I’m 53 this year. I’ve been a feminist for a long, long time.
I used to believe that there were many types of feminism, and that we all enact our feminism in our own ways.
I used to believe that feminism was about women.
But I don’t believe any of those things anymore.
If you look at the traditional definition of feminism it’s about the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Except. The construct that is gender, and essentialist or binary – ie you’re either a man or a woman – is a false construct. There is much research to suggest, and indeed prove, that. Google it.
Gender queer people were never considered in the feminism that I was raised in. Now, however, I believe that feminism is a movement that should encompass all PEOPLE who do NOT have equal rights. That we should be advocating for those people on the grounds of the equality of the genders, all genders.
That’s it. That’s my hard line.
We’ve won many rights, and we have a long way to go. I would argue that that distance is only covered effectively if we take gender queer people with us, if we deconstruct gender and what that means, if we destroy that toxic masculinity that’s so harmful to us all. That won’t happen if you exclude gender queer people. Feminism isn’t just for white, middle class cis women. It’s for all people that don’t hold the power of the patriarchy. If feminism is the opposite of the patriarchy, then what does it need to look like?
It’s not men we’re fighting anymore, you see. It’s the patriarchy. Designed by white, cis, wealthy men to keep everyone else out of any power structure they have created. These structures are often aeons old, and designed for nobody else but themselves. And if there’s one thing we know about white cis men, in general, it’s that they don’t like to share power.
So how do we go about denting that power? Taking it for ourselves? Busting the patriarchy that keeps us shackled, those of us who don’t control it, or benefit from it? In my opinion, we need to stop the bollocks of defining everyone as man or woman. The patriarchy doesn’t hate women, it simply resents and seeks to erase all those who are not they. It searches for disunity, seizes upon it, and 7/10, it wins whatever war it thinks it’s fighting.
This is crucial. If we continue to buy into transphobic rhetoric and fears, if we continue to deny that trans and genderqueer people have a place in feminism, then we are lost. It’s as simple as that.
I used to believe that feminism only advanced if we spoke with one voice. That voice is female and white, I have discovered. This single minded stupidity is costing us dearly. There are many voices in this movement, and white cis women’s voices are no longer as vital to the cause. We aren’t the bosses anymore. We are part of the movement. But we aren’t the impetus that is required. We must keep raising our voices, but we must also seek to boost the voices of others. To listen more. To be aware of how internalised misogyny works. And understand how harmful we are being if we deny trans people their place in the movement.
This shit needs shaking up. Gender needs to be destroyed. We are humans. If, and only if, we can accept that, that it’s about working together, and sharing power, we might get somewhere. Otherwise, we are as bad as the patriarchy we purport to be fighting.
I’m a woman.
But I’m a human first and foremost.