Archive for the ‘transactivism’ Category
You don’t have to be citizen of the UK to submit a response. This issue affects ALL WOMEN everywhere on the planet. I copied the entire page here so you can read it. But go to the original page to submit the form:
SEND A READY-MADE RESPONSE
To make this quick and easy to do, we have included some answers to the questions relating to women’s rights for you. All you have to do is fill out your contact details below, check you agree with our suggested answers and press SEND MY RESPONSE.
Your consultation response will then be sent directly to the Government by email and you will also receive a copy for your records. (note: the Government’s consultation document confirms that it will accept submissions by email as an alternative to using their online submission form)
The Government says this form must be completed and returned with your response to the consultation
- Publish my response, including my name
- Publish my response in anonymised form only
- Do not publish my response
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Dear Minister for Women and Equalities,
• I support the right of transgender people to live safely and free from the discrimination they experience because they identify as transgender.
• I also support the right of women to live safely and free from the discrimination they experience because they were born into the female sex.
• However, no increase in the legal rights of transgender people should come at the expense of women’s existing legal rights, or diminish in any way a woman’s right to safety, privacy or fairness.
MY VIEWS ON CHANGES TO THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT ARE AS FOLLOWS.
I HAVE LIMITED MY RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS 3, 9, 12, 13a, 14, 15, 19, 20 AND 22 AS THESE CONCERN ME THE MOST.
Q3. Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?
Please explain the reasons for your answer
If doctors, diagnoses and medical reports aren’t part of the checking process it means anyone can declare themselves male or female and no one can say otherwise. it leaves the system open to abuse by anyone, for any reason.
Q9. Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate ?
If no, how do you think it should be changed ? Birth sex should never be confidential when a male-born person is attempting to access a female-only space.
Q12. Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act ?
Please give reasons for your answer
I do not support any changes that would increase the number of people gaining a GRC because it will be more difficult to exclude male-born people from female-only sports if more male-born people have birth certificates saying they were born female.
Q13a. Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act ?
Please give reasons for your answer
I do not support any changes that would increase the number of people gaining a GRC because it will be more difficult to exclude male-born people from female-only spaces if more male-born people have birth certificates saying they were born female.
Q14. Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act ?
Please give reasons for your answer
I do not support any changes that would increase the number of people gaining a GRC because it will be more difficult to exclude male-born people from female-only occupations if more male-born people have birth certificates saying they were born female.
Q15. Do you think the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act ?
Please give reasons for your answer
I do not support any changes that would increase the number of people gaining a GRC because it will be more difficult to exclude male-born people from female-only accommodation if more male-born people have birth certificates saying they were born female.
Q19. Do you think that changes to the Gender Recognition Act will impact on areas of law and public services other than the Equality Act 2010 ?
Please give reasons for your answer
I do not support any changes that reduce eligibility requirements for a legal transition because it will mean more male-born prisoners requesting transfer into a women’s prison.
Q20. Do you think that there needs to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary ?
If you would like to, please expand upon your answer
A persons legal sex must continue to be limited to either male or female.
Q22. Do you have any further comments about the Gender Recognition Act ?
If you answered yes, please add your comments.
A comprehensive, evidence-based equality impact assessment on all protected characteristics must be published before a draft bill is presented to parliament. All stakeholders must be engaged to get evidence of impact.
Data Protection information
When you press submit, Fair Play for Women will email a copy of this consultation response directly to the Government. You will also receive a copy. Fair Play for Women will not use your personal information for any other purpose and it will be deleted once the consultation has been analysed
Thank you for defending female rights!
This is an exchange I recently had with the director of The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault after I had been banned from their facebook site for my inflammatory comments that women don’t have penises and that men who say they are women are just as dangerous to women in vulnerable spaces as any other man. They spoke to me in a manner I consider very condescending and of course they centered the feelings of men with psychosexual disorders over the truth. I publish these exchanges because I want there to be a record of how people enabled the eugenic sterilization of gender non-conforming children and blithely supported the erasure of women’s rights under the onslaught of the new patriarchal gender cult.
