So this morning, as I was having my coffee and perusing the internets, I came across a post about Trans Violence Tracker, in which an “urgent alert” had been issued arguing that some 4Chan weirdos (and really, they’re all weirdos – which is about the nicest thing one can say) are attempting “to push transgender individuals into suicide.” The press release then, with astonishing abruptness, conflates 4Chan and TERFS.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that TERF is a slur used to reference women (lesbians, usually) who have a handle on basic biological concepts, and who understand that gender is an oppressive construct that benefits males. Those who ascribe to the ever-popular queer/trans rhetoric are profoundly inconvenienced when women assert that penis is male and point out that gender is not innate. They don’t like when women want space away from males, or when women have thoughts and ideas that run counter to their feelings. Being, however, that this is a country in which thought and speech is – at least, theoretically – protected, the only way to silence the mean ladies who refuse to embrace male conceits about their lived realities, is to accuse them of causing actual, real violence, to imbue them with a sinister magic that enables them to force people to kill themselves.
This widely spread notion that gender critical feminists CAUSE deaths is a blatant lie, and the ugliest type of hyperbole. If the opinion of some anonymous mouth breather on 4Chan is going to “make” you kill yourself, then you have problems that probably require immediate hospitalization. If your response to dissent is suicide, if a Facebook post “gives” you PTSD, if you just really can’t handle the fact that people sometimes disagree, then I would implore you to seek medical help for your tragically frail mental health.
(And seriously, for the amount of time “orgs” like TransViolence Tracker dedicate to insisting gender-critical lesbians are hateful they could be working to advocate for the improved mental health resources their community is woefully in need of. Not to be flip, but I know that if lesbians were killing themselves in droves over what people said on the internet, I’d be thinking of ways to help my fellow, deeply unwell, dykes reclaim their mental health.)
Of course this “if you don’t agree with me I’m going to kill myself” line is male. Men have been feeding this bullshit to women since time immemorial. Women are expected to be men’s mommies, to be selfless coddlers, to be absent any thought that has not been sanctioned by male approval. When they fail in these regards, then they are framed as the cause and source of all men’s problems. This behavior is ubiquitous and publically verifiable among men, even those who identify as women.
What’s more, various incarnations of this idea are echoed in virtually every corner of American public discourse. From the Right accusing their critics of being “unpatriotic” or “communist/socialist” to the Left accusing all who do not fall lock-step in line with whatever they’re peddling that day “bigotry” or “phobia.”
And yes, bigotry – like communism – does in fact exist. I’ve known some bigots. I know what that word means. I know how seethingly ugly and baseless bigotry is, and I know how the tenets that uphold bigoted worldviews crumble when pressed. And yes, homophobia and transphobia, too, exist. And lesbophobia is positively rampant in our male-centric culture. (Did you see that recent Autostraddle article villifying lesbians for not being sufficiently sexually available to males who feel like women? Yeah, seriously. Consult the Google, because I ain’t linking that shit here.) Nevertheless, dissent and criticism are not inherently hate speech – even when they hurt our feelings or fail to affirm our opinions. If someone disagrees with me, I don’t jump to the conclusion that they are a lesbophobe and/or are trying to get me to commit suicide. (Some trolls on this site will be sorry to discover that no one has enough emotional power over me to FORCE me to kill myself.) If someone refuses to accept an idea that I’ve put forward, I don’t instantly presume that person is a misogynist. Because here’s the thing – I’m a female. I’ve been female all my life, and I get (as all females do) that some things – most things, really – are NOT ABOUT ME PERSONALLY. I understand that the world gives zero fucks about my unique feelings. Furthermore, as a rational human being, I understand that only I am responsible for my feelings.
I value dissent. I wish we lived in a world where we could have engaging, smart disagreements that didn’t disintegrate into death threats and histrionic claims. It makes me sad that we have increasingly become a people who think special identities and individual feelings trump reason and logic. We have let fragile male egos so scramble our ability to discuss issues that impact females that most women cannot say something as non-controversial as “penis is male” or “women have shared lived experiences” without fear of reprisal. And god forbid, we infer that our female reality is not a feeling in a man’s head.
So remember, sisters, when confronted with some male-penned screed about how your ideas and perspectives CAUSE males to kill themselves that we’ve heard this all before, and it’s nothing more than an ultra-dramatic way of saying, “Shut up, woman!”
Males kill women. Males kill transwomen. Males kill other males. And individuals sometimes, sadly, kill themselves. So the reason websites from Transviolence Tracker to Transadvocate spend so much time focused on demonizing radical feminist lesbians has NOTHING to do with our being responsible for anyone’s death, and everything to do with the fact that in a culture that has surrendered feminism to the male ego, that has traded the idea of women’s liberation for pornography and re-committed itself to reinforcing every inch of gender scaffolding, in a culture that routinely labels misogyny “progressive” we are the last line of resistance, and perhaps the only people left with an original thought in our heads. And as history has shown us, nothing poses a greater threat to male privilege than a woman who is able to think for herself.