This is an open letter about men who claim to be feminist and to the women who believe them. This letter is directed at women who — without any analysis or criteria — believe men who claim to be feminist. This letter is not directed at anybody else, so please ensure that you are indeed a member of the intended audience before replying. This letter has been written with the cooperation of 28 radical feminists, all of whom should be familiar to those who frequent radical feminist spaces. We are rather serious today, about a rather serious harm being committed with impunity.
Please keep in mind that it is not our wish to alienate any person who might one day become a genuine supporter of women’s liberation, and while this set of harmful behaviors has been named after one man who exudes these particular qualities in abundance, this letter is only intended to help all men (and the women who nurture them) become the helpful allies whom you claim to be. (Not that we even need your help, remember paternalism is sexist too)
Being a feminist means being gaslighted on a mass level.
So like many others I’m upset about the posts several bloggers have done against the trans critical radical feminists. For one, the arguments are no different than your run of the mill liberalism and appeals to women’s desires to be liked and not be “hateful” towards our oppressors. (Be spiritutally purer than them basically) but I also can’t help but recognize the lack of solidarity for what many of us who have chosen to speak out about the homophobia of certain trans people have gone through this week. One of our own had her personal work and home address posted as an intimidation tactic against her by Xander Sarkisova because she dared to tell Xander in no uncertain terms that lesbians have a right to not have sex with males if they so fucking choose.
I personally did a video responding to what happened and Xander’s whitewashing of history on his blog and had a false copyright infringement claim made against my video. (ILLEGAL BTW! but to counter it I’d have to give this asshole my personal fucking information!)
So one woman’s life is being threatened and one woman’s free speech is being infringed upon, lesbians rights to sexual autonomy from men (all women’s sexual autonomy from men) are being mocked and the problem we all need to focus on is how to sound nicer and dialogue better with people who have utter contempt for conscious women. Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously, am I being trolled here? This doesn’t make sense.
All I’m seeing is that radical feminists need to make themselves more respectable if they’re going to be taken seriously. Since when did acting like respectable ladies get women anything? Oh yeah, NEVER!
Oh and also apparently people promoting the idea of gender as an inherent identity rather than a form of sex caste stereotyping isn’t oppressing women? What?
Can we not throw lesbians under the bus with our talk of supporting the “lgbtBBQ” community? Their rights are consistently being violated by the trans community. Oh and the general umbrella “queer” community as well. Its tough times for dykes and they could use a little sisterly support. They’ve written about this extensively. Its as if you’d think they didn’t exist.
Change doesn’t happen because we have nice discussions and win people over to our side through our reasoning and logic. If that were the case we’d have won this war (and this fight against patriarchy is a war and the patriarchs are winning) ages ago. We have to force it to happen. We win recruits by actually making their lives better, by forcing change to happen, not by stimulating their neurons and making them like us because we’re so nice.
It feels bad because I genuinely like these women but I’m at the point where I feel like I’m actually having to defend the fact that my abuse has happened. It feels really fucking bad.
When I first became a committed feminist there were several books I read that really influenced my development. The first was Personal Politics by Sara Evans. From that book I learned that the second wave of feminism was an explosion of female rage against sexist oppression in the New Left and particularly in the Civil Rights movement. Women were dedicating their lives to causes that weren’t female-specific and were become increasingly aware of the contempt men had for them, even as “comrades”. The birth of second wave feminism was directly a result of the organizing of black women against the sexist oppression they were experiencing.
Around the US as well, many women of color were involved in legalizing abortion alongside ending forced sterilization before Roe v. Wade.
Another book that influenced me greatly was Angela Davis’ Women, Race and Class. She went further than Sara Evans, looking at what sparked the first wave. Again, abolitionist women were the driving force behind the suffragist movement. What struck me most was how involved black women were in the suffragist movement, a history pretty much ignored today.
I’m writing this because time and time again I hear black and white liberals refer to feminism as a white supremacist movement. I hear white women say that black men are better allies than white women (setting oneself up for failure I must say) and thats why women of color “aren’t involved” in feminism en masse. (as if men of color don’t beat, rape and subjugate women of color just like white men do)
Its liberal, racist erasure of a huge portion of feminism from the public eye and its BULLSHIT. I am not denying the intense racism of many reactionaries that have been elevated to public status in our movement. Certainly the focus on liberal reforms in feminist history has meant that opportunists come in and try to stifle the revolutionary potential of women’s awakening. But liberal bourgeois feminists are not representative of actual feminism that has transformed women’s lives.
I don’t doubt that some say things like this out of a misguided desire to sound empathetic to the intense struggle of women of color but feeling sorry for women does not make the situation better. Instead use the resources you have to give a hand up. Its also important to remember that when you do say things like that you erase a huge part of feminist history. My life as a white woman has been made infinitely better because of the sacrifices and struggles waged by non-white women in the US. They deserve to be remembered instead of being whitewashed from our history.