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2018 3:02 PM
To: Elizabeth Barnhill <email@example.com>
Subject: Transgender Rights and the Elimination of the Rights of Women
Hello Elizabeth Barnhill,
In 1985 sued my father for sexually assaulting me from my infancy until age 12. I was silenced by the courts because of the statute of limitations and so I went to the Vermont State Legislature and asked them to consider changing the laws on child sex abuse. Which they finally did, after 20 years. I worked in the domestic violence field supporting sexual assault survivors for 30 years. I am writing to you today to complain that I have been blocked from commenting on your organization’s Facebook page because I know that thoughts in a man’s head do not change his sex and that declaring oneself to be transgender does not change a man’s propensity toward male pattern violence. I am no longer able to attend support groups for rape survivors at RVAP because I have been informed I must accept that men are women if they say they are.
This is my account of my experience as an incest victim and the lawsuit I tried to bring against my abuser.
I posted a number of links to your Facebook page that describe the problem of allowing men who say they are women into protected female spaces (such as locker rooms, bathrooms, and domestic violence shelters) and I was silenced for daring to tell the truth. The feelings of men with sexual paraphilias and psychosexual personality disorders apparently take precedence over factual reality and the hard research that I as a female survivor of 12 years of sexual slavery and battery and a lifelong activist for the rights of women and children tried to present to your organization.
This is a list of the rights of women which are being destroyed by transgender activism:
This is a cross-dressing billionaire who will be profiting from mutilating and sterilizing gender non-conforming children. He owns pharmaceutical stock and will make money on the industrial cross sex hormones they are shooting kids up with
Right here in Iowa City they are performing eugenic experiments on kids. There is no long term research into the effects of this terrible medical fad. But they are just kids so they are disposable, right? As long as medical corporations are raking in the dough nobody better question this.
This never happens:
Elizabeth Barnhill firstname.lastname@example.org via iowa.onmicrosoft.com
Thank you for writing to let us know of your concerns. You have been through a lot in your lifetime and worked hard to get laws and systems to change. Thank you for all of your work.
We don’t agree that all transwomen are inherently dangerous and harmful to others, hence our social media policy, which says
“IowaCASA will not tolerate any kind of posts, links to articles on our page, or commentary that may be viewed as hurtful, harmful, or derogatory to any group of people. If a person continues to post remarks that may be viewed as hurtful, harmful, or derogatory, IowaCASA has the right to ban the person from the page.”
We know that you may want to comment on various issues related to sexual assault. If you would agree not to post and/or link to commentary that is derogatory to transpeople, we would agree to remove the block from your account.
I’m not able to speak to the decision made by RVAP, but would encourage you to have further discussion with them, if you have not. They likely have a similar policy about restricting derogatory remarks about any group of people.
We wish you well in your work,
Don’t Treat Feminist Poster Campaign as a “Crime”
A message from Ruth Rhiannon Barrett, editor of Female Erasure: What You Need To Know About Gender Politics’ War On Women, The Female Sex And Human Rights:
Last week I was de-platformed/terminated after being hired to be the featured presenter (full concert and workshops) at Gaea Goddess Gathering in Kansas this fall. A person complained, calling me a TERF, and asked that they fire me. They did. They did even after I disclosed my work with Women’s Mysteries and natal females, so that they would know going in who I am. I also made sure that they knew that I am going to be respectful of the intention that any festival has that I’m hired to present. My work there wasn’t going to be about, nor discuss trans anything. Their Board approved me. Then it all came down yesterday when someone complained (they quoted from the Female Erasure anthology). Although the Gathering didn’t’ give me the cause of termination in writing (I have asked for this in writing since yesterday), however it is clear that I was fired for having a different point of view, and in these times of fascistic politics on both the left and the right, intolerance for thinking or believing differently is punished.
