“But Some Man Is Going to Sexually Assault Me/Young Girls If We Let Those People Use the Bathroom/Shelter/etc!”

April 4, 2009

There are more problems with this bathroom logic than I have any desire to suss out, other people point them out all the time (trans folks need bathrooms too–and need safe bathrooms too, trans women are easily distinguished from cis men (generally), a sign does not equal a lock and key, there have been protections in place in Minneapolis for over 25 years (16 years in Minnesota) and there’s not a single documented case of perpetrators trying to use those laws to aid them assaulting women in restrooms, and lastly, using the “wrong” restroom is perfectly legal already.). All these logics are also used to justify ejecting trans women from shelters and Michfest, and to justify violent prison placement.

But for all that this is so frequently taken up by radical feminists/as a feminist debate, the radical feminist insight that rape is committed by people you know, that you’re most likely to be sexually assaulted in your own home, or your friend’s home, far more than in a public bathroom–why doesn’t anyone pick up on that insight?

I mean, yeah, trans folks are already raising the spectre of stranger violence in this case, and that’s prolly relevant. But when you’re talking about hate violence/someone defined as expendable in the public discourse (and, no, if you think white cis women are so defined, go read what Focus on the Family has to say about the bathroom debate), that’s when you’re more likely to get hurt by someone you don’t know.

I’ve been physically/non-sexually assaulted by 5 strangers in the past year and a half, for context. I really can’t count how many people have groped me without my consent–strangers and “friends,” mostly but not entirely folks who saw me as trans–though as far as people who’ve perpetrated more serious sexual assault on me, they were both men I was close to, (one trans, one cis) and both in bedrooms. (there was one stranger who threatened to rape me, driving the other way in his car, as I was biking home (in Minneapolis), not really sure whether that’s “worse” or not.)

So I hope you can understand that I don’t mean to make light of the fear of stranger violence, including stranger sexual violence. It happens. But the overwhelming focus on it is not about protecting women, it’s about controlling women. It’s about keeping us scared inside the home where the actual sexual predators have easier access to us. I’m not going to explicate that here, it’s a central second-wave/lesbian-feminist/radical feminist insight–that is, the exact same group that takes all this bullshit they’ve spent thirty years trying to destroy and uses it against trans women because keeping us down is more important than liberation.

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