Aside

Women are stronger with women

So I’m of the radical mind that any woman can be a lesbian. Any woman can leave men, do The Work, and be with women.

Women are born and raised in a patriarchy. One of the key tenets of patriarchy is compulsory heterosexuality. This manifests in a number of ways and varies by place and time but it always means women are taught to fuck men, cater to men, birth males, and see women and femaleness as less, as Other. Compulsory heterosexuality means women are not allowed to be lesbians. Men make sure lesbians are derided and degraded in media, that lesbophobic slurs are commonplace, that lesbians never see themselves represented anywhere, and that women are punished for loving women too much. It’s not subtle. Iterations of lesbians in all media are raped by men or die—or are not lesbians at all because their male creator had them fuck men. Little girls are called dykes for holding their friends’ hands in grade school. Most girls these days are first exposed to lesbians through porn, which is made by and for men. (This first exposure is changing and we do have more positive, strong lesbian women to look up to than we ever had before.)

And that’s just the pressure to NOT be a lesbian. The pressure to fuck men is just as powerful. The two feed off each other, they work in layers, they are employed based on the need at the time. Are women deciding not to marry men? Make it so women can’t afford to live alone. Are women deciding to live with other women? Destroy and demean female friendships. Are women lesbians? Remind them that their bodies belong to men, that they are performing for the male gaze, that men can decide to be them just to get to fuck them.

Girls are raised to hate other girls, and they grow up to hate women. We are rewarded for it. We are always encouraged to tear other women down. And there men are, eternally praised and promoted as the proper (only) choice, the hero, the inevitable result of being a woman. Patriarchy, MEN, derail young women from lesbianism by child sexual assault and rape. CSA grooms women for a lifetime of heterosexual abuse. This can become a cycle that destroys countless women.

My question is, is it any wonder there are not more lesbians?

The Born This Way narrative is politically expedient. “Don’t discriminate against us, we can’t help how we were born.” It appeals to the religious narrative: God made us this way. It makes sense to a lot of women. Many, if not most lesbians knew they were gay from a very young age. Was it before compulsory heterosexuality ‘got’ to them? Not in all cases certainly. But I think that might be part of it. When you are able to know yourself before someone else tells you who you are, you are more likely to fight back, to not believe the lies.

Women who were always lesbians are still submitted to compulsory heterosexuality. Harassment, abuse, heterosexism, corrective rape, are all ways of keeping lesbians in line, to remind them who they are there for: men. Lesbians are the punching bag for patriarchy because they are the furthest removed from men.

Later in life lesbians and political lesbians did not escape compulsory heterosexuality. They frequently had relationships with men before coming out. They bring with them huge amounts of male-identification, internalized misogyny, the poison of lesbophobia and homophobia. It takes huge amounts of self-awareness and self-love to move beyond seeing yourself as an object to be fucked to a subject with genuine emotion and love. (This isn’t to say always-lesbians don’t deal with self-hatred; they absolutely do, and it’s encouraged by patriarchy for all women, especially lesbians, to hate themselves). One thing that always struck me when I was with men was how much I felt like an actor. My words, my movements were not my own. I was presenting a preconceived notion of woman (read: straight woman) for the male gaze. I wasn’t ME—I was what I knew they thought I was. I learned this ideal from movies and porn and real life straight relationships. I had no lesbian role models that weren’t torn apart by men in order to keep me from straying from my ‘path’. When I found radical feminism, suddenly my words were my own. I was speaking with power and assurance. I knew what I was saying was my truth. And contrary to the idea of Born This Way that I’d grown up with, I saw that many radical feminists chose to devote their energy and words and love to women. And frequently, they fell in love with these women. It seems, to me anyway, to be such a natural progression of love. You’re with men, and in quiet and loud ways they hate you. You often hate yourself. You radicalize and find love. You learn to love yourself. You speak with love and love women. Then you Love Women. It is sexual, though not in the patriarchy prescribes sexuality. I think this is the key reasons some lesbians don’t approve of or believe in political lesbianism. Because male sexuality, which informs all female sexuality but most especially the sexuality of women who have sex with men, is toxic, parasitic, violent, and draining. I’ve said before that part of the reason it took me so long to figure out I’m a lesbian was because I didn’t want to do with women what men had done to me. That was my idea of sexuality. It wasn’t something I would inflict on someone I loved. It was something DONE TO me, not mutually shared. Patriarchy and men almost destroyed my ability to love women. And that was ON PURPOSE. And they succeed so frequently.

