Why female biology matters

Female biology is neither magic nor mysterious. It doesn’t make those in possession of it nurturing, or caring, or motherly. It doesn’t mean we ought to bear children, nor does it mean we can always bear children if we’d like to. Female biology is flawed, inconsistent and, most of all, it is not the sum of us.

It is, however, real. My female reproductive system is as real as my heart or my brain or my lungs. It will exist whether you allow me to name it or not. I am not simply “a female”. I am a person. I am, nevertheless, female. I am neither ashamed nor frightened of this.

Identifying bodies as female is not an oppressive or exclusive act. It is simply a statement of fact, but also one that has political import. If we stop naming female bodies, female bodies will still exist. We will still interpret them and respond to them. We will, without radical changes to our thinking, continue to reject, abuse and punish these bodies just for being what they are. We will not call them female, but we will still call them something: the bodies of breeders, bleeders, post-menopausal non-entities. We will demean their owners by taking away a biological definition and replacing it with a function. We will have decreed “female” far too good a word for that lower class of humans, the fleshy, sinful ones with their blood, discharges and holes. We will have taken a word that articulates the source of their oppression and offered nothing in return.

And yet a number of women who identify as feminist still express reluctance to name these female bodies. It is as though, miraculously, if you no longer formally identify the primary basis for the oppression of millions, this oppression will cease to exist. It is as though, in fact, by naming oppression, you bring it into being. Don’t call my body female! I won’t be defined by whether or not I can menstruate or gestate! The trouble is, you already are, and it’s not because the people doing it are using the wrong vocabulary. It’s because, like you, they don’t have any interest in placing ownership of a female body within the context of being a unique human being. Being biologically female is not an alternative to enjoying full personhood, or at least, it shouldn’t be. If you think it is, then you have internalised more misogyny than I care to think of.

It may be claimed that the term “female biology” should be avoided in the name of trans inclusivity but I am not convinced of the logic of this. As with most right-on misogyny, I’m more tempted to believe it comes back to the social and sexual conservatism of the more liberated than thou elite. Rather than engage with aversion to female biological functions, let’s pretend they don’t exist. Let’s pretend antipathy towards female bodies plays no role in perpetuating misogyny and abuse. Let’s not talk about periods and vaginas. Let’s create a gender liberation movement in which even the supermarket euphemism “feminine hygiene” would be considered too edgy. Let’s focus on sexual boasting and linguistic trickery, promoting the delusion that a self-congratulatory circle jerk is more worthwhile than improving the lives of women and girls the world over.

Because, let’s face it, proper feminism – feminism that is actually about liberating women – isn’t very sexy. Your male friends probably wouldn’t like it (NB we’re still allowed to say “male”). It involves highlighting unpleasant truths and linking human rights abuses to male supremacy (yawn). It involves valuing the lives of women who might seem a bit boring, a bit unadventurous, a bit too bloody “female” for one’s own liking (bloody women!). It’s the politics of blood and guts, but also that of shit and string beans. Women’s lives under patriarchy don’t tend to be very Belle de Jour. Female biology — and the social and cultural implications thereof – may be at the heart of women’s oppression, but it’s also, on the face of it, a bit mumsy.  Being born female – if you make it that far – might have a devastating effect on your health, safety and right to be recognised as an autonomous human being, but it’s also a bit passé, at least as far as concerns go. Haven’t we, like, moved beyond it?

No, we haven’t. We haven’t moved beyond it at all and what’s more, the entitlement of those who claim that we have makes me very angry indeed. This is not because I think my female body is special or that it deserves particular recognition or that having given birth has made me one of womanhood’s chosen ones. It makes me angry because women and girls suffer and die because of the bodies they are born in, regardless of how they feel about them or how they’d like to live in them. These bodies – these female bodies – are in need, not of remarketing or denial, but of full, unquestioning acceptance. We need to know that these are human bodies and that what they do and how they function can be named without shame or fear. We need to recognise that the vast majority of those born into these bodies do not get the chance to opt out of female oppression. Their suffering is not based on their personal relationship with gender; it is based on these bodies and to dismiss the import of this is not activism, but exclusive, privileged bullshit.

Being female (as opposed to embracing womanhood as a variable construct) is not being a breeder, a bleeder or a post-menopausal non-entity. It is being a person who happens to be female. A truly intersectional feminism – one that recognises the ways in which female reproduction impacts differently on women from different social, racial and cultural backgrounds – wouldn’t be afraid of stating this. Female bodies are not arbitrary objects, to be defined and redefined at will. They are the bodies of full, complete human beings, but until we accept female biology as a reality – rather than just a terribly retro idea – we will remain a million miles away from accepting them as such.

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150 thoughts on “Why female biology matters

  1. Um….this kinda smacks of transphobia. Is a transwoman not a ‘real woman’ in your estimation? Is having a ‘female body’ the sole marker of femaleness?

    I agree, female parts like the labia and vagina and clitoris and uterus and fallopian tubes and all the rest, shouldn’t be shameful to write or speak. But are they ALL that makes a woman a woman?

    1. Why does this smack of transphobia? Accusing women of phobias for speaking about female bodies kind of smacks of misogyny…
      If you don’t understand how I am not saying women are the sum of their reproductive systems, I think you need to read the post again!

      1. I was writing an article recently about accessing prostate cancer services and cervical cancer screening.

        It occurred to me, while writing the article, that trans men were part of the group of patients who were at risk for cervical cancer, unless they had had a full hysterectomy which many trans men opt not to do, and trans women were almost invariably at risk for prostate cancer.

        Obviously the largest part of the group I was writing for consisted of people who were not-trans, cisgendered people.

        But I saw no reason to exclude a minority from the article if I could, by more careful use of language, include them.

        I re-read both articles, and noted that by referring to people as “people” and as “patients” (for example; “If fifty patients test positive for PSE, one of them may develop prostate cancer” – rather than “if fifty men”), I could retain my focus on the majority of patients, while not making trans people feel that they were not being included in an article about cancer health checks. I could also include, somewhere in the article, a specific sentence noting trans men and trans women.

        I found this process related closely to a similiar but much more intense learning process I went through at sixteen when I realised I was habituated to writing sexist English, using “he” as default pronoun and so forth, and that I wanted to learn how to write grammatically-correct and well-structured sentences and pronouns that did not assume that “man includes woman” or that “he is neuter”, when it plainly isn’t.

        I am unclear why this use of inclusive language should threaten or worry anyone: indeed, I’ve discovered in years of professional writing, that most people do not even notice inclusive language – except those who are very used to being excluded. And sometimes, those who actively want that excluded group to feel excluded.

        1. She’s a cisgender woman writing a piece from a cis woman’s perspective and experience. That doesn’t make her transphobic. Furthermore, what she’s saying can also apply to trans women who find themselves defined and constrained by the way that their body is, either pre or post-op. The main point is that our anatomy is only a part of who we are, but not all of who we are; it does carry some weight but it shouldn’t define us. We don’t choose our body, yet it can still amount to the difference between a life of servitude, misery and shame or one of comfort, power and relative ease.

          The main point is that we shouldn’t try to erase and remove gender because that’s impossible; what we should do is try to eliminate prejudice based on gender.

