[personal profile] flexibeast
Based on several tweets of mine, beginning here.

So, i've thought some more about why i don't really like the term 'TERF'.

It feels to me that the term 'TERF' implies that being 'Trans-Erasing' is the only problem with radfem politics, behaviours and attitudes. As though, if radfem politics were to stop being trans-erasing, that they would then basically no longer be problematic.

But there's so much more that's problematic (to say the least) about radfem politics, attitudes and behaviours.

There's radfem hostility to sex work and/or sex workers, treating the latter as fifth-columnists for patriarchy. There's radfem hostility to kink, and to kinky women, who are claimed to have "eroticised our own oppression". There's radfem hostility to porn, which they basically seem to define as any sexually explicit material, but which also involves hostility to any women who participate in creating it (cf. their attitudes to sex workers), and women who enjoy watching it. Then there's radfem hostility to polyamory, which i admit i'm not quite clear on the reasons for (but which i can speculate on). Then there's radfem willingness to tell women that their intimate relationships are "politically incorrect", e.g. that a given woman shouldn't be in a relationship with a certain person, because it's politically 'wrong'. (Here in Melbourne, radfem Sheila Jeffreys has been known to tell people point-blank that their intimate relationship is not PC.) There are probably more issues besides, but those are just some that immediately come to mind without effort.

i'm finding it disturbing that there seem to be increasing numbers of women, cis and trans, who seem comfortable with all this, as long as being 'Trans-Erasing' isn't added to the list. This is simply not acceptable to me.

Non-sexworker trans women, knowing what it's like to be attacked by radfems, should be showing solidarity with sexworkers attacked by radfems. Non-kinky trans women, knowing what it's like to be attacked by radfems, should be showing solidarity with kinky women attacked by radfems. Trans women, knowing what it's like to be attacked by radfems, should be showing solidarity with women attacked for having 'non-PC' relationships. And so on.

Radfem politics claims to be attacking the system of patriarchy, but in practice it seems predominantly interested in doing so by attacking individual women deemed to be traitors / fifth-columnists - sex workers, kinky women, trans women, women who shave, women who have sex with men, etc. - and expelling them from feminism and/or womanhood. We trans women are not the only women negatively impacted by radfem politics; let's not use terminology suggesting that hostility to trans women is radfem politics' primary (or perhaps even sole) problem.

ETA, 2014-06-23: i've just realised another issue i have with the term: it lets off the hook feminists who are trans-hostile / trans-unfriendly but who don't self-identify as 'radical feminists'. And i know, from decades of experience with feminism, that there are many such feminists. Just as there's no shortage of feminists who aren't radfems (whether in terms of self-identification or ideology) but who have adopted radical feminism's typical MOs1, there's no shortage of feminists who aren't radfems but who also aren't supportive of trans women, sex workers, kinky women, poly women, women who shave, women who have sex with men, etc.


1. For example, various ideological purity criteria / shibboleths ("No True Feminist would shave her legs / defend the sex industry!"); promoting various versions of the dubious concept that "the [claimed] greater good trumps individual autonomy" ("I don't care if your 'submission' to your male partner is supposedly consensual, such behaviour by you as a woman hurts all women!"); dichotomising issues into simplistic categories ("If you don't actively support me re. issue X, you're actively supporting patriarchy!"; and so on.


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Date: 2013-10-22 19:37 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] winterkoninkje
Indeed. The entire ideological structure of radfem, and the general reluctance of feminists to combat it, is one of the biggest reasons why I don't consider myself a "feminist" in spite of my vehement interest in equality and social justice.

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