I am Woman, Hear me Roar!

by angryhippie

I have noticed a disturbing trend of late moving through the ranks of social justice focused discussions centered on Feminism and overall issues of women’s rights. That trend is one of an aggressive silencing taking place when women are not specifically making/allowing trans-women to lead and/or be the focus when these discussions are taking place. This is beyond problematic and highlights the reason, in my opinion, that the trans rights movement needs to be completely separate from the movement for women’s rights. I know it may not feel like it, but I am a proponent of trans-rights and feel there are some major societal adjustments that need to be made in this regard, however, I will never be supportive of one movement’s fight for rights and against their oppression to overtake and usurp another’s whose fight has still not been won and whose systemic oppression continues. Make no mistake about it, Feminism’s fights have still not been fully won, despite what Rush Limbaugh and his ilk of MRA fuckwits would have you believe.

Yes, women got the right to vote and go to school, work and more, but they have still not gotten to do any of those things on equal ground or on their terms completely, nor have they won the numerous other fights they have at their collective door and have had since day one. To understand the perspective I am coming from with this exposition, let us first discuss socialization.

Socialization is a process we all undergo whether we admit it or not, and whether we like it or not. We cannot escape these constant social manipulations and programmings until we are made fully aware of them and can learn to recognize their influence over us. Only then can we begin to see their toxic tendrils tangled and woven throughout our reactions to, understanding of, and interactions with the world around us, and begin working at undoing as much of that influence as we are able. That is the unfortunate truth or our overly mediated society to the point of near terminal saturation. It’s everywhere we look, turn, and move. Part of this unfortunate truth is that society socializes us based on what boxes it puts us into.

Meaning, if society views us a certain way, it will code its prescriptive agents in ways to reinforce how it wants us to behave, react, and involve ourselves in the daily performances it prescribes to those who fit those roles. Almost nowhere are these societal boundaries more apparent and stringently policed than when it comes it gender roles and constructs. And these agents have finely tuned stereotypes that it uses to regulate the gender boxes and those it forces into them. But gender is societally constructed around sex. Meaning the tropes and accepted behaviors of what it means societally to be a “woman” are focused on sexually derived identities tied to the female anatomy, and what it means to be a “man” are focused on sexually derived identities tied to the male anatomy. So, while yes, it is true, that the two are separate and one is completely socially constructed, they are cohorts that work together via socialization and prescribed norms.

So when it comes to people identifying as transgender who do not suffer from body/gender dysphoria and are comfortable with their biological sex, but not their societally prescribed gender, it rings with a bit of a disconnect, given how delicately woven together the concepts of sex and gender are in our society. And at that point, a societal construction is all you are at odds with, and it is not biology your psychological self does not align with. To me, this seems less of a transgender identity and more a result of societal pressure to follow rigid patriarchal gender roles that confine traits we understand as feminine to only being acceptable when presented by those society labels as women and traits we understand as masculine as only being acceptable when presented by those society labels as men. Were it not for this patriarchal structure and adherence to these constructs that it demands, men and women who biologically feel like themselves, but wish to engage the understood wrappings of an alternative gender would not be met with any kind of resistance whatsoever, and one would not have to claim a trans label to try and legitimize their gender presentations/performances while simultaneously co-opting an identity they are not truly part of. Bottom-line here is that patriarchy makes gender non-conforming a societal breach that must be combatted and otherized in the way society has otherized countless identities in the past even to the point of pathologizing individual ways of being.

We are socialized, not how we choose to present, but how we are read by the larger social mechanism of power and identity politics, especially when we are in our formative years with so little understanding of gender and sex beyond what our largest social influencers at those ages have told us it means. This is where the dysphoria in transgender identity would seemingly stem from to begin with, the fact that you are being socialized based on gender/sex relationship that you feel out of touch with. Meaning your body is read as male and you are socialized accordingly, but you feel like your body is not in line with who you truly are inside. You feel like a “woman” because your male body feels like it doesn’t fit you given the norms you’ve been allowed to access, or you feel like a “man” because your female body doesn’t fit you given the norms you’ve been allowed to access.

