And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark aimed right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me, ohh. Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”
So last Thursday I published what may well have been the most controversial piece I’ve ever blogged. No, not the one where I advocated that armed revolution may someday be necessary to preserve basic reproductive rights, or the one where I talked about debatable mental health procedures. No, the issue of controversy was pointing out the hateful activities of a hate group. Yeah, really. And then the Reddit MRA hate-hive got ahold of it, and I just wanted to cry.
My first impulse was to hang up my spurs, say F it all, and go out in a blaze of glory. After all, that’s what I did last time when a notorious trans woman MRA called out the Man Klux Klan at my blog and set them upon trying to doxx me. But you know what? This time, I’m not going anywhere, because running is exactly what pro-patriarchy hate groups like MRAs, radical fauxminists, and fundamentalist white Christianity expect us to do. There’s no sense in it, no win in it. Similarly, the pushback that the post got from inside ‘trans community’ reveals some things about our priorities that I think we need to talk about and stop running from or slapping labels on, and that we need to make some difficult decisions about the direction of trans community in light of a number of recent scandals and setbacks that seem to plague the discourse and how that affects the lives of real trans people who ‘trans community’ continues to resolutely ignore or even harm.
If I’m going out, I’m going out swinging. If I’m gonna run into walls, I’m going to do it at full speed. So here we are and here’s part 2 about MRAs, and a bit about the allegation that I said anything about disregarding radical fauxminists. Spoiler alert: I didn’t. Please accept my apologies in advance for how beastly long this post is going to be, as yet another Starbucks to Denny’s to Starbucks assembly line and hours awake produced this.
So about the MRA(sshole) types and their GamerGate whining auxiliary, it’s time to stand up. We’ve let MRAs control the discourse about their presence for far too long hoping really hard that they’ll just go away, and frankly that allows the hatred of the Man Klux Klan to do what it does best: harm the people it hates the most. You know, like sex workers, trans women, women of color, and…well, let’s just say the word “women” keeps coming up. There’s a reason for that: for too long the seething hatred of women, along with the white supremacy, ableism, and transmisogyny, of the “Men’s Rights Movement” has been given a free pass, not just by trans people but by the vast majority of people out there who are decent enough not to belong to a hate movement. The comments that I approved to my last post were bad enough: the ones I didn’t approve were even worse. These are people who stand for and exemplify the Men’s Rights Bowel Movement at its finest.
It’s time to fight back outside the academic sphere, for example. There’s been quite a few papers on the negative impact on society advanced by the MRBM (they didn’t like being called a hate movement, and as much as I don’t want to associate them with something biologically necessary like taking a dump, they are basically fecal matter, so there you go) and that’s great and all, but theory has a place and a time and neither of them really helps us here. So it’s time to name and shame MRAs just like you would their predecessors, Klansmen. The only way we got anywhere with the Klan was to identify its members, and that’s the only way to get anywhere with the Man Klux Klan. When they harass you, identify, name, and shame.
Now, I know precisely what this will be accused of: “doxxing.” (You know, the same thing GamerGate does and then claims not to do as it’s caught doing it.) Unfortunately, “doxxing” has a meaning, and it doesn’t mean identifying people who send you threats or engage in hate speech toward you. And by “hate speech”, I don’t mean that someone made you feel uncomfortable, I mean things like rants laden with “bitch” and similar. It’s not a restraint of “free speech” either while we’re at it. See, you can say what you want, but actions have consequences, and within those actions are the consequence that hatred of minorities is repugnant. Everyone from Antonin Scalia down to Antoine at the corner shop agrees that there’s a point where what you say has consequences. As an example, if I tell Antoine I have carnal knowledge of his mother, he’s probably going to be unhappy. Actions and language have consequences, and when they cross lines, those consequences are appropriate. So guess what, MRAs and GooberGrapers? The reckoning is that we need to no longer idly stand by and accept your bullying in silence based on the ideal that your hate activities take place in the dark, and further that it’s time to start infiltrating the Man Klux Klan to destroy it from within. The claim that there’s no real organized MRBM activity is a complete lie, much as it’s not shocking to see MRAs lie. For example, here’s a meetup in Alexandria, VA. Or if you’re in or near Edmonton, Alberta, there’s always Men’s Rights Edmonton. There’s also a message board or four out there, but I’ll decline to link to them…don’t worry, MRAs, we’ve infiltrated those already.