I believe that most women don’t actually want to be with men, and their “attraction” is nothing more than brainwashing and patriarchal grooming. Why else would patriarchy have to work so hard to keep women with men? If it’s so natural, why not let it progress naturally instead of forcing it upon us and removing all access to agency and choice? Women are tortured by the way they’ve been trained to react to men. I’ve had heartbreaking conversations with women who would do anything to undo what compulsory heterosexuality did to their brains and bodies from before they could speak. But the brain is incredibly resilient and plastic; heterosexuality can be unlearned with the rejection and removal of men.

I think the misconceptions around political lesbianism is a problem with language. As radical feminists, we cannot have the same idea of sexuality as the patriarchy does. We cannot demand that lesbians have sex—that is up to the lesbians. We are not men. We must be honest and real with each other. If you’ve been with men, you know they damage you. Having sex with men and being exposed to male-centric porn and media makes you feel like you can’t have sex with a woman without objectifying her, without hurting her as you’ve been hurt. This takes time to work through, maybe all the time in the world. But a woman who loves women, who only wants to be with women, and who is attracted to women, with whatever baggage she brings, is a lesbian. It’s not political celibacy—that’s called spinsterhood and it’s admirable as fuck but different. It’s not that I’m trying to mince words. I take umbrage with phrasing like ‘lesbians want to fuck women’ and ‘lesbians want to have sex with women’ because they are both so stained by maleness and PIV-centrism. It’s almost certainly because I was stained by maleness that I struggle with the patriarchal lexicon, and that’s my issue and the issue of all women who have been exposed to toxic male sexuality and their control of language.

It’s interesting that when this conversation first started happening in the seventies, it was lesbians telling straight women to ditch men and discover women, and straight women saying they love the cock and the privileges and they’re just fine thanks ever so. It’s changed now, and I do understand why. But the women looking to political lesbianism aren’t het women who’ll go back to men. They are radical feminist women who eschew men and value women, and that’s an important distinction. Every woman can be a lesbian. Not every woman should be. Some women will hurt lesbians and destroy them with their male identification–they should not be lesbians until they do The Work. But no woman is born straight. Women are groomed, and in that process there is real harm.

For me, political lesbianism was a stepping stone. It made me realize that just because I’d been fucked and raped by men didn’t mean that was my entire story. Since I (thought I) was bi, I think the transition was easier because I already had that attraction, as tainted by patriarchy as it felt at times. I stopped being with men and in fact moved toward separatism. Once I was free from those tendrils of men, once their vampiric access to my body and selfhood was revoked, I woke up. Everything changed for me. In some ways political lesbianism is coming to your true sexuality through radical female-centric politics. Loving women IS political. It is personal of course, but the personal is political. We do not exist outside patriarchy, not even separatists. It is simply the realization that you don’t have to be with men and that relationships with women can be mutual, healing, loving, and sexual. It’s the realization that you were lied to, with all the power behind patriarchy, about men, about women, and about yourself.

Sometimes I think we should retire the term altogether, but that might be because I just don’t need it anymore, and that’s incredibly selfish. Regardless of how you come to love women, of how long it takes or what your journey looks like, if you exclusively love women in every female sense of the word ‘love’ then you are a lesbian.

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Fiction – Untitled

As I crossed in front of the crew’s quarters on my way back to my private station, a door glided open and Jes stepped out. She stopped as soon as she saw me.

            “Second,” I said in acknowledgement, nodding at her.

            “Hurly,” she replied, using my last name rather than my title of Captain. I didn’t mind her informality—I’d long resented the hierarchal structure of the space fleets—but it wasn’t like Jes to forgo what she saw as earned respect.

            “How’s the shoulder?” Though I had work to do, something besides the ship’s gravity simulator held me to the spot.

            She rolled it, wincing. “Tight but healing.” She seemed to waver but held eye contact in a way that I recognized as being pure Jes. “Can we talk?”

            “Of course.”

            “Um, crew’s quarters are a little cramped right now…”

            I realized at once this was to be a Serious Talk, requiring privacy and a delicacy of which I might not be capable, especially after learning what I had from Lead Commander Wren. Despite that, I had to give Jes my best attention. She’d saved my life on more than one occasion and would no doubt have opportunity to do so again.

