Same Battle, New Misogyny
A Loud Reflection on the Silencing of Women & the Incoherence of Identity
By Danielle Whitaker
In 1999, more than 40,000 individuals organized in protest against the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Seattle, Washington. In what came to be known as the Battle of Seattle, this anti-globalization effort was one of the first to gain publicity and momentum via the resources of the Internet. Audio and video streaming combined with a 400,000-strong virtual sit-in of the WTO website revolutionized the limits of media as we knew it, catalyzing a culture that empowered individuals to, as it was said, “be the media”—laying the groundwork for the independent media movement happening within feminism today.
Deplatformed from virtually all left-wing spheres of media, politics, and academia, radical feminists have taken it upon themselves to “be the media”: in addition to self-publication on platforms like Medium and live-streaming feminist events like this one, sites such as Spinster and 4th Wave Now have begun to spring up in response to the silencing that threatens any woman who dares speak up about the latest waves of misogyny.
Seattle seems to find itself a battleground once again. History repeats, and so on.
On February 1, 2020, Women’s Liberation Front is presenting a speaking event at the Seattle Public Library entitled, Fighting the New Misogyny: A Feminist Critique of Gender Identity.
To no one’s surprise, this was quickly branded an effort to “spread hate.”
The accusers have not (yet) succeeded in bullying this particular venue into submission, but they did win over the New York Public Library (NYPL). On January 17, An Evening with Cancelled Women took place in New York City, originally slated to be held at the NYPL until a late and unceremonious cancelation by the library. The organizers managed to secure a new location that was kept secret until hours before the event and revealed exclusively to ticket holders in order to prevent the violent threats and protests that have become standard fare for feminist gatherings here in the forward-thinking 2020.
That’s right, folks. The New York Public Library, beacon of free speech and progressive knowledge, canceled an event about women who have been canceled. You really can’t make this up.
Granted, the backlash seems perfectly justified if you really do believe these women stand for “hate,” which would require your definition of “hate” to include what was once considered basic feminist analysis: females exist, males exist, and the class of the latter has historically and consistently oppressed the class of the former, so it’s important to recognize the reality and social significance of biological sex. After all, if we can’t name sex, what is sexism and how do we fight it? What is homosexuality and how do we defend it?
The backlash may also seem justified if you really do believe these women are opposed to the “human rights” of trans-identified people, which is especially interesting when you consider Dictionary.com’s definition of human rights as “fundamental rights, especially those believed to belong to an individual and in whose exercise a government may not interfere, as the rights to speak, associate, work, etc.” While no feminist seeks to take away these types of rights from anyone (nor any other basic rights such as access to housing, employment, education, safety, healthcare, voting, marriage, and so on), the rights to “speak, associate, work” are precisely what the trans cult is actively working to take away from anyone who disagrees with them: as we’ve seen, they fight adamantly against our speaking or associating to discuss these issues and have succeeded in getting many women fired from their jobs.
But this is no surprise: in the battle to uphold dominance, the penis-having half of the human race formerly known as men has always tried to silence women who resist.
Despite our opponents’ best efforts, the January 17 event sold out. So did this one. Even better, the more they try to silence us, the more publicity we get, the more supporters we gain, as more people begin to uncover the truth.
So far, the Seattle Public Library has stood firm on their decision to support free speech amid a wide range of media attitudes. What’s troubling about the coverage of these events, however, is a lack of opportunity for the full issue to be thoroughly examined at the root (radically, as it were). This excerpt from Washington’s anti-discrimination law as featured in The Seattle Times, for instance, may leave readers more confused than before:
The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) prohibits discrimination because of “gender expression or identity,” defined as “having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior, or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.”
Hmm. Let’s unpack this.
First, “gender” here is not defined, and the act of lumping gender identity with “appearance, behavior, or expression” solidifies the fact that there is no universal definition or understanding of “gender identity” at all. Gender nonconformity does not require an “identity”—in fact, supporting gender nonconformity is a core tenet of radical feminism. We seek to abolish the system of sex roles (what we call gender) that dictate what “appearance, behavior [and] expression” are appropriate for males and females. What we call gender is not a spectrum or a feeling or a personality; it is a hierarchy, leaving males on top and females on the bottom. This is the definition of patriarchy.