    2. LOL. You completely missed her point. Just because something may be INTEGRAL to someone’s experience, does not mean they are REDUCED (limited, defined by) that one thing. There is a difference between bodily integrity and essentialism. It is patriarchy that wants to impose reductionism on women – and trans theory is part of that, when people end up asking “But are they ALL that makes a woman a woman?” Feminists aren’t saying that. We’re saying it’s an integral aspect of our experience, not an essential aspect.

  2. This needed to be said. Personally, I came to feminism as a means of transcending performative gender norms, there was a brief moment in the beginning of post-modern theories of the subject when gender could mean anything, limitless, exhilarating possibility. Biological sex is fixed: gender can, and should, be challenged, fluid, varied. It seems we’ve moved too far from the radical potential of the ungendered subject and we have a neurotic need to fix gendered identity and give it 56 varieties. Naming isn’t ‘fixing’ something in stone, but there seems to be a temptation to extend a whole rigid, ahistorical subjectivity to each named difference, and this is where I see the current identity politics denying the true potential of its own beliefs.

  3. Women are more than just a Uterus and a Vagina though. Your post is incompatible with the idea that women should not be defined by biology. To define women by biology reinforces gender essentialist ideas that women with Uteri are slaves to their biology. It also reinforces the gender essentialist notion that a cis women ceases to be a woman if she cannot give birth or has her uterus removed. If we define female biology as one single idea, we put many women outside of being female and many non-females inside of being female.

    Female biology shouldn’t be defined that way, because not every female (trans or not) has a Uterus and a Vagina, not every female gives birth. Reproductive rights matter, but they extend to more than just the choice of giving birth or not giving birth. Trans individuals for example whatever their bodies are still routinely forced to accept being sterilised in 13 European countries before they can have their gender officially changed on their legal paperwork.

    The right not to be pregnant if we choose is only a small part of reproduction freedom and respect for bodily intergrity. The notion that some bodies are female isn’t just gender essentialist, it’s bad biology given that many female bodies don’t meet the strict definition of “female biology”, they may not have a uterus, or have given birth, they may have chromosomes that are other than XX despite appearing to meet the biological construct for ‘female’. They may not grow breasts.

    The notion of female should be as unstructured as our lives in order to embrace all females, not just those who meet a narrowly defined construct that the patriarchy designed as ‘female’.

    1. If “female” can mean anything, what are you talking about, exactly? On the other hand, if female can’t refer to everything, but a subset of all things, then what isn’t female?

      1. How about it means an inclusive structure encompassing all of those who identify as female, and extending in terms of solidarity to those who do not identify as female but who also share the need for things such as reproductive rights? Let’s make it a fluid and dynamic concept that addresses both structural oppression, biological essentialism and rights.

        1. Except structural oppression applies to Trans individuals as well and your post is dismissing it Glosswitch. We can talk about reproduction without “female biology” nonsense.

    2. Good goddess, Dawn, go back and read the article again! Most of what you accuse her of saying, she didn’t say at all…or specifically stated otherwise. Your response comes off sounding more like you were interested in hearing yourself preach rather than actually reading the article and paying attention to what was being said.

      1. I read it, it was kinda gross and yes, it was saying that. Or maybe I’m more interested in getting her out of the TERF camp since she clearly doesn’t want to wallow with folks who are anti-woman.

    3. Dawn, stop using the word cis. i am not cis this is a word lumped on women by a group to which I do not belong and one which I consider highly offensve. I am not cis I simply by right of existing, AM

      1. No, because Cis exists. Much like if Hetero people decided Heterosexual was a slur, it would still be used to indicate straight people.

        Not using Cis reinforces transphobia by centering Cis people as the norm, much like it does when we default to assuming a person is male without defining a person as male.

        1. People who are not trans are the VAST NUMERICAL MAJORITY of people. If YOU want to interpret that as some badge of “normalcy,” that is your choice. I certainly don’t see it that way.

        2. Then why don’t you get similarly pissed about White or Straight, both are descriptors, no different to Cis.

        3. hmmm, from what I understand, trans people are using the word cis to mean “people who accept the gender stereotype they were assigned at birth”. Yet the vast majority of men and women do not fall into that category, nor do the vast majority of people desire to stuff other people into tiny little boxes. If trans folk wanted the word to mean “those who recognize that we are the biological sex which we were categorized at birth” then yes, I would be sane or as trans people prefer to call it, “cis”.

          Most of the conflict experienced by trans, arises because literally everybody except trans will tend to use words in a more precise manner than trans people will. Dawn, try finding a more accurate word than “identify” to use and you’ll see what I mean — it is too vague to be of any practical use during discussions where the goal is mutual understanding. Right now it’s just a fluffy political word, used to misrepresent and disguise the true motivation of faux-feminists from even themselves.

      2. LOL – Re: “white” and “straight” no different than “cis.” History is full of facts. These facts contradict your claim of “no difference.” And how.

    4. Wrong. You are missing the point and engaging in essentialism yourself. To refer to rare exceptions to the rule does not negate the fact of a rule. We are sexually reproducing species. There is nothing reductive about that – for females OR males. I laugh that so much energy gets expended on whether or not feminists “reduce” women to their biology (we don’t), and so LITTLE is expended on whether MEN are reduced to theirs! Interesting, but predictable in the face of pervasive, unquestioned sexism. Is a man reduced simply to his testicles, his spermatic cords, his vas deferens? Oh dear, don’t be essentialist! The whole thing would be hilarious, if not so anti-woman.

      1. It is not essentialism to include every woman under woman regardless of her biology. It is not essentialism to extend the fight for rights to everyone whether they’re a woman or simply seen as one.

        It is essentialism to decide that the criteria for woman necessarily includes a Uterus and a Vagina. If Cis women also can’t always meet it? Your criteria is wrong.

        1. I didn’t decide the “criteria” for being a woman. Humans are a sexually reproducing species, like lots of other species. Female, male. Talk to the Great Goddess of DNA if you have a problem with it, not us feminists.

        2. You’re trying to do, in such a way that basically fucking argues that women who can’t or don’t want kids aren’t women.

        1. But by your criteria, unless you’re capable of having children—namely, your uterus and fallopian tubes and ovaries and everything else are all functioning in tip-top shape—then you’re not a ‘real’ woman and thus your opinion doesn’t matter.

      2. No, you don’t understand (or willfully choose to misunderstand my “criteria.”) I look at biological sex (female and male) in terms of the overarching theory of evolution, and how sexual reproduction fits into that. That’s all. You can go look on the Internet for charts and diagrams explaining my position, and why it’s not reductive in the way you claim it is. LOL.

    5. A trans person said: “The right not to be pregnant if we choose is only a small part of reproduction freedom and respect for bodily intergrity.”

      er, the right to to prevent pregnancy or to end an unwanted pregnancy is the largest part of bodily integrity for females. Only a man would minimize it’s importance.

      1. Even in Cis women’s terms, you’re being ignorant.

        Pro-choice isn’t just about not being pregnant if you have a Uterus. It’s also about not being sterilised against your will, it’s also about not having your children ripped from your arms because you’re a minority such as native American or disabled.

        It’s also about receiving healthcare should your pregnancy become dangerous. It’s also about receiving care should something go wrong.

        It’s also about not being forced to give up your fertility in order to live your life as you wish. It’s also about not being assaulted while giving birth, or having your wishes ignored, ie see the Cis women who had her legs taped together by doctors during birth because she refused a C section.

