Trigger Warning: two-part blog up ahead. Proceed with caution.
I’m perfectly comfortable verbally sparring with those who see issues differently than I do. And I’ve had my share of conversations – spirited, to say the least – in which voices have gotten loud, feelings got a little bruised, and neither party was able to come to an agreement. Conversely, I’ve had loud, feeling-filled conversations and found common ground.
I firmly believe that people are entitled to their philosophies, opinions, perspectives, ideologies – however informed or uninformed they may be. I also firmly believe that as human beings, we have a right to challenge (civilly, nonviolently) philosophies, opinions, perspectives, ideologies that we find problematic. As human beings, we’re allowed to disagree. As human beings, we should embrace dissent.
Shit, when we get down to brass tacks, dissent is the one thing on which most good, meaningful progress hinges.
Truth be told, I’m frightened of any person or group of people that attempts to silence dissent. Silencing is a tactic of fascists, bullies, and those whose convictions are so paper thin (ergo, invalid) that they cannot withstand even the slightest scrutiny. We saw this manner of silencing happen on Facebook when Gender Identity Watch’s page was taken down. We saw this again when the follow-up page was removed swiftly and without precedence. We saw this when police intercepted the six peaceful protesters at Dyke March London, an event that has (like virtually every Dyke March still in existence) been overrun by males.
Which brings me to part two . . .
Women, not men, are champions of “inclusivity.” This comes as no surprise – we’re conditioned from the day we’re born to be inclusive: inclusive of thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires – provided they are not our own. Unlike men who go on shooting rampages, and men (who feel like women) who tell women to “suck my cock,” there are no excuses made for women who do not fall in lock-step with the “be nice, be inclusive” gendered expectation of the female sex. No publication came to the defense of the women who protested the UK Dyke March, saying, “You know, maybe lesbians have just had enough.” No mainstream outlet will stand up for women who draw a line in the sand. Oh, but we will vociferously excuse males who murder, rape and threaten women, saying, “You know, maybe he was pushed to do this . . . because women.”
Hell, we’ll make these men keynote speakers of lesbian marches. No, really!
We have created, and thoroughly embraced, a culture in which a death threat is more acceptable than being critical of gender. We have created, and thoroughly embraced, a culture where actual lesbians are being vilified at Dyke Marches in order to protect heterosexual males. This is really happening. We should be appalled. We should be outraged.
Fuck “leaning in,” we should PUSH BACK.
Recently, I was involved in a women’s group that defined “woman” as “anyone non-male identifying.” And it was then that it really struck me. Hard. Our culture has, at long last, openly and conclusively embraced the idea that a woman is simply “non-male.” Hear that, sisters? You are simply “non-male.”
The sheer regressive nature of the definition infuriated me.
But in that simple definition – “woman is anyone non-male identifying” – I understood that this attempt to allow males to colonize lesbian spaces, this attempt to allow males to “define” womanhood, girlhood, women’s bodies is built solely and completely on the ultra-male premise that a woman is nothing but a non-male identifying person, a eunuch, a person who is not the default, favored, sex.
This notion is not a new one. We’ve seen iterations of “woman as non-male” since time immemorial. This conceit is at the core of women’s oppression, and now it’s being dressed up in synthetic hormones and silicone breasts.
And when you speak out, sisters, the dominant culture will attempt to silence you. When you speak out against the cult of “woman as a feeling” or “woman as simply non-male,” people will try to shut you down. People will use woman-hating slurs against you. Males may threaten you with death. Males who think they have cornered the market on womanhood will surely tell you to suck their balls. Heterosexual males who wish to be lesbians will keep you out of events that once belonged to you. And remember, all of this is built on repressive gender stereotypes and the on the sick, outmoded, misogynist notion that women are simply “non-male.”
Push back, sisters. Push back.