I have already read discussions about the erasure of the Goddess, that the use of “She” as “transphobic”, so this is a heads-up for all of us who have been through the erasure of the Goddess though-out history. When the female sex is already being erased though the language we can or cannot use to describe our female biology, our rites of passage, and oppression, the Goddess is next. Please be or stay awake with this. It is here already.
I have been asked, “how can I/we support you?” Contact this festival FB- Gaea Goddess Gathering, www.gaeagoddessgathering.org, email is email@example.com, phone is 816-602-8333. You can also contact the Gaea Retreat Center where they hold this event at 25110 235th st. McLouth, KS 66054. Let them know that this kind of treatment is unacceptable, and share with organizations/groups that you know. Please, if you wish to offer support, only use language that supports us, as we don’t need to lower ourselves to their level of crap (name calling, etc). I am including the quotes that was posted online and now removed that instigated my termination. How ironic that the very issues the people mentioned as examples of why I shouldn’t be there, are exactly why we need to be having the conversations! That person thinks that censorship rather than discussion is the right thing to do. We must continue to have the conversations about our separate spaces, the medicalization of children, and the rest. Thank you for being there. Thanks for listening.
In Her Service,
Ruth Rhiannon Barrett
I was called a TERF and they listed these lines as examples of why I should be fired.
“Concerns about sterilization and a lifetime of dependence on pharmaceuticals and with no long-term studies of the health impact, are silenced. Young lesbians and gay boys can be “normalized” by transitioning them. The possibility that homophobia is playing out in this issue seems to be too taboo to discuss.” Ruth Barrett, Female Erasure
We need more discussions not censorship or religious persecution.
I’m not good at “treating” myself, I still have the protestant ethic attitude of self-denial that was part of my environment as a child. I know I shouldn’t eat too many sweets and so I avoid ice cream parlors and frozen yogurt shops. Last Wednesday I was coming home from a day of exploring new “wilderness” areas around the University of Iowa. I’d been out in the sun tramping the trails for several hours and as I was walking home down the Ped Mall I decided that a bowl of frozen yogurt sounded like a good idea.
I am a survivor of incest. I was held as a sexual hostage throughout my childhood by the violent pedophile who was my father. The abuse began in infancy and continued until I was able to escape at age 16 when I ran away to Canada. I am hyper-alert to body language, to subtle cues of voice, intonation, to the patterns of speech and the way that men and women move, the differences in the shapes of shoulders and hips, the hands, the neck. I have to know these things in order to keep myself safe. My body knows instinctively that male bodies are a potential source of danger to me. I can’t turn this sense off…it is hardwired by all of the beatings and rapes I have received at the hands of men that began so early in my life. This is not transphobia or bigotry, this is gut-level biological survival.
At the counter of the yogurt stand was a person who appeared at first to be a 13 year old boy, complete with short, slicked back hair, narrow shoulders, a shadow of a mustache and a breaking adolescent voice. After the first sentence this young woman uttered I knew immediately that she was in her late teens/early twenties, taking testosterone and pretending to be a boy. T-voice is extremely distinctive. I have heard it in the voices of several young women who decided to detransition. The voice change is permanent for girls and women who medically transition.
The other cues I picked up on were the tangible sense of anxiety and tension that exuded from her and the detached, mechanical way she kept repeating the same sentence to every customer as they paid for their treat, “Have a nice nice night!” she called out in that odd voice that sounded as if she’d been huffing balloon gas. It was strange because it was 3 in the afternoon. Anyway, I felt uncomfortable sitting there because I knew something about this woman that she thought she was keeping secret. I was also a bit concerned that she may have recognized me. This is a small community and the Tranz Cult is an even smaller clique and I have been vehemently vocal about the eugenic horror that is medical sexual reassignment.
