This post is a Live Blog of a Guardian Live blog….contained in a link in a post about a Guardian Live Blog….
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This post is a Live Blog of a Guardian Live blog….contained in a link in a post about a Guardian Live Blog….
There was a New Statesman article about a year ago, about a young girl in France who had been sexually exploited in largely the same way as the girls I have previously talked about in Bradford or Keighley. The way that gender, class and inequality intersect is brutal it said, as it explained THIS was what was meant by intersectionality and talked about the control that was used to repeatedly allow a neighbourhood of boys to brutally rape her.
The older UK women finding they are now to be evicted from homes they have had their whole lives and the British women forced to stay in abusive relationships, often with children, for fear of being abused by the state, the middle class women who just found that the state rolled back and ensured their lives are now caring for others unpaid and invisible. The women watching their sons criminalised by poverty, and unemployment being almost guaranteed for both them and their sons and daughters, as race cruelly intersects with gender to close doors and destroy lives. The women whose disabilities combine with all these things to ensure they are silenced as routine. The women with HIV being hunted and demonised so they can be hurt or left to die, in Greece. These are the women who paid when gender inequality was exploited to agreement for austerity which is the centre position in western politics.
Austerity first removed financial independence from British working class women to silence, decimated their labour market and finally removed legal aid so women were dependent on men, and their children could be used to maintain that. The girls in Keighley, everyone is so outraged about, the first to lose any services when austerity was decided and their ‘industry’ seeing an expansion in the bodies of children and young women. We see it in India with the culture of rape and violence keeping women down from birth, we see it in the countries where children are forced to marry their rapists or forced to continue pregnancies they cannot physically bear, and we see it in Steubenville where a rape victim was treated as the guilty party as her attackers laughed across the internet. This is the reason global poverty has a female face and provides so much exploitable cheap labour and why mothers worldwide act as shock absorbers of poverty.
This is ALL because the structures of power globally, nationally and within the society that governs individual lives, the political cultures, the media class left and right, or their equivalents, are indifferent and have always been indifferent to these women. They are just too common, not important, should have made better ‘choices’.
I warned two years ago that inequality faultlines have been blown apart by austerity and there was going to be some comeback to a mainstream and ‘radical’ media class indifferent to it. It’s complicated but it really isn’t.
This intersection, how race, class, gender, sexuality, age, geography, identity, combine with the intersection of policy from an indifferent political class, and with the intersection of the economic inequality our system requires, all comes down on women’s lives brutally.
Intersection was the word that signified that things would now be changing and the discussion would move on. Move on to include the trans women who fight every day for basic safety, dignity and lives. All women, or none. With all their differences.
No more feminism as a discussion of which women can join the white posh club f they are polite and do not offend newspaper columnists with 5 and 6 figure salaries who believe feminism is about them discussing choices women without choices ‘should’ make. No more feminism hostile to mothers and carers and those who decorate their genitals with diamante. No more women as sex workers finding they are rejected by their feminist sisters. Old ineffective feminism rejected so these women could come to the fore. No more feminism you can only access with a post graduate degree and a 100quid a month to pay to the rereleased Spare Rib to be in their club.
This threatened our non too bright and less than insightful vanguard of modern obsolete feminists and a misogynist left who felt threatened turned it into a new term they could use to bully and silence women. So far a long list of female journalists have been abused with that term, and the same vanguard who ensured that austerity came together in brutal and intersecting ways for women across the country have turned it into a term so internet bullies could ‘call out’ and preserve their own position. The same bullies who silence women in the name of any term they happen to learn that week. Radical chic for women who think feminism is about who they fuck and the absence of words they like in ad copy.
Our modern self defining feminists believe intersectionality is one of two things, an excuse to bully women and maintain a position and establish a writing career, or a reason to whine that their feelings are hurt. It isn’t.
It is a sign their day is over.
Your feminism failed. We want to talk about equality and why it is modern feminism so routinely stands in the way of discussing it. Intersectionality is important, the word is not.
I remember the day I joined twitter. Stephen Fry had been talking about it, and as someone who had always used the internet and gone from forums, to baby groups to facebook, I liked it. I wanted to stalk Stephen Fry, my first tweet was about a hot cross bun I ate, after I lit the fire in my living room. I hated that fire.
