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Redefining womanhood in public bathrooms

The fight for transgender people to use the public bathroom of their choice is presented as a battle of the Republican Right versus everyone else. Traditional values and the alleged threat to women’s safety versus respect for diversity.

Behind this debate two quite different demands are jammed together. One is the right of individual male to female (m2f) transitioners to live as women. The other is the ideological demand of transgender activists, and their mass media supporters, to be allowed to redefine womanhood itself: to demand that biological women accept being recast as a subset of womankind. The second demand is reactionary, for two reasons.

First, female biology has politics attached to it, most notably around abortion rights. The battle for abortion rights is also a struggle that reveals women’s oppression, since capitalist society does not allow women full control over their own bodies. Banning the word “woman” from abortion services, as trans activists have successfully demanded, puts one more obstacle in the way of women understanding the discrimination against them.

Secondly, it means defining women by the way that they stereotypically look and act, which is the only sort of womanhood that m2f transitioners have. In reality women become who they are through a lifetime of sexist socialisation that is gradually inscribed upon people with female biology. The trans trend is attempting to conceal this sexism from view.

Supporting transitioners’ use of women’s bathrooms will also carry a right wing, anti-woman subtext until these issues are publicly acknowledged.

 

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13 Comments

  1. Miep says:

    “Female biology has politics attached to it” is as succinct a description of the problem as I have seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Miep says:

    The general failure to grasp the fact that there is no way to tell male sexual predators from “transwomen” when there is no legal criteria for defining “transwoman” is appalling. And increasingly one is legally punished for even questioning such self-declarations. Six figure fines in New York. This issue alone could win this election for Trump if he has enough sense to play it right. Conservatives have long been terrified at the thought of liberals coming after their children.

    The whole thing feels like such a setup.

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    • freerlives says:

      Supporters of the trans narrative argue that predators will get into women-only areas anyway. But I agree with you that allowing m2fs into women’s bathrooms makes things one step easier for predators. Yet I think there is a danger for our side in focusing on the predator issue (however horrible it is for the real-life victims) because the Christian Right has made it their cause – and the pro-trans mass media is happy to frame it that way, as something bigoted and backward.

      Pointing out that trans ideology contains a sexist redefinition of womanhood distinguishes us from the Right and offers liberal/left people a way to deal with the issue.

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      • Miep says:

        I think one can do both, and I don’t see how ignoring policy that enables sexual predation is good strategy. Might as well be ignoring violence in prostitution.

        Here’s a piece on how the NY law is panning out. Tough luck, girls! Suck it up!

        http://time.com/4324687/even-in-liberal-communities-transgender-bathroom-laws-worry-parents/

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      • Miep says:

        If you don’t confront and name the problem, you let the right own that conversation. I understand your point about the problem with the right defining it around enforcement of objectification and male ownership of women while the feminist position is about how we are unpersoned by such objectification, but I don’t know how one does feminism without calling out male violence in all its spheres.

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  3. freerlives says:

    Thank you so much for your contributions so far Miep, and for the link to the Time article. I hope my arguments are seen as tactical rather than as downplaying the issues of violence and intimidation toward women.

    You say not to let the Right own the conversation. I say not to let the Right and the trans lobby together own the conversation – to present their fight as the only show in town. The Right opposes the trans agenda for the same reason it opposes lesbians and gays: because they challenge the most traditionalist, biology-is-destiny stereotypes of she-woman and he-man. With enemies like this it is easy for pro-trans media propagandists to look progressive and conceal (or not even see) the anti-woman aspects of their own ideas.

    Even when the liberal mass media acknowledges feminist concerns about violence and intimidation in women’s spaces, it finds it relatively easy to respond: believe our facts not their facts, and don’t let them be mean to vulnerable trans people. I think it is much harder for the liberal media to dismiss the arguments around female socialisation and abortion as a woman’s issue. This is especially so when the audience is feminist, or liberal, or leftist, and these are the sort of people we are most likely to win over, I think.

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    • Miep says:

      Transgenderism does have a way of sucking all the air out of the room, but that is hardly surprising considering the amount of censoring going on. People don’t tend to respond well to that. There is a real schism on the left about this subject, it is not a matter of dissenters being conservative or man-hating or crazy. But the increasing silencing presents a facade of unity, as the laws become more and more overreaching.

      I do agree with you that the subject gets too much attention, but it’s a train wreck in the making, it’s hard to ignore. The Obama administration’s latest move six months prior to a general election presumes that the electorate is more in favor of unlimited and unquestioned freedom to self-declare transgenderism, than not. This is, I think, a huge mistake. It makes a lot of liberals uneasy when obvious men use women’s facilities, but people are afraid to speak out because of all the bullying.

      It is my impression that the right does not generally distinguish between transgenderism and homosexuality. They might go for medical transgenderism if they didn’t feel threatened by progress made by homosexuals.

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      • freerlives says:

        The Left that i have come across is overwhelmingly and unreservedly pro trans ideology. Please let me know of any left currents or individuals that have come out against it. There are of course rad fem sympathisers and the small Drop the T group of LGB people.
        Obama’s support for trans trend seems to me not an electoral move but part of the elite’s overall ideological drive to normalise the phenomenon. They are faced with a situation where almost all the major media outlets and public institutions are on side, but the mass of the population remains uneasy and undecided. They see their task as being to keep pushing trans ideas forward, even if there are electoral risks.

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      • Miep says:

        It does work effectively to distract people from stuff like permanent war and occupation and the increasingly broken climate and all the police state stuff. Like some sort of horrible reality show.

        I think of gender abolitionists as leftists. People who promote genderism are doing something else, but they call themselves leftists. There isn’t much of a left in the USA, they are all too busy tending their identities.

        The transgender rights movement is like the opposite of the civil rights movement. When white people say black people are less than human, are nonpersons, have inferior brains: we say this is a lie and must be fought. Transgender rights activists say brains are innately sexed, this can easily be debunked and is indeed based on similar logic. So why are all these people supporting it? Will life just be like this now, people getting crazier and crazier in order to avoid facing difficult and frightening realities? Interesting that you refer to an ideological drive on the part of the elite. How does this benefit them? Oh yeah, distraction.

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  4. Miep says:

    Also I do run into Marxist feminists from time to time who say that feminist analysis has been incorporated into Marxist doctrine in some cases.

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  5. freerlives says:

    The trans trend has two great benefits for the elite. It shores up support for sex role stereotyping by replacing a radical alternative (ie challenging all sex stereotyping) with a pseudo-radical alternative (allowing a tiny group to swap to a new set of stereotypes, while the rest of the population are reassured that their current stereotypic role is a snug fit with their biology). This feeds into the real prize: helping to cement women’s acceptance of subordinate status in changing times, so that they will keep doing unpaid work in the home.

    Liked by 1 person

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