            “Come with me to my quarters. I wanted to check to see if the specs for circling were in yet.”

            Jes’ face concealed her surprise, but having shared a tight living space with her for several years, I saw through it. I’d never invited anyone back to my quarters, the one luxury I maintained as Captain. Few others had their own living space. The doctor, the engineers simply because that level had the space, and a makeshift cabin for gunnery lead Kurinne because her post-traumatic stress after the near-miss take-off from Everine kept her from sleeping most nights.

            We took the stairs, both preferring the busyness of walking. Usually Jes’ opinions took up the space between us, and the contrast made her silence all the more disconcerting. At the top of the second riser I made the sharp left to my cabin and waited for the door to recognize me. It opened, shuddering a little—I kept forgetting to have an engineer take a look at it.

            “Come in,” I said over my shoulder as I walked through the doorway and waved on the info board above my desk. The specs had yet to arrive. My stomach eased.

            “Anik, Captain’s door is acting up again. No rush, sometime after mess should be fine, I know you’re working on the grav.” Jes waved off her tablet and slid it into her chest plate, her smile sheepish.

            “You do take care of me.” I returned her smile, thinking not for the first time how lost I’d be without her. Probably literally, considering her internal navigation was superior to my own in every way. ‘Earth-bound’, she liked to tease me.

            “I’m glad to help. Wouldn’t want you getting stuck in here.”

            “Ah, but then you’d be First. Not a promotion you’re after?”

            She should have known I was teasing; I’d never once suspected she’d step over me. But she shook her head, solemn. “I don’t want your job. It’s yours because you’re the only one who can do it.”

            “Is everything okay?” I asked, needing to know what was behind her furrowed brow and never one to wait patiently for exposition.

            “Yeah, of course.” In one smooth movement she pulled back her shoulders and widened her stance, like a cat puffing up to appear bigger. On a subconscious level it worked and some of my concern alleviated, but at the forefront of my mind I recognized it was a ploy, self-defence.

            She continued, “Just, gets overwhelming sometimes. Floating in the nothing, touching down only once every few months, knocking out Searchers and never hearing anything.” She slumped, her collarbones becoming prominent with her shoulders falling forward. I forced myself back into her words, my eyes on hers.

            “It’s the mission,” I said, voice soft, easing the cat’s fur back. You don’t have to be so big with me, I wanted to say but didn’t.

            “It’s more than that—” She cut herself off, maybe as surprised as I was by her abrupt tone. “Sorry, Captain.” She moved past me, standing in front of my cabin door with her back to me. Etiquette dictated that I stand beside her to let her out, since the door wouldn’t recognize or obey her. I decided to be rude, but watched carefully for signs that she really did want out and away from me. It was almost painful to follow my instincts because being wrong could hurt our friendship, something I care about more than even the mission.

            I put my hand on her shoulder. “Jes—”

            She turned hard on her heel to face me. Her hand came up to knock mine off but it seemed accidental, it was simply in the way, because now both her hands were on my shoulders, and she stood a mere half-metre from my face. The few centimetres of height she had on me disappeared with proximity. I was looking at her collarbones again, the dips in her brown skin, her skeleton seeming barely contained.

            I knew what was happening but I couldn’t move. I was her captain, there was an imbalance of power. Even if I were sure, I couldn’t trust myself, couldn’t forgive myself if she wasn’t sure. But when she pulled her hands back, I missed the warmth, and my body was moving without express permission. I grabbed her hands, replaced them, held them.

            Then she kissed me. With our bulky suits and mass of hands between us, my mouth felt everything, undistracted. There was the waxy slide of the honey balm we used to defend against the arid manufactured air. Her mouth opened and she breathed, and though it had occurred to me before that we’d shared a million common breaths on this ship, never had I tasted her like this. My grip on her hands tightened—how long could I hold her against me, how much of herself could she share?

            Why now, when the truth of our mission had been revealed to me, and I could never tell her?

            

Freewriting

Sorry for the wall of text but I wasn’t allowed to edit. This is an assignment my therapist gave me.