Just like it took decent upstanding citizens infiltrating the Klan, not legal action, to bring them to their knees, the same can be accomplished with the MRBM. There’s many decent white men out there who fit what the MRBM wants, and this is a call to action to those men to identify the hate within their communities, to stand up for your friends and family are Now, let’s be real: don’t go after some random dude who’s frustrated with women, we need to concentrate on actual threats, like anti-repro-rights protests that MRAs have planned…it’d be useful to know the location for counter-protests, for example. And if someone’s talking about equitable divorce that’s actually, you know, equitable, it’s not report-worthy. Don’t harm the misled, work to identify the ringleaders and the people involved with doing actual harm as part of their mission. Do take note of what companies and such are involved with sponsorship, who runs ads on MRA sites, etc. Keep track of who’s responsible for organized harassment, identify Grand Wizards…er, I mean leaders, and shine some light on the cockroaches. (And no, MRAssholes, I’m not calling men cockroaches, I’m calling hateful white men who freely choose hate cockroaches. You have made the free choice to join and participate in a hate mob, so…actually, that might be insulting cockroaches.)
“But they’ll get revenge!” Honey, they already are getting revenge. The MRA-centered sham ‘consumer revolt’ that is GamerGate is actively harassing women and minorities in gaming as what it’s admitted is a recruiting event. A recent post of one of my blog entries on Reddit’s MRBM forum of choice for misogynist onanism, /r/mensrights even got a couple of approvals of GamerGate padding the MRBM’s membership. (It also included lots of avoiding gender pronouns, misinformed-or-maybe-plain-ol-bullshit statements about trans women. Ah, MRAs, the same people who claim to be our ‘allies’ as long as we agree to be morally mandated out of existence…) Just like the Klan pandered to the white moderate in bad times, the MRBM panders to a gross stereotype of what gamers are, and now is discovering that most gamers don’t meet that stereotype…oh and that a lot of guys who do are decent human beings with no desire to be involved in a hate mob. All that GamerGate consists of is organized MRA harassment under color of being about “ethics in gaming.” Just like in Dragon’s Lair, you can make decisions that lure you into a trap much later in the game, akin to that goddamn sliding floor in “Tomb of Horrors.” At this point, GamerGate has dropped to being about harassment of women and minorities and occasionally complaining that Gawker Media exists. GamerGate’s targets ate identical to the MRBM’s, and their strategies of harassment are identical. Paul Elam endorses violence against women, GamerGate makes death treats against women.
One thing, though, MRBM: most of the comments complained about my linking to David Futrelle’s “We Hunted The Mammoth”, which is a site that screenshots and reproduces actual MRAsshole quotes. Why the righteous anger at the words that your own hate movement endorses being reproduced? Why these constant vague accusations that Futrelle is doing something wrong? I mean, the one definite thing MRBM members have had to say is that Mr. Futrelle is “fat.” That’s really adult, MRBM. I’m curious if, without resorting to misogyny, an MRBM member can attempt to explain what these alleged wrongdoings are.
As for the radical fauxminists, there’s been a number of completely false assertions about my last piece. The fact that MRAs have taken over the #1 slot doesn’t mean to stop paying attention to radical fauxminists, who some of you identify as “T*RFs” and others identify as “gender-critical”, their hatred, or the damage they do to all womankind, but especially to trans women, disabled women, and women of color. Hmm, interesting that the radfaux hates the same people as the MRA…and if you’re telling me I’m going easy on these people, consider my background. I don’t use the acronym to refer to gendercrits/radfauxs anymore, but I still feel exactly the same about their hate, and I feel the same about the monoculture that “trans community” displays and its obsession with whiteness and uniformity as playing into the radfaux narrative.
So have you ever taken cod liver oil? This is gonna be cod liver oil. Keeps you healthy in the dark months, tastes completely horrible. The monoculture of “trans community” isn’t changing. I’ve been asking nicely for 3 bloody years now, and we still have the same failure-laden white masters who serve us poorly. People who mismanage our activism like Gwen Smith, Allison Woolbert, and their ilk are actively harming trans women by promoting a monoculture, refusing to allow discussion of race, and attacking trans women they consider “lesser” who don’t fall in line with their white safety-respectability politics precisely. There’s no discussion of race on the official TDoR site again why? And we get criticized for the whiteness of the community by who? That’s right, the radfauxs that hate us. Maybe letting in trans women of color without attacking us as Ms. Woolbert was notorious for doing would help. In fact, maybe it’s time for an entirely new paradigm about inclusiveness, but that’s fodder for another post, another day. There’s only so much cod liver oil you can take at once, you know…but just as an aside, what does “trans community” have to lose in ostracizing fewer people? Why do the tragic suicides of younger white trans women attract attention (as long as they’re not sex workers, in which case they’re ignored, which is ghastly) but the violence toward trans women of color, both self-inflicted and inflicted by others, gets one day a year? This spins around in my mind like homey’s rims, that is.
