I could no longer ignore his face splattered all over the place. I’m talking about John Stoltenberg and his insistence on reversing Andrea’s words.
She was writing long before peak trans struck. She was writing before trans was as big of an issue for women as it is today. You cannot apply the quotes made by a woman when Dworkin wrote Woman Hating to today’s feminism, or today’s “climate”. She wrote:
“while the system of gender polarity is real, it is not true…. [T]he system based on this polar model of existence is absolutely real; but the model itself is not true. We are living imprisoned inside a pernicious delusion, a delusion on which all reality as we know it is predicated.” – See more at: http://www.feministtimes.com/%E2%80%AA%E2%80%8Egenderweek-andrea-was-not-transphobic/#sthash.WhZ75efv.LwZ78DRJ.dpuf
Men have clearly managed to make the most innocuous lines all about them. “Living inside a precious delusion” does not mean that some females are pretending to be women. Or that some of us have female penises. The delusion is that women have somehow gotten to be the way they are without going through life living in fear and dread of repercussions if they jump outside their cages, so elaborately crafted by men. The delusion is that the femininity you see in women is somehow not the result of a boot on the neck. The delusion is that women enjoy sex for money because that’s what they were born for. That’s the delusion Andrea was talking about.
Daly admitted her mistakes and recanted her use of the word “androgyny” in her book Beyond God the Father. This was her first book and she argued for gender abolition, believing that androgyny was a desired state. As her work evolved, she became clearly in favour of separatism and regretted her previous writings when she used this word. Feminists are likely to be drawn to the concept of androgyny because it implies a certain freedom from gender constraints. Upon further inspection, we are forced to admit that men and women are very different. It didn’t take Daly long to move beyond the realms of neatly discussing how women could live in an androgynous society and into spinning and spiralling through the Background.
That’s the thing about writers. They evolve. They take stock and (if they’re good) they move with the times.
The following quote is also to be examined:
““It is shamefully easy for us to enjoy our own fantasies of biological omnipotence while despising men for enjoying the reality of theirs. And it is dangerous—because genocide begins, however improbably, in the conviction that classes of biological distinction indisputably sanction social and political discrimination. We, who have been devastated by the concrete consequences of this idea, still want to put our faith in it. Nothing offers more proof—sad, irrefutable proof—that we are more like men than either they or we care to believe.” – See more at: http://www.feministtimes.com/%E2%80%AA%E2%80%8Egenderweek-andrea-was-not-transphobic/#sthash.WhZ75efv.dpuf
This passage is most certainly open to debate in the radfem community, and in radfem theory in general. Dworkin did not believe women were biologically superior to men. Many radfems believe the same as she did- that there is hope for men, that they are not natural born killers. Other radfems think men and women are very different. Yet others (and I think I fall into this category) are too tired to care– we just want to be away from men.
Quite what this quote has to do with transwomen is beyond me. Saying that “we are more like men than either they or we care to believe” is saying women may have the killer gene, which would be exposed if we had access to men’s weapons. This refutes the trans “theory” that men and women are in gendered categories because of their nature, that women just like pink things and fluffy kittens and men like blue and guns, that women must be a certain way because they are female. She is categorically stating that if you remove the extreme violence that is required to keep women docile they may, just may be able to behave like men, and perhaps by that she means more fully human, and perhaps by that she means they will kill their rapists.
Dworkin did declare that there were more than two sexes:
We can presume then that there is a great deal about human sexuality to be discovered, and that our notion of two discrete biological sexes cannot remain intact. We can presume then that we will discover cross-sexed phenomena in proportion to our ability to see them.
My suggestion is the following: Dworkin wanted to believe that if there were more than two sexes, then female oppression wasn’t set in stone. She wanted to believe that by arguing for the existence of many sexes, women could perhaps circumvent oppression. This is pretty much what trans men believe today. That they can escape oppression by escaping being female. If femaleness is not absolute then there is hope, right?
Times have changed. The jury is out on whether her writing would have evolved with the times. Whether she would stand here among us today and not side with radical feminists on the issue of trans.
If I might make a suggestion. If she was living with Stolternberg, could it be that his influence over her meant that she couldn’t go to the end of her thoughts on this matter? Could it be that he was directing her energies away from women? In her essay about her rape she clearly states that John didn’t believe her. Living with someone who doesn’t believe your rape is hard, by the way. Annihilating.