December 13, 2007


I am not sure about a lot of things. (Be patient, this is kind of a rant at first.)

I'm not White, but I'm certainly not an Indian or Black. My grandfather passed his whole life in general society, although he spent half of it in the bush hunting with 'bloods, Whites and Indians, and he surely didn't have to pass there. My mother didn't think of herself as anything but White until I talked about a stupid form that was giving me 'the usual trouble' and I pointed out that even she thought her father was Native. My sister rejects any racial identification other than White "because it was too long ago". Funny, I remember spending my childhood with him, and she was there. Oh, and I am of Southeastern descent, but I only know anything about the Narragansetts I grew up around besides what my grandfather did and said. How much privilege do I get? How much do I recognise? I certainly got taken for a lot of things over the years. When I lived in China, they thought I was from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - that I was of mixed Persian-Turkish origin, not foreign. No one else was ever addressed as a local yokel or immigrant other than me. People used to walk up to me and talk to me in Uyghur; I even had people talk to me in the local Beijing cant (without price-gouging and bad English attempts) because I passed as a Perso-Turk. When I took Korean, they thought my grandmother must have been Korean or Japanese. When I lived in San Diego, people addressed me in Spanish first nearly all the time, except when they tried Farsi (Persian) first. When I go out in Boston, people assume my name is spelled in a way that indicates they think I am Hispanic. I am inbetween, but in an unbalanced way. I'm not sure where I sit.

I'm personally poor, but I have many things - a nice TV, cable, a personal computer. My parents worked really hard and we had tight money our entire life; we lived in an unheated camper one winter when our house didn't have floors yet. We ate food my grandpa grew, and then my father put in a garden at the house they built once we moved out. I had practical chores after school, unlike my schoolmates. I was always embarrassed that I had to go home to feed the twenty bear dogs and spread dried gopher blood on the garden right away. See, I went to a private school - I got a scholarship - then traded up to another one - another scholarship - and then I got into Harvard. (Duh, scholarship + two jobs while there.) I have intellectual privilege out my ass and I certainly don't live hard despite being on disability right now. Do I dare speak about issues of low income, coming from where I am? I think many quenchistas live harder than I do, and I know many of you come from situations of more need than I did. We survived without hunger. We had clothing, no mind it was hand-me-downs and the house was furnished by things made (not purchased) over the last 50 years.

What religion am I? Don't get me started on that one. No, seriously. I could post about that one alone.

One thing I am sure as fuck about: I am a woman. There might be hyphenations or additions - transwoman, for example - but I am a fucking woman, and that's the goddamn bottom line.

The other day, I found that one fact attacked and dismembered by radical feminists. The range of emotions I felt when I read comments on a well-known feminist blog by an Iraq War veteran (hundreds of comments on each post, dozens of posts every day) included, but were not limited to, confusion, denial, depression, sadness, anger, frothing rage and finally a desire to reach through time and space and strangle people.

The post is here. I reproduce the post in its entirety so you can see what it was about:

The first annual transgender day*

I can't say I'm a font of knowledge about transgender. So here's a topic where we can discuss it politely. There will be no transbashing, and there will be no radfem bashing, either. Let's clear the air between these two groups. I will be watching these threads closely and you will assume good faith on the part of others or I will make you wish you had.

There will be discussions of gender and gender identity and privilege and things like that. Play nice or else.


People did not play nice. In fact, in the end, there was a wave of bans due to incredibly transphobic commentary by so-called feminists that pervaded the conversation. This led me to discover that these women - who call themselves radfems, or radical feminists - actually believe all that shit about the Transsexual Empire.

At one point in the conversation, I said,

Women are not wombs. Is that all you think they are? Bleed and breed? I know you can't possibly be making that argument - except you apparently are.

Short answer: yes, and men are all evil, and I'm a man.

This point of view is supported by a scary amount of people, and they have a crusade up whose first salvo was in 1979. The language of that time remains: I hit a website for radfems and hit this immediately: modern scholars like Sheila Jeffreys (professor at University of Melbourne) and the infamous Andrea Dworkin and others who use the word "woman-born" as a badge of honour and power, claim transpeople are actually homos who the patriarchy forces to self-mutilate when really we should just come out as lesbians, o wait, men are the evil. They wield the word "woman" as a club; it is the most offensive thing I've read since, well, something the Bush administration probably said last week. :-(

I knew this shit wasn't dead. I knew it. But to see it and taste it in an otherwise safe feminist arena was so goddamn disturbing, and it wasn't just me who felt that way, either.

One site (found through links on a now-banned user's page) sums up the commentary:

Men and women who go through transsexual surgery do not end up as a member of the opposite sex, they merely end up being mutilated: physically, emotionally and psychologically. Like others here have said I do not put the emphasis of blame on the transsexual but rather I blame the patriarchs: the ones who commit the crimes of this patriarchal mutilation. Namely, the doctors, the surgeons, the therapists (the/rapists).


And men who pretend to wear our bodies, men who pretend that they can cut off dick in their heads as easily as cut off the dick on their bodies, men who do these things and name themselves and are named by other men as women, I accuse these men of committing a violative act of appropriation. Appropriation has never stopped being an act of colonisation.

As feminists we know that letting men cut off bits of us has only ever served to make us less whole. Men who have submitted or have been forced to submit to transsexual surgery have been made less whole. That does not make them women.

I found that here.

I am so angry right now. But fuck them. Fuck them, I am a woman and I'm not going to stop being female because they are loons.