How to fix the world by writing without stopping. It seems easiest to start at the smallest thing and work my way up to the biggest thing, but how to define things? Creatures, yes, insects are very small, and bacteria are alive, and what about atoms, are they things or do they live? What does being alive mean in this context? I don’t really know but what I do know is that every thing, living or not living or in some liminal space of moving but not growing (is to grow to be alive?) lost my train of thought here hmmm okay starting over with the smallest thing that I can think of how to fix, bugs. Bugs are having a really rough go of it. There are 200 species on our planet going extinct EVERY day, that is 1000x the natural rate of extinction. Most of these species are bugs and that’s why most people don’t care. People think that bugs are pests, we kill them all the time, but every insect is here for a very specific purpose, and even if that purpose is simply food for the next biggest on the scale, that is a very noble cause indeed. Bees are the most important insect, arguably, because without them, we would have very little agriculture in five years. In fact, Einstein, who stole many of his ideas from his first wife and never credited them, said that without bees, men would disappear from the planet in four years. I’m sure by men he meant humans, but at that time women were not considered human but Other, and we didn’t really count. Interesting here that the current epoch we are living in is the anthropocene, Time of Man, which I think is very appropriate, especially since most experts consider this time to be almost over. Now, most men would tell you this means the extinction of Man which is, again, a stand-in for Human, but I disagree, of course. I think we are heading into the gynopocene. Time of Woman. This was a digression but an important one. You’ll have capitalists say, fuck the bees, we’ll just make poor people pollinate by hand, isn’t that lovely, JOBS! Steven Harper would be delighted. Then you’ll have futurists say, too bad about the bees but we’ll just make robot bees! Isn’t the future wonderful? Let’s all go to south Africa and dig twenty miles down into their land for the resources we need to create these robotic wonders, we’ll barf out our pollution there and it’ll be like it never happened! Never once thinking that ANY pollution ANYWHERE on the planet affects our GLOBAL climate. Anyway. Women, that is to say females, being the only true creators on the planet (I don’t mean inventing, or building, or engineering, but creating, growing), will say Save The Bees. And since women don’t have any money or land or power in a true global sense, everyone, even other women will say, what a stupid idea, it must be stupid since a woman thought it. So in conclusion, I didn’t get to talk about the things I meant to starting out, like the ocean or the Earth itself as a living organism on which we live the same way microbes live under our eyelids and feed on our dead eye guts, which is a lovely example of parasitic symbiosis, but unfortunately with men in charge and their hunger for power and money money money, resources, always extracting, taking, forgot about the SYMBIOSIS part of that exchange and have been simply acting as a cancer upon on our Earth since the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry, which was the first time a man realized that HIS sperm in a woman helped create a human child, after which he decided this meant that he OWNED that woman AND that child, stamped them both his His Name and women have suffered ever since. Women, on the other hand, despite internalized misogyny and patriarchal brainwashing, understand that life is about give and take, but instead of every human doing both, we have become accustomed to one sex doing the giving, and one always the taking. So what does that mean? It means that if women stopped the population boom and refused PIV sex that the planet would be man-free in a hundred years and we’d finally have the time and energy to deal with our own trauma and the trauma of our distraught and destroyed planet. During that time women scientists will find the solution to living forever (reprogramming planned cell death or altering our telomeres so they don’t shrink with every reproduction, it doesn’t matter how all that matters is that we do it without profit in mind and then give it to everybody who wants it regardless of race or class, and even men can have it but only if they promise never to make another child, and if they want to have children then they can’t have it). We have to address the massive extinction level event problems NOW or we will suffer terribly. The solution is to put women in charge, everywhere, all over the globe. We need the bees for food, yes, but we could learn a lot from the way they construct their societies as well. 

Aside

Part of my feminism is helping women discover their love for women. In the conversations I have with ‘het’ women in person and online, it’s easy to see that many women are only with men because it’s what they know, what they were taught, what’s expected of them. Many women, having been hurt and abused and gaslighted all through their relationships with men, don’t actually like men very much, for good reason. I talk about my own experiences: being molested at a young age, getting into relationships with men to help me escape other men, taking in all that male-identification and misogyny, despite considering myself a feminist. Had I been born a lesbian, my molester wouldn’t have cared, the same cycle of events would have been set in motion. As it is, I’ll never know what I was born as, because my reality was erased and derailed from the time I was born onward, and that ONLY stopped when I turned away from all men altogether.

