There are no acts of violence that are purely personal or isolated. As a function of oppression, violence follows a social structure and purpose. This is why I find it so upsetting when accusations of violence are dismissed or at best treated as isolated, interpersonal incidents. ... It is privilege that enables some of us to sit on the sidelines while others are the targets of violence and oppression within our communities. Refusing to involve ourselves and others in addressing violence in our communities supports the status quo. ... Before accusations of violence can even be considered as valid or not, there needs to be a means of supporting survivors to come forward and a process for the community to hold perpetrators accountable. ... Violence within activist communities needs to be seen as something that affects those communities collectively and understood in terms of the social structures under which it is perpetuated. (Read more...)
Recently, Susan Sarandon made tabloid news when it was announced for the world that the affluent, White, cissexual actress didn't think there was any problem with the term "tranny," which had been used as a pejorative on the television show Glee. It was reported that Sarandon defended the shows use of the slur in a statement denouncing the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for "getting like PETA - way out of control," when the anti-defamation organization called Glee out for the derisive use of the anti-trans epithet. (Read more...)
Lierre Keith is the author of The Vegetarian Myth, a polemic against plant-based diets, and the forthcoming Deep Green Resistance, with Aric McBay and Derrick Jensen. Last year I wrote a post "Questioning Lierre Keith's Transphobia" when asked on another blog, "Can you site anything written by Keith where she expresses views about Trans people?" Joelle Ruby Ryan came across my post in preparation for a conference where Keith was presenting. Having discovered Keith's anti-trans connections, Ryan informed the conference organizers. Here are excerpts of Keith's response to being asked about her ideologically driven hatred of trans people, as posted on Ryan's Transmeditations’s Blog: (Read more...)
In failing to approach feminism from any kind of materialist base, failing to take race, ethnicity, class into account in determining where women are at sexually, many feminists have created an analysis of sexual oppression (often confused with sexuality itself) which is a political dead-end. —Cherríe Moraga, Loving in the War Years
I'm concerned that The Scavenger, an online self-described "progressive" magazine, is uncritically promoting the 20th anniversary edition of Carol J. Adams' Sexual Politics of Meat. By promoting her book, The Scavenger is perpetuating the dominance of the anti-sex worker, anti-trans, affluent White normative feminism offered by Carol J. Adams. In this respect, there's some sort of cognitive dissonance going on here when The Scavenger promotes Adams, whose work is based almost entirely on the assumed given vilification and misrepresentations of sex workers, while publishing another article opposing the vilification of sex workers. (Read more...)
A number of ecofeminist writers have written in deeply offensive, often terribly misguided, ways about trans people and have done a lot of damage to the movement’s credibility as open, accepting, and working for the liberation of all people. Why do you think transphobia persists and continues to come up again and again in ecofeminist rhetoric and activism?
In order to understand why transphobia and cissexism persist and are continually perpetuated throughout feminist communities, particularly the vegetarian-ecofeminist community, it is important to consider the origins of anti-trans advocacy as a conscious project of prominent, elite White feminists in the 1970s. In the late sixties and early seventies, trans people were very active in the women's and queer liberation movements. The Compton's Cafeteria and Stonewall rebellions of the sixties are evidence of that, as are women like Beth Elliott of the Daughters of Bilitis, Sandy Stone of Olivia Records, and Stonewall veteran Silvia Rivera who was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activist Alliance. (Read more...)
Jenna directed me to an important post by Johanna at Vegans of Color reminding us: "Don't Use Classism and Anti-Sex Worker Rhetoric to Protest Fur." Johanna's post provides a needed look at the anti-homeless and anti-sex worker rhetoric of a few nonhuman animal advocates.
In a post titled "Fur is for Beautiful Animals and Scary Hookers," "Vegan Shoe Lady" proudly quotes PETA's Ingrid Newkirk as saying, "Fur has lost all its cachet. It's yesterday. I see prostitutes in Atlantic City wearing fur." Shoe Lady goes on to suggest that nonhuman animal advocates refer to women wearing fur by saying, "She's probably a hooker. Tacky coat, lower-class manners – no one respectable presents themselves that way." (Read more...)
Right after I drafted my response to the attack on transsexual men in pattrice jones' Aftershock, I came across a blog post perpetuating the same vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexism and transphobia.
Lagusta Yearwood posted about the boycott of Feministing, expressing doubt about the site's transphobia:
Claims of extreme transphobia and hostility toward trans women on the site: I can't claim to have read all of the long long long threads that the pages I've seen link to (and if you have specific examples of the perceived horrible treatment of trans women on the site, I'd like to see them), but man oh man! Trans issues are complex for a lot of cisgender people, myself included, and I appreciate Feministing's attempt to work through the more nuanced and complicated aspects in an inclusive way. Also, it seems that most of the problems people are having take place in the comments, and it seems ridiculous to blame the site for that.
Yearwood's doubts cannot be assessed without considering the cissexism and transphobia of fundamentalist "radical feminists" (radfems) in propagating a discourse that perpetuates anti-transsexual repression/oppression. This includes Yearwood's own active participation in perpetuating this hateful discourse about our bodies and lives. (Read more...)
Following up on how cissexuals dominate and exploit transsexuals' bodies and lives, in her book Aftershock, pattrice jones furthers the vegetarian-ecofeminist cissexist and tranphobic attacks by claiming, "Nowadays, more and more young women – having learned what happens to young girls in today's world – are literally turning themselves into men to protect themselves from violence." Following up in the notes section of her book, jones goes on to say, "Once very rare, female-to-male sex changes have become so common that there's a slang term for those who have gone through the process: FTM."
Yes, violence against women exists and is a persistent problem in our society. But transsexual men do not get sex changes to avoid violence against women any more than trans women transition so that we can experience violence against women. What's disturbing is that in a book that purports to be "Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for Activists and Their Allies," jones is in fact perpetuating the cissexism and transphobia that is a significant source of trauma in the lives of many transsexuals. (Read more...)
Cissexuals often opine about what they believe is the reason why transsexuals seek trans-related health care, such as hormones and surgery. This includes speculating about what are the social, political and/or cultural ramifications of our accessing this care. Too often our bodies and lives are seen as a threat to preconceived, cissexual assumptions about the world. As such, cissexism predominates these presumptions about us, and is backed up by a pervasive transphobic system of discrimination, exclusion and violence that oppresses us as a group of people.
In a way, our transsexuals bodies and lives are like contested "colonies." I'm not saying transsexuals bodies and lives are actual colonies – because they're not – but the domination and exploitation of our bodies and lives follows the logic of colonization. That is, external forces are vying for the full or partial political control over our bodies and lives. These "colonizers" include academics, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, feminists, queer theorists, theologians, politicians, pundits and even our own lovers, families and friends, and complete strangers who are constantly applying abstract theory onto our bodies and lives. In effect, these "colonizers" dominate and exploit us, the indigenous group, by seizing our bodies and lives to further theories and political agendas that don't actually account for our lived reality, and yet further our oppression as a group. (Read more...)
I highly recommend watching Scott Hamilton Kennedy's documentary The Garden. This film brilliantly illustrates the following concrete realities as they are experienced by oppressed communities within the United States:
- It shows how the existing power structure is poorly suited to serving the interests of oppressed peoples.
- It shows how the existing power structure works extremely well at serving the interests of the owning-class.
- It shows how the existing power structure is bolstered throughout by White supremacy. (Read more...)