Guest Post: Derrick Jensen Responds to John Stoltenberg

About a year ago, pro-feminist author John Stoltenberg wrote a very disturbing article entitled “Andrea Dworkin Was Not Transphobic” for the website Feminist Times. In response, I wrote an open letter, which you can read here. His response is in the comments.

When I received this response from Stoltenberg – a man who has been undeniably influential to me and my pro-feminist development – I shared it with my mentor and friend Derrick Jensen, who was equally upset. Derrick is one of the foremost radical environmentalists in the world today and perhaps, along with Lierre Keith, the greatest single influence on my worldview and life. His response to Stoltenberg is absolutely spot-on, and he’s graciously granted me permission to host it here.

Derrick Jensen responds to John Stoltenberg

I’d like to thank you both for the above exchange, which is both illuminating and disturbing.

As a fellow writer, I understand that publishers come up with article titles. Sometimes they don’t ask my approval on them, and sometimes they do. And as a writer I know that when I find a title harmful I demand it be changed. So it was illuminating, disturbing, and unfortunately not surprising to learn that you approved the title “Andrea was not transphobic.”

By now you must be aware that the phrase “transphobe” is routinely used as a rhetorical cudgel to browbeat many women into silence and submission, women who want nothing more, in many cases, than to be allowed to use the bathroom or locker room or shelter free from the presence of biological males. By denying that Andrea Dworkin was a “transphobe” you were by contrast lending credence to the notion that these other woman are in fact “transphobes.”

I’ll spell it out. The women I know who have been called “transphobic”—and who have been threatened with rape, other forms of torture, and murder by many of the very same biological males who are labeling these women as “transphobic”—are not, in fact, “transphobic” in that none of them wish to exploit or wish any harm on people who identify as transgender. They don’t want for them to be murdered. They don’t want for them to be imprisoned. They don’t for them to be raped. They don’t want for them kicked out of their homes. They don’t want for them to be harmed in any way. They don’t want for them to be exploited. They don’t perceive them as inferior. They don’t care with whom they sleep. They don’t care what they wear. They don’t care how they organize. They don’t care how much money they make. They have no desire to control the lives of these others.

They just disagree that those biological males who identify as “transgender” are women, and they mainly want to be left alone. And for that they are labeled as “transphobic.”

Disagreement is not hate speech, and disagreement doesn’t imply “phobia.” Any hatreds being manifested here are by those who threaten rape and murder when women do not submit. But that’s a story we’ve all heard before.

I’m not suggesting that transphobic violence doesn’t occur, but those who perpetrate it are a whole different set, a whole different politics, and a whole different sex.

As support for your statement that Dworkin was not “transphobic,” you mention the fact that in an anti-pornography ordinance, Dworkin and MacKinnon included the following sentence, “The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women…is also pornography.” The fact that you use this statement to support the notion that she was not a “transphobe” implies that those who are labeled as “transphobes” would believe something different. But none of the women I know who have been labeled as “transphobic” would disagree with that statement. Pornography is pornography. I’m sure that Dworkin and MacKinnon and many others would agree that pigs or donkeys or horses being used “in the place of women is still pornography.” So you’re creating a false dichotomy. And further, the fact that she included “transsexuals” in the list in no way implies that she would believe that women should be forced against their will to accept biological males into their bathrooms and locker rooms and shelters. And that is what women are being called “transphobic” for: not for believing that the legal definition of what is called pornography shouldn’t include “transsexuals” (or “transgenders,” for that matter). For crying out loud, it was an ordinance, a legal document, and if they didn’t include transsexuals, that would leave a loophole big enough for the owners of “Chicks with Dicks” (pornographers’ term, not mine) to drive a truckload of money through.

You argue there that Dworkin wasn’t a “transphobe” because she mentioned “transsexual” as a category of people who could also be used in pornography. I’ve above addressed the point that she was drafting an ordinance, and needed to be inclusive for at the very least legal reasons (and please recognize that legal language doesn’t always translate to reality: legally, corporations are defined as persons, which I think most sane people understand as both nonsensical and deeply harmful). But you seem to be making an additional point as well. You wrote that, “Her acknowledging that a person could be subordinated like a woman [which is not actually what she said, but we’ll leave that aside] without having been assigned female at birth is consistent with her view that the category ‘woman’ is not tethered to female biology but originates instead in the male supremacist quest for identity through domination, disidentification, despisal, derogation, destruction, and death.” First, I’m afraid I must correct your language, which has, your protestations that you “eschew” queer theory aside, an explicit alignment with a body-denying inaccuracy derived from postmodernism and queer/trans theory, which is the notion that someone can be “assigned female at birth.” That’s complete nonsense, and you know it (or should, and if you don’t know it, you shouldn’t be writing about males or females). No one is “assigned female at birth.” Female is a real, physical state, whether we’re talking about female mice or orcas or human beings, or marijuana plants, for that matter. To use the postmodern/queer/trans language of saying that one is “assigned female at birth” makes as much sense as to say that one was “assigned human at birth” or “assigned mammal at birth.” One can be recognized as female. But one is not “assigned” female. I hope you were merely being careless, and not intentional. If you were careless, you, as a writer, should know better. And if you do know better but wrote it anyway, then you are committing the worst sin a writer can commit: propagating untruths—that is, lying—for ideological reasons.

Once one is born male or female, of course one is then molded into social roles after that. No one here is denying that.

But the real point seems to be that you are suggesting that Andrea Dworkin’s inclusion of “transsexual” as a category of people who can be forced into subordination “like a woman” (as you put it, not her) means somehow that they must be accepted by women as “women” (because, once again, that is the crux of this whole “transphobia” discussion, and why so many women are called “transphobes”: because they do not believe that “transwomen” are women who were wrongly “assigned male at birth” or who were “subordinated” into becoming women). But the quote you attempted to use to support this in no way supports this. Dworkin’s and MacKinnon’s list also includes the categories “men” and “children.” Are you going to suggest they meant by this that “men” and “children” are “women”? Why did you only pick “transsexual” from that list? Is it because the inclusion of “men” and “children” would make clear that your argument made no sense? One could far more easily argue that by including “transsexual” as a separate category who can be subordinated “like a woman,” as you say, she was clearly differentiating “transsexuals” from women. Otherwise she wouldn’t have included the separate category. She didn’t, for example, separate women with blonde hair from women with brunette hair, or women from China from women from Germany. Those are all categories of women, not other categories whose members can still be subordinated “like a woman.” So if the quote you give makes any relevant point at all (and I’m not sure it does), it makes precisely the opposite point of the one you are torturing it into meaning.

I’ll say it clearly: the fact that one has been subordinated “like a woman” does not in fact mean that one is a woman. I’m embarrassed to even have to write this, but it is too often forgotten. This is true of all forms of subordination. Does the enslavement of a prostituted woman from Eastern Europe mean that because she was enslaved she is now also black, as in those forced into chattel slavery and brought to the US from Africa? Of course not. She is subordinated. They are subordinated. It doesn’t mean their experiences are the same. Likewise a biological male who is treated “like a woman” is not then a woman. That should be obvious. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “He beat him like a rented mule.” Not even the most dedicated postmodernist or queer or trans theorist would parse that to mean that the person who was beaten actually is a rented mule, or even that he was beaten in the same places as a mule would be beaten, or that this means the other mules have to accept him into their herd, or in fact that he has anything in common with a rented mule other than that he was beaten like one. Yet that’s what you’ve done.

And even your own language suggests you understand that those who are not women are in fact not women. You wrote that those other than a woman could be “could be subordinated like a woman.” But if you say something is “like” something else, you are by definition saying that it is not the thing. You don’t say, “This is like a summer day,” in the middle of July. You say that if it’s hot in November. And even then we understand it’s only like it because of temperature, not length, or the sounds of insects, or by any other measure. And the next time you’re eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, try telling the person next to you, “This tastes just like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” and see what kind of look you get. Or think about your own example: you would never say, “That Belgian woman was subordinated just like a woman,” or “That brunette woman was subordinated just like a woman.” Yet you would say that, “This German man was subordinated just like a woman.”

Also, let’s say that some biological male has been subordinated “like a woman.” As I just said, that doesn’t mean he is now a woman. It just means he has been subordinated “like a woman” (and I need to say, for the record, that a woman’s experience is much more than merely being subordinated: to believe that subordination equals womanhood would be deeply objectifying and insulting to women). And the real point is that it doesn’t mean that he is now no threat to women. Indeed, most abusers were themselves abused—that is, they were, using this formulation, treated “like a woman.” That is one way masculinity perpetuates itself. You should know this. This is all just Abuse 101. To take a fatal example, look at the childhood of almost any serial sex killer, and you will find that he was horribly abused. His father (sometimes mother, but most often father) subordinated him “like a woman.” Does that make him a woman? No. Does that make him not a danger to women? No. Do all abused males end up abusing women? No. Do some? Yes.

The real point here, having to do with “transphobia,” is that a biological male having himself been subordinated “like a woman” by biological males does not mean that he is not a threat to biological females—or, to use your language, to those “assigned female at birth,” or, to use the everyday language of common sense rather than the language of postmodernism/queer/trans theory, to “women.” It is not up to women to allow biological males into their most vulnerable spaces simply because those biological males have themselves been subordinated “like a woman” or for any reason other than that the women choose to. No means no, remember? And it is not up to women to allow any particular biological male into their political organizations because the biological male declares he is a woman or because the biological male has been subordinated “like a woman” or because the biological male perceives himself as having been wrongly “assigned male” or for any reason other than that the women choose to.

I would say the same thing about any other oppressed group: it is not required that Mexican-Americans allow those who are not Mexican-American into their organizations; it is not required that American Indian nations allow non-Indians into their sacred spaces; it is not required that those who identify as transgender allow me into their private meetings; and it is not required that organizations of gay males allow me in either. Once again, no means no.

It is up to men who care about women to differentiate themselves from other biological males. And one way to do so is not by claiming to be women, and another way is not by labeling those who wish to be left alone as “transphobes.”

As writers, nearly the only thing we have to work with is words. Words matter. And the title was both harmful and propagandistic. It was propagandistic in that it was inaccurate in order to serve ideological purposes. It also answers the wrong question. “Was Andrea Dworkin transphobic?” is the wrong question for the reasons given above: the women who are often labeled as such are not in fact “phobic” in that I’ve yet to hear of a single assault or death threat or rape threat by a “radical feminist” against a person who identifies as “transgender.” I’ve seen hundreds the other way, by people who identify as “transgender” against those they label “transphobe.” In fact the only slur I’ve seen in this discussion came from your title, with the slur “transphobe.” And that is a slur directed at women.

A much more important and relevant question is “Were Andrea Dworkin alive today, would she be labeled a ‘transphobe’”?

It’s an easy question to answer. We can do it with some other questions.

Would she believe that women living in a rape culture, including those who have themselves been raped, should be forced to accept biological males—men, including those who have been, to use your term, “subordinated like a woman,” and including those who believe (or in some cases simply state) they were wrongly “assigned male at birth”—into vulnerable spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms and shelters?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.” Neither this nor any of the other questions and responses are hyperbolic. They have all happened to people (both women and men) I know.

To be even more clear about this one. The biological males who say they want to go into women’s restrooms because they’re afraid of being assaulted aren’t afraid of women: they’re afraid of biological males. Would Andrea Dworkin suggest that in order to alleviate the very real and understandable fears of these biological males of being assaulted by other biological males in restrooms, that women then be subjected to this same fear?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

To be even more clear: given how hard women in the UK and US struggled for the rights to sex-segregated bathrooms, in order to be able to experience a more robust and less terrorized public life (because it greatly reduced the risk of sexual assault in public restrooms), would Andrea Dworkin be willing to force women to accept biological males into their restrooms?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

And one more time. Right now women in many parts of India are struggling for these very same rights that in the U.S. are being eroded: they want segregated public restrooms because that will enable them to attend school. Read that sentence again: girls are afraid to go to school for fear they will be raped when they go to the bathroom. Would Andrea Dworkin be unwilling to support these women and girls in this struggle?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

Would she believe that women living in a rape culture, including those who have themselves been raped, should be forced to accept biological males into groups advocating for the rights of women?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

Would she believe that women who call a rape crisis hot line after having been sexually assaulted by a biological male should be forced to take the chance that the counselor with whom she speaks is a biological male?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

Would she believe that women should be forced to compete with biological males in sex-segregated sports? Would she believe that Title IX should be eroded?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

Would she condemn women for speaking of safe access to abortion as a women’s issue?

If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

Women who say no to men in this culture run the risk of facing severe consequences for doing so. These consequences can include domination (as in forcing women to accept unwanted males in their spaces), disidentification (as in suggesting that one is not in fact a “female” but was “assigned female,” meaning that female-ness itself, and not just femininity, is a social construct), despisal (as in labeling those who wish to be left alone as “transphobes”), derogation (as in labeling those who wish to be left alone as “transphobes”) destruction, and death (as in the rape and death threats suffered by those who are labeled “transphobes”).

I seem to recall somewhere some woman or another writing some books about these processes of how this whole culture (and especially men as a collective in this culture) terrorize or manipulate or coerce or mindfuck women into saying yes. But just right now I can’t quite remember her name. . . .

Were Andrea Dworkin alive today, would she be labeled as “transphobic”?

But really, that’s not the question either. She’s dead. She can’t argue her case. So I don’t really see the point of doing an extremely superficial exegesis to figure out whether she would or wouldn’t be “transphobic,” Or, for that matter, whether she would or wouldn’t be “labeled as ‘transphobic.’” It smacks too much of those Biblical exegeses that took up so much ink in the early 19th Century trying to argue that Jesus would or wouldn’t have supported slavery.

It’s your essay, John. Not hers. Claim it. Claim whatever position you have. She’s just a dead writer, as you and I will each be some day. She’s not Jesus, and even if she were, we should still be thinking and speaking for ourselves.

And that’s the real point. Do you believe that women living in a rape culture, including those who have themselves been raped, should be forced to accept biological males into vulnerable spaces like bathrooms, locker rooms, and shelters?

Do you believe that women living in a rape culture, including those who have themselves been raped, should be forced to accept biological males into groups advocating for the rights of women?

Do you believe that women should be disallowed from saying no?

Those aren’t rhetorical questions.

And now we’re almost to the real question. As you know, the word “transphobe” is used as a rhetorical cudgel to browbeat women into silence and submission. Even if you disagree with these women, you have to agree that it is used as a way to silence women. You even acknowledged in your response that women are threatened with rape and murder on this issue (although you demurred from using the R or M words). So you know the terror to which women are subjected on this issue. And there is another form of silencing: you know that women (and men) are often deplatformed from speaking at universities on the mere accusation of “transphobe.” You know that. That is silencing. And either intentionally or carelessly you, a man, used your former intimacy with Andrea Dworkin, and even worse, her name and reputation, to legitimize a tool—the word transphobe as applied to women who do not wish to be forced to share their vulnerable spaces with biological males—that is used to silence women. What do you think she would have thought about that?

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on There Are So Many Things Wrong With This and commented:
    “And one more time. Right now women in many parts of India are struggling for these very same rights that in the U.S. are being eroded: they want segregated public restrooms because that will enable them to attend school. Read that sentence again: girls are afraid to go to school for fear they will be raped when they go to the bathroom. Would Andrea Dworkin be unwilling to support these women and girls in this struggle?

    If the answer is no, then she would be labeled as “transphobic.”

  2. Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

  3. Reblogged this on OUT of My Panties, Now!!!.

  4. If I strip away all the rhetorical outrage, this open letter boils down to the following claim:
    “(…) By denying that Andrea Dworkin was a “transphobe” you were by contrast lending credence to the notion that these other woman are in fact “transphobes.”(…)
    This is an extraordinarily weak imputation. And what I find a scurrilous accusation.
    I realize that it is standard fare in the current toxic “call-out culture” to hang an argument on what someone’s sentence is deemed to be “lending credence to”, but this line of attack is unworthy of you two.
    If someone calls me a racist and I answer, No I am not, I am entitled to do this but, more importantly, this in no way implies that all other people being called racists are so.
    I know, as you do, that the “transphobe” label is a bugaboo, a slur used without any basis to attack anyone resisting whatever B-S antifeminist activists can dream up using alleged transphobia.
    But I still can respond to such accusations by saying “No, I am not a transphobe and neither is my friend” without being accused of implying that other accused are. Logic doesn’t work that way.
    I expected better than this from you folks.
    Martin Dufresne

    • Martin: you’re picking one sentence out of this essay to attack and dismissing the rest as rhetorical outrage, with no discussion whatsoever? That’s pretty weak.

