One of the key problems with the trans rights movement is that it erases women as a class. If anyone can be a woman then how do you make a distinction between the oppressors and the oppressed? Men in dresses are already being counted as women in crime statistics. If females have nothing in common, then there’s no class oppression, no need for feminism and we can all pack up our bags and go home.
Just in case anyone’s still in any doubt about the trans movement being anything other than a men’s rights movement.
The oppressed group needs to identify with each other, as a class in order to articulate their commonalities, so they can mobilize against the oppressors. This is why the statement “the personal is political” became so important. And for all Betty Friedan’s faults, she managed to get some groups of women to understand that their unhappiness existed, not because they were chemically imbalanced–but because housewifery and domesticity were not conducive to mental health, and that all women in fact hated what they believed was their normal role in life. This is the coming of consciousness we understand as feminism. Commonality of experience as women.
In the second chapter of Sexual Politics, Kate Millett outlined in painstaking detail precisely how and why women constitute a political and economic class. Mary Daly said it would be more appropriate to call women a “caste” rather than a class. Either definition is perfectly fine. Dworkin used poetic language to help us understand: every woman is one man away from welfare. She means that women who escape heterosexuality don’t escape their male bosses or work colleagues, so there is very little room for maneuver.
And what I want to do with this post is address the purpose of excluding mothers of sons from radical feminism. I want to understand whether or not this is helpful to women.
And what I have concluded is that when you make statements such as “you can’t be a real radfem if you have a boy” right through to saying mother should hurt their boys, then you have to understand that you will automatically exclude mothers of boys from the conversation.
If a large group of women, who understand what patriarchy is, and who want it gone– are excluded from the conversation, then radical feminism is no longer talking about women as a class. It’s talking about something else. It’s talking about small select groups of women who might one day make it to freedom, leaving the rest behind.
“No woman left behind” was what was said during the second wave.
This might be a frustrating sentiment because it’s unrealistic– but it’s the only analysis that regards women as a class, and therefore the only analysis that is cogent in radical feminism. If you are a feminist and want to do something else, for example, if you want to organize in smaller groups and strategize for your own freedom in any way you can– fine. But know that if it’s not a class analysis, then it’s simply not radical feminism.
I am all for separatism. I believe the only way women will ever be free from men is by practicing separatism and teaching this possibility to their daughters. Starving patriarchy of our energy.
There is an argument to be had, of course, about the merits and demerits of raising male children. A Radical feminist consciousness might encourage a woman to stop having the children she had planned to have. I myself planned to have 4 and started young so I could achieve this. Once I understood the jist of radical feminism, I concluded I shouldn’t have any more.
There’s also an argument to be had about whether or not women are able to understand their oppression, if they have boy children. I would argue that the very act of becoming a mother brings you smack bang up against patriarchy and radicalizes many women– no matter the sex of their child. It all begins with seeing that first of all you might actually die before, during or after childbirth… right through to the drastically different ways you are treated by society compared to the baby’s father. How little he has to compromise, compared to how much you have to give up, and so on. A woman is not defined by her child, nor is she an extension of it. Her thoughts are her own.
And female only spaces, of course must be protected. I don’t at all advocate that mothers insist they bring their young sons to female-only meetings and so on.
But if we believe in radical feminist analysis then we have to admit that mothers of sons are members of the class we want to see freed.
Men are under no illusions about who is a member of their class– and who isn’t.
And on a final note, will you actually feel free, knowing that somewhere down the mountain there are other women still being raped into motherhood, because they’ve got nowhere else to go, and nowhere to live? I suspect not.