Biological essentialism is not gender essentialism and it is not biological determinism.
Or in plain speak – Believing that there are innate characteristics to both sexes is not the belief that the sexes are naturally inclined towards carrying out different roles in society and that one sex is therefore destined to dominate or be ruled by the other.
Yet when so many women hear talk about the fact that there is something about men which makes them act differently than women, something that exists outside of human social constructs altogether they immediately take up the charge of “gender essentialism” or “biological determinism”. Now what “essentialist” radical feminist has ever in any way made the argument that men are destined to rule women? Or that their system of patriarchy is natural?
These things don’t naturally lead into one another.
Most female animals organize their societies around females and their children. The male animals are generally shoved to the periphery. They are far less in number because they are not cared for by the female society (and you can sure as shit guess that the males aren’t taking care of each other). The males that are on the edge interact with females for breeding purposes and in some cases act as a deterrent for other males of the species to come around. The reason for this is that across the animal kingdom males are generally violent and destructive. However there is no patriarchy among these animals. They live in what is a female and child collective. It is my belief as an “essentialist” that this is the natural order of things. That patriarchy has taken men from the outskirts of society and thrust them into the center. Turning the natural order of things on it’s head.
It makes sense that if males are inherently violent and destructive that patriarchy is therefore unnatural as they cannot be trusted to organize a decent society such is their lust for blood and destruction.
This does not mean I think women are immune to negative behavior, that they are incapable of horror. But I seriously doubt any of the atrocities we as a species have witnessed throughout history would have happened if women were in the driver’s seat.
This also doesn’t mean I think men can’t bake cookies or sew, or like makeup and pink. Confusing a biological understanding of male violence with a belief in the oppressive gender roles that have been thrust upon women since the dawn of history is just lazy thinking. Confusing it with a belief that men are therefore naturally meant to rule over us is just absurd.
So much of women’s reality is hidden in plain sight. We do not see the things that are right in front of us. The distortions patriarchy levels have women chasing our metaphorical tails. It is much easier to not see what is plain. It is much easier to project humanity where there is none. Project emotion where there is none. This is how men are able so effectively to mindfuck women. They can tell us to our faces (and often do) what they know they inherently are. What they are capable of and we will argue with them until we are blue in the face that they are WRONG and that they’re really like us deep down. They can openly treat their pursuit of women to fuck as sport and women will tell themselves that is not what is happening. We have to, have to realize that our minds are not our own, that they’ve been accustomed to a lifetime of denying their own realities.
Radical Feminism requires that pursuit of women’s truth, women’s reality be primary. As others have written before me, it requires us to follow our thoughts, no matter how scary, to their natural conclusions.
When I was a Marxist Feminist, a few years back I had this tendency to argue everything. I had to be right. I would argue with men about how they needed to change, how they were capable of so much more, how they denigrated themselves by being sexist. I would have these blocks. Like I wanted to go further but couldn’t. Like I knew what I was arguing for was just bullshit. But it was hard to let go of because of my own ego. I had identity wrapped up in “not being like that”. Meaning I wasn’t fucking crazy. I was “reasonable”. Basically I wanted men to validate that my feminist cause was just. It took years to figure out that I didn’t need to argue anymore. My cause needs no justification. My boundaries need no justification. My politics need no justification. They simply are. Real. Elemental.