        It’s also about being given the opportunities to raise any children you have.

        It’s also about not having your body violated because it’s different to the majority.

  4. I hadn’t realized you were a TERF. There are all sorts of things I could say to this, but the most essential part is this: A feminism which abandons or excludes trans women is a feminism I want no part of.

    1. Why do you think a feminism which talks about female bodies excludes trans women? What does trans or cis even mean if you are denying there is any such thing as a female body?
      I want no part in a feminism which assumes that the oppression associated with having a female body is “opt out”. It’s not. To think that it is is privileged and blinkered in the extreme.

      1. Because it’s based on the idea that a female body and therefore a woman is a very narrow existence which doesn’t include trans individuals.

        Cis and Trans refer to whether your identity matches the designation society gives to your body, it doesn’t mean society knows jack shit about bodies and what those bodies are.

        1. Society is not monolithic–there are so many micro-narratives and subsets. I know because I grew up in trans culture. So when you talk about the ‘identity [that] matches the designation society gives to your body’, then we are all both ‘trans’ and ‘cis’, for in certain sectors of society where trans is the dominant discourse women born women are other–they are trans, and trans is the ‘normal’. This notion of ‘cis’ is so problematic because it presumes that bodily designations are made based on mistakes rather than the society being problematically hooked upon gender clichés which, ironically, trans replicates in an inverse modality.

          Talking about biology does not exclude trans individuals. Talking about the female body INCLUDES trans men.

        2. Don’t talk nonsense, there is nowhere that Cis women are called trans.

          and it does exclude trans women and also individuals who have a Uterus but who are not women. Would you like to be called a man when you’re not?

    2. You are in fact no part of feminism, if you label women speaking about their bodies as “TERFs.”

        1. Trans women are still biological males. Since when is feminism about advancing the interests of biological males above those of women? LOL, you and your “good thing.”

  5. Sorry, Dawn, but female is the biological SEX (XX, XY) of a human being with XX whatever her GENDER (CLGBTQ) might be. Denying the reality of the human body is just as horrible as denying the human mind. You can play the hand you’re dealt however you wish but you can’t change the hand you were dealt. Genetics are like gravity in that respect.

    1. If you’re going to discuss biology, at least pay attention to basic shit I mentioned in my post. XX is not the only chromosome pattern those to match what society designates a biologically female body can have. You can be XXY, or even XY bizarrely enough or many other permutations and still have a Uterus and Vagina.

      1. What you are suggesting is no more acceptable than refusing to associate class oppression with poverty on the basis that John Prescott claims to be working class. Female oppression is rooted in reproductive experiences and biological difference. You need female genitalia to suffer FGM. You need a uterus to be denied an abortion or die in childbirth. You need to be identified as female in the womb to be aborted in the basis of anti-female prejudice. It matters.

        1. No, it isn’t, because one can be oppressed because society sees you as female without actually being female.

          Intersex individuals can be subject to FGM, and since Trans women’s bodies are female bodies, those bodies can be subject to FGM. Also many Cis women DON’T HAVE Uteri, it is not a prerequisite for being seen as female, and some men have Uteri.

      2. “You can be XXY, or even XY bizarrely enough or many other permutations and still have a Uterus and Vagina.”

        In which case the person is intersex, not female (and no, BTW, you can’t be XY and have a uterus – go look up Androgen Insensitivity Disorder before you embarrass yourself further, please). Intersex people’s fight for understanding and recognition of their conditions is an ongoing battle, but that doesn’t mean that the word “female” is meaningless, or can be magically extended to include those who have fully functional male reproductive systems.

  6. Dawn, 99.999% of women were, indeed, born with a vagina. Why in the world can’t we say so? Why do we have to tiptoe around the obvious: women have vaginas. Yes. We do. The fact that ALMOST ALL of us have vaginas (and uterii) and that NONE of us have a penis is the basis for our oppression under patriarchy – the basis of millennia of being bought and sold, treated as chattel, being beaten into submission, being locked in harems and women’s quarters, being forced to wear veils and dresses which impeded our movement and made us vitamin D deficient, not to mention being raped, and raped and rapes, suffering epidemic female infanticide and being murdered – all for the crime of having a vagina and a uterus instead of a penis and testicles.

    If we go around pretending that “not all women have vaginas” is a feminist political stance (rather than a capitulation to misogynist males in the trans* movement) then what? We lose the ability to NAME our oppression, NAME the reason why we have been so oppressed, NAME who is oppressing us, NAME what we need to do to end our oppression: eradicate the patriarchal, sex-based oppression of female human beings (the vagina people) by make human beings (the penis people.)

    You may think that “embracing” males who claim to be women is revolutionary. It’s not. It’s reactionary. It hurts real women and aids the patriarchy by obfuscating the true nature of our oppression and the identity of our oppressors.

    1. Actually the amount of trans women and women who do not have Vagina’s/Uteri due to not being born with them/losing them is far higher than that. Some Cis women even have two Vagina’s and two Uteri.

      We’re not oppressed due to owning a Uterus, we’re oppressed because when we were born, some doctor decided we were part of a group that has been considered inferior in general. Our Uteri did not not get together and conspire with Cis men to make us into second class citizens FFS.

      Also Trans women are real women, not men, much like you’re a TERF and not very good at being a feminist.

      1. Dawn. You have no theory of patriarchy. According to your argument (I use that term loosely), women’s oppression over millennia is due to bad doctors (because we’ve always had bad doctors right?) deciding to randomly and incorrectly assign (on the basis of what?) some types of humans to an inferior class. Why does this inferior class exist Dawn? Tell me, WHY?

        You don’t have an answer to this question. Because you don’t have anything resembling a plausible account of how patriarchy works. GW is making a very simple and irrefutable point. The oppression of women is based on the appropriation of their reproductive labour. It is MATERIAL (you read Marx right, or was he just a transphobe too?) Women’s materiality is the reason why we are oppressed AS A CLASS. The fact that some women – as individuals – do not have the reproductive capacities of most women has no bearing on the reason why women are oppressed AS A CLASS. Pretending that the category ‘woman’ has nothing to do with the material basis of their oppression, will not change the fact that that is why we are oppressed. All it will do, is remove the language with which we can talk about why we are oppressed. That is your idea of social justice. It’s not mine.

        1. I have a theory of it, it’s just not misogynistic gender essentialism dressed up as feminism that TERFS think is patriarchial theory.

        2. Dawn, what is ‘gender essentialism’?

          What do you think the route of misogyny is? i.e. why is it women who are oppressed the world over and not men?

        3. Gender Essentialism is narrowly defining gender by patriarchal constructs. Rather than fluid feminist ones.

          Also men kinda oppress folks for not being men, it’s not about biology, but about maintaining their position at the top. If what society deems “male biology” involved a Uterus? Maternity leave would be mandatory, BC and abortion would be covered and having a child would be considered a masculine thing.

        4. How do men tell which people are men and which people are women? How could they tell thousands of years ago? Why wasn’t it women who decided to oppress others for not being women?

