ONTD Political

Radical feminists are acting like a cult

2:54 pm - 05/27/2012
Twitter has been flooded with controversy for the last week about the RadFem2012 conference, currently booked into the Conway Hall, which announced its membership as restricted to "women born women and living as women" (it originally said "biological women", but that got changed after much mockery). This disturbed the trans community, which it is meant to exclude, but also those feminists who regard trans-exclusion as something other than radical.

To be clear, I know no trans women, still less trans men, who want to spend time in a space organized by people who slander us. However, one of the main speakers at the conference is Sheila Jeffreys, who has a forthcoming book critiquing trans medical care. In much of her earlier writing (see, for example, page 71 of this journal), she calls for "transsexualism" to be declared a human rights violation and then surgery banned by international law, so it's fairly clear that we have an interest in the debate. What Jeffreys proposes has, of course, other implications for all women – the Vatican would love to make similar declarations about reproductive freedom.

There is also, more importantly, the question of whether what Jeffreys and her supporters say about trans people constitutes hate speech. As of two days ago, the Conway Hall expressed their concerns about the legality of trans exclusion, and about hate speech, to the conference organisers.

One of the problems with the Internet is that it is possible for people to lock themselves further and further into a restricted mind set where they hear no other voices. On the other hand, it makes it possible for those with a strong stomach to overturn every stone and find out just what people are saying and thinking. It's clear that Jeffreys and her supporters are very hurt and disappointed that so many younger women don't agree with her – Jeffreys blames the corrupting influence of post-modernism and queer theory; "trans-critical" lawyer Cath Brennan - who uses Twitter to deride trans people's experiences and mock non-trans feminists who are their allies - is also a RadFem2012 attendee.

Of course, the trans issue is only one aspect of the conference. Its mission statement makes it clear that this is a "female-only, activism-focused conference with a radical feminist agenda". Space will not be given to anti-feminist sentiments, which is arguably another way of saying that, on most crucial issues, the party line is predetermined and that any dissent from correct "radical feminist" thinking will be stigmatised and driven out. Jeffreys makes it clear in many of her writings that post-modernism and queer theory are the enemy, and that piercing, tattooing, BDSM and role play are all pollutions of a feminism that is nothing to do with choice or preference, everything to do with commitment. Indeed, the Radical Feminist Hub, to which she contributes regularly, links to resources arguing that what it calls "penis-in-vagina" sex is a bad idea, from which women should choose to refrain.

There are many debates within feminism, and the women's movement ought not to be a monolith of orthodoxy. There are, for example, legitimate arguments on both sides of discussion of sex work – whether the stress should be placed on prohibition or harm reduction, say. But such a debate will not be allowed at RadFem2012. I hate to say this of other feminists, but aspects of their feminism – the anti-intellectualism, emphasis on innate knowledge, fetishisation of tiny ideological differences, heresy hunting, conspiracy theories, rhetorical use of images of disgust, talk of stabs in the back and romantic apocalypticism – smack less of feminism than of a cult.

smittenlotus 27th-May-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Just curious, did that radical feminist list any examples of Whedon's "badly written" female characters? As far as I've seen he's actually done a pretty decent job. His writing in general lately is another story.

Also might I ask what an "intersectional feminist" is? I've never heard someone described like that.

Edited at 2012-05-27 07:31 pm (UTC)
herosquad 27th-May-2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Here's the post. I'm not the world's biggest Whedon fan - not for lady-related reasons, I just don't like him as a writer - but there were certain aspects of this post that made me legitimately angry, like when she says that all relationships between white men and black women are innately abusive, and all sex between men and women is pretty much rape.

(I use the term "intersectional feminism" as a catchall term to mean feminism that's concerned with issues of race, class, trans* stuff, etc. But I'm sure that's probably wrong.)
anolinde 27th-May-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
I feel awful for Joss Whedon's wife. From what I've read about him and the interviews I've watched, I'm fairly certain that he rapes his wife and abuses her in various other ways.

romp 27th-May-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
That's rough when he is IMO far beyond most TV writers re women.
reservoir 27th-May-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
The sad part is she had some really good points, especially about Firefly - but the awful transphobia overshadowed a lot of it
the_glow_worm 27th-May-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
The part where a commenter claims the crew is raping the ship...wow.

(Actually, wow to all of it.)
smittenlotus 27th-May-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
*visits the post for less than five minutes* NOPE. Sweet jumping Jesus, nothing turns me off a writer's argument faster than them making batshit assumptions about people they've never met. Even if Whedon did have a few side-glace worthy views of women (and I'm not saying he does as I don't avidly follow his work), this nutjob is in the comments calling him a rapist. People like her piss me off. They don't further the goal of feminism, they just kick it back down the stairs it spends so much time trying to climb up.
jasonbeast 27th-May-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
all relationships between white men and black women are innately abusive

Oh, it's THAT asshole. I've read other posts by her. She's a real ray of light. In one of her replies to the post you linked to, she said that there is no TV show or movie that promotes feminism. Glad we have her verifying ugly stereotypes of feminists fighting the patriarchy.
intrikate88 27th-May-2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
Oh holy wow. I like Whedon but I am certainly not going to deny some of his writing is problematic, but damn. I thought that Zoe was particularly good because she and Wash basically flipped gender roles- and Zoe called Mal 'sir' not because of some inferior black woman thing, but because she still saw herself as a soldier. I just don't see how someone could interpret things that way unless they came to the episodes with their own narrative already decided.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
communion 27th-May-2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
oh, her.
kitschaster 27th-May-2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoe like an object and possession.

Ah, I don't even know what to do with this statement as a black women engaged to a white guy. I can say that he has never strangled me, or treated me like shit. I can understand watching these things happen to people around you, but you can't put that on every single couple you see that's in an interracial relationship. If that were the case, then it would be perfectly okay to stereotype PoC, just because we saw this one dude be an utter jerk to somebody/beat somebody/steal something/get bad grades/etc. etc.

I do hope her friend was able to seek help, though. I just...can't believe she'd take that one relationship, and apply it to every single interracial relationship, when that could be any relationship out there. Idk. This is...extreme.
spiffynamehere 28th-May-2012 03:33 am (UTC)
Ugh, I hate that post. Joss Whedon has some... interesting... shit but that was all just wtf.
kuhori_rei 28th-May-2012 05:03 am (UTC)

reservoir 27th-May-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Given his fixation with the "skinny damaged sexually abused girl," I've lost all respect I had for him as a teenager infatuated with Buffy
kaowolfie 27th-May-2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think there's a valid point that he likes to take skinny pretty girls and write horrific and abusing backstories for them. Or current stories, even.

Plus the whole thing where Mal demonstrates his "love" for Inara by constantly violating her boundaries and slut shaming her... Or the way Inara is cast as almost an amalgamation between the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene.
This page was loaded Mar 23rd 2018, 4:57 pm GMT.