We as feminists seek to end male supremacy and all its related constraints—for women and men alike to be free from the rules of appearance-behavior-expression assigned to us all since even before birth. We want men to be as involved with housework and child-rearing as they want women to be—to be nurturing; to wear dresses or take up knitting if they choose without social stigma. We want women to feel independent, assertive; empowered to abandon patriarchal institutions of femininity: makeup, shaving, impractical clothing designed to reduce us to decorations for the male gaze. We want to end the system that proclaims pink is a “girly” color, that strong is a “male” quality, that John is a “boy’s” name, that dresses and long hair are “for women”—that aggression is a desirable “masculine” trait and that submission is a desirable “feminine” trait. We want to topple the hierarchy that maintains sex-based oppression.
That is what a gender-nonconforming society would be. That is what progressive would be. That is what a true gender revolution would be—not autogynephilic males in lipstick and stilettos sending rape threats to lesbians for not being attracted to their “ladydicks” (or suing immigrant women for refusing to wax them).
The problem occurs when we equate gender nonconformity with gender identity. “Gender identity” offers no clear parameters but is generally described as the notion that we are all “assigned” a sex at birth (in reality, of course, sex is observable even before birth), and have an internal sense of which “gender” we actually are. What is “gender”? It is often defined by trans activists as the “feeling” of knowing you are a man or woman (or neither). What is a man or woman? Go ask a trans activist; I’ll wait.
The other popular notion, equivalent to the religious concept of a soul, is that our minds exist separately from our bodies, thus some “female” brains (what is a “female” brain? Go ask; I’ll wait) mistakenly develop in a male body and vice versa. Science, unsurprisingly, disagrees. (Consistently.)
Some still define “transgender” as the experience of sex dysphoria, a body image disorder that causes psychological distress over one’s biological sex—the feeling of being “born in the wrong body”—but it is generally no longer acceptable in trans dogma to suggest that dysphoria is a prerequisite for labeling oneself trans, as this requires acknowleding that sex does, indeed, exist. Sex self-declaration has become too popular to muddy the waters with criteria—it is enough, simply, to declare that you are something in order for it to be true.
Perhaps most disturbing is that those who do suffer from dysphoria are immediately prescribed a lifetime of gender ideology, dangerous hormones, and risk-laden surgery. What would happen if we examined the root cause of dysphoria rather than slapping a band-aid over the symptoms? (It couldn’t possibly be caused by existing in a society that is sexist to its core…)
When we recognize, then, that “trans” is a false concept based on false premises, it becomes vitally important that we collectively stop accepting “transgender” as a definitive modifier rather than what it is: a subjective self-declaration in denial of reality. When we say “trans person” rather than trans-identifying person; “trans women” instead of trans-identifying male, we validate the lie that is transgenderism. For the sake of clarity, it is vital to be united in the words we choose. After all, the deliberate obfuscation of language is the root of trans ideology and the basis upon which it has succeeded.
The bare-bones, emperor-has-no-clothes truth is that no one “is trans” because “trans” is founded on lies. There are males and females, as in every sexually dimorphic species. There are males and females with sexual developmental (intersex) disorders. There are gender nonconforming people, gay and straight alike. There are people with dysphoria (many are radical feminists), and there are people who call themselves “trans.”
Do the latter face discrimination? Certainly, in many cases—but discrimination faced by trans-identifying individuals occurs not because of “identity” but because of their “appearance, behavior or expression,” as Washington law states it, and those traits do not necessitate the existence of a particular feeling about oneself or one’s body. You cannot be discriminated against on the basis of how you feel internally about yourself. Discrimination by definition, is based upon how others view you. Discrimination occurs because of gender nonconformity, which society equates with homosexuality—the ultimate form of nonconformity. This discrimination is precisely what our sisters at Feminists in Struggle (FIST) are working to protect people against—including those who identify as “trans”—in their proposed amendments to the Equality Act.