        5. It amazes me how people think that there can be any meaning to “gender” beyond the patriarchal one. That is what “gender” is – a patriarchal construct. Might as well talk about an “anti-racist version” of “race,” or an “anarcho-communist version” of socio-economic classes. Absent the structure of oppression which created these concepts, they’re meaningless, because they are thoroughly rooted in to the oppressions themselves. Gender is no different.

      2. Also – uteri aren’t sentient and therefore have nothing to do with the basis of women’s oppression. That’s truly brilliant. And you are having trouble understanding why people think your position is as credible as the tooth fairy?

      3. Trans women are male. Dawn, you sound incredibly angry. This article includes trans persons, just trans men and not trans women. And that’s OK too.

        1. Trans women are women. Women is a group that encompasses many different groups including those who don’t meet the male patriarchal idea of womanhood folks like you cling to, I am angry, angry about bigots who shit all over my Trans sisters and have the brass calls to call said shitting feminism.

        2. It’s not a fucking ‘male patriarchal idea’ that ‘woman’ simply means an adult human with a female body.

          People are allowed to DISAGREE with you about the definition of a word that applies to them, especially when using this definition is simply using their native language in a way that 99.99% of other speakers understand exactly as intended. When you say the word ‘female’ to people they ALL understand it to mean what I and Glosswitch think it means, you do realise that? Only a tiny tiny tiny number of English speakers agree with your definition, and the way language works is that when a word has a particular meaning to the vast, vast majority of speakers that is exactly what that word means.

          Stop acting like people have changed the definition of a word in order to maliciously or hatefully exclude people. YOU and others are trying to change the definition of a word without the consensus of the people it applies to.

        3. It is. You sound just a Cis man insisting that bits = class.

          You aren’t disagreeing, you’re arguing that discriminatory patriarchal anti-feminist bullshit is feminism. In short, you sound like an MRA, congratulations, I suggest you join a voice for men, they’ll agree with you about Uteri meaning a woman.

          So basically you’re arguing that identifying people as ‘white’ and ‘straight’ is hateful? Quite frankly, what you’re got between your legs isn’t worth a piss in a pot if your arguments are those of an MRA.

    2. It’s not just us naming “our” oppression – it’s naming the oppression of our MOTHERS, our AUNTS, our GRANDMOTHERS, our GREAT-GRANDMOTHERS and on back for a thousand years. NO, I’m not willing to throw THESE women overboard, in a show of solidarity with men who don’t give two sh*ts about THESE women’s lives historically. In the same way, I never would expect a black person to throw THEIR family members back through time overboard, in a show of solidarity with some “transracialist” who finds all that historical facticity irrelevant, reductionist, etc.

      1. Trans women are women, and they have grandmothers, mothers, sisters as well. Btw brightspark? We can still fight for the right to reproductive control without being gender essentialist because Trans men and non-binary individuals can need abortions and healthcare. There’s enough room in the fight for equality that we don’t need to be pushing others out and being bigots.

        1. The relationship between children and the parent(s) who is/are the same sex is DIFFERENT than that between child and parent when the sex is different. Because HISTORY is different, based on sex..

          The word “bigot” does not advance your argument.

        2. The relationship between a Cis Mother and her accepted trans women daughter, is no different to the one between a Cis mother and Cis Daughter.

          Don’t want to hear the term bigot? Try not being one, I assure you it isn’t hard.

        1. No, I’m not behaving in a “transphobic” manner. I am DISAGREEING WITH YOU. We all have a right to disagree with each other. Biological males cannot become biological females, simply because they want to. That’s our fundamental point of disagreement. It’s simply not bigoted to disagree with someone when the evidence is lacking. It’s called being rational, not bigoted. And by the way, did you notice how “bigot” rhymes with “spigot?” Bigot rhymes with spigot, and transphobe rhymes with microbe.

      2. LOL, Chairman Mao school of debate: Attack your opponent for imaginary moral flaws, and be really mad about it, i.e., call me “bigot” and “transphobe.”

        1. Oh, okay, being a bigoted hypocrite is ‘imaginary’ now, great to know. You’re right about the ‘moral failings’ bit though, but if anything I think you don’t take it far enough; you’re a sociopath. You have no empathy. You are dangerous. You are evil.

        2. You’re starting to make me laugh at the over-the-top purple prose you use to describe someone who SIMPLY disagrees that a biological male can magically turn themselves into a biological female. That’s it – that’s the sum total of our disagreement.

          For this, I am called “sociopath,” I “have no empathy,” I am “dangerous,” and “evil.” None of these things are objectively true, I know this, everyone in my life knows this.

          But because I DISAGREE with your THEORY about the mutability of biological sex in human beings (aren’t there some scorpions or lizards that can change sex? But I digress…), you accuse me being a terrible person, “evil,” even. You do know this is how the Vatican castigated heretics, before they burned them at the stake? Mao and the so-called “Cultural Revolution” attacked their supposed political “enemies?” How about in the US, in Salem, and the witch trials?

          I’m glad you posted your responses to my comments, because there is the evidence right there, of how trans theory has NO logical basis, NO basis in science, it is completely a social phenomenon in a particular cultural and political moment, that resembles other cult-like movements. To recognize that is not being a hater. It’s called being REALITY-BASED. If you COULD win the argument with logic, you WOULD. But you CAN’T.

          Score one for biological reality and feminism.

        3. You wouldn’t recognise science if it kicked you in a clitoris.

          You’ve talked total fucking bullshit, it’s insulting to scientists that you actually think high school lies to children are science enough to disagree with actual biologists.

          All so you can justify why feminism should be for straight white cis women who have functional uteri rather than for all women.

        4. Dawn you DO realize that your comments are on the Internet, for anyone to peruse? And they can follow the thread of this argument, see the name-calling….and decide there’s a lot of heat in what you say…but not much light. Look over your comments…do you think all your name-calling and insults help you win your argument? Reasonable people are disagreeing with you. And you CANNOT muster the arguments to persuade them you are right.

  7. At the risk of more lashbacks and accusations, I agree with every word you say.

    We’re talking about a simple statement of fact that applies to large section of the population. A fact like “I am tall”, “I have a big bum” or “I have blue eyes” – biological facts that simply are, without offending anyone. Stating that fact does not in anything denegrate or oppress any other group.

    It’s a shame that some people are so ready to take offence – especially where there is none (you’d think they’d have enough to deal with from the sources of genuine hostility, wouldn’t you?).

    1. I think that since the same names have been ascribed to biological sex (which is fixed, whether you have XY/XX/XXY… chromosomes) and the more personal and fluid gender identity, there will always be a clash when discussing issues like this.

      People who see ‘female’ as a gender identity first will be offended, people who see ‘female’ as a biological sex primarily will be baffled.

      At some point the two will have to diverge. It makes sense to have a binary understanding of biological sex because as a species, human beings reproduce by combining male+female. Gender, as a non-binary spectrum, should be represented by far more terms than the limited ‘male’ and ‘female’.

      Feminists, of all people, cannot ignore that FGM only happens to biologically female people. Only biologically female people can have an abortion. It shouldn’t be offensive to acknowledge this.

      I am a believer that trans women are women. Full stop. But the prejudices faced by trans people are different to the prejudices faced by biologically female people (the issues biologically female people face can also be a problem for trans men too.) Trans people face overt hostility and social exclusion. Violence towards trans women in particular is horrendous and has to end. It’s important to recognise that and fight it.