    • Girlsoftheinternet says:

      I think you are wrong about this, and I think the reason comes from the fact that “racist” has an accepted and universally used meaning, whereas the word “transphobic” is used more speciously as a silencing tool against women. The success of the term for this purpose is to distort it’s meaning from “people who are prejudiced or hateful towards Trans people” to “people (women) who don’t believe transwomen are women” while keeping the negative original connotation of violence and hate. In fact, pretty much the only reason Feminist Times published that article was part of an ongoing political argument to try and demonstrate that no real radical feminist refuses to accept Transwomen as women. Otherwise what would be the purpose? Does anyone really think Dworkin would advocate violence and hate towards anybody?

      I think you are possibly unfamiliar with the Feminist Times Editorial line on this issue, and the (entirely related) fact that Roz Kaveney was on the Editorial board and a major financial backer. Women were repeatedly called TERFs and banned from commenting on articles on the website in service of this agenda.

      • girlsoftheinternet says:

        In case it is not clear, I am saying the original article was commissioned in service of an agenda, and I’m alleging that Stoltenberg was hip to that agenda I.e. these open letters are completely academic and moot.

      • ” I am saying the original article was commissioned in service of an agenda, and I’m alleging that Stoltenberg was hip to that agenda”

        Yes! FeministTimes had an agenda, which was/is to discredit and intimidate women’s liberationists. And, yes, Stoltenberg was hip to that agenda; he’s apparently onboard with the transgenderists.

        Radical women, I think, know where John’s at. This can go toward understanding why there hasn’t been more response than there has been: as in, is he worth it? Still, many of us did reply to him on the FeministTimes blog. We were heavily moderated in favour of the trans activists and I recall that many of my own comments went unpublished.

        I very carefully read Stoltenberg’s replies there, and his reply to the Open Letter on this blog, too — many times, in fact. What I’ve heard from him sounds a lot like — despite his protests to the contrary — queer theory gaslighting, only more polite. It’s not good enough. Perhaps this is why more radical feminists just aren’t bothering. Experience tells us that queer outcomes are most often determined in advance, so why waste the precious energy? Energy that could be used, say, reading and discussing writers like Dworkin who wrote, not to hide and obfuscate, but to be understood. Her agenda was clear: she stood on the side of real, female people called “women.”

      • Girlsoftheinternet says:

        Indeed, Morag. You make a lot of sense and I completely agree with you.

    • From Derrick:

      Martin, no, that was not my main argument. My main argument was the
      argument that I did in fact make, not the one you pretended I made.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        He actualy said it wrong. he should have said, because I’m not transphobic doesn’t mean others that are being called tranphobic are not. Some responses on this article are extremly transphobic, acusing trans people of rape etc…

  5. ‘The women I know who have been called “transphobic”—and who have been threatened with rape, other forms of torture, and murder by many of the very same biological males who are labeling these women as “transphobic”—are not, in fact, “transphobic” in that none of them wish to exploit or wish any harm on people who identify as transgender. They don’t want for them to be murdered. They don’t want for them to be imprisoned. They don’t for them to be raped. They don’t want for them kicked out of their homes. They don’t want for them to be harmed in any way. They don’t want for them to be exploited. They don’t perceive them as inferior. They don’t care with whom they sleep. They don’t care what they wear. They don’t care how they organize. They don’t care how much money they make. They have no desire to control the lives of these others.’

    Wrong – biological born females who have been subjected to male sexual violence do not want biological males who claim they have magically morphed into females anywhere near them. This means real biological women do care concerning what these ‘fake females’ are claiming and saying because ‘the personal is political.’ Whist we Real Radical Feminists do not advocate violence against those ‘biological males who pretend to be females’ this does not mean we accept them as females – rather we know those ‘fake females’ are swiftly erasing the tiny fundamental human rights we women managed to wrest out of the hands of men. We do care who those ‘fake females’ sleep with because many of those fake females claim they are lesbian and demand their male sex right to lesbian women. So this is not about ‘controlling what men can and can’t enact but rather challenging male pseudo sex right to define who is and isn’t a real biological female. Hint – it isn’t biological born females it is biological males who can magically morph into females!

    We Radical Feminists also care about how those men who claim they are females organise because the issue is political and it is all about men once again reinstating male pseudo sex right to oppress women with inpunity. We also care about what those men who claim they are females are wearing because ‘clothing is political’ in that certain clothing are designated ‘womens’ and other clothing is designated ‘male.’ So therefore those men who claim they are females are using clothing as proof they are ‘females!’ Clothes wouldn’t matter if mens’ Male Supremacist system and their related ‘gender roles’ also didn’t exist – but they do which is why we real Radical Feminists know clothes have to be designated ‘female or male apparel.’

    Yes we do care how much these biological men earn once they have magically morphed into females because these fake females continue to retain/increase their male status and male earnings. Take a look at how many ‘fake females’ are worshipped by mens’ malestream media and I have no doubt these fake females are not being paid ‘female fees’ because they retain their male power.

    The real issue is biological men who claim they are females are swiftly ensuring male rights are once again superceding real biological female rights because only male rights are real and this includes male pseudo sex right to claim ‘I am really a woman and hence I am because I say so!’

    Next time you write about the issue of transgender spend time reading real Radical Feminist Analysis before pontificating on your claim that ‘women don’t care what these fake females wear or claim.’ You are correct in that we real Radical Feminists do not advocate harm to those fake feminists but innumerable non-feminist biologically born females do not want any ‘fake females’ anywhere near them because these women know that male violence against women and girls is real and just because a biological male claims he is ‘female’ does not magically erase pandemic male violence against women and girls.

    • I think Derrick is very clear that he doesn’t consider these men to be female, nor does he support their attempts to rape women by deception or coercion.

      • Yes, Derrick is very clear about that. What he doesn’t make clear, however, is that the problem with transgenderism occurs long before so-called transwomen force their way into sex-segrated female spaces and rape crisis centres, long before they begin to control the language around women’s reproductive rights, etc.

        The problem occurs the very moment a man claims he is a woman. This, in itself, is a direct attack on girls and women — on female people.

        As soon as he has made this absurd claim, that he is a woman — and offers as “evidence” his own subjective feelings, or silly pseudo-scientific brain scans, or a spiritual idea about the feminine soul or essence — he is making an argument that women are NOT PEOPLE.

        He is promoting the idea that girls and women are something other than a material reality, something other than people with female bodies, with boundaries, wholeness, integrity. He is claiming that “woman” is some kind of mysterious, metaphysical, essential thing to which males have access simply by saying they do.

        This insane claim — that men can be women, that male can be female — is nothing, of course, but male supremacy in action. It is outrageous, it is stupid, it is propaganda, it is anti-intellectual, anti-rational, anti-woman, anti-feminist, anti-liberation. It is just a new way for men to control and dominate women. And it’s working.

        These male supremacists in woman-costume are garnering the support of many liberal-minded people who have bought the lie that (mostly) white, straight, middle-class men are “oppressed” BY women. John Stoltenberg, an ostensible pro-feminist male, is helping them to propagate that outrageous, misogynist lie.

        I agree with Derrick that John is doing this, in part, by positioning Andrea Dworkin as one of the “good” (i.e., not “transphobic”) feminists. John may as well have said, “Yes, those bad women are TERFs, but Andrea was not.” And, by using their postmodern/queer language, he supports the lie that “female” is a social construct that girls and women have no right to claim as the reality of their bodies and their lives under patriarchy. This, in turn, makes room for and supports the men who will define “woman” in any way which suits them. What suits them — which should come as no surprise! — is maintaining male dominion over female.

      • I very strongly agree – A man calling himself a woman is already a violation, and any conception of gender that allows it is harmful to women and girls. Absolutely. Derrick very strongly agrees as well, and I think that’s clear not only in this letter but in all of his comments on the subject. No one is arguing that men who say they’re women are somehow neutral as long as they don’t do anything else.

  6. Bravoissiimo Derrick. How did 0.5 to 2% of the population (transgender) get to occupy the lives of the 51% to such an extent? Bullying. Silencing. Big pockets of money somewhere for some. Wonderful analysis. Dworkin is beaming and so is an angleworm.

  7. Hi and thanks for the good work you do on your blog!

    This feels like a safe place to say what I’m going to say, so here goes. My heart sank when I saw this huge article written by a man in response to another huge article written by a man, talking about what a radical feminist woman said after her death, concerning men (trans women) who are attempting to take over the feminist narrative. I have no doubt Mr. Stoltenberg and Mr. Jensen are pro-feminist. But both their accounts are flawed because they are not radical feminists, and there is a tone and approach in both articles which I perceive as foreign to Andrea Dworkin’s way of looking at things. I think women must be the people discussing radical feminist texts and both of these well-known men doing that work smacks of joining in the takeover. I am dismayed that a woman radfem has not written a better response to Mr. Stoltenberg’s flawed article, and this may never happen now because the narrative is being established by two men.

    I agree with Hecuba that Mr. Jensen sounds arrogant and misinformed in telling men what radfems all agree on with reference to tran activism. I doubt ANY radical feminist believes Dworkin would have supported current transactivism – it’s laughable to assert that. Mr. Stoltenberg is in my opinion trying to keep Dworkin “above” the current struggle to keep her “reputation” from being attacked by this messy issue. He is being expedient and radical feminists don’t back away from the tuth for expedience.

    • I understand that concern – when and why to speak is always a complex subject for pro-feminists. I was encouraged to write the open letter by several radical feminist women friends of mine, mainly because they feel as though it is not a woman’s job to have to deal with men’s bullshit. I do believe strongly that men ought to call other men out when it comes to nonsense like this. I know Derrick consulted with multiple radical feminists for his response as well, as he always does.

      I too am dismayed that there was not a woman who wrote an open letter. I certainly waited quite a while, specifically so that I would not appear to be stealing the spotlight when the issue was being openly discussed among women online. But actual radical feminists have criticized Stoltenberg as well, and when they have, I’ve linked to their words here as well as on my private Facebook, etc.

      I don’t mean to seem dismissive, and I understand your concerns. Thank you for voicing them.

      • In addition, I don’t really see where Derrick expounds in any length on radical feminist theory – he says that radical feminists don’t want to harm transwomen or abuse them in any way. Is that really speaking for women so much as it’s just stating obvious truths that (hopefully) all radical folks would get behind?

      • ‘I know Derrick consulted with multiple radical feminists for his response as well, as he always does.’
        So why aren’t they acknowledged? Erasing women is patriarchy at work.

      • I’m sorry, but that is completely unfair. Derrick is a writer. He is friends and colleagues with multiple other writers. Writers ask colleagues to look over things they write. That’s how it works. It is not “erasing” someone to ask them what they think of a piece and then not…I don’t even know, what would you have him do?

      • Letters don’t routinely include citations. What is it with all of you dumping on Derrick, anyway? He’s dealt with no end of hassle for being openly gender critical. I think it’s pretty clear that he’s not in this for the money or the fandom. Are he and Jonah really the best you can do as far as targets go?

  8. Sorry, I am confused by your comment, Lonesome. Are you Derrick Jensen? Your comment seems to be from Derrick yet refers to him sometimes in the third person. Also, what is meant by “radical folks”. One of radfems’ struggles is putting women first when other “radical folks” do not. The trans activist attack is not on “radical folks” it is on radical feminists specifically.

    And again, no, these statements by Mr. Jensen are wildly off-key: “They don’t care with whom they sleep. They don’t care what they wear. They don’t care how they organize. They don’t care how much money they make. ” Hasn’t he ever heard of the “cotton ceiling”? Doesn’t he understand that by wearing clothing that most carefully stereotypes women, the gender hierarchy is reinforced? How can he say that we don’t care how they organize? They are organizing WITHIN women’s communities and we do care about that. And didn’t he see the magazine article about the highest paid “woman” in American business, a man? What about the men going into women’s sports where they have the advantage and will usually take the purse, as in women’s boxing?

    It’s off-key to say radfems don’t want to “harm” trans people. It frames the issue wrongly. The issue is that tranactivists DO want to harm women, and that they perceive any attack on their most ridiculaous positions, of great harm to feminism, to be harm to themselves. Yes, we do want to “harm” their feelings and stop them from callously appropriating women’s oppression.

    But yes, my biggest concern is the amorphous one of why men are purporting to speak for Andrea Dworkin, taking over the discussion. It really is very touchy. I don’t know why a radfem writer has not responded to Mr. Stoltenberg. I have wondered if it is out of respect, or lack of confidence, or taking him at his (wrong) word. I don’t know. This is the real problem I have with the article though. I have seen this elsewhere – well-meaning men taking over the conversation in a roomful of women. I can’t agree with what you say: “they feel as though it is not a woman’s job to have to deal with men’s bullshit.” This too is a wrong framing of the issue. We have to deal with men’s bullshit all day, have to. Whether it’s our job or not doesn’t matter, we have to deal with it. The whole trans struggle is about dealing with men’s bullshit. No, we can’t just turn that struggle over to the men.

    • Radical feminists are always tellng men that if they want to help, they should stop trying to tell women how to do feminism and devote themselves to calling other men out on their crap. So here is a man doing that. I don’t see the problem.

      I agree that radical feminists don’t care what trans-identified people do with themselves as long as it’s not intrusive to women. Saying they should not wear feminine clothing is just more gender policing. The problem is that they insist they are indistinguishable from actual women. This is nonsense, everyone here agrees with that. Also saying we don’t care who they sleep with is not the same as saying we think it’s cool for them to harass women.

      How they organize is a stickier point because of the legal issues involved.

    • Haha no, I’m not Derrick. I just posted the letter for him.

      I understand your concern, I really do. I guess part of it is that both Derrick and I have been vocal for years now condemning things like the Cotton Ceiling, trans organizations fucking up women’s events (Derrick himself has been deplatformed multiple times for being a ‘transphobe’), and men beating women for sport. I can see how if you didn’t know that, you could interpret what he’s saying to be supportive of those behaviors, but to me at least, and to the women who looked over his article, I think it was clear the point he was trying to make. I just ask that those who read this article do not assume that he or I are making claims that we have a history of opposing.

      No one is asking that the struggle be turned over to men. We all agree that’s a bad idea. But when a supposed pro-feminist man says noxious, anti-woman garbage, I can understand why many women would agree that perhaps the prime role of a male ally is to call them out and engage with them. To be honest, I think the whole point of the article is that Stoltenberg *was* speaking for Dworkin, and that it was wrong. That, to me, is the thrust of sections like this:

      “And either intentionally or carelessly you, a man, used your former intimacy with Andrea Dworkin, and even worse, her name and reputation, to legitimize a tool—the word transphobe as applied to women who do not wish to be forced to share their vulnerable spaces with biological males—that is used to silence women.”

      And radical feminists *have* responded to Stoltenberg – https://thearcticfeminist.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/refusing-to-be-an-ally/ and a few others. Both Derrick and I intentionally waited until long after such a discussion had died down. I’m not sure what would have been gained by staying silent when no other women were gearing to speak. I understand the concern, I really do. But with respect, I think those women who encouraged this letter to be written and looked over it were correct in asking that one man confront another for being a misogynist. Whether or not a man should speak, and when, is always going to fall into different spots for different women, and we all just have to do our best to go along with those we think we are best able to help out. Hopefully this letter urges Stoltenberg to make an apology, or, failing that, drives more of his supporters to embrace gender abolition. That’s the only goal of this letter – not to provide any kind of male analysis of Dworkin, which is definitely not an appropriate thing to do.

      Again, thanks for the comment. I hope I don’t appear dismissive. This is something we all obviously give a lot of thought.

