Queer

Feminism and what it’s not about – a letter to Julie Burchill

Dear Julie Burchill,

I’d like to take this moment to explain something to you that I don’t think you quite understand.  Feminism.  Feminism is not about belittling other people.  It is not about humiliating and mudslinging other groups.  It is not about taking out your feelings on people just so you can feel better about yourself and it’s not about telling Trans* women that they are really men.

It is not about making people feel less human, there are enough groups out there already trying to do that to the LGBTQ community, thank you very much, we do not need feminists joining in.  Especially feminists who can’t understand that whilst they have struggled to get to where they are, they are still part of the world of privilege that being part of a heterosexual cisgender society affords them.

Now just in case there were too many big words in there, or in case you’ve forgotten the dictionary definitions of a few of them, I’ve put together a little dictionary for you:

Feminism: (Noun) The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Heterosexual:(Adjective)(of a person) Sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Cisgender: In gender studies, cisgender and cissexual are two related types of gender identity where an individual’s self-perception of their gender matches their sex.

Transsexual:(Noun)A person born with the physical characteristics of one sex who emotionally and psychologically feels that they belong to the opposite sex.

Transgender:(Adjective)Identified with a gender other than the biological one.

Now, being a heterosexual woman in today’s society means you’re not looked down on for having a sexual orientation that goes against the norm.  You can marry, divorce, choose to cohabit, and be afforded the luxury of knowing all the while your civil rights are not infringed upon because you fit in with society.

Being cisgender means your gender and your sex line up, you’ve never had the confusing feeling that you don’t belong in the body you’re in because your brain is telling you one thing and your hormones are telling you another.  You’ve never looked in the mirror and questioned why the mistake was made with your sex when you’re so obviously not meant to be this way.  It also means that society doesn’t question what you say you are because society sees your body and says ‘this is who you are’.  And you agree with them.

It does not mean as you so eloquently put it, that:

I know that’s a wrong word, but having recently discovered that their lot describe born women as ‘Cis’ – sounds like syph, cyst, cistern; all nasty stuff – they’re lucky I’m not calling them shemales. Or shims.

Now, let’s address that definition of feminism shall we?  Seeing as, for you, this is the crux of the matter.  The above definition doesn’t mention you have to be born as either sex to be a feminist.  It also doesn’t state that you have to be either gender either.  It says you want equality between sexes.  Well, Trans* women are still women.  Some of them may have penises, some of them may not, but they are still women and they can still fight for equality along side you, just as some men choose to do.  Of course you’d probably look down on them as well, or perhaps, in your narrow-minded view point of the world you would find a way to back those men.  After all, it would take a true feminist to recognise that this fight is not just the fight of women alone.

I wanted to link to your post, the one where you so gallantly stand up for your friend, Suzanne.  You know, the one where you call anyone who disagrees with you (so in this case, the Trans* community) bullies.  Where your language was so colourful that it made me choke on my lunch.  Sadly, it’s been taken down between then and me getting home because of the outrage it’s caused.  Unsurprisingly, people are already starting to jump on your bandwagon in order to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press. But it’s not freedom of speech when you willfully oppress someone else in order to make yourself heard.  It’s not freedom of speech or of the press when you use your pulpit for your own agenda, to spout your rage because oh dear, people took offence, and rightfully so.

As a proud member of the LGBTQ community, I will stand arm in arm with said community and I will look forward to your apology.  When and if it comes, we’ll see about repairing those bridges.  If it doesn’t, well, you will provide further evidence to those who decry feminism as a bunch of white, former working class women who have risen up the ranks and want to protect their status, stepping on anyone in their way.

Scribblenubbin

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