At each step, it would seem the two concepts are inseparable in this determination of identity given how the constructed one (gender) has been developed and based off of the biologically determined one (sex). Our very understanding of gender, is rooted in this biologic concept, bottom line. So while it is true that we, in fact, may be able to break away from the forced labeling of the constructed half of the equation and determine our own gender for ourselves in the interest of owning our identity for ourselves and on our own terms, we cannot escape the biologic foundations that equation still plays into in regard to its many performances. What this means is, while our gender may be fluidly variant, biologically we still have a systemic binary that determines access to socialization and more in our society, and in turn, playing against us in all of our interactions and engagements in those social spheres. This means, that when discussing issues of rights and protections that society limits access to particular groups based on sex, then only those biologically connected to those issues should be steering them because of this systemic binary. After all, they are the larger targets of this inequity.

And while this is not to say that trans-women do not have a place in the Feminist dialog, or that there is no room in the dialog for trans-rights, it seems extremely problematic to allow this usurpation of the Feminist movement by another group. Especially a group whose entire lived experience is potentially biologically, and thereby socially, different than those who the movement is focused on fighting for. And when this usurpation is coupled with death and rape threats (especially when talk of abusively using one’s “girl-penis” to violently threaten violation of women who speak out in favor of protecting strictly female spaces) in attempts to silence and frighten them into submission, it further highlights the disconnections between these two groups based on their socialization. Because aggressively threatening women into submission using sexually violent language centered on rape is about as patriarchal and male as it gets. That is male socialization under a systemic patriarchy (one in particular that has militaristically used rape as a tactic of humiliation and violation for generations).

It also hints at something much more troubling and dark working below the surface of these no-platform attacks against women in the Feminist movement, especially when one considers this aggressively vocal segment of the trans movement lodging said attacks typically seem to be those lacking the dysphoria that once typified this self-identification. Which, as previously discussed, given how gender constructs were informed and normalized around biologic sex this seemingly makes little sense as a legitimate claim, gives the entire wave of usurpation and forced centering of Feminist politics around the struggles of the trans community another patriarchal attempt by males to undermine Feminism to the point of irrelevance and to pollute the strength of “Woman” as an identity of political import. Because it is one thing to “feel” like a woman, and another completely to have lived and fought your entire life as a woman. To have had that experience, and lived that inequality and oppression in a patriarchal system is not something one can understand without having actually gone through it. Which means that those who should be leading any and all charges on behalf of the Feminist movement, are those who have that lived experience and first-hand engagements and interactions with the oppressive elements the movement hopes to combat. Doesn’t it? Isn’t that what makes the most sense?

Gender, at its very essence, is a performance. As mentioned, one informed by stereotypes and simplified ideas of the sexes attached. If you have no connection or desire to be connected biologically to the sex at the root of said performance, but more…spiritually, I guess would be the way to put it, then your performance will remain empty of the political identity that underlies and informs that performance. Which means, in all social stages where that political identity is under attack, those who lack said political identity should not be at the players forefront of the discussion, and they most certainly should not be robbing those women who have managed to gain a platform of it. That’s not Feminism, it’s Patriarchy. And if you don’t understand that, then you need to step back and let those who do have the mic.

Because, like with most oppressed groups, their identities are politically shaped and fought for and the labels they use contain aspects and elements of their struggles, so to take on those labels without having gone through said struggle is rightly viewed as disrespectful. When the binary was established, and the word “woman” was first conceived, it did not have the same political context and relevance that it does today. Today, to claim that you are a “woman” accepts and adopts this political identity and as such, should command a respect for those who fought to imbue that context in the first place. Death threats. Rape threats. No-platform attacks. This is not respect. These are the “Master’s Tools”, and men have been using them for ages against women to “keep them in their places”. And make no mistake about it, it’s purposeful. You want to prove you are not socialized as males, and are not truly men attempting to Trojan-horse your way into a movement to wreak havoc, then stop behaving and acting like it. You want to be a “woman”, then prove you are better than a “man”.

P.S. TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, you should know this because it’s literally your word. You made the shit up. Please stop applying it to any rando who disagrees with your platform like you recently have done with Dave Chappelle. I like Dave, but he is far from Feminist, and even fucking further from a Radical Feminist. Same goes for me. I do not self-identify as a Feminist because I’m male and feel that is not a title I, as male, am entitled to hand out. Feminist-ally? Yes. But that’s as far as I’m comfortable going. So I would certainly never call myself a Radical Feminist. So when you come at me, bro, if you come at me, come correct. Now operate your movement like you got some fucking sense please.