    • Coming in late on this. However…

      I hate to be the one to break it to you, but not all radfems are lesbians. There are also quite a few feminists close to but not quite in radical feminism who are not lesbian. Some are bisexual, some are heterosexual. It is entirely possible that some of these women might meet a transwoman that they could love and be intimate with. My issue with the “cotton ceiling” isn’t that MTTs ever want to sleep with women per se but that they insist upon sleeping with lesbians.

      (Full disclosure, I’m het and transwomen don’t appeal to me at all. I like a guy who’s comfortable in his own body, and who’s at least somewhat sexually functional; the most concession I will make in this direction is being OK with a guy who has ED. We can work around that. A guy who’s had his equipment removed or who has deliberately killed it with drugs that I probably don’t want to be exposed to, not so much.)

      There’s also no reason to care what a transwoman wears because we should already be hip to the concept that a woman can wear whatever she damn well pleases. It works in the opposite direction too. In fact, since dudes loooove makeup and skimpy skirts and heels so. damn. much, let THEM wear them. I’mma be over here in my tshirts and pajama pants and socks, not giving a damn.

  9. Also, the Stoltenberg story is pretty old, publishing a response at this date is hardly taking over the conversation.

  10. No, it’s not an easy question. A couple weekends ago at a counter-demonstration to the huge marches by the anti-abortion people on the anniversary of Roe, v Wade. I saw the patriarchy in action. The anti-abortion marchers had men line the sides so the women protesting the march couldn’t say anything to the girls in the march. Soon they would drive off on their buses with their male leaders and organizers back to their homes far away.

    The counterdemonstrators (us) were organized by a male-led marxist organization. The only “radfem” I recognized that whole long afternoon was a male who is also active in that male-led organization. I don’t know where the radfems (or any feminists (except the marxist feminists, who say the class revolution will collaterally result in women’s liberation, haha) were. I found myself yelling at the marchers, “Get the men out of the way, Let the women talk!” The girls could barely hear me.

    There was no way of getting the men out of the way. The whole thing – demonstration and counter-demonstration – was a male-led event.

    The whole thing was the patriarchy in action – and any time men are having both sides of a “feminist” conversation, there’s a problem Houston.

    • Mijanou ter Braak says:

      You say this
      (except the marxist feminists, who say the class revolution will collaterally result in women’s liberation, haha)
      So I say this
      Malcolm X said a capitalist can never not be racist
      I say a capitalist can never be a feminist…hahaha
      Maybe you should wory more about the fact no woman bothered to go to the anti demonstration than being irritated by the men who did.

  11. Look, everyone. Andrea was not a sex essentialist. She was a radical feminist who believed fiercely in ending male supremacy in all its forms, including the sexual violence it does to create and maintain the gender binary. AND she was not a sex essentialist. That for her was not a contradiction. I get that for many people who identify as radical feminists, it IS a contradiction. I appear to have angered many who so believe, and who wish that Andrea believed so as well. I’m sorry. She didn’t. You can say I don’t know what I’m talking about. Or I have no right to say it. But she didn’t.

    The original title of my Feminist Times essay, the one I gave it, was “Andrea Dworkin on Living Beyond Gender.” She really believed in that possibility and knew knew to recognize glimpses of it when they happened. That was the point of my essay.

    I regret that the FT editors’ title (which I acknowledge okaying because on it’s face I did not view it as factually inaccurate) has become such a focus of consternation. But really, people, if the title is irksome, just ignore it and think of the one I intended.

    • Mijanou ter Braak says:

      Dear mr Stoltenberg

      I’m sorry to find you under attack in this blog. I was really hoping for a little more empathy especialy from woman who pretend to fight sexisme in all it’s forms. Especialy because empathy is one of the main charactaristics described by male supremacist as a typical female charactaristic that should never been shown or feld by any men.
      It must be really painfull to be told by total strangers they know your wife and her thoughts better than you. I don’t understand this trans ”problem” neither, I always believed the porn industrie and the pimps and the rapists and the law and the system was the problem….I’m really disappointed in mr Jensen

      Yours sincerely

      Mijanou ter Braak

    • Saying that a human being with the potential to produce egg cells and who is lacking a Y chromosome is female is not “sex essentialism”. It is not saying a damn thing about that person’s potential in any other area of life except the reproductive. That’s what maleness and femaleness ARE FOR. Nothing else. Not thinking. Not playing with toys. Not developing a color preference. Not developing a sports preference. NOTHING BUT REPRODUCTION, PERIOD.

      You’re trying to erase women and some of us will not let you do it unremarked. You will just have to live with that.

      P.S., She may have been your wife, but she was NOT your property, and you can’t know her thoughts anymore because she’s dead and isn’t thinking. Nice try though. Even if she were alive, I was married once. I guarantee you my husband did not always know what I was thinking and I would not have appreciated him putting words in my mouth. So can anyone here guess how happy Andrea would be that you are doing that to her?

  12. Thanks for entering the conversation, Mr. Stoltenberg. What is a sex essentialist, as Andrea Dworkin, in your interpretation, defined it? Does it encompass the truth that women have asignificantly different biology than men, which is deeply entertwined with their oppression?

  13. Actually, yes, the sex essentialism that I knew Andrea disavowed would encompass what you call that truth.

    Some 30 years ago I wrote an essay, published in Refusing to Be a Man as “How Men Have (a) Sex” in which I said, “There are as many sexes as there are people.” It was an elaboration on the point Andrea made in Woman Hating that “we are a multisexed species.” I think if Andrea had had a problem with that essay, I would have known.

    • Human beings require two cells to make a baby, a sperm and an egg. Therefore there are two sexes. Just two. No more, no less. No matter how their genitals are configured. If you make or could make eggs, you’re female. If you make or could make sperm, you’re male.

      It really is very easy when you don’t deliberately try to complicate it.

      Andrea was a human being, not God/dess. She didn’t know everything. Neither do you.

  14. I don’t understand. “The sex essentialism that I knew Andrea disavowed would encompass what you call that truth.” That statement is nonsensical to me. Would you please define “sex essentialism” as Dworkin “would have” understood it? I can’t tell if you are saying that Dworkin would have denied women’s biology has been a major if not the primary source of women’s oppression.

    • Vychera, I recommend Andrea’s essay “The Root Cause” (http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OurBloodIII.html). The answer to your question is there. Best, John

      • You do understand that the ACLU’s pro-prostitution stance is considered hateful by women’s liberationists?

        No, I suppose you don’t.

      • John, yo’ure being very vague and refusing to answer simple, direct questions. Why? It comes off as dismissive to just cite an essay, but not bother to give us an argument for your interpretation of it (or any ofther of Dworkin’s work). The entire thing at issue is how to interpret her work. So refusing to argue for your interpretation’s merits really makes little sense. If you prefer your opinions to stand PURELY on the “I knew her intimately” defense, you’re making a mistake because that is not enough.

      • I know I’m late to the game, but I read the article you posted, John.

        One could read two paragraphs into it and know that, today, Dworkin would be castigated as the lowest TERF scum to walk the face of the planet, much as she was castigated while she was alive as the most hate-filled feminist to walk the face of the planet.

        “Only when manhood is dead–and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it–only then will we know what it is to be free.” That is the last line of the essay posted, John.

        Dworkin was a gender abolitionist, which is necessarily, in today’s “logic”, “transphobic”.

  15. “Women Hating” was published in 1976 and the transgender rights movement has evolved hugely since then, and since Dworkin’s death as well. To claim from these quotes that she would support what it has turned into is not substantiatable. I never had any sense of it being taken over by predatory white men professing to be lesbians and having no desire whatsoever to have surgery, until relatively recently. Since Dworkin also states in these quotes that they should all have federally funded SRS, she apparently didn’t either. Her commentary sounds very much like opinions previously held by many feminists, including myself.

  16. I look at this essay and see a kind of sex essentialism. I’m not sure how it’s any different from gender essentialism in the sense that a dichotomy involving sex, gender, or both seems to embrace the logical fallacy of the excluded middle.

    As long as this dichotomous thinking doesn’t address the reality of intersex people, it’s a broken “theology” that unnaturally forces a sex/gender binary on an obviously non-dichotomous spectrum of, at a minimum, sex.

    The issue is though is that if one allows for a non-binary sex spectrum based on the existence of intersex people then that it allows argument for a non-binary gender spectrum based on brain sex — brain sex not being at this point being able to be scientifically proved for each individual who identifies with a sex and/or gender assigned one at birth.

    When sex binary essentialists develop a framework that takes into account the non-dicotomous sex of intersex people, I’ll be all ears.

    • I’ve written about this before: https://genderdetective.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/intersex/

      The existence of intersex people does not disprove the sex binary any more than the existence of people with diabetes “disproves” the theory that the pancreas produces insulin, or than the existence of people born without legs “disproves” the claim that human beings are bipedal.

      • You know, I like to read what geneticists say regarding sex. For example, Eric Vilain, chief of medical genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times entitled Gender Blender: Intersexual? Transsexual? Male, female aren’t so easy to define where he addressed the 2004 hot election issue of a federal marriage amendment. He ended his piece this way:

        Sex should be easily definable, but it’s not. Our gender identity — our profound sense of being male or female — is independent from our anatomy. A constitutional amendment authorizing marriages only between men and women would not only discriminate against millions of Americans who do not fit easily in the mold of each category, but would simply be flawed and contrary to basic biological realities.

        The geneticist says “flawed.”

        You wrote:

        When it comes to gender, feel free to pack as many netrois genderfluids or pansexual demiqueers in the hierarchy as you want; it’s still gonna be Man at the top and Woman at the bottom.

        As for the sex binary, it seems pretty clear that the vast majority of biologists, anatomists, doctors, nurses, kindergarteners, and humans in general throughout time recognize the idea of male and female as discreet biological sets….

        How about evolutionary scientists? Every read Joan Roughgarden’s Evolution’s Rainbow? Quoting from an article from American Scientific entitled Rethinking Sex:

        Roughgarden’s expertise as an evolutionary ecologist is apparent in her fascinating accounts of species in which no simple binary division of sex applies. Nearly half of the females in certain species of South American hummingbirds, for instance, are characterized by male coloration, and on occasion a small percentage of the males sport female colors. Roughgarden also has the reader consider the aptly named hamlets (small bass that live around coral reefs), which are simultaneously male and female, and can switch between producing sperm and producing eggs in the span of a single mating episode. To be or what to be, indeed.

        What are we to make of the many examples of hermaphroditism and sex–role reversal, of intersexed deer and pouched male kangaroos? One choice, which Roughgarden soundly rejects, is to consider these phenomena oddities—or worse, pathologies. As she indicates, the central philosophical legacy of the Darwinian revolution supplies an alternative perspective. Diversity of sexual forms, in a post–Darwinian world, is not simply noise, nor is it the flawed expression of some underlying Platonic dichotomy. Instead, diversity is the message itself—the very stuff of evolution, the rainbow alluded to in the title of the book.

        These aren’t the only two scientists questioning a sex and/or gender binary.

        Yet, going back to your quote: absent of actual sourced scientists’ viewpoints you’ve made a bandwagon fallacy appeal for an evident sex/gender binary that everyone sees and believes in as evidence for that reductive sex and/or gender binary.

        My argument is you’re ignoring the middle — the sex/gender spectrum — that scientists see, as well as that real intersex people have talked about (see my reply to MIEP).

        Maybe we should arbitrarily decide sex based on Peter Cantor‘s De vitio sodomitico — or On Sodomy (d. 1192 AD). John Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Appendix Two) has a translation of a section on hermaphrodites (or as we’d call them now, intersex people). From the translation:

        The Lord formed man from the slime of the earth on the plan of Damascus, later fashioning woman from his rib in Eden. Thus in considering the formation of woman, lest any should believe they would be hermaphrodites, he stated, “Male and female created he them,” as if to say, “There will not be intercourse of men with men or women with women, but only of men with women and vice versa.” For this reason the church allows a hermaphrodite — that is, someone with the organs of both sexes, capable of either active or passive functions — to use the organ by which (s)he is most aroused or the one which (s)he is more susceptible.

        If (s)he is more active [literally, “lustful], (s)he may wed as a man, but if (s)he is more passive, (s)he may marry as a woman. If; however, (s)he should fail with one organ, the use of the other can never be permitted, but (s)he must be perpetually celibate to avoid any similarity to the role inversion of sodomy, which is detested by God.

        Cantor’s theological way to decide the sex of those in the middle is as neat and clear a way to divide intersex people as any. Take “Lord” out of it and call it a gender critical way to determine sex — well, that would be interesting, but also would be just another a way of embracing the “excluded middle” logical fallacy. (And, it’s also pretty damn straw man to say it’s gender critical.)

      • Here’s a simple question that I’d like to have answered honestly:

        If I took 100 random human beings from every continent, every ethnicity, every size, etc. and lined them up naked in front of you, could you easily separate them into two stable categories?

        If so, that’s all that the radical feminist position requires – that sex is an identifiable biological characteristic upon which power can be doled out. Any other discussion of chromosomes or hummingbirds or other red herrings doesn’t matter. What you are calling a “bandwagon fallacy” is simply an acknowledgement that the vast majority of human beings are easily placed into one of two biological types, and that all human societies have known that to be the case.

      • I’m sorry, I feel like I’m arguing with a flat-earther who has a defined point of view — science and scientists be damned.

        Seriously, your point of view on sex and gender is as fixed as a socially conservative Christian — it strikes me as just as faith-based as well. It doesn’t matter what geneticists or evolutionary biologists might say about your point of view — it’s your point of view and you’re going to hold onto it like it’s the Gospel truth. But instead of it being theology based faith, it’s theory based faith.

        In that sense I pity you. Faith is a poor substitute for critical thinking, and if your point of view is an example of gender critical thinking I fail to actually see anything critical about it. It’s just a form of anti-scientific sex and/or gender essentialism that isn’t reality based, but gender “critical” feminist theory faith based.

        To be truly sex and gender critical here, your embraced theory needs to be able to explain sex variance without dismissing it as irrelevant or insignificant. And, I don’t see you doing that in this piece or your referenced one.

      • Freya, intersex people tend to be sterile. I’ve read too much about these dudes who father an assortment of children and then decide late in life that they’re laydees, often lesbian laydees, to be taken in.

      • Also, Freya, your comment is completely nuts. Comparing men who care about the oppression of women to conservative Christians? lol

    • Transgender philosophy often tries to appropriate intersex people (which tends to piss them off no end) but they are entirely unrelated. Intersex conditions are rare and biologically defined, transgender philosophy is neither.

      • Then MIEP, please address what an actual intersex person wrote about their experience with gender critical feminism. It’s easy to claim appropriation, but harder to address an actual intersex person’s take on gender critical feminism.

        So, please feel free to have a go at Dr. Cary Gabriel Costello’s real world commentary on your point of view. I’d appreciate seeing your response.

      • What Jonah wrote works for me. You’re not going to sell me on the idea that transgenderism is biologically based when there are no solid studies demonstrating such, and you can’t make the lived reality of gendered bias against women go away by distracting with intersex people.

      • What Jonah wrote works for me. You’re not going to sell me on the idea that transgenderism is biologically based when there are no solid studies demonstrating such, and you can’t make the lived reality of gendered bias against women go away by distracting with intersex people.

        So, it’s faith based, anti-scientific “critical” thinking. (((face palm)))

        When the lives and experiences of real intersex people are a “distraction” and not something that your belief system needs to critically address…well, Dr. Cary Gabriel Costello is then a human, intersex “distraction” that you can dismiss because, you know, reasons. **sigh**

      • I see nothing in your commentary that indicates you give a damn about women at all, “Freya.”

      • Freya, please read the replies from Miep and Lonesomeyogurt again. Your comments about sex chromosomes, kangaroos and evolutionary science are pointless. Because they have no bearing on the discussion whatsoever.

        Also, please stop projecting your own faith-based position (on transgenderism) onto us. Yes, you’re projecting. Yes, you are the one who’s similar to a flat-earther.

        Here’s something that’s important to understand: women do not CAUSE their own oppression by knowing that they are female. Women do not cause their own oppression by knowing that their overlords are male.

        Even if I found out tomorrow that one of my ovaries was secretly growing a moustache, or that one of my X chromosomes had a masculine kink in it, and my doctor indicated to me that, my goodness, I’m not as discretely female as I seem, guess what would happen to my status in the world? Exactly. Nothing, nothing at all. I’d still belong, as I always have, to a natural kind named “female” and to a social class named “women.”