I hate that lesbians have left radical feminism because of political lesbianism. We can’t afford to lose a single woman’s voice. I do fear the misrepresentation of PL on tumblr (the idea that it is a ‘new fad’ is insulting and misinformed). Second wave lesbians spearheaded the idea that all women could choose to reject men and be with women (intimately, sexually, whatever was ‘right on’ for the individual lesbians involved). That no woman is born straight. I don’t really question the idea that born lesbians are just that. That isn’t my experience but I see it enough. But I don’t think that because some women are lesbian from word go, that means some het women are born het. Lesbianism is MORE than just hetereosexuality but with women. They are not comparable, especially under a political lens. Heterosexuality is a political institution that benefits men. Women need to recover from it. 

I do understand the sort of knee-jerk of “once bi always bi” or whatever, but I think it’s really gross. Women are not tainted by men, they are exploited. Women who choose PL are radical women, women other lesbians should be able to trust. Lesbians should trust political lesbians to: not derail conversations about born this way or lifelong lesbian issues; not fetishize gold star experiences; listen to lesbians’ concerns about PL as a political ideology; give lesbians safe spaces; be respectful in shared spaces. 

Should the label be dropped altogether? A political lesbian is someone who comes to lesbianism through political radicalization. She wants to be with women, exclusively, intimately. The self-descriptor allows her to express both her history pre-radicalization and her promise to women not to repeat it. 

Like I said above, my feminism means reaching out to women and letting them know they aren’t alone, yes men really are that terrible, and yes you can be happy with women if that’s what you want, as long as you are honest and real. I was lucky to have a total stranger care enough about me to point me in the right direction and save my life. Gradually I understood I was a lesbian and would always have been had it not been for men. 

I did experience privilege as a perceived het woman (I was married to a man). I was never harassed for my sexuality (unless people knew I was ‘bi’), I was a social default and received benefit from that. Heterosexuality itself is not a safe place for women, though.  I was also raped and abused within straight relationships, a cycle that kept me from women for much of my life. Women don’t belong with or to men, none of us—our place is side by side with women in revolution. 

I believe all women are derailed by men and by the socialization we receive as females. We are the babymakers, the caretakers, the vessels. Not all women withstand the pressure. If, as a PL, you deny all privilege granted someone perceived as the default approved sexuality, you are doing a shitty thing. But this isn’t opting into oppression. It’s opting out of heterosexuality and discovering you have something to offer women, and being prepared for the backlash from society that any ‘rebellious’ woman faces. And maybe there are women who aren’t ready for the double dose of misogyny and lesbophobia, but radicalized women don’t go back to men and it’s beyond cruel to dismiss women in this way. There is abuse of PL, apparently—women who claim the title while still fucking men or planning to. These women are not lesbians and they are doing significant damage to radical feminism, mainly in the form of causing other lesbians to abandon the movement. So stop doing that.

My lesbianism is political, it is personal, and yes I do want to recruit. 

 

 

Radfem Rise Up 2013

Radfem Rise Up! was one of the best and most important experiences of my life.

 

It was a healing space. There was intimate bonding over shared experiences. There was horror at hearing abuses done to women by men. There was fury and indignation. There was fear. There was strategy and planning. There was cheering and deep laughter and sobs as well. When I got home, I felt bereft. Something had been taken from me: women who understood. That we are so few and so far is hard to bear. But I’ve forged friendships that I know will survive distance and time. And I have ideas, plans, and a strength derived from the power of my sisters’ voices.

But it was not all good.

As many readers undoubtedly heard, our venue cancelled at the last minute. As soon as I walked in the door, I was told what happened. As was reported to us, the venue organizers no longer felt safe hosting us. They were flooded with demands to stop fewer than fifty women from gathering. My heart sank. I thought, can we have nothing? How can we organize based on oppression when there are forces at work to deny it even exists?

How devastating for the detransitioned/ing womyn at our conference to hear she did not exist, to hear from outsiders that we hated her. Our heartfelt and agonizing conversations with her proved to her otherwise, but outside, she had been silenced.

How alienating for the exited prostituted women among us to hear we did not exist, that we were hated and desired dead? Yet the support and sisterhood proved otherwise, but outside, we were silenced.

How arrogant to tell the WOC at our conference that ours is a racist movement. There is no denying the colonization of all our minds and indeed this is something we have to be aware of in moving forward. Any movement that does not admit this is lying. Yet, the women who came to have voices were, from the outside, silenced.

