CW rape and domestic abuse
Trans-excluding ‘radical feminists’ are not feminist for a number of reasons. Their insistence on reducing femininity to the narrowest of biological definitions is harmful to women. Right now, the obsession with trans women as an imagined threat to female safety is distracting from some really big and genuine issues.
Abusive men don’t ‘pretend’ to be women to get access to women. If you wanted easier access, you might join the police force, or just pretend friendship or the desire for a relationship. Abuse is a common experience for women. Most of that abuse does not come from strangers in toilets – although that’s not what you’d think if you listen to the terfs.
We are all most likely to be abused or killed by someone we know. There’s no gender component to that statistic.
In this last year we’ve seen a young woman raped and murdered in the UK, by a polic officer. At her vigil, the police were excessively aggressive towards women. Failure to take female safety seriously is a real problem, and it is a problem that needs a change of police culture to fix it. Prosecution rates for rapists are notoriously low. There are major questions to ask around what is presented in court as consent or invitation in the first place, the assumptions the courts, the media and the public make about women coming forward as victims, and the way in which we prioritise male reputations over female safety.
No group of people is free from abusers. There are women who abuse. There are non-binary folk and trans folk who abuse – it’s a people issue and no one is exempt or beyond criticism. However, there are cultural and systemic underpinnings to the ways in which men are able to abuse women. That men are also victims of male violence stems from the same cultural issues and it would take far more than one blog post to properly unpack all of that. Feminism is about taking down the patriarchal structures that support and enable male violence – for the benefit of women (cis and trans alike) for the benefit of male victims, and even for the benefit of male perpetrators. Systems of male violence do horrible things to everyone caught up in them.
If your feminism is about making a group of people more vulnerable to violence – it’s not feminism. If your feminism doesn’t recognise that hatred towards trans-women makes all non-gender-conforming women more vulnerable, you aren’t any sort of feminist. If you think attacking trans-women is more likely to increase female safety than taking on the much more dangerous work of challenging the police… I’m not honestly sure what planet you’re living on right now.
If your feminism rests on the idea that men (or anyone who has ever had a penis) are the problem, and not that the systems of patriarchy are the problem, you’re not going to disrupt patriarchy. You may however end up co-opting it and supporting it and benefiting from it.