        If you believe, Freya, that evolutionary science can explain a man’s overwhelming urge to wear a some eyeshadow, call himself Delta Dawn and use the ladies’ toilet, then you are a sex-role essentialist who is working directly against women’s liberation.

      • Wow, MIEP, I feel…well, straw manned. You’re putting words in my mouth as to what I believe about transgender people and… “green eye shadow”?

        I’m not sure exactly how stating sex isn’t a genetic and physical dichotomy is sex essentalism. It’s actually kind of the opposite of sex essentialism — it’s acknowledging there’s more than a physical and genetic sex binary just in the biological sense.

        That doesn’t mean there isn’t a enforced sociological gender binary. That there are only F and M choices for sex/gender on United States’ birth certificates and ID cards speaks to that sociological binary.

        It also doesn’t mean there isn’t a patriarchy that functions oppressively. The policed, sociological gender binary clearly functions as an oppressive force.

        But pretending sex is a binary is anti-scientific. Gender critical feminism should be able to explain how enforcing a gender binary fails people who don’t fit in a sex dichotomy, but instead GCF embraces — using the bandwagon fallacy — that idea that sex mimics gender in being a dichotomy. And claiming a sex dichotomy is an embracing of the fallacious argument of the excluded middle.

        Intersex people aren’t really a distraction, but an opportunity for GCF folk to explain how an enforced gender binary benefits or fails those who don’t fit into a sex binary — that would be truly gender critical thought.

        But that’s not what I see, MIEP. It’s the GCF tact of taking a belief that transgender experience is a false experience and instead of refuting it logically from an actual gender critical perspective, gender critical feminism is rooted in the flawed model of a rigid sex binary. It’s why I see GCF as being just as faith based as the conservative Christian faith in Genesis 1:27’s “male and female he created them” as the root for their belief in a rigid sex and gender binary.

        Don’t straw man me. I don’t believe what your stating and presuming I believe about an enforced sex and gender binary when I just believe the policed sex binary isn’t scientifically based.

        Give me some true gender critical feminism by developing theory that explains how an enforced gender dichotomy hurts and/or helps people who don’t fit into the enforced, but unscientific, sex dichotomy.

      • This is ridiculous. Human beings, like all mammals and most living things, can be easily sorted into two biological types. Every culture throughout history has recognized this. Other animals besides humans also intuitively recognize this and order their social makeup around it. At some point it stops being a “bandwagon fallacy” on our part and starts being a “you are denying what has been obvious for tens of millions of years” on your part.

        I’m still waiting for an answer to that question: Could you separate 100 random human beings from across the world into two distinct categories based on their biology? You’re lying if you say you couldn’t.

      • Did you know that more people are born with six fingers on a hand than are born intersex? Does this mean the number of human fingers “exists on a spectrum?” What about folks born without legs? Does that mean that stating human beings are bipedal is “essentialism?”

      • Freya, this letter/essay is about how transgender ideology is being used to oppress women. It is not about intersex people. Intersex people have their own problems that I sympathize with, but women don’t have any obligation to put them first or even give them equal time. It’s classic patriarchy to try to guilt trip us into putting others first and we’re tired of it. You are derailing and that is all I have to add.

      • Okay, one more comment, then I’m out.

        The basis of gender critical feminism appears to be rooted in the scientificly wrongheaded premise of sex essentialism there is only male and female with no intermediary sex spectrum. Science — hard sciences of genetics and evolutionary biology — question that basis of gender critical feminism.

        Gender critical feminism, if truly gender critical, needs to address how a gender dichotomy of male an female overlays over a sex spectrum, and why if there’s s small, but statistically significant sex spectrum why there shouldn’t be a small, but statistically significant amount of gender spectrum, even if only applied to those who fall under the sex spectrum.

        If gender critical feminism can’t adequately identify in its theoretical basis its take on sex which sex segregated spaces, especially regarding women’s spaces someone born with ambiguous genitalia or androgen insensitivity syndrome should be welcome in, then it replaces the patriarchy found in the gender binary with a ridgid sex binary that doesn’t exist in the real world. Gender critical feminism then that dismisses the exceptions to binary sex as anomalies that don’t need to be addressed has an inherently flawed theoretical basis.

        And, it’s even more flawed if one assigns behavior to those binary sexes. 1.) Behaviors assigned to sexes in is gendering sexed behaviors, and 2.) evolutionary biology shows us that assigning behaviors to particular sexes isn’t even valid outside of human experience.

        To quote Eric Vilain again:

        Any genetics expert knows that there are exceptions to the chromosome rules. There are females with a Y chromosome; there are males with no SRY gene. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the IOC decided to “refrain from performing gender tests,” conceding that no single test provided a complete answer.

        ..Intersexuality is defined as the presence of “ambiguous genitalia,” making it impossible to tell easily whether the newborn baby is a boy or a girl. It occurs at a frequency of 1 in 4,000 births. Plastic surgery of the genitals is often performed to conform a typical appearance of one sex or the other, and a male or female legal sex is assigned shortly after birth. Many of these children grow up feeling alienated from their legal sex identity and undergo reconstructive surgery as adults to regain their dominant gender identity. If intersex adults change their legal sex, which sex should be considered when they marry?

        Sex should be easy, but it’s not — it’s complicated. Gender should be just as easy, but it’s not — if only for the reason that sex is complicated.

        It’s not a derail or distraction to say there may be a small spectrum of gender that overlays or overlaps that scientifically validated small sex spectrum — science says that spectrum is valid. If gender critical feminism can’t address the sex spectrum in it’s take on gender, then it fails at being truly gender critical because its basis in a binary sex schema is inherently flawed.

        And, I’m out.

      • Freya. Sex-roles, which are violently enforced, hurt girls and women. Women’s liberationists want sex-roles, and the male violence, systems and institutions which enforce those roles, to be abolished.

        If you want to discuss the ways in which sex-roles hurt people who are neither male nor female (apparently, this is your area of expertise), please do.

    • somebody42 says:

      Freya: I just can’t imaging how you think humans reproduce. Or any other mammals, birds, or fish. Hell, even most insects reproduce sexually. The females gestate or lay eggs and the males produce sperm. All females cannot become pregnant (or lay eggs) but all pregnant individuals (and egg layers) are biologically female. You, and every human being on this planet, is here because of sexual reproduction. All sex is, from a biological standpoint, is whether one produces sperm or eggs. Two individuals, one sperm producer and one egg producer, are required for reproduction. The existence of intersex or any other condition that prevents some individuals from producing sperm or eggs does not negate that fact.

      Human females are oppressed on the basis of our (average) differences from biological males. We’re considered inferior because we are, on average, smaller than males. Scientists have argued that female intellectual inferiority results from our smaller average head circumference. Females have, historically and currently, been excluded from certain jobs and activities based on our shorter (average) stature and lower (average) upper body strength. Female weakness is the primary reason given for excluding people from infantry service (in many Western countries) on the basis of sex, per se, rather than on the basis of ability or actual, measured physical strength. And I haven’t even started on how females are considered unstable and irrational due to our hormonal differences from males or how we continue to be excluded due to the possibility that we may menstruate or become pregnant. So many arguments in favor of limiting female activity arise from “protecting” our reproductive organs or any conceptus that may lurk within.

      The fact that this idea that biological sex is taking hold among so many people tells us something about the dreadful state of our (US) education system and, it appears, that of several other western countries.

  17. I wrote a response to John Stoltenberg after I read his Feminist Times article that has been discussed here. However, by the time I was finished with it, the Feminist Times was defunct. If you would allow me, I would like to post it here, as it seems John is following this discussion and may be able to provide a response. I realize that some of it is a bit repetitive of what you, Derrick and others have already said, but I think it is more coherent in its entirety than if were to try to edit out what has already been said. Here it is:

    Hi John:

    I certainly agree with your conclusion that Andrea Dworkin was not transphobic, but I don’t see how one could argue that she didn’t see female biology and anatomy as critically important to understanding who women are and how we are defined, which it seems to me is what you have been arguing. In “The Root Cause,” which you cite as evidence that she does not see “woman” as “tethered to biology,” she wrote, “the primary physical emblem of female negativity is pregnancy. Women have the capacity to bear children; men do not” and “our wombs are removed for no medical reason; our clitorises are cut off; our breasts and the whole musculature of our chests are removed with enthusiastic abandon… These forms of physical mutilation are brands which designate us as female by negating our very bodies, by destroying them.” If she did not see the definition of woman as “tethered to biology” why, then, when speaking of women and what is done to “our very bodies” did she speak of pregnancy, wombs, clitorises and breasts, but not of penises, testicles, sperm, etc.?

    In your response to Liz Z’s question about your Feminist Times article, you wrote:

    “I understand and respect that you may disagree; you may believe that one cannot hold such a foundational commitment to human people called women without an anatomical referent point that reliably marks them as biologically female. You are certainly entitled to believe that, and I’m not replying here with the intention of arguing or changing your mind. I’m simply trying to say that from everything I know, that’s not how Andrea saw the women to whom she dedicated her life.”

    I’m wondering how you square your belief that Andrea Dworkin did not have an “anatomical referent” for “human people called women” with the following passage from Intercourse, which was published in 1987, 13 years after Woman Hating (the only work in which she discusses transsexuality)?:

    “She, a human being, is supposed to have a privacy that is absolute; except that she, a woman, has a hole between her legs that men can, must, do enter. This hole, her hole, is synonymous with entry. A man has an anus that can be entered, but his anus is not synonymous with entry. A woman has an anus that can be entered, but her anus is not synonymous with entry. The slit between her legs, so simple, so hidden—frankly, so innocent—for instance, to the child who looks with a mirror to see if it could be true—is there an entrance to her body down there? and something big comes into it? (how? ) and something as big as a baby comes out of it? (how?) and doesn’t that hurt? —that slit that means entry into her—intercourse—appears to be the key to women’s lower human status. By definition, as the God who does not exist made her, she is intended to have a lesser privacy, a lesser integrity of the body, a lesser sense of self, since her body can be physically occupied and in the occupation taken over. By definition, as the God who does not exist made her, this lesser privacy, this lesser integrity, this lesser self, establishes her lesser significance: not just in the world of social policy but in the world of bare, true, real existence. She is defined by how she is made, that hole, which is synonymous with entry; and intercourse, the act fundamental to existence, has consequences to her being that may be intrinsic, not socially imposed.” ( Intercourse, p. 155)

    I cannot think of any way to interpret the words “she is defined by how she is made, that hole, which is synonymous with entry” that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that Andrea Dworkin indeed had an “anatomical referent point” for what defined women. Furthermore, I think she is very clear about the fact that she considers female anatomy to be critically important to women’s oppression when she writes: “that slit that means entry into her—intercourse—appears to be the key to women’s lower human status” and “this lesser privacy, this lesser integrity, this lesser self, establishes her lesser significance: not just in the world of social policy but in the world of bare, true, real existence.” Her observation that “how she is made … has consequences to her being that may be intrinsic, not socially imposed” indicates that she was even open to the possibility that female biology itself has consequences apart from social conditioning. Andrea Dworkin’s definition of woman had a very clear “anatomical referent point” when she wrote Intercourse. I have not seen anything in her later work that appears to repudiate that position.

    I don’t see any contradiction in acknowledging that Andrea Dworkin (or anyone else, for that matter) could appreciate the critical importance of biology and anatomy in women’s oppression without being transphobic, as such an appreciation does not indicate any particular fear or loathing of trans people. Unfortunately, in the contemporary discourse, “transphobic” – at least as an epithet to attack radical feminists – has come to mean any recognition or discussion of female biology as relevant to women’s definition and oppression, and any concomitant desire for the right of such persons to organize separately from those who do not share that biology and anatomy. So while I completely agree with you that Andrea Dworkin was not transphobic, I am also acutely aware of the fact that were she alive today, she would most definitely be labeled transphobic in the same way that other radical feminists who share her views on gender, pornography, prostitution, female-only space, etc, have been. Her radical feminist beliefs would have been sufficient to smear her with all manner of epithets – TERF, SWERF, transphobe, whorephobe, etc., just as she was smeared in life with so many lies and defamations, and just as so many other radical feminists still alive are routinely smeared and lied about. But the fact that she would have been labeled transphobic does not mean that she would actually have been transphobic – just as the fact that radical feminists alive today are being labeled transphobic (among many other epithets) doesn’t mean that they are transphobic.

    I think the important discussion is not whether or not Andrea Dworkin, or any other particular radical feminist, living or dead, is or was a transphobe, but rather how we have reached a state of affairs in which all women who question gender are labeled transphobes and met with threats, intimidation, defamation and worse, and why this is so widely tolerated and even encouraged and participated in by the LGBTQ movement, liberals, postmodernists, some who define themselves as feminists, and, well really, just about everyone on the so-called Left, except radical feminists and radical feminist allies. (I can’t think of any explanation for this other than rank misogyny.) To my mind, that is the important question, and I would like to think that Andrea Dworkin would also have considered that the important question, especially considering how much defamation she suffered in her life.

    A final remark – You have offered language from the Dworkin-MacKinnon ordinance as evidence that Andrea Dworkin was “trans-inclusive.” Unfortunately, you have not defined what you mean by “trans-inclusive,” but generally this term is being used to denote the belief that “transwomen are women” to the same degree that females are women — in other words, that they are not male or men. The opinion you expressed that Andrea Dworkin did not have an anatomical referent point for how a woman is defined and did not see the category “woman” as being “tethered to biology,” suggests that you are using the term “trans-inclusive” in this way. But the language you have offered actually seems to prove the opposite point of the one I think you are trying to make. When one says, “men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women” one says clearly that men, children, and transsexuals are not women. If they were women, how could they be used “in the place of” women? The observation that a person who is not a woman can still be subordinated in the way that women are subordinated is not unique or original to Dworkin or MacKinnon. It is a widely held view among radical feminists. The first I read of it was in Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will (1975), which was written many years before the Anti-Pornography Ordinance you reference. So this example doesn’t demonstrate some exceptional departure from what other radical feminists are saying, but rather shows that her thinking on this was in line with most (perhaps all) radical feminists. It would certainly not have saved her from being labeled a “transphobe.”

    • Oh wow, I’m so glad you found this and decided to post that! Would you like me to repost it as a new post on this blog itself? A lot more people would see it than if it’s just a comment.

      Either way, great letter!

    • I second the “wow.” Thanks Maureen.

      Thanks, especially, for quoting from “The Root Cause” and from Intercourse, to discuss how our female bodies are negated by male violence — negated by rape and mutilation, negated by coerced intercourse and pregnancy, AND negated by male transgenderists and postmodern/queer theorists who argue that the female body does not even exist as a natural category.

      As I wrote to Stoltenberg back when he published his essay on Feminist Times: “Disappear biological sex as meaningful, and much of women’s oppression then becomes obscure, meaningless, invisible. “

      • Yes, Morag99, I remember your comment on the Feminist Times article! It beautifully written and insightful. I appreciated it very much.

    • Totally brilliant. Andrea most certainly understood that woman is defined biologically through reproductive form and function. Denying this fact is odd.

  18. Thanks. Mr. Stoltenberg, for the Dworkin link you provided. It’s always good to re-read her, though I don’t find that the link in any way supports your position.

    And thanks, Maureen, for your clear-headed statement about all this. Well done!

  19. Maureen,

    The radical and fundamental distinction that Andrea makes in “The Root Cause” between truth and reality is among her most important contributions to moral/philosophical/political theory and thought (http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OurBloodIII.html). And because of its originality or counterintuitive unfamiliarity or (slightly) academic-sounding phrasings, the distinction may seem elusive, or not easy to grasp. One of the reasons I keep referring back to that essay is that it warrants and rewards rereading. I myself get more out of it each time I go back to it. I’ll quote just two paragraphs here:

    ” I have made this distinction between truth and reality in order to enable me to say something very simple: that while the system of gender polarity is real, it is not true. It is not true that there are two sexes which are discrete and opposite, which are polar, which unite naturally and self-evidently into a harmonious whole. It is not true that the male embodies both positive and neutral human qualities and potentialities in contrast to the female who is female, according to Aristotle and all of male culture, ‘by virtue of a certain lack of qualities.’ And once we do not accept the notion that men are positive and women are negative, we are essentially rejecting the notion that there are men and women at all. In other words, the system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.