How dismissive to the straight, bi, and lesbian among us to say any of us did not belong or were hated? I would say, of course, that hearing from WOC and lesbians within the radical feminist movement is not only desired absolutely necessary for success, and this was something that must be addressed in the future. Not all primary emergencies were addressed and that is a problem. Yet this is something I feel we can learn from in future. And this is something I can SAY to my sisters. No silencing, except from the outside.

Not only was the venue pressured to cancel, our secondary venue, which was our private residence where many of us including myself and including many vulnerable women and an infant were housed overnight, was infiltrated. Someone paid money to enter our space, they sat and listened to our private sharing, they even contributed and were summarily set right in an incorrect assumption. Then they left and gave our address to a group of people who protested in a children’s park only 200 metres from our location. We were stationed at windows for safety. We were wary, on edge, and unable to set our focus on liberation. This was intentional. These are male and male-identified tactics to hurt women and disrupt our course. But we were not deterred, only made more resolute to continue our work for womyn.

Ask, who benefits from the dissolution and indeed illegalization of female-only space? Who loses? Are trans people or pro-prostitution advocates moving toward the destruction of patriarchy by disallowing us to meet, to organize and strategize? Under patriarchy, we must ALWAYS be asking, who benefits and who loses?

Of course males benefit from banning women gathering. Of course men benefit from women feeling afraid, unsafe, violated, and divided.

Men are benefitting from the labelling of radical feminists as transphobic, racist, anti-prostituted women, etc. Men are benefitting from the belittling of radical feminism. From the portrayal of us as outliers or ‘crazy’. The fewer radical women with class analyses at our fingertips, the freer they are to rape us, abuse and kill us, gaslight us, and keep us apart. Any successful movement demands at the very least the ability of the oppressed people to gather. Any person who works against this is working against womyn’s liberation.

 

And who suffers? Why, it’s women of course. It always is.

 

Aside

Of course trans women aren’t women. You can’t

Of course trans women aren’t women. You can’t ‘trans’ sex. You can’t change sex. You can be in between sexes or have indeterminate sex, we all know this, but this isn’t about intersex people but people who choose to claim a sex other than their own. But no, males who perform the gender roles normally assigned/attributed to/forced on women aren’t becoming women. Males medically and surgically altering their bodies to APPEAR more female does not and will never make them female. Femalehood consists of more than the appearance of being female. Males cannot be lesbians because a lesbian is a female attracted to females. Males performing their version of ‘woman’ are not lesbians, they are men who fetishize lesbians and lie to women (and themselves). Body dysmorphic disorder and dysphoria are mental conditions to be treated, not physical symptoms of an adaptable reality. I get it—I wouldn’t want to be a man, either. Gender is rough for both sexes, except it’s only one gender’s fault so not a lot of sympathy to be had there (patriarchy consists of males, remember—all of them). I understand that trans people face male violence and other societal discrimination and abuse. Performing femininity is ALWAYS dangerous, or did you never ask a woman about that? Being a woman, being perceived as a woman, or being a male who doesn’t quite pull off ‘woman’ is incredibly dangerous. Lesbian/radical feminists are very aware of this and are fighting tooth and vag to end gendered violence and the abhorrence of femininity and femaleness.

It’s funny because lesbian/radical feminists constantly get told we are essentialists. What’s more essential, the idea that femaleness is hugely complicated and consists of chromosomal, biological, physiological  cultural, and personal ramifications, or that being a woman is what you wear and how you feel in your individual head? Btw no one’s ever answered what a woman feels like without resorting to stereotyping.

I’m a woman, that is, an adult human female. I’ve made an informed and conscious choice to not be around men for a number of valid reasons, none of which should be necessary to mention as “I don’t want to be around men/penises/people who think they are men/masculinity etc” is sufficient. Just because I’m female I’m taught to be defensive, explain my reasoning, and be persuaded of my wrongness. I’m not wrong. Men are dangerous, men who believe they are female (more female than females even) are dangerous, and males have no place in feminism, which is for liberation FROM males.