But I was also uncomfortable because I was in the presence of a human being who had signed up for inclusion in what is essentially a cult that is based in mortification of the flesh. These mortification cults have been a staple of patriarchal religions since the beginning of male supremacy. They express the core of the body-hatred that is a fundamental aspect of the slave religions of patriarchy. I believe these cults arise in times of increased social duress as a way to cement one’s sense of identification with a group in the face of an uncertain future – which is certainly the case in an age of peak oil and climate chaos. These poor kids think they have invented some kind of brand new revolutionary gender theology, when really the Tranz Cult is an outgrowth of the bondage and discipline scene, which is a leftover from The Inquisition, i.e., the torture and murder of witches and other heretics. The message is that the sex hierarchy WILL BE ENFORCED. If you don’t fit the stereotype you can join the Tranz and buy yourself a new “meat costume” and act out the opposite sexist stereotype. So progressive!
Mortification of the flesh is meant to achieve salvation. Saved from the fate of growing up female in a world that tortures and exploits females. And otherwise progressive and intelligent people support this insanity and vilify women like me who try to alert the public to what is happening to kids as a result of the gender identity ideology cult nonsense. Nobody has EVER been born into the “wrong body.” Only a viciously body-and-woman-hating culture could dream up this kind of sadomasochistic crap.
I am reblogging the report I Went To The Degenderettes Panel that was originally posted HERE.
The post includes a large number of photographs of the exhibit that was featured at the San Francisco Public Library that included items promoting violence against women. It also has a report on the panel by a woman who attended. Livestreaming and audio recording were not permitted.
Sharing on at the request of some sister feminists:
A COUNTER-EXHIBIT TO THE DEGENDERETTES DISPLAY AT THE SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY.
Recently, the SF Public Library mounted an exhibit of art and weapons (axes and baseball bats) used by the Degenderettes that included a t-shirt splashed in red (to indicate blood) with the words “I Punch TERFS” scrawled across it. Feminists are helping pull together an exhibit to counter this call for violence against women.
THE CONCEPT: We would like women to submit pictures of themselves holding up a sign that describes why they were called TERFs, beginning with “I was called a TERF because …” Anyone who does not want to show their face can simply cover it with the sign.
Example of a sign: “I was called a TERF because I said that gender isn’t a feeling. #IWasCalledTERF”
We will then create an online exhibit of the photos.
We would like to do a TWITTER CAMPAIGN on May 26 @ 2 PM PDT to coincide with a panel on “Art and Activism in the Bay” that the SFPL is hosting in conjunction with the Degenederettes exhibit. We will use the hashtag: #IWasCalledTERF
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1. Please submit photos of yourself as described above. Please email your photo(s) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Please get ready to tweet your photo to the SFPL (@SFPublicLibrary) on Saturday, May 26 at 2 PM PDT using the hashtag: #IWasCalledTERF.
My name is Jeanne Allyn Smith. I am a 65 year old grandmother and art student at UIOWA SAAH. I sued my father for incest in 1985 in order to change the sexist, victim-blaming laws on child sex abuse. I was able to change the laws in Vermont. I helped to establish battered women’s shelters and I worked as a peer advocate for survivors of rape and child sex abuse for 30 years. I keep trying to alert this community to a terrible problem and every time I speak up you ignore me or answer me in corporatese computer-speak, every sign I put up on your doors as my frustrated attempt to be heard – in this misogynist atmosphere of silencing any woman who knows people can’t change their sex and male privilege doesn’t go away because a man says he feels like a woman – Is taken down and seen as some kind of prank.
It is time for you to pay attention to what is happening to women and children as a result of enshrining men with a psychosexual mental disorder as the most important category of oppressed individuals. As if men taking a chemical and castrating themselves (tho I know most trans-identified men don’t actually chop off their precious DICK) means that a lifetime of socialization into male supremacy suddenly evaporates.
RVAP informed me in an email in 2015 that I would have to accept men who say they are women into my incest survivor support group. I was not asked if this was ok with me, it was simply imposed on me by the authorities. And I know enough about how your minds work to know that if I complained I would have been branded as a bigot and the policy would still be in force. And so I have no ongoing support for my permanent issues related to having been a sex hostage for the first 12 years of my life.
