That Newsnight Trans Debate

I’m in Canada so I’ve totally missed the start of the discussion and the, inevitable, twitter tantrums on the issue of gender and the oppression of women. I’m sure it was awash with deliberate misrepresentations of radical feminist theories on gender and full of threats of violence, like die in a fire, which, as ever, don’t count if they are directed at women you don’t like.

As with every other gender-critical, radical or otherwise, feminist, there is no way in hell I would have even dreamed of appearing on television on this issue. Mostly, because I don’t like getting death threats. Call me irrational, but getting death and rape threats for discussing the oppression of women as a class is pretty much the Patriarchy at work. It is misogyny. And, if you believe that being oppressed makes it okay to insult, denigrate or threaten others, I’m going to assume you have no understanding whatsoever about the reality of the oppression of women. Threatening women who disagree with you with the exact same language that men do is somehow activism, they you don’t understand the reality of activism either.

Being gender-critical isn’t erasing people. It’s a political analysis which looks at the root of women’s oppression. It looks at the structures, symbols and everyday practises which create women as a sex class (or caste). It is not calling for mass genocide or incarceration. Radical feminism examines the ways in which the social construct of gender harms women, children and some men. It recognizes the multiple oppressions in which women live and how these multiple oppressions work together to harm women and children. A small group of people labelling themselves genderqueer will not eradicate the social construction of gender, nor will it end the construction of women as a sex class. Personally, I find the idea that a person can live out with the social constructs of our culture both naive and arrogant. Labelling oneself genderqueer won’t change the systemic oppression of women and the idea that only a special few can live outside of it is, simply, ridiculous.

The only people who can live out with the very systems within the capitalist-patriarchy are those who benefit the most from it (and make up the rules). This is rich, white men.

And, it is men who are raping, torturing and killing transpeople: not radical feminists. Although, it is telling that transactivists focus on a very small group of women with little political power than they do the men who control the very systems which harm transpeople. It is far easier to denigrate those with less political power than you than it is to actually challenge the status quo.

I’ve stopped writing about gender-criticism because I simply don’t want to have to sift through the violent threats every time I log into twitter, Facebook or my email. This is what no-platforming looks like: it’s not just Julie Bindel not being allowed to speak at conferences. It’s women having to decide every single minute what they can and can not say and choosing to say nothing so that no one will threaten to rape their children (and, yes, this is a threat lobbed at a radical feminist).

A discussion on Newsnight involving 3 transgendered people would have been an important and interesting discussion. Instead, we have seen more threats and insults. This isn’t debate. It’s just the same silencing tactics that men have used over the millennia to control women.

I wouldn’t have appeared on Newsnight to discuss gender and radical feminism because I don’t need anymore rape or death threats in my life. I suspect a whole lot of women were asked and made excuses for that same reason.

Some great blogs on the Issue:

MirandaGate Fails us All at QueenThingie

Mirandagate: why the BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ pulled trans debate at Burning From the Inside

No-platforming and Newsnight by Sarah Ditum

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