    “In my view, those of us who are women inside this system of reality will never be free until the delusion of sexual polarity is destroyed and until the system of reality based on it is eradicated entirely from human society and from human memory. This is the notion of cultural transformation at the heart of feminism. This is the revolutionary possibility inherent in the feminist struggle.”

    As I read Andrea’s life work, and as understood her in life to believe, everything in that passage you quote from “Intercourse” is descriptive of, and consistent with, what she termed reality. What she termed truth, however, is that there are not two sexes, there are not men and women at all.

    Andrea had an amazingly encompassing intelligence. She could hold in mind both what she termed reality and what she believed to be the truth. That’s what I meant when I said that Andrea “was a radical feminist who believed fiercely in ending male supremacy in all its forms, including the sexual violence it does to create and maintain the gender binary. AND she was not a sex essentialist.”

    I know that’s a relatively new idea in the current discussion/debate, in which in the name of radical feminism some seem to want to explain reality by positing a “true” gender binary, which if not *believed*to be true would somehow obscure the harms of male-supremacist reality.

    Andrea just didn’t see things that way.

  20. I used to have so much respect for Derrick Jensen.

    This is just a shame. He actually advocates “separate but equal” facilities for human beings based on something as irrelevant as what’s under their clothing. Literally billions of interactions occur between AFAB women (don’t care that you don’t like that term) and trans women in “women only spaces.” But you demand that all AFAB women label all trans women as “rapists in waiting.”

    So ugly. So not the way to conduct one’s self in civil society.

    Stick to salmon, Derrick. You’ve lost your mind when it comes to humans.

    • You know, for the billions of women who live under the terror regime of male sexual violence, what’s “under a man’s clothing” is actually pretty relevant, because men have been using it to rape them for ten thousand years. In fact, it’s probably the single most relevant fact on Earth, as there’s nothing more likely to grant one privilege and power than a penis.

      • Very true so not that surprised that queer theory is based on writings by men. While I can’t prove it, it seems like Queer Theory is the biggest backlash against feminism in modern times and
        seems to weild no other purpose than to reinforce patriarchy again so that male bodied human beings (that would be men in our culture) remains at the top of the pyramid.

      • Sorry, Oh Lonely Dairy Product, supporting legislation in the USA to keep transwomen out of public restrooms has literally NOTHING to do with “billions of women who live under the terror of sexual violence.”

        It’s so disingenuous as to be laughable, if it wasn’t so damned sad. You actually believe that a transwoman peeing in the ladies room at the mall is “male violence.” Do you not see how completely unhinged that is?

        Some upper middle class white women in Teaneck, NJ getting apoplectic because she saw a woman with an electrolysis scar on the treadmill at Curves is not “living under the threat of male violence.”

        Rape squads in Nigeria? That’s living under the threat of male violence.

        Using the changing room at Nordstrom? Not male violence.

        I am all for stopping male violence. American Radfems targeting American transwomen for abuse is not that, and you’ll never convince me (or most thinking people) otherwise. Sorry about that.

      • Qalia Ra: what has happened to girls and women in restrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters, etc. (in Canada, the US, and other places in the world) does not make a blip on your radar. Indeed, some of these male attackers and voyeurs have been dressed in drag.

        These are terrifying experiences for girls and women. Those of us who have been “lucky” so far are afraid it will happen to us.

        But, that’s not something you need to concern yourself with, is it?

        Yet, it is women’s responsibility to be concerned with all things trans, and to await orders on what we must accept in our spaces. We have to somehow KNOW, magically, which man in the ladies’ room is a threat, and which one isn’t.

        You know so little about the everyday reality of girls and women’s lives, and care even less, that you do not deserve to have an opinion on this.

        And how DARE you attempt to use the horrors of rape squads, and how dare you use the butchery of Nigerian women, as tool to intimidate and silence Western women. Disgusting.

      • Responding here to Morag99’s tirade because there was no reply button to her:

        Yeah – I’m not buying it, friend. Your faux outrage is, well, outrageous. Listen to yourself:

        “Qalia Ra: what has happened to girls and women in restrooms, locker rooms, women’s shelters, etc. (in Canada, the US, and other places in the world) does not make a blip on your radar. Indeed, some of these male attackers and voyeurs have been dressed in drag.”

        What does that have to do with trans women?

        Why should I, as an AFAB woman, be concerned about whether a an AMAB is peeing in the next stall if they’re not bothering me or anyone?

        “These are terrifying experiences for girls and women. ”

        What? seeing a transwoman at the gym? That’s terrifying for you? You need to get out more. or stay home more. Or something. Because that’ just silly.

        NOW if you’re talking about rape, or assault, or actual voyeurism, or any number of ALREADY ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, then yes – women have to be concerned about that. But not from transwomen. From men. You can pretend that those are the same thing. I’m going to guess you don’t know any actual transwomen or you wouldn’t be saying that.

        See – this is the problem with radical feminist “class analysis…” it’s bullshit when applied to real individual people.

        “Those of us who have been “lucky” so far are afraid it will happen to us.”

        You’re afraid you’re going to see a transwoman in the changing room? Or you’re afraid you’re going to be the victim of male violence? Because those are two different things.

        “But, that’s not something you need to concern yourself with, is it?”

        Male violence is absolutely something I have to concern myself with. Transwomen peeing at Nordstroms is not male violence.

        “:Yet, it is women’s responsibility to be concerned with all things trans, and to await orders on what we must accept in our spaces. We have to somehow KNOW, magically, which man in the ladies’ room is a threat, and which one isn’t.”

        The one threatening you is the threat. The one not threatening you is not.

        “You know so little about the everyday reality of girls and women’s lives, and care even less, that you do not deserve to have an opinion on this.”

        Thank you for deigning to decide what I am and am not allowed to care about. I don’t recall asking your permission, and I don’t require it to continue to care.

        “And how DARE you attempt to use the horrors of rape squads, and how dare you use the butchery of Nigerian women, as tool to intimidate and silence Western women. Disgusting.”

        Hahahahah – nice try at silencing me, sister. How dare YOU use the horrors of rape squads and butchery of Nigerian women as an excuse to exert your bullying bigotry on people in an industrialized western democracy? Talk about co-opting narratives!!

        Have a wonderful life. Or don’t. Go through your life feeling so oppressed by your class position that you need to hate half the population.

        Sorry sis. Not my bag. Not my cuppa. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. you can have your hate.

      • All men – including those who call themselves women – have been socialized to be a danger to women. That includes me. And while I may not act on that socialization and rape or batter a woman, it is offensive and disgusting to demand that a woman assume I won’t in a world where so many of my brothers do.

        A man putting himself in a space where women don’t want him is male violence.

      • “A man putting himself in a space where women don’t want him is male violence.”

        Thank you for defining male violence for me. Why is it that you get to define my words, but balk at me defining yours? Are you exerting violence on me (a vagina-bearer) by using your penis powers to insist I agree with you?

        Of course you’re not, and I’d never say something as silly as that. You, however, feel comfortable labeling non-violent actions “violence.”

        That’s why no one in the mainstream world takes radfems seriously – you’re so unhinged that you don’t even know what words mean.

        Okay. Whatever you need to do to sleep at night, Cap’n.

        Have a great life.

      • The main argument male transgenders use for wanting to use women’s bathrooms, women’s locker rooms, and be housed in women’s shelters – including domestic violence shelters – and women’s prisons, is that they fear male violence. If male transgenders were scrupulously nonabusive themselves, this would not be such a problem. But in fact cases of male transgenders – transwomen – raping, otherwise assaulting, and murdering women do come up, and the law in some cases is so weak as to allow any man to declare himself a member of the opposite sex with no explanation or medical intervention whatsoever. If you think there aren’t predatory men out there who take advantage of this, you are a complete fool. Absolutely nothing you have written here negates this reality.

      • “While I can’t prove it, it seems like Queer Theory is the biggest backlash against feminism in modern times”

        Yes, Jonas, I think so, too. If not the biggest one, one of the most salient, as it allows certain men to claim they are oppressed by women, and to act out their fetishes in public.

      • “Go through your life feeling so oppressed by your class position that you need to hate half the population.”

        I see. I’m a man-hater, and you are, very likely, a liar. That is, a man who lies. Perhaps, also, one who thinks he’s a woman and wants others to get in on the fantasy. You also call yourself a “vagina-bearer.” The only women who would say such a thing are those who have swallowed whole anti-woman queer bullshit — or those “women” who are really male.

      • Morag99: “You disagree with me, therefore you are all of these horrible things I hate.

        1. You are an MRA.

        2. no wait. You’re worse than an MRA – you’re a MAN, baby… a MAN!!!!

        3. No wait. You’re worse than a MAN – you’re a man in a dress!!!”

        Qalia Ra: Sorry sister – wrong on all counts. I am a woman born woman who used the term “vagina-bearer” ironically whilst speaking to a “penis-bearer.”

        It’s funny you don’t recognize irony considering your entire diatribe is dripping with it.

        I’m not a man, but you sure are a man-hater, sis. Go get help. Seriously.

      • 1. You are an MRA.

        2. no wait. You’re worse than an MRA – you’re a MAN, baby… a MAN!!!!

        3. No wait. You’re worse than a MAN – you’re a man in a dress!!!”

        ——–

        Yes, correct. That is my educated guess. Except for number two, in which you got it backwards.

        And, also, except for the fact that I don’t hate all men. Which is something that my intelligent, rational man-hating sisters, and pro-feminist brothers, understand. The rest can think, imagine, or lie as they wish.

        I have — like so many other women and a few men (e.g., Jensen and the creators of this blog) — been very, very clear about why allowing biological males into female spaces is a problem.

        If women daring to speak about their own experiences with male violence, and defending their right to safeguards, is something you enjoy dismissing as “man-hating,” then you are in the company of MRAs and other assorted woman-haters.

        You are in the company of men who’d rather wax lyrical about the poor trans, too afraid to pee next to other men (acknowledging that men are dangerously unpredictable), than listen to what a woman has to say about the documented cases of bathroom, locker room, and homeless shelter attacks on women’s bodies and privacy. By men in drag. By men who claimed to be women.

        So be it. But, your opinion on this matter is worthless. I’m sure my saying so won’t bother you, as you can dismiss that, too, as man-hating.

      • You know what? I don’t care how many times you call me a man. It doesn’t invalidate the fact that you, with your repulsive gendered insults, your foul demeanor, and your unwillingness to listen to another woman express her opinion without being labeled a handmaiden of the patriarchy, or whatever the buzzword is this week.

        Most of all – I JUST DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I don’t believe you’re afraid of being assaulted by transwomen. Did you know that HRC makes most transwomen not only sterile, but incapable of erection? Of course you didn’t. You don’t know any actual trans women. You just hate that they’re more comfortable gendering themselves while you want to “abolish gender” (whatever that’s supposed to mean).

        My sister is a trans woman. My cousin is a trans woman. Two of my roommates in college were trans women. And none of them ever assaulted a woman or committed “male violence” against anyone. They deserve the right to operate in society as anyone else does.

        And that’s why your class analysis is bullshit. It falls apart the moment you actually know someone of the hated class.

        Try this on for size:

        I don’t believe you’re a real feminist. Your demeanor, your language, even your insistence that anyone who disagrees with you IZ A MANNNNN, it all says “sock puppet” to me.

        I think YOU’RE the MRA, pretending to be a radfem and spouting the most ignorant and hateful nonsense you can in an attempt to discredit feminism.

        Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

        That’s what you sound like when you insist people are MRAs just because they find your behavior toxic.

        Have a wonderful life.

      • That’s actually very inaccurate – many transwomen can and do not only have erections but demand penetrative sex with lesbians.

        If we’re gonna go down the whole “I know X amount of…” road, I know plenty of transwomen. I’ve even worked with a few who are strongly gender-critical. This has nothing to do with some irrational fear of men in dresses. It has everything to do with women’s VERY RATIONAL fear of all men, in dresses or not, in their private spaces.

      • Yes, there are many popular misconceptions about male transgenders. Most of them have not had genital surgery, many have no intention of doing so, and I am told by a woman who was married to a man who transitioned that Viagra is readily available to these men.

        While it is true that some male transgenders aren’t inclined towards violence towards women, and some are even vocal about protesting the ones who threaten and enact abuse against women, most stay quiet. To fail to speak up about violence commited by those you are associated with, allies one with them, like it or not. This is identical to the situation faced by non-transgender men, the bystander effect, which works to reinforce abuse because it presents as tolerance.

      • Still not a man, no matter how many times you say it.

        You don’t know any trans women. My sister, my cousin, and two of my college roommates were trans women. None of them ever committed “male violence” against anyone.

        And that’s why your class analysis is bullshit.

      • How is this any different from #notallmen? I know quite a few men who have never raped anyone. I guess that means all feminists are wrong!

        No one is saying every transwoman will rape a woman. We’re saying that women shouldn’t have to risk rape just to show how tolerant they are.

      • I’m a woman, and you DO NOT get to speak for me.

        How dare you tell me who I am required to fear. I fear nutjobs like you people way more than I do trans women.

      • No one is saying who you do or don’t have to fear. If you don’t fear transwomen, whatever, that’s fine. All I’m saying is that many women do, and they have good reason for that fear.

      • Qalia, saying the fact that you know some male transgenders who you don’t see as violent negates radical feminist class analysis only proves that you have no idea what class analysis is. But if you are going to keep insisting men are women just because they say they feel like women, there’s no talking to you.

      • Your “good reason” appears to amount to little more than “Because I say so…”

        In all the states in the US where transpersons have freedom of movement, by your “good reason,” you should be able to point to tens, even hundreds of cases from those states where transwomen have assaulted AFAB women in a restroom or changing room.

        And yet you can’t even find one. You may find one or two examples of criminals wearing dresses to attack women, but those aren’t transwomen and you know it.

        You’re using the same tactics as the Elder Protocols of Zion to spread your blood libel about my sisters.

        Shame on you.

      • The “good reason” is that *all* men are a danger to women. The “good reason” is the lifetime of socialization into violence and abuse that all men receive.

      • “And that’s why your class analysis is bullshit. It falls apart the moment you actually know someone of the hated class.”

        No, silly, that’s why it’s called a “class analysis.”

        Instead of, say, “Let’s analyze all men, living and dead, one by one, and see what we can come up with. Then we’ll break for lunch. After lunch, we will decide if there is such a system of male supremacy and institutionalized male violence. Any discovery of nice guys, non-violent men, pro-feminist men, or gentle men in dresses, will invalidate women’s experience of oppression and, at the same time, turn women’s fear into a joke which we can laugh at, later, over beers.”

        Oh, and I see what you did there, calling a privileged class of people a “hated class.” Very good, very good.

      • “The “good reason” is that *all* men are a danger to women.”

        And on this we will never agree. Sorry that I’m not willing to just take your mansplain for it.

        Have a wonderful life.

      • “No, silly, that’s why it’s called a “class analysis.”

        So you admit that it’s useless on the ground – you know, where people actually live. You can keep your ivory tower nonsense, sister.

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have handmaiden duties to attend to.

      • “Most of all – I JUST DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I don’t believe you’re afraid of being assaulted by transwomen.”

        Except, I never said I was afraid, specifically, of being assaulted by a true-blue transwomen, did I? I said males, men — it’s an all-inclusive term. Men, men — is that a “gendered insult”?

        Although most rapists rape women they know, men have, and do, and will, assault women where they can find women to assault (or take pictures of, or spy on, in sex-segregated places where there is nudity and vulnerability). This is how male paraphilia works.

        Fetishistic cross-dressers do, and will, go into public restrooms and female-only locker rooms. They do this. It’s part of their fetish. Wearing feminine clothing is an important element of their exhibitionism and voyeurism and urge to sexually assault. When they are caught, they are often caught in these costumes. Sometimes they admit they are sick addicts, and ask for help, and sometimes they claim to be trans. All kinds of incarcerated sex-offenders are now claiming to be transgendered.