And who can I turn to in order to redress this harm? Where can I find a lawyer who is willing to confront the juggernaut of gender identity fascism? Nowhere, because cross-dressing billionaires have paid big bucks to tell us all what to think and believe and EVERYONE is terrified to ask questions. Like this one: in what UNIVERSE is it ever acceptable to poison, sterilize and castrate a child? How can any sane person support the idea of removing healthy organs from children in order to force their bodies to appear to be the other sexist gender stereotype?
Finally, gender ideology fascism is an international problem and yet, because it doesn’t fit your narrative it never appears in your public communications. You can’t HEAR us complaining so no problem, right?
Cherry Smiley is a Nlaka’pamux and Diné feminist who refuses to be silent.
The smearing, harassment, no-platforming, and silencing of women who express feminist opinions about gender and prostitution is unacceptable.
I can’t remember the exact words, who said it or when, but the general message was: courage isn’t the lack of fear, but doing something even when you’re afraid. I am writing this with lots of fear about a backlash that will almost certainly happen. However, I’ve reached the point where I can’t stay silent any longer and need to muster whatever courage I can and do what I think is right, regardless of the cost.
This past week, a woman I’m proud to call a sister ally, Yuly Chan, was no-platformed by a small group of individuals who appointed themselves judge and jury of acceptable ideas and speech. They claimed Chan was a violent, hateful woman whose political opinions were too dangerous to be shared in a public venue and demanded she be removed from a panel scheduled as part of this weekend’s Vancouver Crossroads conference. Chan had been invited by conference organizers, the Vancouver District and Labour Council (VLDC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Organize BC, to speak on behalf of her group, the Chinatown Action Group. The Chinatown Action Group organizes to improve the lives of low-income residents of Vancouver’s Chinatown, many of whom are seniors. She was to speak to the incredibly important work of this group at the conference.
A recently-formed group called the Coalition Against Trans Antagonism (CATA) wrote a letter to the organizers, then an open letter that included a link to a website CATA had built, documenting supposed evidence of Chan as a threat to public safety. Although Chan was not speaking on the panel about debates around gender or prostitution, Organize BC members interrogated Chan about her politics regarding these issues and eventually refused to move ahead with the panel unless she was removed. Instead of condemning the unethical tactics and behaviour of CATA, intended to silence Chan and smear her as a hate-filled oppressor, the organizers cancelled the entire panel, sending a message that the organizers and their supporters were not willing to take a stand to ensure the needs of low-income Chinese residents were heard. As a result, the Chinatown Action Group was no-platformed right along with their representative.
CATA also demanded that the conference organizers issue a public apology for daring to invite Chan to speak about the activism of low-income Chinese residents of Vancouver. They also demanded that a policy be instituted with the guidance and approval of only “trans women and sex workers,” banning anyone “who promote[s] any form of oppressive, supremacist, and fascist ideology from being offered and/or provided a platform at any of VDLC, CUPE, and Organize BC’s future events.” But who decides which ideologies are “oppressive, supremacist, and fascist”? And why, in activist and academic circles, has it become common and acceptable to engage in witch hunts to rid “the community” (that is made up of whom?) of particular political positions that are grounded not in hate or violence, but in a radical feminist analysis (radical meaning “the root”)? Chan, and so many others who question and critique systems of power are being persecuted for having these feminist or critical politics. It is not violent oppressors, supremacists, or fascists that are being silenced and no-platformed in this case and others like it, it is feminists. There are limits, of course, to the idea of “free speech,” but what I am addressing is specifically discourse among activists and academics on the left.
Organize BC privately and publicly apologized to CATA for inviting Yuly Chan to speak on the panel. But I will not apologize for standing next to Chan and the Chinatown Action Group, and next to all people who have been no-platformed, threatened, intimidated, bullied, and even beaten for their political opinions.
