1. Some Thoughts on Gender Abolition

    existentialorchid:

    So let me jump right in. The concept of gender abolition has been becoming increasingly interesting to me. I like the idea because it seems like a tactic for tearing out patriarchy by its roots. For years, I basically considered the idea of gender abolition an automatic no-go due to its association with anti-trans “radical feminists,” also known as radscum. I tried to make my feminism the antithesis of everything radscum represented—where they were anti-trans, I would be pro-trans; where they were anti-sex-worker, I would be pro-sex-worker…so it only made sense that where they were pro-gender-abolition, I would be anti-gender-abolition. I mean, there was no other option, right?

    I’m seriously reconsidering that stance now. It seems like the only big alternative to gender abolition is viewing gender as being “natural” in some significant way. And it seems like this opens the door to viewing patriarchal power relations as being, at least in part, “natural”—biological, inevitable, and positive. But I fucking hate dudes, and I don’t want to accept that there just naturally HAVE to be people like them…there just HAVE to be millions of these people out there taking up too much space, being aggressive, being competitive, forcing women to take care of their emotions, forcing women to be props in their rape fantasies. Are people like this really destined to exist? And can I just passively accept that people at least somewhat similar to them will always exist?

    And then there’s cis women, who are a lot better, but from my standpoint, still usually pretty shitty. They certainly tend to treat trans women like shit, at least. As my previous post indicated, even the ostensibly trans-positive things cis women will say—“trans women are women,” “you can have a penis and still be female,” “I support the right of trans women to use women’s restrooms, even if it might make some cis women uncomfortable”—still represent them centering themselves, still represent them holding on to their cis privilege and using it to determine who is a legitimate woman. In the same way that very few if any men can completely unlearn their need to control and dominate women, very few cis women appear able to completely unlearn their need to construct trans women as secondary to themselves—as somehow unnatural and inferior in comparison to themselves.

    So I’m inspired by the example of people of color who want to abolish the social construct of race, or working class people who want to abolish the social construct of capitalism. I want to abolish the social construct of patriarchy. I don’t really see a way in which this could happen without also abolishing gender. After all, cis men’s gender identities seem mainly to be about oppressing women, cis women’s gender identities seem mainly to be about navigating and surviving that oppression while (secondarily) also oppressing trans people, and trans women’s gender identities seem to mainly be about navigating and surviving the oppression of cis men, cis women, and everybody else. So when you take away patriarchy, when you take away all this oppression, what’s left? I don’t know…but it seems like not much is left. I do know I would rather advocate sweeping everything away than advocate being too cautious and inadvertently justifying some aspect of patriarchal oppression.

    In the sort of world I’d like to see, someone like me would have been born, appearing to have an external reproductive system consistent with an XY phenotype. This would have been merely an inconsequential anatomical detail of my birth, like the fact I was born 9 pounds 5 ounces or have unattached ear lobes. The word “male” would not have been written on my birth certificate. In fact, nothing about this anatomical detail would have been written on my birth certificate—just like nothing was written on my birth certificate about my ear lobes. People would not have started calling me “he,” they would have started calling me some universal, non-gendered pronoun that would be used with all babies. For my entire childhood, the appearance of my genitals would have had ZERO impact on my upbringing or social position. Very few people would even know what sort of genitals I had…probably just my primary caregivers, a few medical professionals, and a few random people I had decided to tell on a whim—in the way that somebody might tell random people on a whim that they have an outie belly button. I would’ve been encouraged to wear whatever clothes I’d wanted, style my hair however I’d wanted, and pursue whatever hobbies had interested me. There wouldn’t have even been a concept of gender-specific clothing, hair, or hobbies since gender wouldn’t exist.

    Now it’s possible that maybe some aspect of gender would still exist, and some kids as they aged would still assert “I’m a boy” or “I’m a girl.” And if they did, the adults around them would, of course, need to honor and accept that. But why would kids even think to do this if no adults around them identified as either a man or a woman or any other gender because patriarchy and the genders associated with it had been abolished? If the kids didn’t see any depictions of “boys” or “girls” in the media? If “boy” and “girl” only existed as obscure historical terms for roles that existed in a previous society, similar to how we might view terms like “vassal” or “feudal lord.” Like…how many kids these days grow up identifying as a vassal?

