I rushed to write a response when I found out Julie Burchill’s article, alongside many posts by radical feminists, including mine, were removed by CiF (commmentsisfree). It remains unpublished by CiF. I knew that would be the case. Despite that, I felt it was important to express my concern about how the politics of radical feminism is silenced under a broad “transphobia” umbrella. In my posts following that article, I focused only on this problem and that of radical feminists receiving online abuse for our beliefs.
I hesitated about whether to make it a blog post myself. It was rushed, not the strongest piece I had ever written etc. And, then, today, I heard that Gallus Mag, who writes gendertrender, has been suspended from her account. She provides news-stories which are difficult to access anywhere else. That was the final straw. I had to post this (imperfect though it may be) so that I can add my concerns about my sisters being silenced when we critique gender.
Radical feminism is a re-emerging political movement which goes to the root of women’s oppression. It’s the only ideology which clearly names male domination and violence as the cause of women’s subordination. It asserts that gender is the vehicle for that oppression and that concepts of “femininity” and “masculinity” are socially constructed and inherently oppressive towards women.
Given that analysis, it follows that radical feminism is in political opposition to queer/post-modernist/trans politics. Radical feminism is a politics which women have a right to understand accurately but is frequently misrepresented.
One of the misunderstandings which exist is that the analysis is inherently “transphobic” leading to a bizarre situation where women are unable to articulate what we believe causes our own oppression due to abuse, fear and intimidation from a very vocal trans/queer lobby. There is a competing set of rights and women’s rights are continuously trumped.
An article by Julie Burchill has just been withdrawn by the Observer (and, therefore, from CiF) thus obliterating many radical feminist comments on CiF, mine among them. I wrote truths as I see them. There were no personal attacks in my posts and nor would I do so. My concerns are political, not personal. I have a right to express my politics. I am very concerned that my politics are being silenced under the broad umbrella of “hate speech” when I am, in fact, analysing the harm gender does to women. In particular, the compulsory performance of “femininity” which all girls and women are subjected to.
I have seen women online called “transphobic” for saying abortion and reproductive rights are key to the fight for women’s liberation. Our ability to reproduce is the fundamental cause of our oppression, our ability to give birth is what patriarchy is founded on. That is not saying that radical feminism is about essentialism. It is saying that our oppression is built on our biology and has mushroomed, from there, over centuries. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced on this issue. We have to be able to be critical of queer/post-modernist theories. Their obfuscations and assertions that “gender isn’t a binary” denies the structural and institutional oppressions which are the cornerstones of patriarchy. Structural power cannot be dismantled simply by changing our genders.
The decision to remove Julie Burchill’s article means that the comments many of us made, where we explained that being subjected to vicious and disproportionate abuse online, simply for critiquing gender, is a daily experience of radical feminists, have also been removed. Yet again, there is an unseen picture here, where the silencing, and censoring, of radical feminists, articulating our politics, has been wiped out alongside that article.
I am not saying that anyone has to agree with us. I am saying that it is crucial there is a way in which we are not silenced by someone else’s individual rights being more important than our articulation of how women are oppressed. Our view of this patriarchal world is important to many women and is a passport to freedom. Why would anyone deny us that?