Here’s what I don’t understand. I don’t perform the feminine gender in totality. My head hair is short, body hair unrestrained, I don’t wear make-up or other traditionally feminine accoutrements because I don’t want to. I used to, though. I still wear “women’s” clothes (you know, the shit without proper pockets and buttons that never do up high enough and sizes that never align with reality) because “men’s clothes” fit even worse and also I happen to like colours other than blue, black, and grey. Anything you wear or any way you physically alter your appearance is related to gender—which is what transgender folk are actually trans-ing. Why not eliminate the idea that there is a proper way to be a man or woman, and it mostly depends on how you look? Why maintain that gender, delineated into a strict hierarchy with femininity on the bottom and masculinity as the ultimate, is right and good? Why not just wear whatever the fuck you want, as I will continue to do and encourage other women to do, and be done with it? Trans your clothes and hair all you want, but recognize sex is immutable. 

There is nothing a male can do to become female. I’m sorry the capitalist patriarchal medical establishment deceived you into thinking otherwise, but there is no such thing as a sex CHANGE. Sex is more than vagina (and SO much more than neo-vag, and conflating an intricate organ system with a hole for cock is so misogynistic I could puke) and sex is more than  affectation and attire. Women are more than transwomen give us credit for, and now they’re pissed we’re calling them out for their bullshit, all because they are males who will never reach the depths of our reality. I keep hearing, let us in, let us in! Let us consume you, subsume you, let us among and into you, let us recreate you, let us do you better than you can, we are the same. But women know better, we’ve earned our spaces, our labels, and the sanctity of our sex to not be warped into meaninglessness. 

I keep hearing that lesbians are terrible allies because we don’t acquiesce to males demanding access. I think transwomen are the worst allies I’ve ever fucking heard of, to women and lesbians. It’s become sickeningly obvious that the only valuable lesbians to transwomen are the ones who submit to the gaslighting, silencing, and manipulation—by saying, it’s okay, I’m one of the good lesbians, I’ll fuck your dick! Doesn’t this remind anyone of men who accuse feminists of being unfuckable dyke monsters? Then you get the libfems/bihets saying, it’s okay, I’m one of the good feminists, I still fuck dick! I’m not blaming women for this. I’m only too familiar with how relentless and abusive this shit can be, as well as how tempting it can be to just accept it. Women, I beg you, don’t accept it. Be kind to human beings who need it and respectful to all who haven’t disrespected you, but don’t dissolve your boundaries on the word of someone you’ve no reason to trust. Don’t take a be-dicked person’s word that they know woman as well as you know woman. They never will, and they know this so instead, and pay attention, they are changing the definitions and requirements for woman, female, and lesbian to suit them and push us out. Steady your stance and brace yourselves. 

Women’s attention is not men’s due

Men get really upset when you say you don’t care about them. This is evident both in the minutia of women’s everyday lives, where women who leave or attempt to leave their abusers are murdered or have extreme and often sexualized violence acted against them, and also in the grander scheme, where males have infiltrated every last vestige of women’s space and peace of mind. Men, for many reasons but not many of them legitimate, have grown up thinking they are entitled to the care, interest, and attention of women in their lives and indeed total strangers. We are born into a state of Men=Owed, Women=Giving. Men have also learned they are not responsible for returning that care, and in fact that women are not complete or interesting or worthy enough to even warrant the consideration of reciprocation. What I’m saying is it literally does not occur to men that we owe them NOTHING and are not in a default state of vomiting permissiveness.

So when women tell men they are not welcome, they get angry. They make accusations. They very frequently try to get the upper hand, appealing to the women’s sometimes battered sense of self, a shaky foundation from which to demand respect, especially from men. Men act like respect is a reward they bestow upon women for meeting their immediate criteria. All men have different criteria. That’s why one man calls you a whore but the other has no problem letting you suck his cock. You might have noticed these men are often one and the same, depending on what ‘you did’ to deserve his ire or his ‘respect’ (i.e. what you are good for to him, which is your only value).

Men are not welcome in my feminism, and I have a lot of good reasons why. It’s important to remember that most men make women uncomfortable. Their demand of focus and energy, their inappropriate comments or eye contact, boundary disrespect, their zero sum games (‘equality for all or no one’ is one I hear a lot, even though right now we unarguably don’t have equality for women and I don’t see any men giving up their half until we get ours), their often willful ignorance of the realities of female lives, and the simple fact that they are the oppressors attempting to force entrance into the safe spaces of the oppressed. When men are in the room, women have to start from scratch. We’re put on the defensive and expected to explain ourselves without becoming personal, recite countless statistics, and basically teach men what has become so familiar to women that we often have a hard time putting it to words.