I festered about this for days now. I had to let it out. I had to say some shit. I couldn't fucking swallow it anymore.

N.b. I particularly like how people label me as a 'rapist' - I have 'raped' all women because I am trans.


Danielle said...

I guess you'll know Julia Serano's book Whipping Girl (A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity) already. If not, it's worth reading it!
She gives anger words.

marie said...

*insert lots of swearing here*

i still can't understand or identify with these hate mongering females. i want to have no association with them. feminists? my ass. they sound like little girls who are afraid that someone is going to come and rip their ovaries out and de-feminize them. well. my ovaries are up for taking them any day. losers.

Rae said...

I am so angry right now. But fuck them. Fuck them, I am a woman and I'm not going to stop being female because they are loons.

I festered about this for days now. I had to let it out. I had to say some shit. I couldn't fucking swallow it anymore.

You shouldn't have to, either. Gender identity isn't limited to biological sex. Who are they to dictate to others what does or does not constitute womanhood and the female experience? I can't believe that self-proclaimed feminists would be so close-minded and shallow. D=

mk said...

I'm so sorry you were on the receiving end of that. This is the precise reason I never go to radfem sites anymore. For all the faults of the "mainstream" feminist sites I frequent, at least they're pretty good about calling people out on this kind of bullshit.

Anonymous said...

appropriating womanhood? sounds like someone who is a woman ironically, sarcastically, to do violence to women. ...which is totally a different thing from celebrating, expressing, being a woman. Thanks for pointing out these posts and sharing your well-deserved outrage.


Anonymous said...

People say nasty nasty things on the internet under the cloak of anonymity that they would never say to someone's face (I hope at least some of them wouldn't).

I am ashamed to call myself a feminist when I hear from these people.

Take care of yourself. I know I try to use what non-trans (or at least perceived non-trans) privilege I have around these crowds fighting the good fight.

It's all so fucking bizarre and hurtful.


Gin said...

I've got to point out that as the blog owner, there was a lot of respectful dialogue going on, and many people afterward told me that they learned a lot, from actual transpeople telling their stories. I had to shut down several people, some of them long time friends, but what's right is right. The site to which Emily linked--the name by which I know her---lost any credibility it had with me when I saw that it called Brandon Teena Teena Brandon instead, and had a story about him called: "Teena Brandon: The Unmaking of a Lesbian."

I'm a radfem, and I did the post so that trans people could have a safe space to talk openly about their experiences and I learned a lot. So did other radfems. There a hundreds of comments from radfems asking polite questions to clarify things, but four or five determined bigots tried to ruin it for everyone. Please don't judge all of us by them. I came down on the offenders pretty hard, and lost friends over it, so please know that that not all radfems are like those five people.

emily0 said...

Thanks for commenting, Ginmar. I appreciated very much your opening up that post, as I've noted on your blog, and as I noted in the post you dealt with the offenders pretty quickly and efficiently. (You are a fearsum enjinn, btw.)

Maybe you could open up a new post about what being a radfem means... I know it has always, always been affiliated in my mind with things like "womyn-born womyn only" (a sign present on the doors to the Cambridge (MA) Women's Center until only a few years ago). I mean, I agree with your posts like 99% of the time...

emily2 said...

there are separatist and tribalistic members in every demographic. they tend to be loud, obnoxious, and disrespectful, and they reflect badly on the rest of their particular demographic, thereby tarnishing the reputation of the entire demographic.

these people are motivated by the same forces that motivate tribalistic hatemongers like pat buchanan who want to exclude and declare as undesirable people who are not like him. they are motivated by an irrational fear of the "other," and they tend to cluster together in their circle jerks and preach to their little hateful choir.

certain strains (or certain individuals, rather) of the radfem demographic are cut from the same cloth as certain members of the far right, certain members of the gay demographic (who refuse to mix with straights), and religious fundamentalists.

same people. different faces. that's all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by, Gin and I'm glad you posted. I think it's really important that allies play such a large and important role in trying to model good behavior for people, and for enforcing boundaries. It sounds like you did the right thing.

I think it is just so hard because it's not as if this just happened randomly to Em0 once - it happens to transwomen feminists all the time and I can just imagine it's frustrating to have to fight the same battles over and over.

Anyway, I just wanted to say welcome to quench.

Anonymous said...

Em0, I know we all addressed the second half of your post more than the first and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated the first half and I love it every time I get to hear a little bit more of your story. The second part seemed to be calling out for a comment but I appreciated the first half too.


I am discriminated against said...

When I was an undergrad and wanted to find out more about being trans, I buried myself in Widener after searching for all the books I could find.

Well, the first book I picked out was "The Transsexual Empire." Talk about a mindfuck. Reading that book put me back years emotionally, all the hatred and bitterness in that book tried to convince me that I wasn't a woman, that I would never be a woman, and worse - that I was victimizing women by being trans.

When I moved to S.F. after graduation, I was pleased to find a "women's only space" that included ANYONE who self-identified as female. It was refreshing and wonderful to find that not all feminists were trans-haters.

That said, that was 15 years ago! I would have hoped that people would become more enlightened over the years, especially with the advent of the internet as a wealth of communication and information.

I agree with you. To hell with them if they can't understand that we are women. Sandy Stone's The Empire Strikes Back is a fantastic rebuttal to all of these jerks who think that they and only they can define what a woman is.

Jake Twist said...

WTF??!! Arugh, it's like Janice Raymond has reared her ugly head again. I'm so so sorry that you've had to deal with this "feminist" gender policing.