I've long considered myself to be a feminist, even before I realized I was trans. It's always seemed like basic common sense to me that people shouldn't be defined by the contents of their genitalia but by the quality of their character. Regardless of where you stand on rape culture or abortion or Hillary goddamn Clinton, that's really what it all comes down to. That and realizing the basic fact that our society treats women and anyone perceived as feminine like second class citizens at best. If you ask most people, left, right, or center, on these basic realities of American life, they'll generally (if begrudgingly) agree with you. Then why is feminism still such a controversial subject? Try casually mentioning it on almost any given message board and count the seconds before a dozen trolls threaten to rape and gut you and leave you for dead by the highway. Seriously, fucking try it. I have. The very word feminism seems to bring the worst out of people online.
And the tough medicine is that this happens on both ends of the spectrum. The lion share of people actually willing to declare themselves feminists online seem more concerned with self-righteous virtue signaling than equality. Even with all their bluster, most cyber-feminists seem to work very hard to mirror the vitriolic hate-fuckery of the weirdly rape obsessed sexist troglodytes of the "Men's Movement". The only thing rarer than an open feminist in my lefty-libertarian neck of the web seems to be an open feminist who doesn't feel entitled to instruct other people on how to live their lives, like some role-crazy guidance counselor with a yard stick up their ass. I'm sure a lot of this ugliness is just the action-reaction-action of two camps of morons feeding off the fumes of one another's farts but in spite of what my birth certificate says, I am not a man. I am a feminist. So I can only do my best to answer for the foibles of my own movement. I can only ask, what happened to us? How did we get from basic bare bones human equality to this shit show of cunt on cunt cyber violence? Why do all feminists get treated like shit? And, perhaps more important, why do so many feminists treat anyone who disagrees with them like shit? We can't blame it all on men.
In my view, a lot of this trouble seems to go back to Second Wave Feminism. The First Wave of Feminism was as radical as it was diverse. The movement was multiracial, largely middle class, and included everything from conservative pro-life Quakers to free loving individualist anarchists. They all came together against the common foe of patriarchy, supporting equal parenting and property rights and, above all else, suffrage. Most of them were also veteran abolitionists and played major roles in nearly every revolutionary movement of the 19th and early 20th century.
The Second Wave of the 60's and 70's on the other hand was largely the product of upper middle class white intellectuals and their stance largely reflected this status. While First Gens like Lucy Parsons and Susan B. Anthony were intersectional revolutionaries, Second Gen leaders like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem were exclusive counter-revolutionary liberals who chose to gouge holes in the New Left rather than enlightening it through collaboration. Under the tutelage of such gadflies, the pinnacle of feminine excellency became the high-rise status symbol of the bourgeois office job. These capitalist assimilationists believed that they and their new class of enlightened women alone had the divine right to define what constitutes a feminist and femininity itself.
The number one targets of this polluted class of feminist usurpers wasn't men but the women and femmes who refused to fall in line. In their twisted version of the movement the world comprised of three groups; victims, feminists, and predators. If you were a trans person like myself then you were some kind of chauvinistic predator bent on appropriating the very gender you risked getting your ass kicked every day to perform. If you were a sex worker then you were an infantilized victim of rape culture in desperate need of being saved from yourself by some stuck up bitch who never had to work hard a day of their life for true economic independence. If you were a sadomasochist then you were either a rapist or a rapee rather than a sexual maverick testing the boundaries of consensual adult behavior. They had us all figured out. They were just so goddamn smart.
Sex-Positive Feminists and their idiosyncratic progeny in the Third Wave of Feminism that I grew up in fought hard to correct these wrongs. Born out of the basement revolutions of punk rock culture, fist swinging bitches like Kathy Acker, Gayle Rubin, Courtney Love, Camille Paglia, Leslie Feinberg, Wendy McElroy and Lisa Crystal Carver sought to celebrate the true diversity of the feminine experience rather than policing it. Instead of pushing to ban pornography, they made their own. Instead of looking down their tits at those who chose to lead different, less feminist, lives, they reached across aisles to build networks of solidarity on issues as diverse as polygamy, gun rights, and Palestinian self-determination. Trans and non-binary people were embraced as sisters in the struggle. And their was a veritable explosion of tribal diversity as truly empowered women embraced their places as anarchists, witches, doms, libertarians, communists, and satanists, making these movements stronger with their inclusion rather than weakening them with withering one-sided polemics.
We now stand at a cross-roads. The Fourth Wave of Feminism is still in its infancy and struggling to define itself. There are both good signs and bad. On the one hand, the feminist movement is more inclusive than its ever been. Most of the fag-bashers and perv-shamers have either learned the error of their ways or been roundly discredited for the shallow bigots they are. On the other hand, much like the queer movement, their is a powerful push, especially online, to assimilate feminism into the status quo and use the very real problem of institutional sexism to justify its very existence.
The state seems to have come to the conclusion that if they can't keep us down, they'll keep us busy splitting hairs with trolls in the culture wars so we don't have time to recognize the class roots of all forms of oppression, playing one side of poor people off another. The Second Wave Feminists may be an aberration of the cause but they remain a formidable presence that must be addressed. While they have largely traded in their transphobia and slut-shaming, they continue to get their elitism on by belittling softer targets like stay-at-home-moms and hijab clad teenagers. Taking part in any revolutionary movement can be a bit like being a gardener tending to a delicate crop. As a truly radical feminist I have decided that the only way to save this garden is to combat the bourgeois weeds that are strangling my movement. The only bigger threat to feminism than chauvinism is chauvinistic feminism. Let's take back the flowers and rip these un-dearest motherfuckers out by the roots. Women's rights are too vital to be left in the hands of the state.
Peace, Love, & Empathy- CH
Soundtrack; songs that influenced this post
* Pristine by Snail Mail
* I Blame Myself by Sky Ferreira
* Asking For It by Hole
* I Don't Care by Black Flag
* Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney
* And the Same by Fugazi
* Rape Me by Nirvana
* Army of Me by Bjork
* Suggestion by Fugazi
* Criminal by Fiona Apple