    Anyway, now we get to the part where my vision begins to significantly differ from the vision of radscum, who up until now may have been mostly onboard. What happens once people approach puberty? I don’t see any reason to assume that the only people who will want breasts will be those born with ovaries, or the only people who will want a deep voice will be those born with testicles, and so on. Why would this be the good or “natural” thing in a world without gender? The technology exists to give people whatever secondary sexual characteristics they want. So why should everyone just mindlessly go along with whatever body their gonads have preordained they should develop as if these technologies didn’t exist? It seems like—at the very least—all adolescents should be encouraged to carefully think about the pros and cons concerning the different types of puberties that are available to them. Essentially, just as people should be encouraged to wear whatever clothes they want, or pursue whatever hobbies they want, they should also be encouraged to undergo whatever puberty they want and pursue whatever subsequent modifications to their own body they want over the course of the rest of their lives, unimpeded by an ideas of the naturalness of gender or certain types of bodies. The fact that radscum don’t agree with this leads me to believe they don’t want to actually abolish gender but merely reform it into something that suits themselves better—they may want to be equal to men but they want to continue to feel superior to and more “natural” than trans folks.

    And technology will continue to advance. Some day it will be possible to implant a uterus into someone who was not born with one. In fact, this has already happened. A couple years ago a cis woman in Turkey who was born without a uterus had a uterus successfully implanted into her. And eventually the day will come when ANYONE who wants to menstruate or give birth will be able to get the implants necessary for this to occur. So in my ideal world, being pregnant and giving birth would be 100% voluntary and self-chosen. No person with a uterus would be coerced into being pregnant or giving birth because hysterectomies, abortions, IUDs, condoms, pills, and every other form of birth control will be free, widely available, and accessible to all who want them. And on the other side of the coin, in vitro fertilization and ovary and uterine implants would also be free, widely available, and accessible to all who want them. So giving birth or not would be 100% voluntary and not determined by sex, gender, class, race, disability, or any other factor (and most or all of those categories would not even exist anyway).

    In my ideal world, what we currently call trans people would be much more common and highly visible. Adults would wear all sorts of clothes and have all sorts of mannerisms that would go with all sorts of bodies and all sorts of genitals. I’m not sure if all English-speaking humans would have the same pronoun or if there would be a wide diversity of different, self-chosen pronouns for different people, but in any event, pronouns would not at all be linked to the sorts of gender categories that exist today. People would not be socialized to be anything other than free-spirited human beings who cooperate with others in their community out of love and solidarity. As a result of this, no one would have a leg up over anyone else for any type of work or career, and people would be able to pursue work in line with their natural and evolving interests and talents. This freedom would extend to “domestic” work such as cooking and cleaning as well as sex work. Anyone would be able choose to give birth (or not) and anyone would be able to choose to be involved in caring for the children of the community (or not), but these two things would NOT be linked. People would not be nonconsensually sexually objectified because there would not be an assumption that you could look at someone and assume what type of genitals they had or what type of partners or sexual activities they preferred. Rape would not exist because there would be no depictions of rape in the media, no cultural narratives that justify rape, and no community patterns of protecting or shielding rapists.

    This vision will certainly not appeal to everyone, but to me it sounds pretty utopian. Of course, I have no fucking clue as to how to get there! But I think clarifying my vision in my own head and expressing it to others and seeing what feedback they give me is an important initial step. I do know that the answer does NOT lie in treating women like shit or blaming us for our struggles, and it DEFINITELY does not lie in treating trans women like shit or blaming US for our struggles. Men’s gender identities may exist to facilitate their status as patriarchal oppressors but women’s—and especially trans women’s—gender identities mainly exist to help us SURVIVE patriarchal oppression. So being a trans woman will always be important to me because I want to honor the struggle I’ve endured in my life and the identity that ties me to others who have had similar struggles. But I dream of the day when people like me will never have to withstand the oppression, the othering, the exclusion, and the dysphoria that caused us to view ourselves as trans women in the first place. We will simply be human beings who will be free to do and be whatever we want to do and be, both in terms of our social role and our physical body.

    3 hours ago  /  36 notes  /   /  Source: existentialorchid

  2. I always felt that my queerness was integral to how I define myself in general. But, if being queer was synonymous with getting drunk, then how would I ever be able to define myself as anything other than a drunk? Was I going to have to focus less on being queer? And, if that was the case, how could I do that in a world where I am constantly reminded that I am the “other?”
    – Ginger Hale, Sober in the City: Redefining My Queerness On Fire Island (part of her Sober in the City series on Autostraddle - thanks wooglyoogly for the tip!)

    3 days ago  /  16 notes  / 

  3. lesbian feminist resources on alcohol?

    radtransfem:

    radtransfem:

    I’d like to read some lesbian feminist (or closely related) work on alcohol, from a perspective which makes links between UK culture, alcohol, patriarchy, and preferably also vegetarian/veganism. Pref. from the ’60s-’80s. Any suggestions - if any work like this even exists?