But this is the meat of the matter: the term “T*RF” has become massively overused and has become completely misused. The failure of Brianna Wu to back a fundraiser recently got her labeled a “TE*F.” Unfortunately, as a way of dealing with disagreement, “TE*F” is the wrong tack to take and in fact absolutely marauds the original intent of the term. As much as some of you torch me in effigy for not using that term (and have even called me a “T*RF”), the term has become greatly overused, and in its overuse has lost meaning for dealing with pro-patriarchy anti-woman feminists who work to do other women active harm like Bess Hungerford, Cathy Brennan, Janice Raymond, Lierre Keith, et al who deserve such a term as they’re shamelessly transexterminationist. There’s a difference between casual transmisogyny and active, harmful transmisogyny; the same goes for casual racism/active racism, harming sex workers through error against working actively to harm them, etc.
And here’s where we can’t take our eyes off the prize: the radical fauxminist is no less of a threat than the Misogyny Reinforcing Asshole, since they fight for the same thing (paaaaaaatriarchy) through different avenues. If the prior evidence wasn’t enough, they’re even turning on basic reproductive rights in the modern era. Just like Dr. Raymond’s paranoid anti-RU486 screed set back abortion rights in the US, Ms. Brennan has taken to showing her true right-wing colors in working with the Pacific Justice Institute and calling a Black gynecologist a “violent abortionist” on Twitter. I guess the more patriarchal sellouts change, the more they stay the same? The T*RF, so-called, is hell-bent on helping the patriarchy do what it does best: divide and conquer women, and then reinforce that some women are more “equal” than others. What ever happened to the radical notion that women are people? Ah, well, in radfauxlandia, only women who behave the way the radfaux wants are people, and coincidentally the radfaux enforces white patriarchy while expecting to be exempt from that themselves. It’s just like when cops expect to be exempt from the law…
That said, it might be time to start looking at the long view rather than the short one in that a disagreement with a cis woman (or a trans woman who doesn’t meet impossible purity standards) does not make one a “T*RF.” The term had a pretty distinct meaning in identifying war criminals like Hungerford or Keith who generally work behind the scenes to reinforce an animus against certain kinds of women…they both are the epitome of where this term comes from: the idea that in the name of supporting patriarchy under the false flag of “feminism” that they get to attack some women on behalf of patriarchy. When the term is used to describe a disagreement, it loses its force. I’m not saying you can’t use TE*F, but I’m going to decline to do so personally. I refuse to cede the moral high ground of feminism to women who aid and abet patriarchy, and I similarly believe radical fauxminist is a more accurate term for what they are. Again, you’re welcome to say that acronym and I’m not judging you, but think about what the reason for using it is. Think about how bad the Brennans and the Germaine Greers are to anyone who doesn’t fit their predestination concept of self under the guise of ‘feminism’ as they pad the pockets of white men.
Now, this obviously does feminism a disservice. And no matter what the whiny man babies of /r/mensrights and the brigading commenters they send here tell me I know about feminism, I know a little bit about the history and structure of the feminist movement…hell, I had a semester of that from Dr. Raymond herself. I know that mainstream feminism isn’t actively transmisogynist, but it messes up, and there are obvious criticisms of feminism that I don’t really have the space to discuss, but frequently those within ‘trans community’ who oppose feminism do so based on the actions of the radical fauxminist/T*RF as well as the mainstream/liberal feminist who may not be intentionally harmful in the same way as a radical fauxminist. But we have what’s best called an “interlocking failure” here, where multiple elements present an opportunity for oppression to buddy up, and unfortunately one of the things the most virulent radical fauxminists use to harm trans women is the allegation that we’re all white and have one single set of experiences. And, well, when you consider ‘acceptable’ narratives, that’s about it; one of the going frustrations I’ve had in this and my previous blog alike is that there is little flexibility about these “acceptable” narratives, a choice by our community leaders to literally play into the hate of the radical fauxminist. We have to change what’s “acceptable” from within, and I don’t know how to do that, but we have to figure something out if we want liberation and equality.
We have to fight this battle on all fronts. And I know GamerGate may seem like a hackneyed comparison, but it actually is pretty appropriate: the solution to all matters of patriarchy is to decline to allow patriarchal operatives to control the discourse to the best of our ability, to watch for and name and shame harassment and violence (and in trans community that includes structural violence like exclusion or ostracism based on body type or disability), and to make it clear that we need the backing of allies.
But no, at no point did I say to ease up off radical fauxminists or to stop paying attention to them. I think we do need to be more strict about identifying them, as well as radfaux-influenced legislation and policymaking, but we also need to do the same when it comes to watching out for Men’s Rights Bowel Movement types attempting to gain traction in the public sphere. Curating the battles that we fight is central to both defeating patriarchy, making sure that people who commit active and passive violence against us are responsible socially, and also to fighting the activism burnout that seems to plague queer activism generally and trans activism in specific. Because you know what? This is more important than about me, this is more important than what someone thinks of Erica, because liberation means sometimes you break some eggs. I don’t really care about a popularity contest anymore, but as my very first blog post put it, I want us to be strong and free.
Good? Now let’s get in the game. Sing us out, Florence.
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn… “Shake It Out”
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