      Biologically female people have a different fight – biologically female people of all colours and orientations are still second-class citizens all over the world. ‘Male’ is the default and ‘female’ is the ‘other’. It doesn’t mean the oppression of people othered for their biology is more important or more serious than people othered for their gender identity and/or expression of gender ID. It just means it happens and it needs to end. People are still sending their perfectly formed daughters off to be mutilated, something that only happens to biologically female people! It isn’t TERF material to want to highlight FGM and want to work to end this practice – I certainly don’t exclude trans women from ‘women’s matters’ or think that because biologically we differed at birth that these women aren’t my sisters. We use the same word to mean different things and that creates problems where there should be solidarity and understanding.

      ‘Male’ and ‘female’ are biological terms, intended to describe the cold fact that for reproductive purposes most creatures on this planet come in two basic types. This doesn’t cover gender expression or gender identity, which varies hugely! New words are coined every day – could we not work towards a better way to describe gender identity than use binary terminology in a way that is bound to mislead? That way people oppressed for biological sex and people oppressed for gender identity can help each other and stop worrying that they’re being excluded or their concerns are being overlooked.

      1. Trans women are NOT women. They are NOT my sisters. Their oppression is caused by their not subscribing to patriarchal notions of what a man should be. That is THEIR battle, not mine, not my sister’s. Let them be honest and fight their battle with TERMs – trans-exclusionary MEN. Leave us feminists alone – since they don’t, they even have the arrogance to APPROPRIATE feminism to suit their OWN male ends – they are part of patriarchy’s war on women.

        1. No wonder people like Dawn, above, are being prickly about trans representation, when there are people like you around.

          This blog post was a decent way to get a dialogue underway to be able to discuss problems that affect biologically female people (who are not always women.) Sadly it’s been overrun by anger and deliberate, choosing to misunderstand.

          Trans women are women. Whether you particularly like it or not. There have always been ‘two-spirit’ people, genderqueer people, people who are biologically one way but live as a different gender, throughout history there have been these people and they exist today. The Hijra of India and the Fa’afafine of Samoa are not men although they are born biologically male or intersex. These people exist. The problems that affect them are not always the same problems that affect biological females but in many ways we intersect because the patriarchy don’t take kindly to people operating outside of their comfortable sex/gender binary code. Around the world, deadly violence against trans people (trans women in particular) occurs hourly, as does deadly violence against biological females. Tell me again how we have no common enemy to fight together?

          If you reject trans people, you are aligning yourself with the patriarchy.

          It is okay to be primarily concerned with issues faced by biologically female people, but it is not okay to throw everyone else under the bus just because they don’t have the ‘right’ chromosomes for you.

        2. To Jess:

          I repeat, trans women are NOT women. I throw no one “under the bus” with that statement. Trans people should be discriminated against in terms of housing or employment, nor should they be violently attacked. Note carefully, disagreeing that trans women are women is NOT “violently attacking”: trans people. It’s called disagreeing. Biological males do not get to redefine woman to suit their needs, sorry.

        3. Trans women are women, they are my sisters, you however are not because your shitty version of feminism discriminates against them and me.

        4. LOL, look what just happened: I said trans women are NOT women, you say they are. Guess we have to “agree to disagree.” Can you do that without resorting to name-calling, adjectives like “shitty,” etc? Can’t? Why is that?

        5. Can you stop being a woman hating gender essentialist shitty excuse for a feminist? No? Then don’t expect to not have how woman hating your crap is ignored.

        1. It’s baffling that anyone could think being considered a man is oppression.

          I’ve never read of anyone who says that trans women are men who also believes that men aren’t people, don’t exist, should experience violence, should kill themselves, should experience discrimination in work, should not be offered help after rape or domestic violence (separate from female victims). But LOTS of people really seem to think think describing someone as a man means all of those things.

      2. We’re not a binary species, lies to children science is just that lies told to children. The nonsense about male/female we’re taught in school is just that nonsense. Even if you ignored chromosomes entirely? Intersex people exist.

        1. Intersex is irrelevant to biological males claiming to be females ’cause they feel like it. As I understand, the majority of intersex people DO NOT like having their lived experiences appropriated by trans-theory supporters.

        2. Biology is not a binary system, if you’re gotten past high school and lies told to children? You’d know that what we consider to be binary as actually a spectrum.

          I suspect intersex people are even less happy at being outright erased by Cis women who ignore them so they can be bigoted to trans folk.

        3. Suspect all you want – but from what I’ve read online, intersex people are not happy about ONE GROUP appropriating their experiences – and that is TRANS.

      3. I wish you the best of luck, Jess. I have always stated opinions similar to yours, and been called a “TERF” and a “bigot” and a “transmisogynist” for my troubles. It’s the abuse hyped on those of us who share such mild views – that though trans women are women, biological sex still matters and is still a locus of oppression for females – that first made me question the queer/trans theory narrative. Ultimately, I decided I am absolutely opposed to the terms “TERF” and “cis,” and to queer/trans theory in general. I’m concerned about biological sex oppression, and anybody with issues regarding their own personal gender identity is just going to have to take care of themselves. I am not going to be a Handmaid.

  8. I love so much of what you write. It expresses views that have seen me blocked by trans activists and a fight that I’ve become too easy to continue. The one concern I have is that your focus on periods and reproduction marginalise people like me. Being raised as female, expecting to live like any other woman only to discover a failed reproductive system.

    Where then do such definitions leave me? Oppressed and excluded even from being a woman.

    Sorry to rant, but do keep up the good work.

    1. I’m really sorry – I didn’t want to suggest you are less of a woman. I think on the contrary, the way in which “being a woman” is constructed means those who don’t have female bodies that “perform” in the way female bodies are meant to are doubly discriminated against (I have very limited experience of this, in terms of starting menstruation very late and suffering a miscarriage, but even that made me feel ashamed. And I think that’s part of our response to female biology, to expect this “performance” and not to discuss it when things don’t turn out that way).
      I am so sorry for causing upset. Hope you are okay.

      1. Thank you for your concern Glosswitch. At my age, I am well past caring, and being lesbian proved adequate to provide me with a family. I posted a little hastily as I do get the fact that the expectations placed upon women are the cause of a tremendous anxiety and an entire industry to attempt to get women to have children when they are unable to fall pregnant naturally. After all, what else are we for? Once again, thanks for writing the things that I think.

        NoThankYou ToCis – that is really the point, the double discrimination. Most people sympathise for the ‘loss’ of ability to procreate simply because of patriarchal expectations. If a woman is unable to meet those expectations then she is of no use. I could not due to ovarian immaturity – something that is treatable these days.

        I am somewhat at a loss as to why these trans women are making such a fuss over this. Surely it is obvious as physical appearance (in all but a small case) is apparent (even if imperfect).

        I will leave you with one thought, if I was inadequate to meet the requirements of a patriarchal society, then would that justify me transitioning to a male role and being fully identified as male?

        1. Trans people make a ‘fuss’ because it’s like defining disabled person as only physically disabled and then denying that it results in discrimination against those who are also disabled but whose lives are slightly different.

          Trans people make a ‘fuss’ because it’s resulting in deaths, abuse and attacks on trans people by TERFS calling themselves feminists who gleefully endanger my sisters.

