What gets missed

August 29, 2008

Radfem recants transphobia, transphobic radfems plus one very confused and hateful person come in and attack, all the comments are about arguing with them and the legitimacy of trans people, period, and the OP never gets questioned for her remaining transphobia. (ok, she does once)

But Maia is still being really transphobic! She still sets up good transwoman [sic] bad transwoman, she still uses “woman” in opposition to “transwoman” [sic] as if we weren’t women who are trans but some other gender, she still frames woman only space as us/them, she still claims that [cis women] “we” get to “draw the line” about who enters, to “keep out the dangerous elements”, says this is SO HARD, fails to ask how other __ only spaces keep themselves safe, still engages with the notion of the over-privileged trans woman without interrogating the difference between entitlement and external privilege–and in particular says that the trans women who are most vocal about protesting our exclusion “give transfolk a bad name”, and on and on. I am especially fond of She said very little – she was attending a workshop / discussion about what it means to be a woman, and she was there to listen, not to speak.

Why doesn’t she get called on it? Because the first commenter is a class-a-asshat, that’s why.

No, that’s not why. It’s because the first commenter is a class-a-asshat, and Maia let him post, and keep posting–even after he claimed that he’d been raped by a comment.

I don’t think Maia did it intentionally, but it’s hard not to see her inaction as self-protection. The same goes for other cis feminists.

I don’t think Maia is a horrific bigot, but the fact remains that she is trans misogynistic. Prejudice + power and all.

Even more importantly, the ideas and questions she brings up–how do we do this, make women’s space that works? –they go unanswered (for the most part). We *need* to work on that shit, and almost all space for it gets eaten by trolls. And for a trans female spectrum person to participate in a discussion of how to do those things, who wanted to take her at face value, ze/she would have to pick through pages and pages of attacks for any kind of *relevant* discussion.

To the extent that consistent internet access is class privilege, as is the time to sort through bullshit, to the extent that being able to stomach that shit is correlated to privilege (ability, cis privilege, male privilege) and to be able to speak and remain confident and be taken seriously in a “debate” setting is also privilege, we keep out trans women’s voices, and the more disadvantaged the more kept out. And thus, to the extent that there *were* any discussion about moving forward, it’s still institutionally transphobic/trans misogynistic, racist, classist, etc.

Transphobic cissexual radfems know they can’t convince us, and I don’t really think they think they can convince our allies. What they can do is paralyze us, what they can do is make feminism such an unsafe and scary place that they won’t have to deal with us even if we *are* “allowed in”, what they can do is make it seem like it is “so hard” and “a huge issue” when it’s just not. It’s not hard, in fact it’s a non-issue if you’re willing to treat it like one. and actually most cissexual feminists aren’t like Heart or dirtywhiteboi or Polly Styrene. (I refuse to label Rich any kind of feminist.)

“Most” cissexual feminists are more likely to complain that people are boycotting Le Tigre when they’re a feminist band–as if they couldn’t say, on stage, that they disagreed with the not-policy.* As if it was ok to say “trans women’s participation in feminism is a negotiable issue, but one I’m in favor of” and still call yourself an ally. That’s not ok, and they need to get schooled. But, they’re the ones that could be educated, and aren’t.

*(We can leave aside the question of attending or playing there at all; accessing and funding a resource that supports trans misogyny [while speaking out against it, educating people inside, changing the culture] is a stickier issue than publicly supporting and bankrolling that institution and remaining silent, and really it depends on the situation whether it’s appropriate or not.)

Before you go saying we can’t “censor”, consider two things: 1)questioning transgender claims to be shut down and unable to speak, not because they actually can’t but in order to prevent anyone from saying “not here”. They know full well that they can say what they goddamn please and get away with it, and they want to make sure it stays that way. 2)the editors of the blog that I linked to in bypassing authority and trolls edited a friend of mine’s essay in their upcoming anthology to prevent her from calling out second-wave feminists (as “divisive”). Granted a book is a different medium, but it stands that there is “censorship” happening–and it all comes down in favor of cissexualist feminists.


17 Responses to “What gets missed”

  1. I noticed I couldn’t access “Questioning Transgender” recently. Where’s the “We’re shut down and can’t speak” claims? Not that it’d surprise me, as the anti-trans radical feminists insist that any reference to transphobia is inherently silencing, which is a convenient way to avoid “owning their shit.”

    I really wish I’d written something like this post instead of that one when this went down. Reading your work reminds me of how much I still don’t know.

  2. […] Cedar – whose blog you absolutely must read – goes back to the root, as it were. Ze talks about the transmisogyny in Maia’s post that mostly went unexamined because of the energy-sucking vortex mentioned […]

  3. BTW, your link to “Bypassing authority and trolls” link isn’t working. No url, just:

    in bypassing authority and trolls

  4. Cedar said

    thanks for the heads up.