What was Chan’s crime? Having a political analysis and sharing it. She is accused of promoting “SWERF/TERF” ideology. “SWERF” stands for “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist,” and “TERF” stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.” These terms are used as insults against women with a radical feminist or class analysis of prostitution and gender. “SWERFs” and “TERFs” are accused of hating, oppressing, harming, and sometimes even killing trans women and sex workers, despite the fact no feminist engages in these practices.
I am of the political opinion that prostitution is a form of male violence that should be abolished. I am also of the political opinion that gender is a social construct and hierarchy that traps and harms women and should also be abolished. Today, these two sentences are enough to mark me as a violent, hate-filled, supremacist/fascist, and have the ability to destroy my reputation, livelihood, and potential academic or employment opportunities now and in the future. I have already been passed over for some opportunities due to my political analysis of prostitution, asked to leave conferences, told I’m not allowed to speak about prostitution when invited to speak about Indigenous research, and threatened with police involvement. I have been intimidated and harassed due only to my politics, not my behaviour. These are only some examples of some of the backlash that I, and other women, have experienced for speaking our opinions. This backlash, however, doesn’t just include no-platforming, but also threats and acts of violence. To many, this may sound unbelievable, as though I am exaggerating. I wish this were the case. I wish I were exaggerating. Unfortunately, this is the reality of activist and academic circles in Canada and elsewhere.
Speaking of academia, in 2016 I was publicly accused online of being an oppressive “SWERF” and “TERF” by a former employee of the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University, where I am a student. This is the first time I am speaking publicly about this incident, as I have been too afraid to do so since it happened. Although this individual is no longer employed by the Centre for Gender Advocacy, going on instead to become the president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ), this issue has not been resolved. In the public post, I was accused of oppressing sex workers and being “transphobic,” funders and the university were tagged, a quote was attributed to me that I never said, and individuals went on a hunt to dig up evidence of my supposed bigotry. One person attempted to publicly engage in discussion about these allegations against me, which I’m grateful for, but they were not heard. Some faculty members were concerned that a staff person at a student support organization was making these types of public allegations about a student and alerted some in positions of power at the University, but got little, if any, response. The manager of the Centre for Gender Advocacy was made aware of the situation, and I am not aware of anything that was or is being done to resolve and rectify the situation. No one has reached out to me to apologize for the online bullying I had experienced, or to speak about concerns or questions they had about my politics, leading me to believe this type of hostility is directed at me not only by one staff member, but the Centre for Gender Advocacy as an organization. I explored different options myself, but was unable to find a way to formally hold the individual and Centre to account. I attempted to find support at the University, but those I approached refused to speak out against the behaviour of the individual and the Centre.
Regardless of your politics, this behaviour is unacceptable. It is not ok to tell lies about people or subject them to political persecution over disagreements. It’s important to note that the Centre houses Missing Justice, an Indigenous solidarity group that hosts the march for murdered and disappeared Indigenous women and girls every year in Montreal. As an Indigenous woman who works on these issues, I was already alienated from Missing Justice when, a number of years ago, non-Indigenous organizers told me to stop speaking and attempted to literally grab a megaphone out of my hand when I was invited to make a statement at their gathering by another Indigenous speaker. My crime was a decolonizing and feminist critical analysis of prostitution and speaking out against men buying sexual access to Indigenous women and girls. In other words, my crime was having a political opinion that differed from the organizers. Rather than attempting to silence an Indigenous woman at an event supposedly held for Indigenous women, a better way forward would have been to publicly acknowledge at the event that my statement does not reflect the organizer’s politics and to encourage those in attendance to learn more about the issue.
Although this incident happened many years ago and the online bullying at Concordia happened two years ago, it continues to severely impact my life as a student in different ways. The message I received from the inaction by the University and the Centre for Gender Advocacy is that it is entirely acceptable to attempt to silence those who are critical of prostitution. I still hear this message today. I feel fear about publicizing these experiences. The very fact that I feel intensely afraid to speak about my own experiences speaks volumes about the climate of activism and academia today.