        2. Do you really think a significant amount of the oppression of trans people is inspired by feminist theory? Come on.

          Describing someone’s sex isn’t ‘abuse’, by the way.

        3. Yes and no, Yes because TERFS reinforce patriarchal constructs against Trans individuals in order to benefit themselves from it. No, because Cis men are ultimately the source of those patriarchal constructs which TERFS use.

        4. Naming the reality of how patriarchal constructs work is not endorsing them, Dawn. When feminists say, “Womanhood is created by undergoing systematic, systemic oppression against females from infancy, and if someone has not experienced this they are not in the social category of ‘woman,'” how could you possibly construe that as ENDORSEMENT.

          The real issue here seems to be this: you think that gender is a meta-social thing, that has just somehow gotten mucked up by patriarchy. So you think that “woman” as a concept would still exist, regardless. The rest of us do not. From where I’m standing, the one who is clinging to patriarchal constructs is you.

        5. It is when you decide like a gormless child that “Men are right, people who can get pregnant are women”. Cripes if men decided women = only white people, you’d be arguing that women of color aren’t women.

    2. Can you be more specific about your “failed” reproductive system? Don’t mean to be rude. But, ALL bodily systems can fail, there can be anomalies, birth defects. Eye problems run in my family. Could be cancer, diabetes, flat feet, heart defects. It’s not a matter of “focus on periods and reproduction.” The focus is on FUNCTION, we are a sexually-reproducing species! that is the system in question, not the ocular system, not the digestive system. You are not marginalized by feminists who acknowledge biology. If you are oppressed and excluded, it is by patriarchal norms that say ALL WOMEN should bear children, and make that the center of their lives.

  9. Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I’m still thinking a lot and perhaps getting things wrong but I definitely feel in alignment with Dawn’s comments… I will try not to repeat them. I would like to suggest that a way forward from these arguments might be considering which aspects of gender oppression are linked to particular anatomical attributes and which aren’t – much depends only on being read as a woman or identifying as a woman. I don’t agree that a concept of sex that is fluid and dynamic, reflecting fluid and dynamic lived experience rather than being rigidly defined according to the structure of binary gender, would mean that we can’t name or acknowledge structural oppression of women, or would hinder us in that ‘unquestioning acceptance’ of our bodies that you (so rightly, I feel) call for. On the contrary, I think dismantling the exclusively binary conception of sex that denies or pathologises what some people experience can only work against the oppressive binary of gender.

    1. You can’t “dismantle” biological fact. The thought actually makes me laugh – why not dismantle our understanding of the ocular system, the digestive system? CAN’T be done. Neither can you do that with the REPRODUCTIVE system – why would you want to? Of course, to obscure sexism that hurts women and benefits men.

      1. Except it isn’t tied to reproducing brightspark. There is nothing about being capable of giving birth that causes sexism. It’s all outside of our biology.

        1. “There is nothing about being capable of giving birth that causes sexism.” — your understanding of feminist analysis is incredibly weak.

        2. Giving birth does not cause sexism. Or do you think Sexism magically doesn’t happen to people who haven’t given birth?

        3. You’ve missed out a lot of the time were all a woman’s attributes were entirely secondary to her capacity to give birth to to the most powerful heirs possible.
          Also, being weakened or in fact dying, from any number of gynecological complications, tends put a damper on the list of potential accomplishments a woman can have. If those accomplishments weren’t still secondary to reproductive capacity.

          So yes, biology and reproduction was, is, still quite a big fucking deal.

          If you’ve managed not to see how this hierarchical, territorial, society could have organised itself around that then..,well, that’s quite frustrating.

    2. You say “much depends only on being read as a woman” but where do you think these readings come from? Why are women as a class identified as inferior? It is not due to things they have done, said or thought. It is not to do with their minds. It is to do with reproductive difference, which is not as fluid as you would like to suggest.
      There are no grey areas regarding the different cost to me of having sex or bearing a child compared to someone who is male. And misreadings of gender identity (or ideals of what it should be) arise from this. You can’t undo gender prejudice by denying sex difference. You need to accept it, fully – and in doing so, accept that being part of the “potentially impregnatable” class or identified as such is an enormous source of oppression. The word “female” matters in this context because, if not, what else do we call people who have these bodies? And how do we change our view of female persons if we pretend the very source of their oppression and misrepresentation is irrelevant?

      1. Thank you for taking the time to reply to me = )
        When you explain that the subordinate status of women as a class is founded in reproductive difference I don’t disagree with you, but hardly any of the ways I am treated as inferior actually depend on the bits of me in question. We aren’t oppressed because of what we think or say, but sexist men assume that we can’t think as well as them, and ignore our words, right? You have surely seen those stories about trans men overhearing work colleagues saying “he’s so much more competent than his sister!” etc. The ways sexism manifests (hehe) rarely involve anyone checking what’s in our pants. You don’t have to have all the working parts (and I don’t by the way, I’m a cis woman but personally not impregnatable) to be treated like crap by sexists and misogynists.

        ‘What else shall we call people with these bodies?’ or maybe how shall we refer to these typically-female bits? maybe just with a few more words than before. Inclusive language as Edinburgh Eye says. I dare say we will manage to express ourselves – you are already doing it when you say potentially impregnatable etc. I think this subject calls for some imagination… I think we can talk about those who identify as women as an oppressed class inclusively – otherwise I think we are stuck with the same excluding concepts eg you’re in as long as you don’t have a penis. I think it’s very harmful to call trans women ‘male’, and vice versa, and misgendering their body parts just has to be equally unacceptable. I support trans people’s struggle for recognition, access to healthcare, autonomy, respect, etc and I believe you do too. I think it is very difficult to uphold that position if you don’t believe what they say? I believe trans woman are female, and no argument will convince me otherwise.

        1. “hardly any of the ways I am treated as inferior actually depend on the bits of me in question.”

          So on what basis are you treated as inferior? Because you ‘identify’ as a woman? If women of the past had called themselves men would they have been allowed to vote and own property? No, because their oppression was based on their female reproductive role, not the fact that they considered themselves to be women. The sexism we have now is a hangover from thousands of years of oppression based on reproductive roles. It has never had anything to do with personal identity. Just because some women are infertile does not mean their societal role isn’t based on the assumption that, like most people of their sex, they have working female biology. Infertile women aren’t oppressed because they call themselves women, they are oppressed because of female reproduction even when they can’t do it themselves.

