It’s not popular in “progressive” liberal circles to defend women’s rights any more.
Last year I was forced out of my home and kicked out of an animal rights group I had founded, by people who had been my friends and comrades. My partner and I were publicly shamed, called homophobic and sexist slurs, and physically assaulted — all by avowed leftists and liberals.
My thought crime that warranted this onslaught: I defend women’s sex-based rights.
In every corner of the globe, women are oppressed. We are raped, enslaved, bought and sold, controlled, abused, impregnated and forced to give birth, denied education, denied access to the workforce, denied suffrage, silenced, ignored, and excluded.
This is not just hypothetical. Men have raped me, raped most of friends, and raped two out of my four sisters. Men raped and abused my mother, driving her to suicide. Both of my grandmothers were survivors of domestic abuse. This oppression is very real. It is not something we opted into or consented to, nor is it something we could ever truly opt out of.
This was not always a controversial idea in feminism. Feminists of the first and second waves knew that women were oppressed on the basis of their sex. Simone de Beauvoir knew this when she wrote in the Second Sex about the differential socialization girls and boys receive which results in the perceived inferiority of women. Ruth Bader-Ginsburg knew it when she fought to eliminate sex discrimination in the high court. Today, even in the United States, we know this because “people with uteruses [sic]” have had their reproductive rights torn away by the state. Women and girls are oppressed for being female.
But in today’s “progressive” left, women are forced to twist themselves into Orwellian double-speak to avoid the mention of female oppression. Even in animal rights, where I gained most of my experience with the left, it has become uncouth to mention the exploitation of cows and chickens for their female reproductive systems.
Those who dare to speak their thought-crime, especially women, will be socially and economically burned at the stake. This is what a real witch hunt looks like. We’re not taking down powerful rapists like Brett Kavanaugh, but 28-year-old males are punching 60-year-old women for stating that we need sex-based protections and rights.
The left has a misogyny problem, and the erasure of female reality in favor of postmodern identities with no basis in material reality is just the peak of it. In the past, the woman-hating of the left looked like brocialism: “Free grass, free food, free women, free acid, free clothes,” as Upton Sinclair is claimed to have said. (While most of these ideas have not come to fruition, liberal men have done an exceptional job convincing women, at least, to give them exactly what they want).
For as long as there has been patriarchy, women have been dressing as men in order to gain access to roles and resources that would otherwise be denied them. In some cases, they were killed for this transgression; literally burned for heresy like Joan of Arc. Feminists are able to look upon this shared history of hiding, pain, and oppression and see other women who were bravely defying the gender norms of their time. The anti-feminists of the new left, however, argue that these women must have actually been men. Women are only real if they conform exactly to the gender norms of their time (never mind the impossibility of this considering the inherent contradictions of expected femininity, eg. “the virgin vs. the whore”).
For women in the past who aimed to opt-out of gender norms, the only available options were drastic: dress as a man, hide your identity, and risk being murdered when you were found out. Today, girls are presented with an increasingly socially acceptable version of this age-old tale. Being a girl may be easier in some ways today, but the impossibility of meeting the gender norms expected of girls is overwhelming and painful. It’s no surprise to feminists that as the gender identity movement grows, two-thirds of trans-identifying youth are female.
I have seen way too many women that I have known, and even loved, fall prey to this misogyny. Young women, especially, are desperate to escape womanhood. And who can blame them? We know what happens to women who defy gender norms.
Radical feminism, by it’s very nature, seeks to abolish gender. Gender is a constructed tool of the patriarchy used to keep women in an inferior state to men. To say that a woman chooses her gender, or has an innate “gender identity” is to say that women are complicit in their oppression, and consent to their inferiority. We do not.
“Woman” is not a feeling. It is a material reality. We are adult human females, and we exist beyond the minds of men who fetishize and infantilize us.
But for saying this I will have slurs hurled at me, be physically attacked, and be silenced. I will be called a bigot, Nazi, and hateful. The fact that I simply am not any of these things will not matter. The truth does not matter when a woman says No to a man.
No, you can not colonize, appropriate, and erase our pain.
We do not consent to our oppression.
Despite the unprecedented popularity of the word “feminism,” feminists themselves are still considered heretics. A new McCarthyism has arisen, with women and men alike terrified to speak out for fear of the consequences. This fear is keeping women isolated, believing we are alone in our questions and criticisms of mainstream “feminism,” using cultural gas-lighting to convince us that we must be the ones in the wrong. In some places, laws are already being enacted enforcing this double-think.
We have real reason to be afraid. The violent tactics of the males and their brainwashed women who oppose us are terrifying. Men have centuries of practice at keeping women in their place. They make examples out of people like myself, my partner, and my friends, to show others the consequences of speaking out.
But I have news: I’m not afraid any more.
I am not afraid to say that a woman is an adult human female.
I am not afraid to say that I believe women and girls are oppressed on the basis of sex.
I am not afraid to say that dairy and eggs are exploitations of the female reproductive system.
I am not afraid to say that women need access to sex-based rights and protections.
If you are also tired of being afraid, please take a moment to sign the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, which outlines the risks inherent in replacing rights granted on the basis of sex with “gender identity.”
In a quick look at the thousands of signatures from 80+ countries since the Declaration launched only a few months ago, it is clear that we are not as alone as we are made to feel. The more women who take a public stance against female erasure and the co-opting of feminism, the safer it will be for others.
If you are just starting to learn about radical feminism’s criticism of gender, this is a great list of resources with which to start.
Join me in refusing to be afraid.
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CC-BY-SA, M. K. Fain