‘Phobia’ finger pointing: it’s the new misogyny
There is a new danger to women. And feminists are on it. We’re naming it. We’re angry. And we WILL fight back.
It doesn’t matter what kind of politics a feminist has, unless she is fully accommodating to men (in the shape of anti-feminist, queer gobbledygook and other woman-haters) she will be attacked. Attempts will be made to silence her through a systematic campaign of hatred and intimidation.
Many feminists receive threats of violence simply because they are individuals who have made pro-women statements and carried out pro-women actions. See just one example:
There has been a recent bout of attempts to stop individual feminists from speaking at events. The chosen method is to call someone ‘phobic’. You can put any word you want in front of it. It doesn’t have to be a real word, you can just make it up. In circulation, we currently have: biphobic, transphobic, whorephobic, lesbians who are somehow ‘homophobic’ (will leave you to work that one out, I can’t) etc. When questioned, we’re told that the person knows this is what we are because they ‘feel’ it, they have ‘experienced’ it. It’s not possible to ‘experience’ or ‘feel’ an undefined made-up word so we’ve got a problem before we start. Words mean something.
In the distant past, we used to say that we rejected the term ‘lesbophobia’ because we felt men should fear us and our political analysis about male surpremacy. Well, that’s turning out to be true. The weapon of choice is made-up words which others take seriously. Who knew.
Deborah Cameron does a thorough, good, job of explaining that the constant use of something-phobia is meaningless because it implies oppression is driven by a psychological problem; a condition which gives rise to hatred. Although sometimes oppression is about hatred, it is always about power. A radical feminist analysis always involves where the power lies and why it is being used:
Oppression is about power enshrined in structures and institutions as well as in attitudes and societal assumptions. It’s not about isolated insults or ideological differences which may result in questioning the way someone lives their life. Here is an example: Bisexual people are not structurally oppressed. Lesbian feminists accused of ‘biphobia’ do not have structural power over bisexual women. Bisexual women may be receiving the rewards of compliance which accompany compulsory heterosexuality – these are financial, societal approval for conforming and various other benefits (het women are also oppressed under comp het – it’s a complex system of rewards and punishments). Women who are ‘out’ lesbians (as opposed to those who ‘feel’ lesbian but are intimately entangled in comp het) are not.
When/if bisexual people face oppression it’s because they are perceived to be lesbian or a gay male or, possibly, gender non-conforming. Structural oppression, as it relates to sexuality, is about the way compulsory heterosexuality is imposed on women, from birth. The purpose is to enforce male domination. It’s nothing to do with someone’s feelings, about bisexual jokes or assumptions made about bisexual people. Any other analysis is bullshit individualism and has a libertarian agenda. That has no part to play in feminism – feminism is about the liberation of women, as a caste. It’s not humanism, it’s not about all other oppressions. It’s an unrelenting fight for women’s freedom.
That’s not to say that, as feminist activists, we should not take into account other oppressions; we may share other oppressions and we may be fighting other injustices alongside our feminism. However, losing focus on the liberation of women within feminism leads to humanist murkiness where women’s concerns, as always, is everyone else but our own caste. We are conditioned to put the needs of others before ourselves. Queer ‘phobic’ smoke-screens play right into that. Women, especially ‘feminists’ who have liberal notions of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ for everyone, end up fighting for the wrong team and against their own liberation. The reason liberal feminists lose focus is because they don’t recognise the importance of power in a political context. Power is more than the power of one individual. Power is about which group of people (men as a caste) control what social, financial and other resources and why. I really don’t know why we have to keep repeating this to brainwashed women on the left. But we do.
Never has this been more obvious than the recent spat of ‘feminist’ university societies targeting individual feminists. They have worked with male supremacists (whether visibly and consciously so or not) to silence both long-standing and newly emerging feminists. Having a critique, or, even better, a political analysis about why women’s liberation leads to gender abolition, is enough to get labelled one phobia or another. The mere use of the word ‘phobia’ gets ‘feminists’, and their anti-feminist allies, worked up into a frenzy and demand no-platforming of women who have something to say about male violence. It doesn’t even make logical sense half the time.
It’s surely the witch hunts of centuries past, all over again. The lack of analysis is very telling. Julie Bindel was simply called ‘vile’ by the NUS. Very mature. Over and over students admitted they had not read her work but something-something-‘phobia’. Caroline Criado-Perez has recently received the vague accusation of being a ‘damaging and exclusionary figure’ followed by an unsubstantiated but emotive ‘we urge you to distance yourself’.
You can read the sorry state of affairs here:
Am I right to see a hint of a threat there? – ‘distance yourself, single-out and ostracise this individual or we will cause trouble’. It’s a threat feminists are beginning to get used to. It comes from MPAs (Male Privileged Agitators) and queer folk alike. These types of accusations against feminists (who are, importantly, from across the whole political feminist spectrum) serve only to make women obedient to the male supremacist agenda
The mission to train feminists into being submissive, obedient, silent women goes like this: Don’t ever allow yourself to be called ‘phobic’ or else bad things will happen to you. Not to women. To you, personally. You will suffer and be punished if you express radical politics. When you’re challenging, for example, the billion dollar sex industry, you may be called ‘whorephobic’ (sic) and accused of hating prostituted women. And, if that happens, it’s not just a word with ‘phobia’ at the end, it has the power to set a stream of hatred and no-platforming your way. It has the power to disrupt your political convictions, your career. It enables some to justify terrifying threats of violence from misogynists towards you. Threats which often stem from the targeting of individual feminists as ‘bigots’ or something-phobic. No woman is safe from this mission. Liberal feminists might as well throw in the towel and develop a better understanding of radical feminism because male-appeasement won’t save you.
Our ‘choices’ are limited. We keep quiet, we go anonymous and hope we’re not doxxed (by anti-feminists or ‘feminists’ who knows?) or we speak our mind under our real name knowing that years of intimidation and harassment lie ahead. The pattern of thinking for the Obedient Woman goes something like this: ‘We avoid any kind of ‘phobia’ (sic) at any costs – but see those women over there? They’re bigots and should be silenced. I am, of course, a good ally of yours, how could you think I am not? Hey you over there! BIGOT! TRANSPHOBE!”. Don’t believe me? Unless you put men first every second of every moment in your political thinking or agree with queer bull-shit and acquiesce that to do so is more important than women’s liberation, I guarantee you, you’ll be on the list in no time.
Individual feminists with their real names out there are brave women. It is typical for individual feminists to receive death threats, rape threats, and a variety of other implied threats. On top of that, those same women face being singled out for no-platforming with massive campaigns of hate based on misinformation and assumptions. Those women deserve my, our, unconditional support as individuals, even if we don’t always share the same political agenda. The toll on women’s mental health cannot be under-estimated. I have heard some horrendous accounts of the impact it has had on women. I have felt it myself. We all do. Some, however, bear more of the brunt of it than others.
These intimidatory attacks are succeeding in preventing individual feminists from speaking in malestream public as well as women-only meetings. The male supremacist plan to silence feminists is working swimmingly – it’s morphed into an ‘own’ goal, attacking feminists and feminism from within. Call anti-feminist rhetoric ‘feminist’ and feminist analysis something-phobic and you’ve managed to reverse the whole situation. Well done, patriarchy!
However, as always, male supremacy under-estimates the fire in our bellies. The rage that we feel when we observe women’s caste systematically murdered, raped, abused, intimidated and harassed. All women. Everywhere. And, for their, and our, sakes, we can, and must, fight back.
And fight back, we will.
I can be found on twitter @rubyfruit2