        But, girls and women are just supposed to know the difference: does he really feel like a woman, or is he a sick fuck who could be a danger to me? If we don’t know the answer, we are bigots. Bigots against people like your sister or cousin.

        There is a provincial law that allows transgender people to have access, without any documentation or proof (who knows what that would be anyway! earrings? lipstick?), to sex-specific facilities, such as women’s shelters, based on their felt identity. This same law permits any man, if he feels like it, to claim womanhood to be given fully-legal access to female-only facilities. This has happened. A male lunatic in make-up harassed a mentally-ill, homeless woman who didn’t think/know she a right to do anything about it. Perhaps she was afraid to call him a “man.” That’s a hate-crime now, I think. Perhaps she just didn’t want to lose her space in the shelter. But, he raped her. Twice.

        Does she matter?

        Yeah, yeah, men intent on rape will rape anyway. Let’s just wave that away and not worry about policies and laws that make it that much easier for them. Let’s not do anything. It’s only women who get hurt and who might get hurt.

        Jesus Christ, I am sick of this conversation. Shouting into the void.

      • Morag: I question the whole idea of “really feel like a woman” as well. There are two ways to define “woman,” one is experiencing female biology, the other is experiencing female socialization. A man who does neither is just blowing smoke if he says he feels like a woman. While men who fail to conform to socialized gender expectations tend to be punished, that is not the same as being socialized female. And behavior is part of these expectations, and threatening or inflicting abuse on women is very much in line with socialized gender expectations of men, and putting on make-up, wigs and dresses doesn’t change that.

      • @morag99

        Well at least you’ve stopped pretending that trans women are a danger to afab women.

        I want to thank you for all of your *kind* words. It’s fantastic when women can come together and have rational discussions about matters of theory.

        Oh wait – that’s not what happened at all. You’ve been positively horrendous since our first interaction, and I’ll be using screenshots of this conversation whenever anyone wants to proselytize the radfem agenda at me again.

        And do have that wonderful life.

      • “Well at least you’ve stopped pretending that trans women are a danger to afab women.”

        I wouldn’t pretend and I don’t have to pretend.

        Just to be clear, for the sake of the screenshots you’re going to share with others, I do include “transwomen” as “men.” Because they are male, and because they also sexually assault girls and women. Do they ever. Sometimes before they transition, and sometimes after. Or both. At the same rates, at least, as males who are not trans. I’m not sure why this should come as such a surprise.

        My point (which I have repeated many times, and which is very easy to understand, if attention is paid) is that there is NO reliable way to know whether any man who gets access to a private, female-only space — while wearing typical women’s garb — is a threat.

      • ‘Morag: I question the whole idea of “really feel like a woman” as well.’

        Oh, of course, Miep! No doubt, some men who transition have this feeling, and this feeling feels really true to them. But, we know that “woman” is not some diffuse, metaphysical feeling some men get. Women are female and they are people.

        Nonetheless, I undertook a fool’s errand in trying to explain that I know very well that most so-called transwomen are not in the ladies’ room to be physically violent. They are there to use the toilet, to avoid potential male violence (see, there it is again!), and, perhaps most important, to be validated as women.

        I tried to explain that, even so, an obvious male in a lady-costume does not come with a certificate of non-violence. He could be a threat — a creep or a rapist. Who knows? Only the man himself knows. And maybe his mother, sister or cousin (but, even that’s being too generous, isn’t it?).

        It doesn’t matter, though. Because all trans-activists or allies want to hear is: “all transwomen are rapists!” Sheesh, is there anybody more transphobic than a trans-activist?

      • There is also a more basic thing going on here, Morag. Women are always expected to be supportive, and it takes energy to be supportive. Being supportive of men who want to be validated as women takes quite a bit of energy, even if you think it’s the right thing to do. To argue that we must be legally mandated to do so, forces us into work that is akin to being some kind of unpaid therapist. Women are traditionally mandated socially into all sorts of unpaid work, and even liberal men would like us to be unpaid prostituted women. Nothing is ever just about us. This is the male violation imperative at work, and women frequently internalize it, as there is so much social pressure and conditioning to do so.

      • “To argue that we must be legally mandated to do so, forces us into work that is akin to being some kind of unpaid therapist.”

        Sigh. It is so exhausting. Yes, you are right, and you’ve communicated a brilliant insight and something helpful to women: we need to be more aware of the hidden ways in which we are being used and abused, drained of our energy and defences.

        Yes, the trans brigade is opening up girls and women to more danger, but they are also, at the most basic level, playing on our training to be kind, to give to others, and to be passive in the face of insult and harm. That, per se, is harmful. Even when we are NOT being passive, even when we are saying “no — and here’s why” all that sex-role training is still in operation and responding to their abuse in a specific way.

        You are so right — it’s exhausting. Thanks, Miep, for your comment.

    • Qalia Ra — thanks for making it abundantly clear in this and your comment below how little you care about violence against women. You sound like an MRA saying “sure, sure, there’s sexism and male violence against women, but only in places like Saudi Arabia and India, certainly not here in America. In America, it’s women who oppress men.” This complete disregard for women’s safety and integrity is sadly typical of mainstream transgenderism. Fortunately, there are also transgender people who are gender-critical and do care about violence against women, and for this they are called self-hating TERF tokens by transgender MRAs. Not surprisingly, under patriarchy, it’s the MRAs who control the trans narrative. If you have an MRA approach to transgenderism, you can get your own column in HuffPo or the Guardian. Gender critical trans people are as likely to have a voice in the mainstream narrative on transgenderism as radical feminists are. Some views are, as Glosswitch put it, “unspeakable.” On the bright side, it seems that the more women are exposed to this MRA narrative, the more likely they are to re-think the issue. Just keep talking about how women have nothing to fear from men in sex-segregated spaces, and don’t forget to stress the fact that violent male sex offenders who identify as women should be housed in women’s prisons.

      • .What, pray tell, is an MRA?

        Sorry we disagree.

        Feminism is either intersectional or it’s bullshit.

      • Intersectionality is about the intersection between racism and misogyny. It has nothing whatsoever to do with men, including male transgenders.

      • You are a disgusting MRA. Which means that, for you, feminism that does not prioritize men is bullshit. Which means that you don’t hear a word women say, except just enough to turn our fear of assault, rape and voyeurism into a hilarious joke. And to hold rape squads over our heads as a threat.

        “Transwomen” are men. There is no difference, on sight, between a man in drag, and a man who thinks he’s a woman. You think that a girl or woman, alone in private, supposedly sex-segregated space, should be able to intuit a man’s intentions and feelings? And put the man’s feeling first, ahead of her own? You fucking misogynist narcissist apologist for male violence against women.

      • Maureen — thank you for explaining what is so sick and wrong about people like Qalia Ra. And for being able to do it calmly.

      • Love you too, shmoopy. You still haven’t said what an MRA is, except that I’m apparently one of them.

        Just googled. It means “Men’s Rights Activist.”

        Sorry, sis – you’re projecting your hatred again. I’m not any kind of activist for “men’s rights.” Though I am an OWS activist, and a PNW anti-logging activist, and an educational opportunity activist. But nope. Not a “men’s rights activist.” I don’t even know nayone who identifies as such, though I know there are plenty of places online that cater to people like that. I choose to avoid those ugly corners of the Internet.

        See – this is the difference between people capable of living in civil society and people who would be better off segregating themselves on an island somewhere. I’m not sitting here hurling gendered insults at you because we disagree on a subject.

        You’re apparently incapable of having an actual discussion about it, so I don’t really see that there’s anything left to say except this:

        The next time anyone asks me why I am not a radical feminist, I’m going to point them to your response. I’m not a radical feminist because I don’t associate with people who act like you. period.

        Sorry if that sets the entirety of womenhood back a billion years, or whatever power you think I actually have.

        Seriously – how do you get through the day with that much anger and hate?

        Ugh.

      • Men cannot be radical feminists, so of course you are not one. If you get about the oppression of women by men, you may be considered an ally. But you certainly don’t get to make that decision yourself. You are in any case far too ignorant and hostile to rate.

      • You people love calling women who disagree with you “men,” don’t you?

      • We have no way of knowing your sex and male transgenders frequently lie. When someone posts comments hostile towards women, it’s not unreasonable to take the default position that the commenter is male.

      • Oh, and you’re wrong about intersection *only* being about race and gender, sis. There’s tons of layers of oppression that intersect: Or do ableism, classism, and the other host of oppressions the human animal is capable of not exist because the patriarchy ate it?

      • I can agree that language evolves, sometimes to the point of meaninglessness, but what I cannot agree on is that some white dude in a dress, of a class of men who tend to have military backgrounds and for some reason tend to work in IT, qualifies for intersectional analysis simply because he came down with a case of the laydee feels late in life, often after fathering a number of children. I cannot agree that refusing to house men who have raped and murdered women, in women’s prisons, is discrimination. But the transactivist community loves these cases.

        If I was a black woman, though, I think I’d be pissed off at “intersectionality” being applied to white people or men, in the sense of seeing them as oppressed for some reason.

      • “…for some reason.”

        Middle Class N. American White women have more privilege than 90% of the male bodied people on the planet.

        This is why the second wave failed.

    • @ Qalia Ra – one doesn’t have to believe all men are actually rapists to concede that ‘seperate but equal’* facilities are justifed. I certainly don’t feel that having to change/pee etc. in a room seperate from women is a personal slight on my character. I don’t know any other men that do either. The fact that many women campaigned for many years in the face of violent opposition and ridicule (plus ca change…) in order to secure their privacy is strong enough evidence that such facilities were – and are – justified. If the assumption that I’m a ‘rapist in waiting’ helps to protect women whilst doing me no harm whatsoever then what’s the problem? That you fail to demonstrate understanding, much less sympathise with that position is undoubtedly why commentators are quick to assume you’re an MRA.

      *Of course in reality, women’s facilities are rarely quite equal, not least in terms of number.

      Great blog by the way lonesomeyogurt – stumbled upon it via a link on Gendertrender and that a number of the same commentators frequent this place bodes well 🙂

  21. It seems to me that there is a simple misunderstanding at work here. Dworkin is attacking the genderization of women, the subordination of women, and the polarization of the sexes into a “superior” and “inferior” sex. Everything she writes supports this.

    She is not attacking the existence of women as one of two sexes.

    Again: There is a distinction between the reality and truth of the existence of two sexes, and the social construction of the two sexes into dominant/subordinate, superior/inferior. There are two sexes and there is a spectrum of gender behavior heavily dependant on culture. Trans women are somewhere on the gender spectrum as it exists in each culture, just as we all are. But everywhere there are only two sexes, with the rare medical exceptions which prove the rule.

    Postmodernist/trans theory is attempting to obfuscate this crucial point.

    Dworkin says it quite clearly in the quote above: “…those of us who are women inside this system of reality will never be free until the delusion of sexual polarity is destroyed.” She is referring to us as the women we are, the sex we are, and objecting to the system which makes us the subordinate sex. She is affirming that we are women, not erasing women as a sex. She wants women to be free from the social constructions that subordinate our sex. “Those of us who are women” know this.

    • ‘She is affirming that we are women, not erasing women as a sex. She wants women to be free from the social constructions that subordinate our sex. “Those of us who are women” know this.’

      Exactly, Vyechera. It is obvious what Dworkin is saying in this passage.

    • Excellent analysis.

  22. People are welcome to read and interpret Andrea’s work by their own lights, which means there will be disagreement. I’ve said what I believe she meant when she distinguished reality from truth; she meant what she meant when she wrote in Woman Hating: “We are, clearly, a multisexed species which has its sexuality spread along a vast continuum where the elements called male and female are not discrete.” But the meanings in Andrea’s writing belong to anyone who reads her, and I respect that in this instance some wish to seek in her work confirmation of their belief that male and female *are* discrete. So I’ll graciously let that difference of understanding be.

    But I do want to clarify something regarding my mention of the civil-rights antipornography ordinance. My exact reference—in a reply to a comment from Cristan Williams about my Feminist Times essay—was this:

    “So far as I know, no one who ever met Andrea or knew her personally would characterize her as being trans intolerant. I’ve heard many such people say quite the contrary, actually. And tellingly when she and Catharine MacKinnon drafted their civil-rights antipornography legislation—which defined pornography as, in part, “the graphic sexually explicit subordination of women…”—they explicitly made the ordinance trans inclusive: “The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women…is also pornography.” I say this not to debate their legal approach; I merely want to point out that Andrea understood in a profound way that a person could be subordinated like a woman without having been assigned female at birth, and her intolerance of the sexual violence that undergirds male supremacy was never gender essentialist.”

    Some historical context here is important. This was 1983, and Andrea and Catharine MacKinnon were drafting legislation for a civil remedy, a law that a person could use to bring a civil suit, and a law that would pass muster under then-current judicial interpretation of the sex-discrimination part of the Civil Rights Act. At the time, transsexuals had no legal standing to bring a sex-discrimination claim under the Civil Rights Act whatsoever. (Gay and lesbian people were also then outside the protection of the Civil Rights Act.) So Andrea and MacKinnon’s choice to include transsexuals with this particular language was not only because they wanted transsexuals to be able to use their law (because transsexuals are harmed in pornography); it was for the specific purpose of getting around what the courts at that time were saying the Civil Rights Act covered as sex discrimination. To read a whole lot more into that language is, I’m afraid, to miss the historical context.

  23. “I say this not to debate their legal approach; I merely want to point out that Andrea understood in a profound way that a person could be subordinated like a woman without having been assigned female at birth, and her intolerance of the sexual violence that undergirds male supremacy was never gender essentialist.”

    I can agree with you there. Radical feminists are most definitely not gender essentialists. Genderized people are conditioned into performing societal roles which are inauthentic.

    Catherine MacKinnon also wrote about the legal theory (and philosophical point) that she and Andrea Dworkin developed together: that whenever one group is dominant and the other subordinate in law, there is a “feminization” of the subordinate group, in what I agree is a profound sense. She gives the example of rape. A man who is raped has been treated like a woman. That is why rape laws cover both men and women, though rape is essentially a crime against women.

    Perhaps we can all agree that we are not gender essentialists. As for sex essentialism, that remains to be defined, IMHO.

    • “Perhaps we can all agree that we are not gender essentialists. As for sex essentialism, that remains to be defined, IMHO.”

      Ha! Yes, it’s come to this. I know that I’m not a “gender essentialist” and that no radical feminist is. That is what we are seeking liberation FROM — for crying out loud!

      Most transgenderists, however, ARE gender essentialists. It’s right there, in the very name they call themselves, and in their insistence that their essence does not align with their biology.

      It seems that many of us here are being called “sex essentialists” because we know that male and female are, biologically, discrete categories. But as you say, Vyechera, that remains to be defined.

      I will not consent to the label, “sex essentialist” until I know that it does not mean something like “biological determinist” (which, actually, is the same thing as “gender essentialism.” Sheesh, it’s just crazy.) That probably won’t happen. Experience has taught me that all almost all gender- and sex-related terminology and phrasing will be mixed-up, misrepresented and redefined to suit queer/transgender/anti-feminist purposes.

      • Morag: Unfortunately “Person who recognizes that sex-determined enforced gender castes exist and profoundly affect the social and economic options of all parties involved” is just too long.

      • Heh. But you used “gender” in that sentence. Which, for many now, simply means that “femininity is great, but doesn’t get enough respect.” Then they will call you a “femme-phobe,” or some such, for wanting to abolish gender. Oops, I used it, too.

        Yes, it is too long. Which is why I’m ready to speak in only in short imperatives. Example: “Stop. Just fucking stop.” Think it will work?

      • Morag: then they say you’re deciding them out of existence and Suicide!!

        I personally think suicidal men should get help, not threaten to rape and murder women, but that’s just me.

      • “I personally think suicidal men should get help, not threaten to rape and murder women, but that’s just me.”

        I think that women trying to stop men from doing manly things (like threatening women) — or even suggesting it — is now called called “misandry.” Or, maybe, “transphobia.” Not sure which, but it’s definitely something Bad, and a cause for potential retaliation. Oh, dear, we seem to be running out of words — and options (cue sound effect: dark, dissonant chord of evil).

