At Reclaim the Night North March 1st, a queer and trans activist group demonstrated against feminist seperatism. Despite the protest going unnoticed cos of the amount of men that were there, I feel it is still worth highlighting.
Below are quotes from their call for action…
The QUEER TRANS BLOCK will share the same start and end points on
Sackville Street as the “women” only and “men” only demos, but will be actively queering gender, space and separatism as an entirely unique protest accountable to itself
The QUEER TRANS BLOCK is a transfeminist response to the separatism, erasure and censorship of transwomen, transmen, sex workers, gendervariant, genderqueer, non-gender-normative and intersex folk within the populist feminist movement.
I’m still trying to get my head around their motiviations. Reclaim the Night North was organised by NUS Women and was open to transpeople. They could not argue that RTN North was transphobic cos it wasn’t. Below is a video of RTN North of the queer activists. It incudes some good clips of the demo, but notice towards the end how the chant ‘2-4-6-8, No excuse for violent men’ is drowned out by ‘2-4-6-8 Queer and Trans against the State’
The reasons why they came to protest RTN North was for the following reasons:
- They consider RTN a seperatist and transphobic space, with all the debate over RTN London being women only and the criticism that Ipswich RTN received for being open gender and organised by queer activists.
- They reject the man/woman dichotomy that RTN North highlights in terms of male violence against women
- They wanted to protest against me and my radical feminist mates who advocate women born women spaces.
Now the last point may sound like an exaggeration but it is true. We personally know the guy behind this and fell out over his and his cronies’ reluctance to support violence against women actions and women only spaces- cos doing this is reinforcing a gender dichotomy did you know..? Zzzzzzzzz. In the above video at the beginning, the video focuses in on me and Rad Fem Sisters, then goes back to the queer crew, then back to the Rad Fems again as if they are indicating the evil feminists that the queers are up against. I noticed a guy filming us at the time and it was very uncomfortable. One of my mates, who is a radical feminist who has always advocated and supported women only spaces, is despised by the queer crew. When she posts an action on Indymedia, even when it doesn’t relate to feminism, she gets bombarded with ‘your a transphobic fascist seperatist’! When she organised a women only craft fair, the queer crew deemed this to be oppressive. Oh yes, laugh cos I do all the time at their logic. Cos you see, when a woman with radical feminist politics draws a line in the sand and says NO, I refuse to accept your definition of a woman, your definition of women only spaces and your definition of feminism, they detest it. They feel’ oppressed’ cos they know there are activist spaces they cannot go into and that represent a politics they feel uncomfortable with. But this is the women’s liberation movement- it’s a radical politics for radical change…for women. It’s bound to piss some people off.
We must not allow ourselves to be bullied by a movement that we are not a part of. We are not obliged to accept the trans and queer definition of a woman. They are not entitled to force us to change our women only spaces just so that they can join and change the focus of our actions and the focus of our oppression. There is nothing wrong with a women’s movement campaigning against violence against women and a queer/trans movement campaigning against violence against trans and queer people. We do not need to merge together. The very reason why they force themselves into our women only spaces is indicative of their political aims, not for the liberation of trans and queer people under patriarchy, but for the colonisation of women only spaces and the destruction of the gender binaries upon which feminism is based, in their endeavour to prove a point- that anyone who identifies as a woman…is a woman.
Over 50% of the world’s population are female. Fact. The other half are male. (There is a grey area of intersex but most live as either women or men.) Feminism is based on the liberation of those 50% of the worlds population, that being women, from the other half, that being men. It’s quite simple. It’s not reinforcing gender binaries- females, males and intersex people should be free to behave without the constraints of gender. The fact is that if you are born with a female body, you are born a 2nd class citizen. You are born into a world in which men wish to control that body for their own use and abuse, be it to do their housework, cook their tea, suck their cock or just to make them feel superior. They have a variety of ways in which to control the female population for their benefit: rape, violence, sexual abuse, fear, sexual morals, poverty, capitalism…the list goes on. If a male identifies as being part of this population of women, their bodies will not have been put through the same oppression that women experience from birth, therefore they cannot be part of the women’s liberation movement. The women’s liberation movement cannot include male bodies, no matter how they identify in terms of gender. Their experience of violence and oppression will ultimately be different. They can however be allies, although not many of them have realised this yet.
My and my mates discuss our need for women only spaces. What has come out of this is that for women to be able to feel safe from male violence and to be able to talk about sexual abuse as girls, there cannot be a male bodied person in the room, as this will not make them feel comfortable. Some of us who are Lesbians need Lesbian only spaces to find comfort from the het- dominated and the queer dominated scenes. We want to be with other females.
We are now in a position that if feminists try to organise a women only protest or space, they will immediately come under attack from the queer lobby. Genuine women only spaces are being picked off one by one. We know that the Michigan Womyn’s Festival, a womyn born womyn event, has come under attack by transpeople trying to enter. They have set up Camp Trans opposite Michigan Women’s Festival in protest. My mate who has just returned from travelling around America reports that the We’Moon calender now includes art of transwomen and they now live on Women’s Land. York University Women’s Committee is no longer women only, neither in the Manchester University Women’s group. The Lesbian Community Project in Manchester is not women only, nor is the Women’s Space at Manchester Pride. The Lesbian bars on Canal Street are now ‘people’ bars. There is also a silence around the definition of a women only space- for example with Reclaim the Night London and Million Women Rise, most women I know would prefer these events to be born women only and go because they percieve them as such. Hardly any transwomen will go to these events anyway. But instead these events advertise themselves as transinclusive. Maybe to passify cos they know hardly any transwomen will turn up..? There’s something very wrong in appeasing people who attack our politics.
Another point I would like to make in now what is becoming probably the longest post I have written…is that it is people from within the feminist movement who are destroying women only spaces. Men may shout abuse at us when we march against violence against women, but Men’s Rights Activist groups don’t turn up to our protests and our spaces and demand entry so that we take violence against men seriously. It’s the people who call themselves feminists who are destroying women’s attempts to organise autonomously. Like the NUS Women’s Officers who insist a women’s committee must include men, like the queer feminists who insist on trans-inclusion and like the feminists who won’t say to their male friends, sorry you are not invited.
And to conclude this piece with something very trivial but very telling at the same time- when my girlfriend has a go at me for not being nice, for not accepting transwomen as women, I say to her- ‘Look, would you ever go down on a transwoman..? She stops, ponders, stalls to speak, then says, ‘Well no I wouldn’t…’ To which I say, ‘Why not..?’ The answer is cos they’re not female… Now go and ask your boyfriends the same question. The moral is, we can be as nice as pie in accepting transpeople into our women only spaces, but at the end of the day they aren’t the ones we are supposed to be working towards liberating, it’s not our job to make them feel comfortable in their identity as women and we aint gonna get anywhere if we continue to be nice all the time.
Hate mail can be posted to The Women’s Commune, That Field in the Middle of Nowhere PI55 0FF