room insofar as their worldview is concerned. But she’s only bringing it up to score a point:

For the TERF, socialization can act as the essential sexed essence stand-in that confers male or female binary status upon the body and as such, it is perfectly acceptable to appeal to it.

But this is a lack of understanding of what essentialism is. An essentialist is someone who believes that there’s something innate in the individual, something in their nature, that dictates their behavior, and socialization is not innate. Therefore it cannot be a “sexed essence stand-in.” All it means is that being socialized into any social construct (such as religion, race or gender) molds people’s behavior. This is an obvious fact. Williams doesn’t even try to address this (rightly, since trying to refute it would just be ridiculous), which is why I say she only brought it up to score a point.

Simply expressed, the role of sex in the genderist mind is to validate and naturalize gender, i.e. behavioral expectations or prescriptions. This is not how radfems talk about socialization: they do not claim that being socialized as a man validates and naturalizes men’s aggression against women, quite the contrary. They are very keenly aware that gender, like any other form of socialization, can be unlearned, something which cannot happen in the essentialist schemas of the genderist and the FETA.

For socialization in a person to be a stand-in for essence, it would have to be, in a meaningful way, part of who the person is. But “being a man” or “being a woman” is not a meaningful identification for many people (including most radfems), not because they are “trans” or “genderqueer” (nonsense concepts in themselves), but because they acknowledge that they were socialized into gender and that it’s not part of who they are.

One last point. Keep in mind that she argued that gender identity is not innate in this very same section when you read this:

Maybe at some point in the future it will become an undisputed scientific fact that trans people experience our bodies in the way that we do as a result of some neurological structure that is triggered due to some genetic/epigenetic causality, but, regardless, the point is that for many trans folk throughout the world, transition is about addressing the way we experience our bodies.

But this directly contradicts her earlier claim. If she believes it is possible for gender identity to be innate, then it cannot be a subjective or cultural construct. She glosses over this with a “regardless,” not realizing the enormity of what she’s just said. That seems to be the one constant of this article: lots of glossing over or gliding over major points of contention, and obsessing over little details meant to portray radfem arguments negatively.

It was hard for me to get through Williams’ article because it is permeated with crass ignorance and arrogance, a pathetic combination. These are the extremities to which a person trapped in an irrational ideology have to resort in order to look credible.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 403 other followers