I knew it was odd when I was followed by about 300 journalists, having never met a journalist.
I began to understand that the people I was talking to about everything from fashion to politics were not like me, were not from the places I was from, and that my perspective was one they had not come across and vice versa.
Someone educated about politics by an understanding of 30 years intersecting policy failure has a different understanding to those who live in our Westminster focused bubble. I always knew I was using twitter to talk to people, and even when Gaby Hinsliff asked for my first piece of writing, and even when I was earning pin money by occasionally submitting to the Guardian I knew it was just a tool to talk to people. Eventually they, and I, realised the implications of our differing perspectives on things as people around me paid for their blindness.
A culture not used to the internet, or talking to people outside their bubble seemed to believe this was a new media, because they had never overheard the voices they broadcast to or impose values and policy on. By the time my twitter account had a couple of thousand followers, many of those types confused me with media and I became a target for that reason. I bollocked one labour guppy after he bragged about how competitive he was, when I realised he had felt he was in competition with me. We were not even swimming in the same pond, never mind competing for position. I was still using twitter to talk to people.
I eventually abandoned that first twitter account, after a twitter I had no desire to be part of had engulfed it and moved to an account where I could talk to people. Which was what I used twitter for all along. In that time I saw the dynamics within the social network that is masquerading as our political media culture, and in that time they began to panic about their first forays beyond their sealed industry walls.
Gradually they began to realise that as a class, they had moved into a chatroom and misunderstood the situation, while we realised for the first time, we had access to those whose power was being used to decimate our lives. Our political media class.
Now the talk is of social media regulation. The word media was always wishful thinking by an established media facing the truth of being unable to transmit a message to people who can answer back, twitter is a social tool. A tool to talk to people. Now the behaviour of that culture and it’s radical fringes is being used as the basis for discussions around whether our conversations with each other should be regulated by the government.
I am sat here eating porridge, procrastinating about housework, and watching television, using twitter as I always have. To talk to those people I want to talk to. To increase my understand of things and to pass the time of day.
There are two twitters. One where you talk to people and one the media watch. One has value the other does not. I get to have a conversation with people from all walks of life from finance, to the town where I live. I’ll be doing that for a lot longer than the twitter bubble the media see, stays inflated. Oh shit, did it already pop?
Less texture than cat litter.
Capitalism fundamentally relies on the invisibility of female labour. The oppression and subjugation of women, is the invisible wheel capitalism thrives. Poor mothers make willing cheap labour the world over. The gender binary disappearing, and being rendered pointless by the acceptance not just of trans women but those whose sexuality falls outside an absurdly narrow norm, makes capitalism impossible.
I find it interesting that the media paint the disappearance of that gender binary as cis women vs trans women, when the end of that gender binary is the very end of patriarchy itself. It renders the gender subjugation capitalism requires, ultimately impossible.
I wrote a post the other day that got me accused of rampant transphobia. Not by a trans woman to be fair, in fact I had discussed the contents of that post with several women(trans women). Turns out I mixed up the little known academic terms Cis Privilege and Gender privilege. Something I was happy to remedy quickly, because I know I am wrong a lot.
The person who accused me of transphobia, consistently reinforced this misunderstanding, telling me ALL women were privileged over ALL trans people, and when I pointed out this was clearly not true or representative of the reality of womanhood on this planet, she laid into me.
The problem with this incident was, that my misunderstanding of this one little known academic term had actually upset someone I value a great deal, and I wanted to talk to her about it. And find out why, and apologise if necessary. I am an adult and consider this woman to be a voice I value, not because she is a trans woman and I want her as a badge to my right on collection, but because she is smart and intelligent and very kind. I was told by this privileged academic young feminist I was a raving transphobe and I was to leave my poor friend alone. She then went onto explain, that women who were born women ALL enjoyed privilege over trans woman. She was talking nonsense and she was also talking about gender privilege even if she was using the word ‘cis’. She accused me of making a differentiation between trans women and those who were born women, when the distinction was hers and the birth is just a fact.
