For all my talk about not tarring and feathering those feminists (you know, the ones not like us), I must confess that there is one type of feminist that constantly gets under my skin. The transphobic one. Ye gods I wish I could go to all those who think that transgendered people don’t deserve a place in feminism because they aren’t “real women” (whatever that means) and say to them, “You! Out of my feminism!” I guess a part of it is because in order to believe what they do about the transgendered population, they must first believe in gender essentialism — an ideal not compatible with liberation, as one poster on the feminist LJ pointed out.
But are my exclusionary tactics any different than those who try to tar “radical” feminists with the same brush? Who cry to their critics, “I’m not that kind of feminist, don’t blame me!”? I’m not sure. The so-called “radical” feminists’ biggest problem is that the media has chosen them to caricature, while the transphobic feminists try to exclude transwomen (and transmen) in a very real way. Of course, I have said in the past that not all feminists hold 100% feminist values. I know that, despite my best efforts, I still hold some anti-feminist values.
But is there a line to be drawn? When does an “anti-feminist value” grow so large that it taints the entirety of a person’s, or group’s, feminism? Feminists for Life, if they ever indeed were feminist to begin with, crossed that line with their hate propaganda.
So where does that leave feminists like Charlotte Croson, whose article Sex, Lies and Feminism had so many ignorant assumptions about the transgendered community (as well as the BDSM community) that I couldn’t even finish reading the article? Or this so-called feminist group, FIASCO (Feminists Involved Against Sex Change Operations), whose spokesperson posted Women’s space colonized, a treatise on how transsexuals are “violating” women’s spaces in order to look at them sexually. No joke. I’d wonder how she’d feel about me, a bisexual woman-born-woman, going into bathrooms. I might, — gasp! — be there to “[undress] the innocent women with [my] eyes and [lust] after their bodies to be [mine]“, too!
It’s one thing to not understand transgendered issues (Emma, piny, and I had a long conversation on that in a feministe thread), and quite another to espouse the kind of exclusionist hatred found in the two articles linked above. Is it enough for me to say that women like that aren’t “real” feminists? Probably not. But, their feminism is so tainted by gender essentialism and transphobia (as if it’s somehow more acceptable than sexism, homophobia, racisim, or what-have-you) that I’m also loathe to include their narrow ideals in what I see is a plural movement focused on equality.
Feminism is about equality for all, not equality for some. It’s not just about the middle-aged, upper class, white, straight, [fill-in-the-majority here] women. It’s about the young and the old, the middle class and the poor, the black, the Asian, the Latino, the gay, bi, and trans. It’s about us, and them, and so much more. How can you, or I, be a feminist and then stand up and say, “But I don’t like you so you’re not allowed in the club!”?
Yet, if there’s no line to be drawn, then what happens when simple critique just doesn’t cut it? This isn’t the feminist not understanding why a woman would want to be a stay-at-home mom, this is the feminist who marches up to those women and lectures them on how useless they are for their choice. What, if any, amount of hurt should we be allowed to heap on others and still adhere enough to our goals to be called feminist?
And, after all this, I still don’t know. I know that hatred is not right. I know that it’s not useful. But I also know that it is so hard for me not to hate those who seek to hurt others.