          I love how upset people get about the idea that ‘female’ or ‘woman’ mean something about a person’s anatomy because it ‘reduces women to their parts!!!1’ but no one cares if you call women ‘impregnable people’ or ‘people with vaginas’ or whatever…

        2. What is it that offends about the word “female” to describe reproductive systems? It’s an important identifying word. “Impregnatable” sounds like something straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale – truly reducing people to walking wombs. Biological sex is real and it is nothing to be frightened of.
          I am not excluding people who are not female from being female. That’s hardly my call! But what you say is inclusive is appropriative. It’s taking the language of an oppressed group and decontextualising it. It is not for an oppressed group to find new words to justify their experiences. Moreover, you are making a judgment that the voices of trans people are more authoritative on gender than the voices of cis women, even if cis women say gender harms them. There is no reason why the former should be more insightful. We all experience gender. None of us are without an identity or sense of ourselves. If some cis women seek to define femaleness, as a source of oppression, in biological realities rather than in gender categories in which they don’t believe, that deserves respect. One person’s reality doesn’t necessarily override another’s. If I don’t accuse someone of erasing or abusing me by using a different vocabulary, I am owed the same respect in return.
          The fundamental point – that misogyny is based, not on hatred of body parts, but on hatred of women for having these parts – is very important. If I am denied an abortion, it is not because I am a person with an occupied womb, it is due to a dehumanising concept of what women are for. If we talk about “pregnant people” we deny this and we deny misogyny in practice. Precision in language matters here. Without it, we are complicit in rejecting any structural analysis of or challenge to patriarchy. Moreover, we implicitly endorse the idea that gender is an essential concept rather than a construct that we experience as real. Allowing gender – an oppressive, hierarchical theory – to override the reality of sex difference is deeply conservative, individualistic and elitist (only the very privileged can allow themselves this indulgence). It doesn’t show the love for women and people in general that feminism should seek to embody.

        3. Perhaps I’m the one lacking imagination, but I am failing to understand how in practice how using phrases like ‘pregnant people’ make a structural analysis of gender oppression more difficult. Can someone help me out with an example? So far all the arguments I’ve heard for this have been… sort of emotive rhetoric that I can’t apply to any particular situation?

          I can easily imagine potential consequences of feminism insisting that a pregnant person is a woman – let’s imagine for instance a pregnant trans man, who formerly you were quite happy to call a man, but now insist on misgendering. Since feminists have fought to influence structures of reproductive care and rights these are extended to and designed for women only. The trans man struggles to access them and if he does access them has humiliating, triggering experiences.

          To me, it’s your argument that decontextualises body parts? I am insisting that a trans man’s womb, if he has one, is, being the womb of a man, a male womb. This respects the wholeness of the body, self-determination, bodily autonomy.

          My argument does not reinscribe gender at all. I believe that this focus on biology is an attempt to turn sex into gender – to use it as a social sign that excludes? I attempted to explain this more clearly (hope this works!):

          I attempt to explain pic.twitter.com/VZb3RdPBMJ— Zanna (@RoseAnnaStar) February 18, 2014

        4. Oh hang on I just did something utterly crap. While ’emotive rhetoric’ may be a reasonable characterisation of the arguments being made, it’s totally irresponsible and lazy of me to say that in the context of feminist discussion (I am TOTALLY against that emotion vs reason dichotomy so often used against us) and I didn’t mean to suggest that arguments about people’s feelings are unimportant (that would be a really crap argument).

          What I should have said is that I feel the arguments are unsubstantiated – I keep hearing ‘but terrible things will happen if [eg we can’t insist that wombs are female]’ but I can’t work out what the terrible things could be in practice?

          And of course, my argument is that any part of your body is female (so go ahead and call it such) if you are a woman and any part of your body is male if you are a man. My argument is for self-determination and autonomy.

      2. Why are women as a class identified as inferior? It is not due to things they have done, said or thought. It is not to do with their minds. It is to do with reproductive difference

        Oh. “Why do I earn less as a woman than I did as a man?

        See also links from Women get paid less.

        Or, more shortly:

        No, women as a class are not identified as inferior because “reproductive difference”. If we were, lesbians and trans women would tend to be paid more highly and treated better than cis / heterosexually-active women, and we’re not.

        1. Lesbians and trans women are part of the class women, who are discriminated against because as a whole that class is seen as reproductively inferior and to be controlled. But you knew that, right? You must be just pretending to miss the point by now …

        2. Thank you for responding to a comment here rather than barracking me on Twitter.

          No, I don’t think I’m missing the point – though if I have been missing the point in all my previous comments, perhaps you might engage with those and demonstrate what point I missed?

          I disagree with you that it is reproductive capacity that “causes” misogyny and sexist discrimination. I disagree with you because the evidence shows that women who do not have the reproductive capacity of getting pregnant still experience misogyny and sexist discrimination: I also disagree that this is even a useful way of expressing it – as Susan Feludi says somewhere in Backlash, only in a sexist/misogynist culture would a capacity for getting pregnant and giving birth ever be perceived as a reason for inferiority.

        3. You do realise 99.99% of people define ‘women’ as adult people with female bodies?

          Do you actually think those people’s ideas about what women can or should do are because of women’s ‘gender identity’ and not the fact that they are physically female?

          Do you think the societal expectations about what women are good at, what they should aim for in life, whether they make good leaders etc. originally stemmed from women simply ‘identifying’ as women? How would that work? Was it a random choice between people who called themselves men and people who called themselves women?

        4. Feminism is a movement against sexism, which is prejudice or mistreatment based on sex.

          In a time before ‘woman’ meant ‘someone who calls themselves a woman’ (i.e. very nearly all of human history) how could men tell which people were women and which people were men? How did men avoid accidentally mistreating a trans man?

  10. In response to your flood of tweets on Twitter – I am still unclear why you opted to respond there rather than here –

    I share your feeling that attacks on reproductive freedom are misogynistic in origin, and ought to be identified as such.

    I have no difficulty with calling out prolifers for their attacks on girls and women in the name of “protecting foetuses”. But it is also worth noting that for the most part, the very same people who identify as prolife also identify themselves as against same-sex marriage, adoption by same-sex parents, women in same-sex relationships getting pregnant by AID, etc: they also identify themselves as against trans girls and women and trans boys and men: Brennan’s biggest support in her attacks on trans women has come from conservative hate-groups, not from feminists. It is for this reason that I say misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia are all tangled together in the same root cluster, and need to be dealt with together, not separately.

    When I was sixteen and read Man Made Language for the first time, it excited me hugely and I deliberately set out to teach myself how to write non-sexist English – a learning experience which has been of huge benefit to me ever since. Writing inclusively about abortion access, to make clear that some of the people who need access to safe legal abortion are men, may be difficult, but the idea that is impossible is anathema to me: inclusive language always looks difficult before you start.

    I really don’t want to have a Twitterfight with you, though.

    1. You have got to be kidding. First, the conservative right in many countries (ie. USA, Iran) are all on board with the trans project. It is easier for people to reconcile homosexuality that way. Heard of Pat Robertson? Check out his stance on trans persons. (http://www.cmf.org.uk/publications/content.asp?context=article&id=928) In fact, the Christian right is far kinder to transgendered persons than homosexuals by leaps! Many Christian groups are actually sympathetic to trans persons.

      The fact is all that you state about abortion rights is a female right. By trying to be ‘inclusive’ you are delegitimizing females and their bodies. Bodies are a reality and that you choose to ignore this specificity is your right; however that you refuse to allow for people to speak of female bodies in baffling and in denial of the reality that female-bodied persons face.

      1. First, the conservative right in many countries (ie. USA, Iran) are all on board with the trans project

        Thanks for demonstrating so swiftly that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        This is the position of the religious right in the US to trans inclusion: as hardline opposition as Bug Brennan could wish.

  11. “What does trans or cis even mean if you are denying there is any such thing as a female body?” (GW)

    Precisely – if there’s nothing inherently male or female about a body, why are people undergoing surgery and hormone therapy to change the ‘sex’ of their body to match their own gender identity? Surely this doesn’t make sense?

