There’s this unironic use of the word “unicorn” I hear from women from time to time when they’re describing male feminist allies or their male partners. Of course unicorns don’t exist so no man is a unicorn special dude who is magically immune to misogyny. However I’ve found a lot of women gravitate towards certain men as models of pro-feminist manhood. One such man who gets a lot of attention and respect from radical feminists is John Stoltenberg. He lived with Andrea Dworkin and after her death admitted to being married to her. So of course he must be a special, non-sexist sort of guy right?
I decided to ask him why he was referring to a man as “she”. By this point I already knew I was opening a can of worms and that other women would no doubt come out and start questioning him as well, which they did.
In fact he was questioned about his position on Bradley Manning being put in a women’s prison, which he evaded by saying that he believes “Chelsea Manning shouldn’t be in prison”. As if that were the question being posed. That is a completely separate discussion to have. Although Bradley does have a history of violent behavior with women which John even talked about to show us how well-versed he is with the details surrounding the case. Obviously the questions
were too much for him to answer from women who you know, supported his work previously. So he responded by saying that he is somehow an ally of
radical feminists that does not agree, nor align with, fear and loathing of transpeople.
So basically John Stoltenberg believes that radical feminists are only motivated by “fear and loathing” in their rejection of transgenderism. Oh and that therefore women are out of line for having “fear and loathing” of men.
Cathy Brennan decided to ask him on facebook where there is more room for explanation. The results were pretty interesting. This was his in-depth explanation which I do not accept from a man who calls himself an “ally”.
Its nice that he knows nice transpeople. I’m sure a lot of us do. Thats not the issue. Radical Feminists have a problem with trans politics because they’re detrimental to women and to the gains that feminism has made for women. Its not about an ideological threat, its about a very real material threat to women’s only spaces, lesbian communities, young lesbians caught up in the trans trend, and sex-based protections such as title IX, shelters for battered women, etc.
He also made this stunning remark which again, points to the absurdity and misogyny inherent in a defense of transgender politics.
Its important for women to know who men are. When they claim to be our ally its important to understand what basis they have for doing so and if that basis is built on a shoddy foundation or non-existent at all (in the case of John Stoltenberg) its important that we expose it. John has already made himself out to be the victim of a vicious attack from radical feminists (which earned me a bunch of stupid attack from lefties about the “police state” and how cops are bad??) but considering how angry a lot of us were at being bashed and thrown under the bus by him the dialogue was pretty respectful. But of course we should never have to have these discussions with men about the intricacies of how we know the difference between them and us. Being an ally to women means putting women first. He continually makes the case that radical feminists believe transgender politics are harmful to our politics. No. Its harmful to women. That is why we oppose it. No ideological position comes before the basic position of opposing that which harms women. It isn’t too much to ask that supposed male allies at the very least not harm women by obfuscating the very definition of woman.