    One clue:

    Another:

    I’ll keep looking…

    Two more - these both papers, so some may be able to download them, e.g. uni students whose unis subscribe:

    3 days ago  /  35 notes  /   /  Source: radtransfem

  4. lesbian feminist resources on alcohol?

    radtransfem:

    I’d like to read some lesbian feminist (or closely related) work on alcohol, from a perspective which makes links between UK culture, alcohol, patriarchy, and preferably also vegetarian/veganism. Pref. from the ’60s-’80s. Any suggestions - if any work like this even exists?

    One clue:

    Another:

    I’ll keep looking…

    3 days ago  /  35 notes  /   /  Source: radtransfem

  5. When black children are shot in the street, my reproductive rights as a black woman are under attack. I do not have the right to bear and raise a child who will not be institutionally and systemically discriminated against by society to the benefit of a majority of Americans. My child will not have the right to not be murdered by a police officer, or anyone else, for jaywalking or having a bag of Skittles. I am not guaranteed that my child’s memory will not be publicly maligned to avoid prosecuting his killer.

    Laina Dawes, I’m Not From Ferguson, But What’s Happening There Has Changed My Life [emphasis mine]

    Justice not choices. Justice not choices. Justice not choices. Maybe if I say it three times, it will appear? There is no “choice” we can work to make into an individual right-to-choose which will give Laina Dawes and other Black parents in America and the UK what they are asking for. She is asking for the possibility of raising a child who will not be a target of institutional racism and murder. She is asking for justice.

    (If we tried to contort what she’s saying into the language of choice, it might go, “the choice for others to choose not to shoot my kid”. That’s clearly not the right framework!)

    4 days ago  /  57 notes  / 

  6. lesbian feminist resources on alcohol?

    ananiujitha:

    radtransfem:

    I’d like to read some lesbian feminist (or closely related) work on alcohol, from a perspective which makes links between UK culture, alcohol, patriarchy, and preferably also vegetarian/veganism. Pref. from the ’60s-’80s. Any suggestions - if any work like this even exists?

    I think Daisy Deadhead might know. Unfortunately, I think you and Lisa Questions may have had trouble with her before…?

    Thanks for the hint. Well it’s true I don’t at all agree with her on issues around trans women. But I’m used to sifting through material for what’s I think might be useful to us, so I’ll take links from anyone. She’s on block for me, though, so if you have some free time / energy and don’t mind asking for her ideas, I don’t see how it could hurt! Only if you want to tho’!

    5 days ago  /  35 notes  /   /  Source: radtransfem

  7. lesbian feminist resources on alcohol?

    I’d like to read some lesbian feminist (or closely related) work on alcohol, from a perspective which makes links between UK culture, alcohol, patriarchy, and preferably also vegetarian/veganism. Pref. from the ’60s-’80s. Any suggestions - if any work like this even exists?

    5 days ago  /  35 notes  / 

  8. Trans women and restlessness

    gendercontender:

    petalsandbridges:

    Cis people don’t realize that trans women weren’t born with the feeling of calm they have. And then were traumatized repeatedly through our entire girlhoods and many of us repressed a bunch of emotions during adulthood until finally coming out… only to be traumatized at a blinding rate again. Are you seeing a pattern here? We never got to sit down.

    Now, some of us -it helps to have various privileges- are getting the chance to sit down, become less hyper-vigilant, and become gentle towards ourselves after so many people have been very not gentle with us. That is a beautiful thing and this blog is about my own coming to that, but can we just look at this for a second?

    The trans woman you (say, cis women) think are a bit much, the ones who you think need to turn a down a notch? The gap isn’t that they’re “a bit masculine for you,” the gap is that you’ve never met someone who’s been through so much shit and never had a chance to rest.

    I remember a teacher of mine talking about the moment when her daughter first became self conscious. There was a moment around when her daughter was four or five that she realized her body could be judged and found lacking. But before this realization, she had lived in this world of calm, of a kind of innocent inner peace.

    My teacher talked about how devastating it was to see this moment occur, to see her daughter lose that feeling of calm. And then she asked us how many of us in the class remembered that moment in ourselves.

    That’s when I realized that I couldn’t remember ever having had that state of calm. For me, there was no pivotal moment when I learned to judge my body. Up to that point, I had never realized just how peaceful a cis person could be in their bodies. It was, and is, a level of calm that I find completely unfathomable.

    6 days ago  /  269 notes  /   /  Source: petalsandbridges

  9. If you have got a model that says an individual woman who is trying to survive an experience of rape by focusing on her own wellbeing and safety, by trying to work out ways she can keep on going or ways she can participate in something without having to experience more trauma (by asking for trigger warnings in a classroom, for instance) is participating in the same politics as a woman who is concerned with getting up “the ladder” in a company then I think there is something wrong with your model.
    – Sara Ahmed, Selfcare as Warfare

    6 days ago  /  23 notes  /