We are learning those words, though. That’s what consciousness-raising is all about. In the seventies and indeed long before and after, women would get together in apartments or hotels or bookshops or coffee shops, and they would talk about feminism (or women’s lived reality under any name), and what it meant to them, and they would learn words. Those words, the naming of the problems, has tremendous power. I sensed it the first time I sent someone a definition of gaslighting. I knew it when I brought up patriarchal bargains. I understood it when I learned what compulsory heterosexuality was, and what it meant for me and for all of us. This isn’t the seventies. Lesbians and women and lost ground because we’ve lost valuable definitions—those two words, lesbian and woman, being the most important, most devalued, and most appropriated. But what we learned from the seventies, what our liberal feminist sisters forgot, is how to be a group and fight as a group. I don’t care if you shave your legs—but I need every woman to be free not to. I don’t care if you have heterosexual sex or get paid for it—but I need every woman to be free to choose not to or free to stop. A hundred years ago in my country I wasn’t even a legal human. Now men are telling me we’re all good, maybe even a little ahead? Men lie when they say women should be grateful for how far we’ve come. They’re reminding us how long they KEPT US BACK, and that our position is tenuous based on their approval. Then they threaten us with rape because that’s what they know sex to be, culturally and historically. Sex women wouldn’t want to have if men hadn’t lied about it first.

You can’t change the rules in the middle, though—we KNOW this. You have to start the game over. 

When men hear this, they become upset. They are afraid. They think we will take away all their rights, that we will kill them and humiliate them and devalue them. They think this because they understand that we deserve revenge. They are afraid because they know what they’ve done to us is wrong, and were they in our shoes, they would strike. We are striking. And men will indeed lose much of their valued power. But we won’t be taking it from them to use for ourselves. We will be using our own power, the power men have lied to us about for millennia. Women’s power is not violent. It is not ruthless or destructive or consuming. I know many women desire justice for harm done. I do too. I’m not just angry at one man, or ten. I’m angry at every single last man who ever benefited from the subjugation of a sister. Every man who believed a lie about a woman because it suited him better than the truth. Every man who has power he did not earn at the expense of someone deemed lesser from birth. 

All men benefit from patriarchy and even as all men benefit, some men are harmed. I don’t care. This is a radical statement, I’ve learned, not caring about men. For at least five thousand years men defined themselves as the default. Women are the other. We didn’t make the rules but we’re hated for making the best of them. We’ve become complicit in our own oppression for survival and self-preservation (mental and physical). Women need help, and we need to help women. Women need energy and togetherness. We need to sit in a room and talk about what it means to be a woman today. Why can anyone be a woman? Why are we women? Why does the sex with all the real power needed to heal and sustain the world (creation, empathy, foresight) get painted as the weaker one? What is ‘strength’? Why do we need men in our feminism? If they were going to help, they would have done it already.

Men don’t like the idea of being hated. They certainly don’t like to think about role reversal. What if we recorded a million gigs of naked men always bent at the waist, faces full of streaming make-up, smiling and begging for more as women, fully clothed and without compassion, violently penetrated them in symbolic fashion? What if we told boys they were filthy and if they couldn’t orgasm from something inside them then they were just broken? What if girls grew up seeing that violent, man-hating pornography, and entered into volatile and abusive relationships with those once-little boys? Don’t worry, men. It would never happen. Your vulgarity and sickness horrify us. Your lack of humanity causes despair among us. We are nothing like you, and that’s why you aren’t welcome. Are you inherently damaged—that pathetic little Y—or is it cultural? Why can’t you leave women alone, even when you are repeatedly and earnestly asked to? 

You want to know the truth about consciousness raising, men? You should be scared. Not for your lives, a fear you’ve dealt us every day. Not for your honour as you toy with ours. Not for your children, they are safer with us. You should be scared because you’ve been lied to about us, even as you perpetuate those lies. We are not meek. We are not irrational. And we are not better off as wives. We have empathy. We understand and respect emotion. We value life instead of death. Things are changing, you can sense it, which is why you flood us with hate speech and death threats, and waste our time with your trivialities of not feeling included or recognized or welcomed or rewarded. Feminism isn’t for you, it’s for liberation from you. But fear not, because no matter what else happens, and so much is already, we will never do to you what you’ve done to us.