    I can understand wanting to change one’s gender presentation to the world (we all do this to a lesser or greater extent). But if you are arguing for the removal of the link between ‘the typical genetics, hormones and reproductive organs of those bodies humans class as female’ and the concept of ‘female’ itself, why, if you felt yourself actually to be a woman, would you then go about replicating a ‘female’ body for yourself? This is a genuine question, I’m not trying to provoke name-calling…

      1. But I genuinely do not understand why trans perspectives on gender are assumed to be more authoritative than cis ones (at least, it seems, those of cis women). Cis women are not non-gendered. They are not some blank canvas, walking wombs waiting to have their true meaning explained to them. They are whole human beings who experience a hell of a lot of gender-based discrimination and have a right to feel angry if they see the theory that justifies their oppression constantly being defended just because someone else thinks their lived experience is more “real”.

        1. Whose view do you give more weight? The inclusive one that actively works against oppression, or the exclusive one that reinforces it? What you’re expressing Glosswitch is the -latter-. Defining women via biology, reinforces ideas about presumed female bodies and reinforces the narrow notion of what a woman is. Which oppresses any woman who doesn’t meet that idea.

          In short, the idea that women = reproduction is misogynistic. In short how about we decouple women from reproduction and make it so denying folks with Uteri healthcare is denying people it.

      2. Why does when a woman write about female biology she is referred to a trans woman for ‘skooling’? Women’s perspectives are valid and need not be buttressed by male bodies theories. While I am sure they add to male-bodied experiences of the subject, this article is in fact about female-bodied perspectives.

  12. As usual, this conversation completely ignores the fact that a cornerstone of radical feminism is not believing in gender. We are gender atheists. No one ever says to an atheist, “Why do you hate Christians?” We accept the fact that most of the world thinks that gender is a very real thing. What is interesting is that now in the world of trans activism, we are persecuted as a minority and it has become very much like religious persecution. Are we not allowed to believe what we believe? The rejection of gender and the gender binary is not an antiquated idea left over from 70’s feminism; it is an idea that has occurred and reoccurred since the beginning of recorded feminism. It is still a radical idea and belief. The use of TERF is offensive and ridiculous. It is like saying Christian Exclusionary Atheists. The way trans activists are going after radical feminists is nothing more than witch hunting.

    1. Do you think Church groups should be allowed to oppose the right of Cis women then? Given that is what they believe? Since belief is so so very very important to you?

  13. I think that comment makes very little sense. I fully support the right of people to believe in god or whatever religious higher power they believe in, or to believe in nothing. I do not oppose the rights of trans folks to believe whatever they believe in regarding gender. My disbelief in gender is in no way linked to opposing the rights of anyone. I do not attack anyone for believing in gender. Nor do I oppose or try to prevent people from forming space around gender. It’s a big world, there is plenty of space available to be framed in a variety of ways so that everyone has their needs met. Only my gender atheism is under attack and being framed as something hateful, something that makes as much sense as saying someone who doesn’t believe in god hates everyone who does, or is trying to attack them in any way. There are radical feminists who are being told to renounce their belief that gender is a social construct, or they won’t be allowed to give a lecture on something unrelated like the environment. It is insane and this issue is becoming one of free speech.

    1. Free speech, you use the term but it does not mean what you think it means.

      Free speech means: The government will not throw you in jail for expressing your viewpoint.

      It does not mean: That any private group is obliged to give you a platform.

      The cornerstone of radical feminism is apparently actually reinforcing gender essentialism, telling trans women they’re not women and writing horribly bigoted shit about them and other trans folks. That’s why folks use TERF, it’s not because TERFS actually oppose gender essentialism, it’s because they support it and yes, do exclude trans women.

      1. LOL – the cornerstone of transgenderism is reinforcing gender essentialism, telling women that their reproductive systems are not INTEGRAL to their experience as women (regardless of the actual status of any given reproductive system at any give point in time – yes, Dawn, post-hysterectomy, a woman is still a woman). People use TERF because they CANNOT win the argument on logic or reasoning or scientific facts – so they must resort to name-calling and bullying.

      2. Re: Free speech issue – re: Lierre Keith speaking at environmental event – they did not invite her because they felt “obliged,” it’s because they felt she could make a significant contribution to the conference, with her perspectives, insight and reasoning. Yes, trans activists can protest the choice of Lierre Kieth as speaker. But we who agree with her views, can protest trans activists, AND the bullying and hate speech they engage in, when it comes to Lierre Kieth. It works both ways. It is not possible logically to exclude trans women from the category of woman…because they are NOT in fact women. No offense to the orange, by refusing to call it a banana.

      3. No, telling one tiny group of women that they don’t get to sit on “woman” and scream and kick in a “mine” tantrum like a two year old would. You’d think sharing was the worst thing ever the ways TERFS act.

        No, people use TERF because it’s an accurate term for a group that are not for all women because they exclude a large chunk of women.

        The only bully around is TERFS like you, you might as well have been born a Cis man, the entitled selfish privileged way you act.

        1. All emotion and very little reasoning. You can’t win arguments like this. Just make your side look like bullies. I’m not bullying anyone, I’m DISAGREEING with what you say, and feel the evidence you present is weak at best. You are name-calling. I certainly am not excluding “a large chunk of women,” LOL. “entitled, selfish, privileged,” LOL.

  14. It actually makes me laugh when someone accuses a radical feminist with being a gender essentialist. You do mean sex essentialist, right? I state that I do not believe in gender, and then I’m responded to with “gender, gender, gender”. Going back to my religious example, if I state I do not believe in god and someone says, “But you believe I’m a Christian, right?”, what would it mean if I said I did? All I would be saying is that yes, I believe that you believe in something that I don’t think is real. That is how I feel about gender. Given that, it doesn’t mean I would protest in front of their church or try to boycott religious events. Go! Believe what you want to believe. Your belief in gender – the fact that most of the world believes in gender – does not threaten my disbelief in it. We understand why you hate us (and yes, that is the direction of the hatred). We get that all of trans theory is absolutely dependent on the gender binary, the very binary that we as radical feminists are working with all of our might to destroy. We know that you hate us not because of any acts of hatred against trans women, but because of what we BELIEVE. We get it. We see you.

    1. If people don’t believe in gender? Why so much “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh woman belongs only to women like me, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah you can’t have it” *throws self on floor to kick and scream like a two year old* from TERFS? Oh right, because they’re not gender atheists, they’re gender essentialists who think woman means TERF and fuck all over women.

      To compare TERFS and religion? Would be like someone swearing to be an atheist while going to church, following all the structures, fervently believing in God and the religion.

      Given that Trans people don’t just include Trans women and Trans men? You have no idea what you’re even talking about.

      You aren’t destroying it, you’re building an altar to it and worshiping at it. That’s a mirror you’re looking in.

      1. I disagree with your analysis/synopsis of Syd’s position. As a biological female, I’m not throwing a tantrum about something biological males can’t have – I’m merely stating the fact that they DON’T have it, and never will – the it in question being status as an adult female – an adult biological female. We will have to agree to disagree…because neither of us is going to change our minds. Can you respect people making up their own mind on this issue, based on their interpretation of the facts?

  15. Thank you for writing this, GW. It’s always good to see feminists who still base their on analysis on reality and common sense rather than post-modern intellectual diarrhea.

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