My misunderstanding of the word Cis Privilege, came from the fact this word is not an accusation, it is not a perjorative, it is not even an assumption that cis privilege manifests itself in any way or a minimisation of the reality for women on this planet, a misunderstanding gained entirely by seeing it used to bully and give the fringes of our online radical political culture an excuse to shout at women,. The reality is that basic choice and even ownership of their own genitals does not exist for all or most women in our society, globally or nationally. Her misunderstanding was that all Cis women enjoy the privilege she does, mine was of an academic term she learned presumably in the course of HER education. The privilege she enjoys is not even enjoyed by the majority of women, and wont even be enjoyed by her peers once they procreate, unless they are independently wealthy.
Transphobia, homophobia, is not a misunderstanding of an academic term. These are not academic things. No-one is looking for another vanguard of young, blinkered, academic bullies to fight for equality on our behalf. Feminism failed because elitism, often academic, took it out of the hands of women and women’s lives. Trans women. or not. And made it an academic pursuit dominated by the views of women who think choice is the norm. The constant whining of privilege is grating, the only purpose for this term is address your own or to address someone elses that affects you. It is not a weapon for snot nosed post grads to abuse people at will.
That is not feminism or fighting transphobia, it’s a using privilege you hold to dictate what other people should think and say and using your academic advantage to excuse your bullying. Transphobia is not about an academic term it is about the reality of living in a country where you can’t even guarantee your doctor will speak to you like a human being, and where the risk of violence is the norm. And it is not the privilege of women born that way, that created transphobia. That’s patriarchy.
We live in a country where you cannot even assume the woman you are speaking to has choice in her own life and autonomy over her own decisions, and no feminism that will ever succeed will involved shouting at those women demanding they recognise a privilege they do not hold.
PS as I generally do when I want to guage whether a twitterstorm has substance I asked people in real life. Noone had heard the term Cis. Even the person I asked that really would have the right to accuse me of transphobia.
PSS I apologise for the delay but I don’t have the privilege of devoting my time to this at the mo. Gender shit.
Cis women’s privilege is a nonsense. That is not a comment on the unique and very specific issues that trans women face every day, for basic acceptance in society, for a life free from violence and condemnation. But that is not a problem of Cis women’s privilege. The very notion of womanhood on this planet, born, or made, bringing privilege is one that is quite interesting. As is the ease with which the privilege women are born with, is adopted as received wisdom by our left media culture and its so called radical hangers/numpties on the internet.
Only on the internet, has the main result of the fight for acceptance of trans women, been the coining of a phrase which assumes privilege is held by born women and that is the problem. Gender and violence go hand in hand, and while one should discuss the very specific violence that trans women suffer, when shouting ‘cis privilege’ to a woman in this society, there is significant likelihood she will also have suffered patriarchal violence in this society. The question here is not about minimising the issues trans women face, it is the assumption of privilege where there is none.
If the gender where that privilege is assumed is one where choice and autonomy cannot actually be assumed, even in developed and declining countries then it is abuse. The ‘Cis women’s privilege’ discussed is not privilege held because those women were born women, it is because they are already privileged to be free of violence and oppression and in the millions of the ways most women aren’t. These are women for whom choice is the norm. Choice is not the norm for born women and before I shout that someone has privilege I want to know they do.
White privilege I can assume. class privilege I can assume, male privilege I can assume. Cis women’s privilege I cannot and if all you can do to assist trans women in fighting for acceptance is use that as an excuse to further subjugate born women, then you are an idiot.
Fluid transition through gender requires equality to have been achieved, the numpties on the internet shouting Cis women’s privilege show a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be a woman on earth in 2013 for most women. In a society where control over women is held by patriarchal violence, there will be women who find it difficult to recognise and immediately accept someone who to them has made a choice but who was a man, This is not the fault of any trans woman, but then it is not a problem of ‘Cis privilege’ either.
PS Cis as a word sounds like a cleaning product and has never been heard by most. It means the privilege of being born with the gender you are, it is shouted by those privileged to have the ability to assert their gender and sexuality outside patriarchal control at all. Shouting it as an insult is just a way to assert your own privilege, the privilege of the knowledge you hold,. and unless you are a trans woman it makes you sound like an arse.