These incidents are bigger than Yuly Chan and bigger than myself. They have and continue to happen against women with a radical feminist analysis of prostitution and gender. Campaigns are launched against us to silence us, destroy our reputations, paint us as violent, hateful, and oppressive fascists. A 61-year-old woman was even physically assaulted by a young trans-identified male for daring to show up to attend a panel discussing gender and legislation in England.
Regardless of your perspective on prostitution or gender, you have a right to be heard. This means that I may not agree with you and I may challenge your ideas, and you may not agree with me and challenge my ideas, but you have a right to your political analysis and to share that publicly, as do I. Threatening women (for example, tweeting that “TERFS” should be raped or killed), destroying women’s reputations, and compromising women’s incomes is completely unacceptable behaviour. This is not how we build and maintain relationships. Relationships with political allies are incredibly important, but so too are the relationships between political adversaries. These relationships are much more difficult and challenging to navigate, but maintaining good relations means being respectful even to those we may disagree with or dislike. Being respectful can mean you passionately disagree, that you challenge ideas and behaviour — even that you express frustration or anger — but always recognizing the humanity of the person you disagree with. “SWERF” and “TERF” are made up categories of women — they are not accurate descriptors of anyone’s politics, certainly not the politics of feminists. These terms take away the ability of women to name ourselves and describe our own political positions – a situation all too familiar for Indigenous women.
Disagreement is not violence, and I worry about the impacts of the term “violence” being redefined to mean almost anything, rendering it meaningless. Causing offense is not the same as committing violence. Words are not violence. Words can call for violence, yes, but being critical of prostitution and gender is not calling for any type of violence. Rather, this is a legitimate critical analysis of systems that impact us all. Words and images can contribute to a culture that devalues some, and for many reasons, encourage, normalize, or passively accept acts of violence, but to say that making a statement others find offensive or that challenges their political analysis equates to literal violence right then and there is inaccurate, and is a means to silence those of us who hold critical feminist opinions. This new definition of “violence” also impacts women who do experience male violence, such as rape, physical assault, murder, or emotional abuse, to name just a few examples.
The name of the conference, “Crossroads,” speaks to our current culture, which silences women deemed dangerous. We are at a crossroads: we can choose to open up dialogue and encourage respectful disagreement and really work to hear from as many as we can who are impacted by an issue — even if the political position is unpopular — or we can choose to let only a few individuals decide that radical political opinions are dangerous, and allow them to dictate the terms of their and other people’s public engagement with those ideas; then silence, threaten, intimidate, and attempt to harm anyone who does not agree with their politics.
Doing nothing is no longer an option — staying silent only gives more power to those who wish to silence women with politics that differ from their own.
I stand with Yuly Chan, the Chinatown Action Group, and all women who have dared to speak up and share their critical perspectives on prostitution and gender. I’m proud to be considered a dangerous woman, as I try to be as dangerous to the patriarchy as possible. As women, we are trained to tolerate, accept, and accommodate patriarchy, racism, capitalism, and colonization.
Too often, activists and academics who claim to be working for justice choose to side with individuals who use bully tactics to shut women that they don’t agree with up. There is nothing new or progressive or inclusive or diverse about telling feminist women to shut up. A strategy grounded in recognizing another’s humanity would include engaging, debating, and disagreeing passionately and respectfully at public events or holding an event to highlight one’s own particular political analysis and engaging in public discussion and advocacy around the issue at hand. Silencing women considered dangerous for having thoughts and sharing them is not how we treat each other when we recognize each other as equals.
I encourage all dangerous women and allies to speak out against the no-platforming and assault on women who express radical feminist opinions or critical ideas about prostitution and gender.
Cherry Smiley is a Nlaka’pamux and Diné feminist who refuses to be silent.