Gender critical

Many people who imagine they are gender critical are not.

There is a strain in feminism which appeals to unfeminine women, who find concepts of femininity oppressive. Well, “femininity” is too rigid and too small for many women. When they feel judged or devalued for not conforming, or when they are disregarded because they are women, they are rightfully angry. However, that does not make them gender critical, it just means that they object to their own oppression.

Some such women imagine that all women are similarly oppressed by femininity. Freeing them is simply a matter of raising their consciousness to see their oppression. However, femininity fits many women, and some use femininity to achieve their desires. Why not? In life, we use whatever tools are at our disposal, and life is unfair: some people have much better cards to play than others, and some find ways of reducing the value of others’ gifts. The “nerd” stereotype, a person who is sexually unattractive and non-dominant, boring and obsessive, is reclaimed by seeing that obsessiveness as a way of burrowing into the detail to produce intellectual solutions. Some welcome others’ gifts and seek to value them. Some compete unfairly, and seek to denigrate them. I find valuing and co-operation the better way for everyone.

Men are gender diverse too. Many men do not fit masculine stereotypes, and are devalued for it. Radical feminism can contribute to that- they value their unfeminine gifts over others’ femininity. Oppressed, they are oppressors. True gender criticism would recognise and celebrate all gifts, whether of men or women. Some strains of radical feminism value masculinity over femininity. Where society values masculine gifts over feminine, in men or women, everyone loses.

There are other oppressions of women. A beautiful young woman danced so well I thought her professionally trained, but she simply moved a lot to music when at home. She had not performed for others before. She was frightened of being seen as a “slut”. Women with strong sexual drives or strong sexual attractiveness are policed and punished. This is sex discrimination, and not gendered oppression.

Under gendered oppression, people respond in different ways, and ways which might not be ideal in a non-oppressive society are sometimes the best we can do. Some get angry and assertive. Some transition between genders. If I respond to my oppression by transitioning, criticising my transition reinforces oppression. Those who criticise my transition are not being gender-critical. Gender-critical attacks the oppression, and not the oppressed.

All oppressions are bad for everyone. A society where everyone is empowered to use their gifts to benefit themselves and others is blessed by that.

11 thoughts on “Gender critical

  1. Wonderfully said. This is really the crux of the matter. Do we get to discover, shape and become who we are, or must we be boxed and labelled according to whims and perceptions of another?
    The history of society is one where boxing and labelling hindered psychological and emotional well being all around. And that up until very recently. The idea that anyone wants to revive that model is utterly appalling.

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  2. Is it radical feminism in general? Or just that fringe with the trans obsession? Do they see ‘gender neutral’ as neutralising feminism? That’s an interesting thought. I think it’s impossible to create a gender neutral society, we’re always going to be something and people are always going to attracted to ‘sides’. But what we can definitely do is be more accepting of the natural variety of expression styles and try and avoid expectations that become oppressive roles.

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    • My feeling is that some have a visceral yuck reaction, like a phobia, and obsess about trans people; and some are interested in other areas. Have a look at Feminist Current. They are radical in tone, with a range of articles, and a persistent strain of anti-trans stuff. The anti-trans gets some obsessives commenting, but they write of other things as well.

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      • Thanks, that’s a good link. I started reading an article earlier but didn’t get a chance to finish it and can’t find it now, but it’s in places like that I find out exactly what Arb is avoiding saying. Another article I just found which is interesting:
        http://www.feministcurrent.com/2017/02/07/vancouver-womens-library-opens-amid-anti-feminist-backlash/
        Arb referred to this, it’s good to read about it in more detail, I’m glad they included a snippet of the protesters objections. There’s such an attitude of mutual hatred, how does either side come back down? It’s a battle of oppressed groups trying to get their case across by hurting the other group.

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        • No matter what you put on your banner, no matter what you chant in defense, joining those efforts puts you firmly on the side of the oppressor.

          I wrote an article in my usual way- “Why can’t we all get along?” and sent it to them. I have not had a response. I will probably end up blogging it here, eventually, to a smaller readership.

          That article does not discuss whether the content is actually SWERF and TERF, and that website would say SWERF and TERF are a good thing. Oppression is violence, and in other contexts they might argue that too. So, who is the oppressor? Others, and not us; and if I am being oppressed I have a right to resist it. Which sets us all against each other.

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          • I look forward to reading it. I was surprised to read that the demonstrators were sex workers too, I thought it was a strictly trans protest. I think the people who are offended by this branch of radical feminism should just leave them too it – it’s so discriminatory that will it never get wider traction, but they are feeding off negative publicity that situations like that, like the Twitter wars create. It gives them something harmful to wave in everyone’s face.

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