“Transphobia,” then, is misplaced homophobia. Whether or not or an individual is actually homosexual is irrelevant; the assumption is enough for them to face discrimination. Not every boy on the playground who was called “faggot” turned out to be gay; not every tomboy branded a “dyke” grew up to be a lesbian. Simply failing to meet society’s gender roles is grounds enough to be punished with homophobia.
This is reality: there is no “brain sex.” Sex is not “assigned”; sex roles are. No one is “born in the wrong body”; we are born as a body that develops what we call consciousness. Gender is not “innate” but rather a socially constructed, male-dominated, hierarchical system whose customs shift across time and culture: for instance, heavier women were once considered the “beauty” ideal, pink was once the designated “boy” color, computer programming used to be considered “women’s work,” and so on.
Thus, gender “identity” is a faith-based ideology that makes no more sense than racial “identity” or any definition of identity that consists of proclaiming oneself something one isn’t and demanding the rest of the world play along. It is possible to identify with something—for instance, with certain philosophical theories and not with others—but it is linguistically incoherent to identify “as” something outside the realm of sheer fantasy. How can we accept that it is highly racist for a white person to “identify” as black, but not sexist for a man to “identify” as a woman? Should someone “assigned white at birth” be entitled to scholarships dedicated to empowering historically disadvantaged black students? If I really, truly feel that I am a rhinoceros, should I be entitled to endangered wildlife funds?
These are ludicrous questions with obvious answers, but—despite the fact that females were long denied the right to participate in sports, academia, or politics until very recently—now, when a man says he is a woman, demands to speak for and above women, demands access to women’s prisons, women’s shelters, women’s sports (and athletic scholarships), women’s political positions, and women’s very bodies, we chant “progressive” and righteously wish violence upon those who disagree.
Deep down, we know why. We live in a patriarchy that infests every crevice of human society—but most of us scarcely notice.
As Andrea Dworkin put it, “Many women, I think, resist feminism because it is an agony to be fully conscious of the brutal misogyny which permeates culture, society, and all personal relationships.”
We close our eyes to protect ourselves.
When our eyes finally open, it is agony. It is no coincidence that discovering radical feminism makes it harder for many of us to simply exist—to face the world, our jobs, our relationships, humanity as a whole.
And it is no coincidence that the misogyny of the trans activist movement has been spearheaded by privileged, white, largely heterosexual males: Ronan “Morgane” Oger. Liam “Lily” Madigan. Rhys “Rachel” McKinnon. Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv. Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner. James “Jennifer” Pritzker. Riley J. Dennis.
We think we’ve come so far…
In truth, they can take our language. They can proclaim us “cis” and “TERFs” and “uterus bearers” and perhaps even enshrine it into law, but nothing will have changed. Half the population will still exist as the subordinate sex class formerly known as female, from birth to death. Little girls will still be undergoing FGM. Women will still be dying in menstrual huts. Men will still be committing 98% of all rape.
Blurring the lines between reality and desired reality does not actually change reality—and those who recognize this, who are brave enough to fight it, will not shut up. Will not stop gathering. Will not stop organizing. Will not be silenced.
So let’s stick together when it counts.
To stand with our sisters in their own Battle of Seattle, please consider dropping a few words of support and gratitude to the Seattle Public Library at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our critics are as vocal as they come—and thus, so too must we be.
You can fire us, arrest us, threaten us, and attack us—and you have. You can cancel our social media accounts. You can cancel our events. You can cancel our publications.
But you can’t cancel our analysis and our solidarity as women struggling to be free.
You can’t cancel our ideas.
Click here to purchase tickets or learn more about this important event on February 1, and be sure to tune in to our monthly podcast on February 6 as we explore the event in-depth. Our handcrafted podcasts feature global women’s news coverage, interviews, and more. Thank you for supporting grassroots feminist media, and please visit our Volunteer page to join the fight!