      • There’s always “uppity.”

  24. Who says sex essentialism means biological determinism? Obfuscators.

    Some crazed conservative once said: To believe that biology is determinative of sex means to believe women are inferior.

    Wut? Maybe that guy was Freud. “Biology is destiny (to be inferior).”

    It is said, biology is biology and both sexes are equal with some significant differences, but because males have come to dominate women, they rationalize that that being a woman means to be inferior”. That’s biological determinism (male-style).

    But what if biology is biology and both sexes are equal with some significant differences, and when women liberate themselkves, they will be equal and biologically different, with behaviors flowing from that difference yet to be ascertained?

    At present, trans women can adopt the prevailing gender rules and perform as we women currently must. But when women are liberated, there will no longer be much of a payoff for trans women, because those old gender rules are going to be revealed as parodies, lipstick on corpses, no fun at all. Women, meanwhile, will be far, far less sexualized. The whole fetishistic game will die out because being a woman will mean being a human being who is not sexualized, abused, raped, treated sadistically, or fucked over. All the fun will be gone.

  25. Sorry, wish I could fix my typos.

  26. So male bodied people call themselves women now and female bodied people calls themselves men under transgenderist politics.

    Which sex is still at the centre of attention ? that’s right that of male bodied people. I’m almost certain that if transgederism politics would become a cultural norm, when transmen would rise up against patriarchy under transgenderism we will start to see a shift in which transwomen suddenly become men again, just to always keep female bodied people subordinate.

  27. In response to Morag99:

    “Yes, Jonas, I think so, too. If not the biggest one, one of the most salient, as it allows certain men to claim they are oppressed by women, and to act out their fetishes in public.”

    Thank you for your reply.

    Salient describes it better I think 🙂 yeah it seems like “we” shall masquerade progress now in terms of not changing anything in terms of the hierarchy of the culture we live in, but just change around the meanings of words to mean something else.
    What does that do ?

    And also it seems like Queer Theory is really the “showing off” theory of the ‘intellectual elite’ among academics esp among white people.
    Those who want to feel special and ‘cool’.
    Maybe I am reading too much into it but I can’t wrap my head around it.

    So many things is going south in this day and age and the last ting this society needs is yet another theory that seems to pray upon people who I honestly believe do not understand it and they seem to enjoy inflicting this notion in you that you are just dumb/stupid for not understanding and so you jump on board because you don’t want feel dumb or stupid.

  28. Getting back to Mr. Stoltenberg’s article and title: he quotes a sentence in which Dworkin talks about “multi-sexes” in 1974, when the distinction in feminist theory between sex and gender was just beginning to be made. He does not mention her many books and thousands of statements talking about women as biological women suffering as such.

    We have Mr. Stoltenberg extrapolating what she might have felt over forty years after the quote he brings up, long after transactivists attempted to hijack feminist narrative and began advancing outlandish theories that were harmful to biological women, as well as feminist theory that Ms. Dworkin supported.

    Living people change and react to theoretical challenges as they occur over time; dead people cannot. Mr. Stoltenberg overstepped his boundaries as a partner and supporter of Ms. Dworkin in guessing what she might have said decades later. His article was revisionary and unduly influenced by queer theory/postmodernist theory/trans theory that Andrea Dworkin never had a chance to react to.

    Mr. Stoltenberg has been an ally to feminists for a long time. But his article was a misfire. Current radical feminists who have lived those decades and undergone those challenges Andrea Dworkin did not live to experience have established that aspects of transactivist theory are harmful and appropriative of women. Ms Dworkin did not live to see a campaign of intimidation and terror by trans women against radical feminists.

    None of this is taken into account by Mr. Stoltenberg. He should apologize for overreaching in this article and withdraw it.

  29. I knew that in going public to clarify that Andrea never believed in sex essentialism—meaning she never believed that the notions man and woman, or “the male sex” and “the female sex,” refer to discrete metaphysical categories—I would risk considerable character assassination. I had faced it before when I simply published an essay titled “The Postconventional Ethics of Chelsea Manning” in which I referred to Private Manning by her preferred pronoun. So I knew what vitriol was in store.

    I had to decide whether to let it silence me. I mulled the matter for some time, and I consulted a few close friends who were radical feminists, who also shared Andrea’s rejection of sex essentialism, who felt they needed to keep their heads down because if they spoke up on this contested topic, they would be shot at. And could not blame them; they already wore flak jackets for multiple other battles.

    The name Andrea means courage, I reminded myself, and I decided finally that if I learned anything from her, it was not to remain silent out of fear of reprisals or slanders. So I stand by the memoir I wrote as well as the interpretive/clarifying statements I have made in this comment thread. Any apology I would have owed would have been to Andrea for staying silent out of fear of censure.

    • “I knew that in going public to clarify that Andrea never believed in sex essentialism—meaning she never believed that the notions man and woman, or “the male sex” and “the female sex,” refer to discrete metaphysical categories … ”

      Now I’m very confused.

      No, the male sex and the female sex refer to discrete PHYSICAL (i.e., biological) categories — which you, John, have been arguing (up until now) do not exist. You called us “sex essentialists” for saying so.

      Now you say “sex essentialism” refers to discrete METAphysical categories. That’s the VERY thing that radical feminists seek to abolish: the idea of “woman” as metaphysical category, as an essence that can exist in male bodies.

      • Exactly. He is very, very confused about what radical feminists believe. Up until now I thought he was using the term sex essentialism in the way that transactivists use it, i.e., the belief that males and females have different biology. But now he is saying that its a metaphysical category, which, as you say, is precisely what radical feminists oppose.

      • I used the word metaphysical—meaning what’s materially really, ontologically real, existent, and such—to encompass and denote what some radical feminists refer to when they talk about there being two discrete physical/biological sexes. It was just another way of saying sex essentialism; I wasn’t saying anything I’ve not been saying. Having followed the comments here, it has become clear to me that a major sticking point for the people coming after me (maybe the sticking point) is their belief that biologically/ontologically there are two fixed and discrete human sexes. All I’m saying is that Andrea and I both considered that notion to be a fallacy (she said so in writing in several different ways, as did I; and it was just a given in all our conversations). I accept and understand that there is disagreement on that point, and I grant that language meant to clarify can instead be unhelpful at times. I did not mean to confuse.

    • I’m sorry Mr. Stoltenberg, but how dare you portray *yourself* as courageous for aligning with what is essentially the pet philosophy of the day, while the women you threw under the bus daily face rape threats, death threats, threats of torture and dismemberment, no-platforming, public character assassination, and other abuse for saying that a penis is not female. You think a few women asking you to reconsider, any angry blog post or two is tough? If you want to experience silencing, try coming out in favor of the so-called “TERFs.” There was *no risk* to aligning with queer nonsense.

      Do you know how many threats of violence I receive, *as a man*, on this blog? Women have it significantly worse. But to say that ducking away from that and appeasing the trans crowd is somehow the truly courageous thing blows my mind. I’m not going to respond anymore, but I must say that I am incredibly disappointed by that comment.

  30. Mr. Stoltenberg is not having his character assassinated by any of us radfem commenters (whether Ms. Dworkin’s character is being assassinated by him is another question). Nor is principled critique of his article “vitriol”. Nor should he stay silent.

    The worst criticism I’ve seen acknowledges his contributions to feminism, calls this article a misfire, and suggests he withdraw the article as nonsensical.Those were my criticisms. These are mild criticisms indeed.

    I see that he finally defines what he calls “sex essentialism”. In his latest comment. he says that “Andrea never believed in sex essentialism—meaning she never believed that the notions man and woman, or “the male sex” and “the female sex,” refer to discrete metaphysical categories—”

    Morag tries to correct him above, but what can anyone say? It is good that we come to this point of understanding that Mr. Stoltenberg’s comment rests on a nonsensical definition. So this is sex essentialism for him: something metaphysical, not biological. His article was already in question. If anyone is assassinating his character, it is he, himself.

    • “It is good that we come to this point of understanding that Mr. Stoltenberg’s comment rests on a nonsensical definition. So this is sex essentialism for him: something metaphysical, not biological. His article was already in question. If anyone is assassinating his character, it is he, himself.”

      You wrap this up very well, vyechera: nonsensical.

      How many times did you ask him to clarify the definition of “sex essentialism” only to get evasive half-answers? Now we get the big reveal which is no revelation at all: instead, it’s a core tenet of radical feminism that the sexes are biologically different, but not discrete, polarized, metaphysical categories (gender). Are our minds supposed to be blown by this? John makes it sound as if he’s risked a radfem attack to assert that gender is (to borrow Andrea’s words) “not true.”

      And, yet, for transgenderists, “gender identity” is truer than biological sex. That is, transgenderists — whom John supports, defends and honours — embrace metaphysical sex, which trumps physical sex.

      None of this fits together, none of this makes sense, unless meanings and definitions are kept flexible and obscure. So dishonest.

  31. Qualiara says:
    NOW if you’re talking about rape, or assault, or actual voyeurism, or any number of ALREADY ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, then yes – women have to be concerned about that. But not from transwomen. From men.
    ——-
    And that’s where it all breaks down. Men are not women no matter how much surgery they have, no matter what dresses they wear or how much makeup they wear.

    That’s the point.

  32. “Having followed the comments here, it has become clear to me that a major sticking point for the people coming after me (maybe the sticking point) is their belief that biologically/ontologically there are two fixed and discrete human sexes. All I’m saying is that Andrea and I both considered that notion to be a fallacy (she said so in writing in several different ways…”

    So it comes to this: if Mr. Stoltenberg is to be believed, Andrea Dworkin was never a radical feminist, because she did not believe in the existence of women. If there is no caste of women, there is no feminism. Case closed. How convenient for queer/trans/postmodern theory, which arose as radical feminism was on the rise.

    I am beginning to wonder if the idea here is not to take away all the leading lights of radical feminism, like the Mafia cutting off its victims at the knees. De Beauvoir has been recently attacked by MRAs. Mary Daly is always under attack. Janice Raymond has been blasted to oblivion. Greer is under constant challenge. I entered this discussion to sort out a few questions of theory, but what I’m seeing here is a man purporting to speak for a dead woman who can’t speak herself, but whose whole body of work contradicts what he is claiming. It’s the worst revisionism I’ve seen in a long time and insults Dworkin’s memory.

  33. Thank, but the Mafia simile was no good. 🙂

  34. Dang it, I mean Thanks! And now I will go away.

  35. On the optimistic assumption that some may have been following my comments and not responding to them but also not misreading/misrepresenting/misunderstanding/maligning them, I want to post here the link to my novel, GONERZ (www.amazon.com/Gonerz-John-Stoltenberg/dp/1481986473/), which I conceived in conversations with Andrea and completed in the 1990s. It’s a postapocalyptic novel about four young people living beyond gender against all odds. To this day I consider it my best work, and I know Andrea loved it too. (I occasionally read aloud from it to friends in our home.) I did not publish it until a couple years ago. Reader response to it has persuaded me to write a sequel, which I am working on.

    • Well, I’m pretty sure I understand you, John.

      I understand that, for you, “woman,” even “female”, is a nebulous concept — until and unless some man identifies with this nebulous concept and claims it for himself. Then womanhood, suddenly, becomes fully intelligible as a form of personhood and humanity.

      I understand that women (the nebulous female kind) should respect, honour, obey and accommodate men-who-identify-as-women. I understand that female resistance to accommodating men-who-identify-as-women is bigotry. That when we are not obedient, we are reduced to a slur, “TERF,” and that you endorse this slur and support how it is used against us.

      I understand that male transgenderists are your people. I understand that you, as a man, identify with them because they are also men. I understand that male transgenderists, and you, are most definitely not refusing to be men — not refusing to be masculine, to be on top. It’s just that, now, male trans and other men who make specious pro-feminist claims, are affecting a woman/feminist’s voice to camouflage that same-old, same-old male hold over language, over meaning, and over women.

      I understand that male transgenderists are trying to take feminism away from women, and to this end (with a taken-for-granted authority) they speak over women and feminists. And I understand that ensuring that “woman” means nothing, or anything, is an essential part of this process of breaking down female resistance and boundaries, so that males can become leaders of a “feminist” movement which suits them better.

      (And, you know, I’m going to be generous for a moment and just wonder if this process of negating girls and women — our bodies, our voices, our ability to narrate our own experiences, our own visions of liberation — has become virtually instinctive, rather than conscious, for many men. Just a thought.)

      Anyway, I understand all of this. However, I am confused that you would use this particular forum to hawk your wares. A novel that you have stamped with “Andrea loved it” as a selling point. Do you think we need to read your novel to understand your position even better than we already do?

      You have, in the last year at the very least, aligned yourself with a fetishistic, pro-pornography, pro-prostitution, pro-BDSM, woman-hating ideology and movement. Perhaps it’s you who doesn’t (yet?) understand this.

      • Thanks for saying this, Morag. It is sad but true and, let’s be honest, this is the kind of thing that actually takes courage to say in the current political climate, not the pro-transgenderist, male supremacy accommodating nonsense he has been saying takes so much courage to say. But, I remember a time when privileged males and their female allies publicly commended themselves for showing the courage to defend pornography in the face of the mean and powerful radical feminists. So even this kind of thing doesn’t surprise me. It disgusts me, but it doesn’t surprise me.

  36. Jo Jo Dancer says:

    You people are insane.

  37. Thanks so much for this post. So glad to read such awesome commentary from so many women here. I am still educating myself on feminism (true feminism), and finding blogs like these with open comments has really helped. Thank you, Jonah, Miep, Morag, Maureen, et al, and of course Derrick.

  38. A must read: “Sex, Gender, and Sexuality: The TransAdvocate interviews Catharine A. MacKinnon”: http://www.transadvocate.com/sex-gender-and-sexuality-the-transadvocate-interviews-catharine-a-mackinnon_n_15037.htm

  39. This is exactly why I hate intellectuals so much. They read lots of books and theories but they can’t fucking think for themselves! Is anyone of you aware that in the UK female inmates rape female inmates? Just like in USA jails male inmates rape male inmates….Has anyone of you actualy ever lived in a womans only shelter? Have you ever seen the violence woman are capable of against eachother (like braking someones nose or treatening to stick a broken bottle in your face…) I don’t believe in gender, and therefore theoretical i don’t agree with trans people, but if a trans asked me to sleep in my shelter I would never trow him on the street to be raped by a transphobic guy (most likely someone like Derricks dad, cause that’s the guys that rape trans people) Put the heart back in your movement!

  40. One of the people defending this article (Miep I believe) says that in Saudi Arabia a man dressed up like a woman to spie on woman in the mosque. Is anyone in this blog aware that 1 in the 4 males in Saudie Arabia are raped? That the USA is fundementalist religious on the same level as Saudi Arabia. That it is the system and religion perverting people….Maybe it’s time DGR admits it’s trowing darts at the wrong group of people, and maybe Derrick should admit he can show a little more support for other man that endure rape, cause rape isn’t a all female problem at all. Or is he the only men in the world people should feel sorry for?

  41. Mijanou ter Braak says:

    PS I don’t like both sides of this fight. Not DGR’s side and not the anti-DGR side. This whole experience made me never wanting to get involved with any american activist group never again…I’ve been involved with this EF a couple of years ago in an action camp, and they can go and fuck themselves to…This whole world is turning into a fashist state, there is war all over the world, animals are dying, plants are dying, and all you people can do is fight about to be or not to be trans…really sad…
    Makes me wonder how many under cover cops are among us putting us up against eachother, making splinter groups within splinter groups till we are all one man groups and totaly meaningless…
    My apologies to Derrick for my former comment.
    Life sucks ;-(

    • DGR and radical feminist groups alike are deeply dismayed at having to pay so much attention to this subject. But the amount of legal traction transactivists are getting is eroding women’s rights and you cannot have a fair and just society that doesn’t care about women, any more than you can have one that does not care about the living world in general. These things are culturally related.

