So I totally missed TERF WEEK. Damnit. I do so love TERF WEEK – the parades, the festival foods, the bands . . . Or am I thinking of something else?
In any case, TERF Week, where men scream and cry about how lesbians oppress them, where men talk in egregiously exaggerated terms like (surprise) “war” and “battle” about philosophical differences, came and went and I didn’t even notice.
Because here’s the thing, while dudes were wringing their hands, stewing in their misogyny and projecting all their fucked up semi-Freudian neuroses onto women (radical feminists and dykes, mostly), women were doing awesome shit like attending MichFest and writing books and making art and winning the Fields Medal (first time ever, y’all), falling in love, having intelligent conversations that didn’t center around dudes, supporting their sisters – I mean, while transactivists and queer theorists were sobbing and Tweeting over naming conventions, women were going on with their lives. Imagine that! Fancy that!
Which brings me to the two-pronged purpose of this entry – language and our lives.
I’ve been thinking a lot about MichFest lately. I was filled with a divine envy watching friends post on FB about their time on the land, and a sense of incredible pride that women had created this space, and that it has endured. I’ve never been (next year for sure), and so it seems unfathomable to me. ONE week without male bullshit. One week without fragile male egos. One week away from a society that works so hard to tear women asunder. One week without having my womanhood subjected to theory and politicizing. One week free of the constant hum of tension I’ve become inured to in my life as a female.
To me, someone who’s never been, that’s what MichFest represents.
Males, even those who believe they are ladies, don’t grasp how precious and impossible such a space is. Today, walking home from work, I was thinking about how hard I had to work when I had “the cancers” to ensure I had only female doctors (so transphobic, I know) or how hard, in my profession, I’ve had to work to be taken seriously on even the most basic levels, among men, or how much bullshit I’ve had to endure (from men) for being a gender non-conforming dyke. And in light of all that – one week out of the whole fucking year to be surrounded by other women who “get” this? That sounds like fucking Valhalla . . . but better, because I don’t give a fuck about Vikings or whatever.
But our culture has gone crazier than a shithouse rat on theories devised by males with hang-ups and hurt feelings and grievances. We’ve reached peak relativism; the kind of relativism where a seemingly sane, rational human being can say “penis is female” and no one bats an eye, where it has become de rigueur to argue that a lesbian could also be a straight female or a straight man, or where heterosexual women lop off their tits, call themselves “male” and then accuse other dykes of being “closeted males.”
So why does this matter? It matters because women are still an oppressed class. It matters because language can and will, just as anything in a patriarchal society, become a tool of women’s erasure. It matters because relativism around terms like “woman” and “lesbian” only serves the interest of males, and as we know from – um – the beginning of time, the interests of males never favor the interests or welfare of women. (This also speaks, in some way, to a troubling rift in the LGBT community whereby we are now policing language to placate the feelings of straight people who wish to be seen as gay/lesbian.)
We need a language with which to discuss our lives, our realities. For better or worse, the words we have been provided are “woman,” “female,” “lesbian,” “dyke.” And, frankly, I do not think that as women we can afford to allow males – no matter how ladylike they feel – to coopt these terms, to make them subjective, because they MEAN something for women. They establish a boundary (at least, ideally, they would). They mean we exist – as females, women, dykes, lesbians, human fucking beings – not as a fantasy in a man’s head, not as a concept in a Gender Studies classroom, not as some permutation of a super-special-identity thought up in a video game, but that we exist, that we are exactly who we are.
The trans/queer community could learn something here, I think: USE YOUR FUCKING WORDS. I mean, it seems to me that everyone in the trans/queer activist community is such a goddamn linguist, so why can’t they come up with some new and inventive way to say “straight guy who feels like a lady”? Why does language always have to be at the expense of women, our words, our boundaries? I’ll tell you why, because every last ounce of queer/trans/po-mo rhetoric is guided by males with healthy doses of male entitlement coursing through their ladied veins. The TERF Week I missed was just another clear example of men feeling wronged by ladies (as they always have), another example that behind every utterance of “cis” is a male with a grievance.
Fight for your spaces, sisters. Fight for your words. This matters.
And with that, this dyke is off to mist some kale while listening to Tegan & Sarah.