  5. […] 5, 2008 Part I; Part II; Lisa Harney’s response/continuance, and ! a wonderful example of what we were talking […]

  6. Because the first commenter is a class-a-asshat, that’s why.

    I used to read Rich’s old bb (FEMINIST WARBIRD) regularly, and endured post after post of his troll-bullshit on the old Ms. board as well. (Has he ever publicly apologized for disrupting that board, repeatedly? Don’t think so.)

    The idea that he (as he says) is an ally, or ever was, is a major hoot.

    Heart knows about his fondness for porn, doesn’t she? He never hid it at Ms.

    Maybe he’s been to rehab. 😉

  7. I suppose there’s also the aspect of, here’s someone (Maia) who was probably in the beginning stages of “examining” or rather unpacking her shit (transphobia, transmisogyny), and it got derailed by Rich et al…I mean, I guess, what you already said, just..there are layers here, maybe, to the way this works. I wonder who was enforcing/enabling whom, in other words; in a way it’s sort of like Rich et al were enabling Maia, if you see what I mean, as much as the other way around.

    There’s the part of it that’s about blog comment policies, who gets to post and how, what makes such and so a “safe” space and for whom, which has a few other aspects to it as well; and then there’s also the piece about, someone starts to speak in a way that others find threatening, and they come in with the reinforcements, carrot and stick both (depending on what’s in their arsenals and how good at this they are–the reason Rich et al stand out is because they’re so spectacularly hamhanded), to make sure that the person doesn’t fall too far out of line, or at least keeps the old familiar framing.

    and that bit of it is less dependent on who’s hosting or moderating, I would say, although obviously that’s not irrelevant either.

  8. –wait, where’s the “questioning transgender” is shut down (and whining)? missed that…

  9. Cedar said


    I agree, it’s not as though it’s just Maia, and in fact this is part of a larger pattern of radfems enforcing the party line, right? And I should perhaps be clearer that I do, in fact, appreciate Maia’s work thus far…

    in a way it’s sort of like Rich et al were enabling Maia, if you see what I mean, as much as the other way around.

    Agreed. I mean, the whole point of my analysis of m Andrea’s comment on QT is that this is what she’s doing, right? …

    I’m totally typing in uptones. Argh internalized sexism.

  10. justme said

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, Cedar. I don’t think speaking (or typing) in uptones is “internalized sexism,” is it? Isn’t it just a natural way to indicate you’re seeking agreement, not confrontation or conflict? Isn’t it just socially and emotionally intelligent (at least, potentially)? Does it (necessarily) mean you lack confidence in yourself or in what you’re saying? Doesn’t it simply convey to your conversation partner that you’re not trying to shove your ideas down her/his throat–that it’s important to you that they accept them of their own accord, if at all? Which, unless you’re posturing for social dominance, is how all conversations ought to go, don’t you think? Isn’t it just a sign of simple respect, of basic human decency? Hmm, isn’t there a word for denigrating or devaluing a behavior considered more typical of women than men? More specific than “sexism,” I mean? 😉

  11. like, omigod, i am proud of my Valley roots, dammit, you know? uptones and all?

  12. Cedar said

    Is that sarcasm? I can’t tell.

    I speak in uptones as a way of making myself smaller, of making my statements and opinions smaller and more manageable for other people, as a way of negating my own knowledge…I do it out of internalized sexism, out of being the child of an alcoholic, and out of being a survivor.

    It’s like when I put sorta and kinda in front of things whenever I’m uncertain or feel like I’m saying something my partner might not like–even when that actually makes it worse, makes me say things that aren’t cool, because I’m hiding and not-making-claims…

    It’s not so much about lack of confidence in what I’m saying, but lack of confidence in my right to say it. A lack of confidence in my right to take up space.

  13. justme said

    @belledame222: I’ve, like, never even lived in the Valley, and I’m *totally* older than Moon Zappa.

    @Cedar: No, it was meant to be irony. I hate it when my attempts fall flat like that, don’t you?

    Yeah, uptones can mean all that too. I didn’t see any of that in the way you were using them above, but I applaud and support your efforts to overcome that part of your upbringing. I have some idea of how hard that can be.

    It’s just that about a month ago I read a blanket criticism of the use of uptones in conversation that really rubbed me the wrong way, but I wasn’t sure why and then forgot about it. Then a little while later I saw it somewhere else, and ended up puzzling over why it bothered me for a couple of days. By the time I came up with an intelligent reply that thread was cold. So when I came across your innocent mention of it, I was all primed to take it out of context and kind of jumped all over it.

    Sorry ’bout that.

  14. Cedar said

    No worries. (actually, the sarcasm question was aimed at Belle)

  15. No, no! I (sometimes) talk/write in uptones, too, I -am- originally from Southern California; I meant it affectionately. I like speaking in uptones; it -can- signify tentativeness but I always think of it as a kind of reclaiming in its own way, a la Buffy or Kelly.

  16. […] other conversation that’s happening. (see my Radical Feminist Troll series, especially parts two and […]

  17. […] has come up before, and will come up again – Queen Emily has brought it up, Cedar has brought it up, I have brought it up. No one of conscience should welcome this hatred on their […]

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