      • DGR and radical feminist should learn that winning a fight isn’t all that mathers, You can not blame trans people for the continious attack of woman’s rights allover the world. Trans people don’t go to a female toilet to rape woman but only to not get beaten up by homophobes in male toilets. The example of a Saoudi men dressing up like a woman was totaly ripped out of it’s context. That men is no trans, trans people get executed in Saudie Arabia. That man was just a pervert created by a fundementalist religious state. I have to go now and drive a bus full of strikers to their destination. Maybe one day you understand what it is I’m trying to tell you, maybe you don’t….Sometimes it’s better to be diplomatic than honnest, especialy when something doesn’t really mather that much…

  42. Mijanou ter Braak says:

    PS How comes it’s so sure the deathtreats and rape treats are send by trans people? Most people on the internet don’t even use their real name or photograph…
    I had a black guy who broke my nose, another one who punched me in the belly on the middle of the street and another one who tried to rape me (at different times and different places)…shall I go racist now just because 3 individuals of a group of people wronged me? I don’t think so! So why go against every trans person?

    Maybe I don’t use words like ”dismayed” and ”eroding” and ”affiliation” and whatever but I use my experience, my instinct, my emotions and my common sence to come to (sometimes difficult) conclusions. And the only thing I can conclude is that you don’t have to pay to much attention to this subject. Paying attention to it is your own choise.
    The only thing I do agree with Derrick about is that Feminism death!

    • Probably because of all the screen shots of admitted male transgenders, with photos of themselves, doing things like holding knives and commenting “fetch me a TERF.” That might have something to do with it. There is quite a bit of that around, people have made blog post collections of them.

      But generally speaking, the idea that people can change sex or that biological sex doesn’t matter is just silly.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        That you find the idea that people can change sex or that biological sex doesn’t matter just silly is your right. I’m just saying you can’t blame every trans person for the actions of a few. I mean, i drove this bus full of workers yesterday and some of them were real asholes. Macho kunts I would say. Does that mean I have to go and defend their employer and say, fuck these asholes, I don’t like them, burn the macho scum. Don’t give’m what the demand, just sack them? I don’t think so…One time a homophobe came to me and I feld him like a rapist, my instinct went wild and I thought I was done for. He asked me or I’m a man, and I said yes, trying to avoid rape, but he laughed and asked again, so at the end I laughed and said no…So this bastards showed me he had a baseballstick inside his jacket and told me he was looking for gay man. I’ve met the same kind of guys on the streets of France that were ”hunting” for Arabs…There’s really weird scum on the streets doing horrible things to trans people, gays and foreigners…and whatever my opinion is about having a sex change doesn’t change the fact trans people are a really weak and hunted group in society….

      • This is a complete straw man. I don’t wish any violence on transgenders and overall none of the people I hang out with do either. We just don’t want to be bullied into pretending we believe men can decide they are women. We don’t want to be told women cannot decide who are women, only men can. That stuff is very old.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        I didn’t say you want to harm trans people. It’s just obvious to me that you have no intention in disolving this fruitless fight. I don’t believe in the difference between men and woman (funny enough a lot of woman I know argue with me on this point, they seem to be convinced men are different from woman, you see, sexism is kept alive by both sexes, how bizar) , and I actualy think woman’s only spaces are outdated. I think a feminist meeting should be mixed, and that woman should just trow out a guy who makes sexist or degrading comments. You believe whatever you want to believe, I was just trying to say that there’s another way of dealing with it. Rather based on trying to get on than based on who is right and who is wrong.

      • Another man telling women what we should want and that misogyny is over. I’m not answering your comments anymore, you are wasting my time and talking over me. Good bye.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        I’m a naturaly born woman and have two kids, see my art on http://www.mijanou.exto.nl Thanks for giving me so much respect on a feminist blog calling me a man. How sad.

      • For goodness sake, Mijanou ter Braak, you’re not paying close attention to what is being said and discussed in this thread, or the feminist analysis of transgenderism in general. You barge in here with a very simplified, rather shallow or naive, “why can’t we all just get along?” message, which is an approach/ directive that has never, ever, brought justice to any woman, child, man, animal, eco-system or the Earth itself. It’s very dismissive of intellectual work and feminist activism being discussed here.

        We care about girls and women, and also about the boys and men who are oppressed by other men; we want an end to the violence against ALL living things and this planet, so we are attacking the root, which are these patriarchal, male supremacist systems. If you listen to the voices here, to what Miep is saying — and Derrick, and the pro-feminist author of this blog, and the feminists commenting here — you will understand that we are saying transgenderism is a symptom and a part of perpetuating the whole bloody mess, and that all these issues, these tragedies, are connected. Just because there is an intense focus on transgenderism, and how it affects females, does not mean that there is not a larger, more holistic analysis at work.

        Instead of taking some time to absorb what’s happening here, you want to disparage and put down feminism and feminists. At least — granted, language differences may be a factor — it certainly seems that way. And, you sound a lot like a man when you do that, so I can’t blame Miep for having assumed you are male. Because, you’ve basically said that you think we should just drop it, drop this feminist nonsense, and talk about something else. About how bad men have it, for instance.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        The feminist analysis of transgenderism is an analysis, that’s all it is. I think that reality and theory should be put togheter. Every analysis and every theory sounds plausible when a good teacher will lecture it. It’s not how good it sounds and how much you like it, it’s how you can apply it to real life. Some theories sound great on paper but when you trie to put them to work on a group of people you find so much dificulties you have to adjust it to reality. I think the way you speak doesn’t reach further than theory. It is a well known fact that feminist groups exclude woman from other race and low schooled woman like myself. I had problems with liberal feminist to, they called me a left wing righty just because I defended DGR. I always believed I am a feminist, I fought with guys, I work with guys, I do the things I was told when I was young a woman shouldn’t do because men do this and woman do that, and yet all my life I had problems with feminist bitching me the same way macho asholes bitching me.

        Thanks for your disrespect and excluding me, maybe I should grow a dick? Or will a university degree do fine to?

      • Why should you grow a dick? What a thought!

        And who’s excluding you, here? Seems to me we’re having a disagreement, and we are engaged with one another. Arguing is not exclusion. And, in what way have I been disrespectful? Please tell me.

        Me, I don’t have a university degree. Nor status, nor money nor a husband who could give me those things via his social position. I’m sure there are academic feminists in this world who do exclude other women on these bases, but I’m not sure how you got that impression from us in this particular discussion. I don’t have any power over you, and don’t want power over anybody. The only one here, far as I’m concerned, who is using his education, male privilege and social status to try to teach women ridiculous gender theories, and to tell us what we are and what we are not — while becoming an ally to the men who hate and disparage us and occupy our spaces — is John Stoltenberg.

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        Thanks for taking my sarcasme about growing a dick serious. That really cheered me up.

        Having an argue and telling the other person he or she doesn’t understand and therefore he or she is wrong are two different things.

        All I asked for is you to concider finding a solution for this problem, but reading the answers again no one on this blog seems to want a solution.
        I you want to stick to you point that I sound like a men just because I think so, have it your way.
        If you think me telling you that is the same as telling you to drop the feminist nonsense have it your way.

        And if you really think calling someone a man or an anti feminist isn’t excluding someone I don’t really understand the definition of exclusion no more

        Maybe KKK doesn’t exclude black people after all, they’re just having an argue…

        Actually if you like Derrick Jensen so much, he has this interview or part of a book with Jeannette Armstrong, an indiginous Canadian activist. She talks about her tribes who had this technique to find the things you have in common rather than to focus on the things that make you different in case two people don’t get on. This was because in tribes, a small community, you just had to get on.

        The feminist movement is a rather small community, don’t you think it’s important to get on?

        Is it that you don’t want to find a solution for this problem about tranpeople because you feel they are a treat to the intigrety of lesbian gatherings? I hope this doesn’t make you angry, it’s just that there were some blogs online about this subject from Lesbian feminist complaining about trans people spoiling their integrity.

        I don’t know, there is so many more subjects I find more important. Rape, sexism, prostitution, war, invironment, rasism etc etc…..

      • Mijanou ter Braak says:

        Here’s a song about a dick from a UK gay activist, hilarious!

        I hope the link works 😉 Must see !!!!
        It’s anti macho, so don’t worry about the tittle

      • Since women can’t grow dicks, or become men, I was also being sarcastic. But, I’m glad (sincerely, not sarcastically) that I could cheer you up!

        Also, I didn’t mean to make you feel excluded by saying that you sounded, to Miep and to me, like a man or an anti-feminist. It was an just an honest, albeit knee-jerk, reaction to what we were hearing from you.

        Listen, I don’t think we’re going to agree on the issue of transgenderism, and I especially cannot abide your idea that women should play nice, and be responsible for finding common ground, with our oppressors. However, I do believe that you are deeply concerned with many of the same feminist issues that we are (e.g., rape, prostitution, racism, our planet, etc.) and I can see that your artwork is poetic and politically sensitive.

        Still, if you find that the discussion here is irrelevant and unimportant to women, I have a hard time understanding why you are putting effort into trying to convince us we are on the wrong track, or that we don’t want to find a “solution” to the problem, when clearly we do. We want to put an end to women being regarded and treated as things, as costumes and stereotypes, or as an idea or fantasy in the male imagination, because this directly harms us. We are people, we are female, we are women, and what a woman is, is not open to debate. There is no room for compromise on this.

  43. Mijanou ter Braak says:

    Dear morag 99

    Thanks for your compliment about my art. I did only put the site up to prove I’m not an internet troll or a men…;-)
    But I’m just as good as a men ! Maybe even better….;-)

    Wishing you all the best to,

    Mijanou

    • Mijanou ter Braak says:

      Lyrics to the song in case the english accent makes it hard to understand 😉

      Pay attention! Look at me!
      aren’t you just in awe of this set of wheels?
      well Mick Hucknall, I might resemble
      but there’s no train set that I can’t assemble

      I’ve got a car that goes so fast
      you’re gonna be in awe at last
      I’m gonna show all those bitches
      I’m the man who’ll grant their wishes
      I’ve got a big cock, I’ve got a big car!

      Pay attention! Stupid ho!
      why aren’t you watching how fast my car can go?
      for all those girls who bypass my erection
      this 2 Unlimited tune will surely grab attention

      I’ve got a car that goes so fast
      you’re gonna be in awe at last
      I’m gonna show all those bitches
      I’m the man who’ll grant their wishes
      I’ve got a big cock, I’ve got a big car!

  44. John Stoltenberg is merely trying to make himself relevant by using Dworkin’s work to his own ends. It won’t be long before he’s claiming to be a trans foremother and that he and Andrea were in a committed lesbian relatiionship.

  45. I have just reviewed this excellent discussion after many months and I find it still going on, so I’d like to modify my comments here. I have just re-read Andrea Dworkin’s 1973 book “Woman-Hating” and Mr. Stoltenberg is reporting her statements there accurately. I have also reflected that Ms. Dworkin seems not to have revised her views up to 2005, when she passed away.

    In Woman Hating Ms. Dworkin made a number of wild speculations such as that dropping the incest taboo and having sex with animals might be a positive way to free human sexuality. She advocated complete androgeny and I believe that for her it logically followed that blurring the biological sex line by transsexuality would do no harm and might help with the blurring process. She was in her 20s when she wrote this and I have seen that a number of radfems have run into trouble when they, as young feminists, get to the end of their books and throw out some speculative and ill-considered thoughts. Shulamith Firestone’s brilliant analysis of male domination in The Dialectic of Sex isn’t commented on as much as her speculations on ending male domination by removing the reproduction process from women altogether by developing artificial wombs.

    Unfortunately, we’re all responsible for statements we make, however speculative or hasty, if we don’t make some effort to revise them later (Catherine MacKinnon’s interview with the Transadvocate is another example of an article that disappoints me but which I have to accept as her position). So I have to say I accept that Ms. Dworkin took the position he describes. I wish we could have had this discussion with her, as trying to address her position second-hand (even though Mr. Stoltenberg was an intimate) is very difficult – we get a layer of confusion over what Mr. Stoltenberg’s definitions of “metaphysical” and “sex essentialism” are.

    Since we have to accept a position she took and never changed for 32 years, all we can do is attempt to explain it and analyze it. I would like to withdraw any implication in my comments that Mr. Stoltenberg was misrepresenting Ms. Dworkin.

    .

  46. I can’t believe I read the whole thing…(actually I skimmed over the last 4 or 5 posts but I” get back to them) Thanks for writing everybody. And thanks for doing the blog.

    Like most debates/arguments (the logic of which as a form of discourse is severely flawed), I think this one could profit from a different perspective.

    I’ve read a lot of Andrea Dworkin and Derek Jensen ( I am currently reading John Stoltenberg’s first book and am avid to read more).

    It seems to me that the issue is one of what I call Factional Identity Politics. Its possible to have relatively non-factional identity politics, and “Us-and-Us” rather than “us-and-them” identity-politics, one that also affirms our intrinsic outer relationships and responsibilities as persons well as our intrinsic inner relationships and responsibilities as Individuals. I propose one such here; I propose here http://lifedancelog.blogspot.com/2012/03/life-dance-posts.html.

    I suspect that Dworkin may very well have been willing to abandon even the biological sex categories as “true” (if she hadn’t already, as Stoltenberg imples) in favor of some kind of non-gendered us-and-us (as opposed to Identity politics such as I propose even though She seems to be such a Humanist at times, I think she would go for Individual-Personhood (which is an identity politics that transcends the category of biological species much less of gender), simply because she would see (maybe not from that one post) that such a thing is the only way forward under the circumstances. Let us assume that Dworkin, Jensen, and Stoltenberg, as well as everybody who has commented so far were on the same page about this.

    Even if this were the case, since everyone is in “reality” still scarred by and suffering from the factional, dichotomized,”alienated and phony” (see: http://cointegrative.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=1) identity-politics and culture into which we have all in fact been socialized (and which of course includes Gender), practically speaking, members of victimized groups still need to do whatever it takes to stop being victimized, so understanding the “Truth” of our Shared Individual-Personhood does not make this “reality” of Alienated-Phoniness and sick culture go away.

    This way of looking at it does make clear certain things however. Having an inclusive healthy, non-factional identity-politics (and Culture) to work toward while at the same time defending ones self from the very real effects of the existing binary (and “crypto-binary”) culture and subcultures, takes a lot of violence out of the whole issue and throws a great deal of light on it as well. It opens up the way for a culture and Identity politics of Recovery rather than one of denial.

    However. I think that the price, (namely that of admitting that we are all alienated-phonies suffering from the details of our own variation on the shared theme of initiation into a sick culture of inner and outer alienation, denial. and abuse), is too much for most people. Affirming our Truth as being essentially and fundamentally Individual-Persons would obligate us to challenge All our factional identity-uniforms, whether of race, gender, transgender, species, class or whatever else, while at the same time respecting there “reality” as symptoms of the shared disease of sick culture, the way a doctor respects the reality of the symptoms and the disease he or she is trying to heal. In the case of those born into this culture of course, the symptom of Alienated-Phoniness and its factional identity politics, is in ourselves as well as outside in the world (no time to elaborate on this here–see my blogs) and the “opportunity” for shared and sustainable healing is also the “rub” of having to admit to, and take practical steps regarding, our own ongoing suffering from different symptoms of the same disease; When you understand it anyway (which, as I say you might have to read more of my blog to do), it takes away just about all of everyones illusion of “moral high-ground” or whatever and you just end up just seeing the urgent need for some kind of cultural twelve-step program where righteousness is explicitly disinvited. Bummer.

    But trust me, Righteousness is not all its cracked up to be. And besides, there’s no future in it.

    You may regard the above post as a strange visit from outside the box. I am unapologetic. Just glad your box has an opening for visitors…

Trackbacks

  1. […] letter was originally published at Gender Detective, with the following […]

  2. […] letter was originally published at Gender Detective, with the following […]

  3. […] I have written more than 5 million words in more than 20 books, and never once in any of those millions of words did I discuss the issues for which you deplatformed me. I have also written scores of thousands more words in dozens of articles, and out of all those words and articles I have written or co-written precisely two articles that address transgender issues. The first of these articles was written in direct response to rape and death threats made by transgender activists against women and against myself, and the second was written in response to some generally dishonest rhetoric. Here are links to those articles: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/21/55123/ and http://jonahmix.com/2015/02/07/guest-post-derrick-jensen-responds-to-john-stoltenberg/. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: