When Lara Crespo’s suicide was announced (condolences to those who – actually – knew her), a transwoman, I immediately thought “How long until radical feminists are publicly blamed for this?”
I only had to wait a couple of days. Maybe it was less in some other corners of the Internet, as I actively try to avoid a certain kind of screeching social network activism. As a radical feminist comrade said, using wiser words than mine:
The situation is starting to become frightening. I considered keeping silent. But it’s every feminist’s responsibility to speak when the rule says to keep quiet. Fear has always been used against us.
“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” – Audre Lorde
I’ve seen the posts, news and comments on social networks about Lara’s death. I never met her.
I profoundly lament the loss of any person driven to suicide (suicided) by patriarchal society. Crushed by the rigidity of gender hierarchy, by the oppression and rigor of sexual roles. They oppress. They are made to oppress. I would like to live in a world where everyone is free to express themselves as they see fit, without it requiring medical surgery, prohibitionist laws or fiery religious speeches about sin and abnormality. I would like for everyone, of either sex, to be free to dress, wear, speak, appear, love and feel however they feel like. That is the world in which I wish to live, in which I need to live – because I already know what its opposite is.
I already know what it’s like to live in a world where gender is a tool of oppression. I already know how it is to live in a world in which one’s sex, such a ridiculously natural and innocuous part of our body, with mere physiological functions, is exploited to create stereotypes of human behavior, with the goal of controlling those different bodies in different ways.
I want a world in which sex doesn’t mean a social role. In which belonging to the female sex doesn’t mean weakness, delicateness, domestic labor, rape and forced marriage. In which belonging to the male sex doesn’t mean force, violence, rigidity, lack of emotions and aggressiveness. In which behaviors, feelings and sexuality are merely human, shared by all sexes, open to expression by any human being.
On the other hand, it is sad to see that some people are exploiting Lara’s death to spread political speech inciting hatred towards women.
Lara was the victim of a male domination structure, as are we all. Everyone who commits suicide because of gender oppression is a person suicided by patriarchy.
Women didn’t create the patriarchy. Women don’t benefit from patriarchy. Women don’t benefit from gender.
It is not radical feminists who are killing trans people. It is not radical feminists who are threatening trans people.
Once again, women are placed under the crosshair – and the power structure and perpetrating men are left alone, untouchable, on their pedestal.
Burn the witch! Burn the witch!
I have great respect for the work of radical feminists. I recognize in them the same impulse which lead me to Marxism. It’s not enough to find blame in politicians, policies, governments, countries, corporations. The specifics are important, but transient.
You have to look at society’s functioning as part of a system with its own all-consuming logic that shapes everything in its own image. Who pushes us all, oppressed and oppressors, to certain results and ways of being.
In order to understand the economic angle, Marxism is still the school of thought that most clearly allows us to see what capitalism is. In order to understand what patriarchy is, I have never encountered wisdom which compared to that of the theoreticians of radical feminism. In order to arrive at the correct conclusions in such a quest, one must see beyond the veil of dominant ideology. One needs to reach fundamentals. You must be radical, get at the root of things.
You have to look with eyes wide open at the incredible violence which shapes women’s existence, stiffing the breathless voice in your throat which says it can’t take anymore. That it would rather not see, remain ignorant. It’s not easy, even when you are a man and have been socialized to suppress emotions.
As part of following the news from all over the world for Guilhotina, I regularly encounter reports from Mexican independent media. A recurring theme is feminicide. Not just killing, but a cruel streak, of men who treat women like children treat insects.
Of teenagers who disappear and families who agonize for years without knowing what became of them. And then the bodies found on the side of the road, to never be identified and returned to their own. The police reports are always variations of the same story “signs of prolonged rape and torture, violent death”. And then the desecrated bodies, quartered, beheaded. The pieces scattered as messages to other women.
When everyone kept talking about the Handmaid’s Tale series, I could not get past the first few minutes of the first episode. All I could think about was Mexico.
It takes a tremendous courage. To look at the rapes, mutilations, beatings, stonings, objectification, imprisonment, dumbing down, commodification, homicide, torture, humiliation – a list that continues for many long pages, the list of tools used to impose the female gender on women and turn them into a deformed and amputated version of their human potential.
If you survive looking, you must ask, in cold blood despite the horror. What is the reason for this uncontrollable fury against women? Not “why do men hate us?” but “what purpose does this hate serve?” and build from there. It’s radical feminists that keep their level-headedness in order to do so.
Only then can you start to understand that gender is the prison built and refined over thousands of years by the patriarchy and the ruling classes in order to control the capacity that women and women alone possess: to reproduce the species and, consequently, class.
To chain them by the neck to their reproductive organs like breeding animals submissive to the needs of the economic system. And, to add insult to injury, to force them to teach new generations the same system that broke them. To give their sons and daughters the poisoned chalice of gender and class. With the complicity of the vast majority of men. Who wants to give up sexual and domestic slaves?
Nothing else makes sense. Otherwise, what is the answer? That men possess an innate hatred of women? That this is their “nature”? But it was Dworkin, first among witches, who proclaimed one of the most touching phrases I’ve ever read:
I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.
I felt an ocean of gratitude. It confirmed something which I grew up repressing. To be a man and suffer the male gender is to be bestialized. The patriarchy commands us as if we were dogs, and kicks us like you would a dog disobeying its owner. “Bite! Fuck! Humiliate! Dominate! Kill! Do it or it will be done to you!”
Too much of a coward to resist gender, too brave to give it up, I still grinded my teeth and thought that I. AM. NOT. AN. ANIMAL. And it was out of Dworkin’s mouth that came the first confirmation. I will always be grateful to her for that.
And if gender is a construction, if it is destructive and dehumanizing, radical feminists have arrived at the logical conclusion: the only intelligent thing to do is to abolish it.
Not turning it into a performance, not subverting it – ideas born of the erroneous liberal conception that culture dictates reality and not the other way around. To even try is only going to reinforce it, because the logical conclusion of such an approach is the naturalization of gender. If previously the whole body belonged to gender, now liberalism differentiates itself from conservatism by making do with the brain. You are born liking skirts and lipstick or pants and shirts, presumably.
And, after arriving at such conclusions, some of these women will even take the suicidally courageous next step of promoting their conclusions and prescriptions, knowing from the start the misogynous deluge that will collapse upon them. Many will fall silent along the way, and many more will keep quiet when they see how the witches who dare defy the patriarchy are burned. Those who resist despite it all fear little, because they have won the courage of those who saw the worst that could happen to their fellows and decide to persevere for them.
The tragedy of the currently happening pseudo debate is that the radical feminist approach would be the one to most benefit transsexual people. Because then all gender markers would stop meaning anything. There would be no feminine skirts, only skirts. There would be no masculine pants, only pants. Everyone would be able to express themselves however they saw fit, physically and sexually, without it being subject to any label of being more masculine of feminine. You can’t suffer from gender dysphoria if there is no gender.
But in order for this analysis to become possible, certain categories are necessary. One of these is of woman as biological entity with its own set of characteristics. Otherwise, women’s oppression is based on nothing else but the fact that they wear skirts and other gender markers, thus returning us to the dead end of liberal analysis, in which everything is nothing but performance.
That is why radical feminists won’t give up women as a category. Correctly so. If a man can become a woman just because he feels like one, not only does that go against all evidence, but it makes women’s emancipation impossible because the mechanisms that oppress them become completely obfuscated. In the same way that you can’t have a serious analysis of capitalism if we replace the workers and bourgeois categories with others that stuff everyone into the same bag, like “partners” and “taxpayers”.
And because radical feminists won’t give up this category, in the childish brains of liberals that think culture shapes reality, it is as if they were denying that trans people exist and thus committing literal violence. As if we were discussing magical incantations that, once uttered, transform physical reality. All possibility of nuanced analysis becomes dead in the water.
As my comrade also said:
I’m afraid of the discourse growing in Portugal. But nothing of women’s persecution surprises me. None of this is new. And, nevertheless, you won’t see me walking around assaulting and threatening trans people. I have it very clear on my mind who the enemy is, a power structure. Eventually, I will defend myself from the occasional individual who is a more immediate problem, like everyone would. But essentially we are burned at the stake as witches, pointed at as fascists and nazis, for asking questions. Questions like: “what is a woman?” or “what is gender?”
But all of this is academic. Because 90% of the current debate doesn’t really have anything to do with the difficulties suffered by trans people or with theoretical discussions.
The men who burn witches
No matter how much struggle, study and dedication you give to the attempt at rebuilding what the patriarchy twisted inside you or to building something new, it is a struggle that will always remain incomplete for our generation. We are marked in infancy and the pressure of the status quo is unceasing and relentless.
That is why I know what you are doing, you bunch of motherfuckers. I’m in your head, no matter how many colorful flags you use to cover your misogyny. Because I was also socialized with the male gender.
With rare exceptions (well… I imagine they exist), every macho “ally” that clogs up social networks denouncing “TERFs” doesn’t truly care about the plight of trans people. What you want, what you love deep down in your patriarchy poisoned hearts, is the license to publicly say to women “Be quiet and get in your place, you fucking whore, or I’ll break your skull.”
You’re nothing more than the woke social network version of the husband that comes home with breath reeking of wine and torments his wife because he can. Because he knows that he is stronger than her and that if he punches her on the chin, there is nothing she can do but listen to her bones crack.
How many variations of this mantra do we see spewed forth daily by men, including those that become very offended at being called such a thing, but then proceed to reproduce every typical behavior of male socialization? How many of you have written proudly that TERFs should have their teeth kicked in, that they are nazis, that they should be violently killed?
Why? I know why. Because it feels good, doesn’t it motherfuckers? There is nothing quite like that shot of adrenaline when you rain down blows on an adversary against which you possess morally justified hate. Not just because it feels good to hit someone, no. That would be petty and cruel.
Because it is righteous. And it doesn’t hurt that it is against women, right? How do they know if you’re not serious when you make violent threats? Because they have seen the violence of a father, uncle, brother, schoolmate, boyfriend. They know that for many of you it’s just Facebook courage, but what if… What if some of you are actually brain damaged enough to follow them home and do the unthinkable? So, many of them actually pipe down, to your great delight.
As my comrade said:
This year, a TERF list is making the rounds, exposing women in Portugal, including mothers, and serving as a threat. Obviously an online list wouldn’t be enough, the threat needed to become more present: they’ve circled an apartment, looking for the floor and door of one of the women exposed by the list, the mother of a small child. A unilateral act, inciting the ostracization of people with no right to question or defend themselves.
This year, a friend was invited by an university to make an intercontinental trip to talk about female socialization. Just that. When she got there, she was informed that she would not be able to speak because she was a radical feminist.
This has happened many times, to many different women. Another friend was invited to talk at an university about her graduation thesis on the use of hormones on children (this should be of general interest!) and she was also “uninvited” because she was considered transphobic.
I used to receive inbox complements, such as “c** deposit”, “wh.re”, “s1ut”. I stopped adding people, even those I know, because I never know what I’m in for. Come to me those who know of me and then we might be able to talk – that has been my rule for some time.
Other friends received, and still do, physical and rape threats in their inbox. Another, a poor woman, was sued and the complainant demanded compensation because she would not say she was cis on Facebook.
In Brazil, a trans person threatened to throw a bomb on a feminist meeting, but this also happens with some frequency in the UK (in fact, as a consequence, radical feminist events don’t usually announce their meeting places until the last minute, in order to ensure safety).
An “art” exhibition at an United States museum showed baseball bats bearing the colors of the trans flag and red stained shirts where you could read “kill terfs” or “I punch terfs”. A mother was arrested in front of her 3 children in the United States for “misgendering” a trans person.
The self-employed make-up artist and mother of two children Amanda Schon, was exposed at the beginning of the year on social networks [pages] which had over 1 million followers, identified via photos of herself and her tattoos, the companies she worked with tagged, demanding that they cut work relations with her because she was “transphobic” (she basically said that we were oppressed because of our sex and reproductive behavior).
Haven’t we learned anything yet about what Internet exposure entails? Or have we learned and, still, consider it “feminist” and “progressive” to virtually and globally expose working women, poor, lesbians, mothers of small children because a certain speech won’t allow questioning and disagreements? Do women have or do they not have the right to reflect and give their opinions about their own oppression? How can it be that women who question gender are fascists, but people who incite aggression and the death of women aren’t? Who is threatening who?
Let us imagine that the debate between radical feminists and liberal feminists took place only among women. Do you think that the pitch would ever have gotten to its present level? Women might organize boycotts, carry out social ostracization, try to destroy public images and hurt careers. But they don’t walk around threatening to break the teeth and kill other women. They don’t spend their time sending rape threats. It’s not women who follow women on the street in the middle of the night. That’s us, boys. Yes, the boys wearing skirts in the back row too. It’s us and our wonderful masculinity.
Better yet, the mold already exists. Support the trans cause? By creating support services? Via organizations whose program weakens patriarchy? By creating defense mechanisms against male violence, the one that is actually real, against trans people? No, nothing of the sort. The trans cause is best served by yelling at women online. Besides, you just have to copy from the US Twitter, so you won’t even have to think much to come up with original insults and theories.
Like the medieval Inquisition, shielded with the arrogance of those who think themselves the carriers of the one true message, you are nothing more than a horde of sadistic misogynistic men, who get off on putting women “in their place” – subordinated to the needs of men, the only acceptable measure of all things.
And for the liberal feminists who think that it is a woman’s job to give shelter and care under her roof to every wounded creature that walks in from the street, even if she must silence her own voice: when and if they finish crushing radical feminists, you will be next. The demands will never end. Your voice will have only one role: to sing the glories of your betters and to eternally try to scale a mountain, atop which resides the legitimacy and equality that men will never concede to you while you play by their rules.
How do I know? Because I have a man’s ego, and its voracity is the same of the egos of your dear Facebook friends with whom you trade comments filled with heart emojis while denouncing “TERFs”, not knowing they will turn against you the moment you show any spine.
My comrade ended thus:
Questions don’t kill. Questions don’t threaten. To question is the activist obligation of every feminist. We won’t be silenced by fear, although they have tried and, in a certain way, succeeded with many of us. Hunted many of us. Took down many of us.
And why… why do so many insist on keeping quiet, look away and refuse themselves as they witness this witch hunt going on?
Why do you pretend it’s none of you business? Why do you let women be crushed?
Death to the Patriarchy & Peace among women!
As for me, I take comfort from this passage I found in “Caliban and the Witch”:
[when the men] of the St.-Jean-de-Luz cod fleet, one of the largest [from the Basque country] heard rumors of their wives, mothers, and daughters [being] stripped, stabbed, and many already executed, the 1609 cod campaign was ended two months early. The fishermen returned, clubs in hands, and liberated a convoy of witches being taken to the burning place. This one popular resistance was all it took to stop the trials…
– Kurlansky 2001: 102
They were the only ones. But it was all it took. You’ve been warned, friendos. On our little corner, we will do as the Basques did 410 years ago. We won’t abandon our comrades to the fires you’re trying to condemn them to, cynically using the corpses of trans people as accusation against the women who will not submit to you. We publicly position ourselves against this witch hunt. And if it comes to that, with clubs in hand.
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