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Feminism, blogging and bigotry

January 11, 2010

As you can see from my archives I am new to blogging. When I set up this blog it wasn’t with the overt intention of writing a feminist blog – in fact I didn’t have any intention further than collecting information that I felt was important. Sometimes I present this information with my own words, but more often I just present it. When Earwicga was blogrolled by another blog I was really pleased, but also puzzled that I had been blogrolled into the Feminist section.  Much of the information I present is to do with human rights abuses, and particularly against women as they are the most visible to me, and I could also argue the least visible to society. That said, it wasn’t particularly odd to be blogrolled as a Feminist blog, and also because I have always thought of myself as a feminist it wasn’t something I disliked.  But it did occasion me to think about the purpose of my blog and to also think about who was reading it. I am still both amazed and pleased to see my stats show I have readers, and I am always happy to get comments.  I haven’t received hateful comments and I haven’t had any occasion to remove a comment, and I know this is something to be cherished.

I am also relatively new to reading blogs.  The blogosphere is a wonderful place to me and informs me far more than the formal mainstream media.  I have always known that much of the news presented away from the internet is propaganda.  It is censored to present a very narrow viewpoint of the world and leaves out so much that it can hardly judged as anything more than propaganda channels.

Feminism is a viewpoint which is conspicuously absent from mainstream media, and it is has been great to find such a wide variety of feminist and other blogs written by women to read and engage with on the internet.  Some blogs and posts are better than others, but I have learnt an amazing amount in just a few months.  With the exception of reading Naomi Wolf’s Misconceptions during pregnancy (which I am still not sure was a good idea) my formal feminist learning and book reading had stopped at ‘Post-Feminism’.  I didn’t understand it at all.  That meant I was pretty much an un-reconstructed second waver who had never heard of third-wave feminism and on my first encounters with it I was pretty hostile.  It really was the Borg to me, and The Onion’s Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does summed up third-wave feminism to me.  I made stupid comments on blogs, which regretfully I now cannot add a revised comment because posts tend to be closed after a specified amount of time (in fact I still make stupid comments, but I am trying to engage brain fully before I click the submit button) .  I was questioned and called out on with varying degrees of civility about what I meant by my comments.  That made me dig my heels in even more.

Eventually I had to stop and think.  I read more and commented less and by opening my mind I got to see the nuances of third-wave feminism.  What I saw wasn’t perfect, but neither was it what I had initially thought it to be.  I have come to see that there was a lot that needed fixing with second wave feminism.  Namely the damage that the unaddressed/unacknowledged privilege and misinformed/discriminatory views of some of it’s most vocal and visual proponents such as Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel has done.  And I don’t think I am alone to feel cheated by Greer.

On encountering the terms ‘privilege’ and ‘cis’ I felt hostility.  I didn’t want to accept it.  I didn’t want to see it as a valid term.  I knew about discrimination of all types, had experienced it and opposed it.  But cis privilege?  And here’s the crux really  – I DON’T get to set the terms of another’s oppression.  As a cis woman I have privilege over a trans woman.  All cis women do.  It’s actually not a difficult concept to get your head round once the hostility and the deeply ingrained false beliefs are identified and examined, but it is one which has given me a huge amount of thought, or in a pre 1900’s definition – a lot of navel gazing, about what constitutes women only spaces and also about a couple of  ‘little’ concepts: gender and essentialism.  And it shouldn’t have had to – it should have been automatic.  Human rights are human rights.  There are no exceptions.  The only reason to exclude a trans woman from an identified woman only space is to allow an exception to her human rights, exclusion denies a trans woman her womanhood and her safety amongst other things.  That is hateful and it is wrong.  I am still working on the the ‘little’ concepts.

I feel like doing a little like Oscar speech now and thanking those who have helped me understand cis privilege in a this-is-all-about-me kinda way – but that is completely overshadowed by the knowledge that I  have some crap views embedded within my being.  And oh yeah, this isn’t about me!

But at least I don’t write bigoted and hateful blogs which are dressed up with feminist feathers – two of the most hateful being AROOO and FAB Matters.  AROOO is unapologetically disgusting, while FAB Matters dresses itself up as a serious discussion place with the sub heading ‘transgender politics through a feminist lens’ which makes it more disgusting if that is possible.  The absolute dishonesty is vile – as are other tactics used by transphobics such as dog whistle politics and esoterism.  There are other similarly bigoted blogs and you can find them easily through the two named above.  But a word of warning before you go to google – be prepared to be very angry.  I am.  I may be questioning my beliefs on gender, which will necessarily change my feminism – but I will never accept bigotry and hatred towards women in any feminist vision.

For the oppressed to gleefully practice oppression is unacceptable and can only be condemned.

Edit:  I forgot to write something in the post:  Trans feminism is essential to feminism.  The experiences of trans women are invaluable to any discussion on gender and the gender binary.

Second edit:  I dithered about naming the blogs I named.  To me it isn’t best practice to attack another’s blog in my own space, but I have no problem highlighting the source of bigotry elsewhere so overcame my dithering with ease.  Another ‘little’ concept that I should have added above is the one of the Sisterhood.  I have always believed in this, and taken strength from it.  I’m not sure I can adequately describe how sad it feels to lose this perceived and actual source of strength.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2010 14:44

    I checked out the FAB Matters blog. It reminds me of when feminists tried to exclude lesbians from the women’s movement.

    • January 17, 2010 17:45

      There are plenty of them as well. It’s basic fear and bigotry dressed up as feminism.

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