International women’s week has just finished and I observe the women who are talking about equality for women and wonder how equal they are in their own lives to men. They talk equality while perpetuating sexualised gender norms themselves. “They talk the talk but do they walk the walk”.
To be equal you have to believe you are equal in all ways and present that to the world. Asking for equality doesn’t get equality, it gets a version of equality that is acceptable to the oppressor.As the oppressed you are told you are equal even when you know you’re not.
Women’s domestic abuse is still high and rising, rape continues to go unpunished and sexual harassment and assault on all young women is high and on the rise.
The conversation gets shifted to monetary equality instead, but you can have equal pay but not equal respect.
So this brings me onto transgender and feminism;
So as a women who has spent her life trying to break down ideas and notions around what it is to be a women there are a couple of questions I have about trans and the recent debates on feminism.
I have always been a supporter of trans rights and freedoms as well as their equal rights and acceptance in society.
But as a woman who has constantly and proudly fought against patriarchal ideas and stereotypes around what it is to be female and or feminine find the trans debate interesting as well as controversial.
This leads me as I said to a couple of questions;
- Why is it that women transitioning to men are not caught up in debates around their gender acceptance?
- Why do most men transitioning into women perpetuate the stereotype of femininity and what it is to be female that I have long fought against?
So let me expand these two questions more;
Are women transitioning to men not as much as a threat as men transitioning to women and if not why not?
But a question that has long been in my mind when talking about my ideas around feminism and transgendered women is simply this. As a woman who chooses not to fulfil patriarchal stereotypes or gender norms that have sexualised me as a young woman and I feel kept us as women vulnerable.
How can I accept trans women who perpetuate the same feminised sexualised myths as understanding my fight against sexualised rules and norms when it comes to me as a woman.
So just like my feminist politics does not agree with women who push the notion of gender norms and behaviours perpetrated by men over the years. How can I have an affinity to trans women who also emulate the same stereotypes that I as a woman have constantly fought against?
Equality is not just about money but about value and respect. This includes not being raped under any circumstances, not dying at the hands of an x partner, not feeling like I can’t speak up through fear of being physically abused. In my life I don’t ask my male friends for equality, I expect it, but then I have put a lot of emphasis in not allowing myself to be physically intimidated by men. I work with women to encourage a belief in physical strength as well as psychological strength. As this gives us greater equality and helps with the fear of intimidation. The right to physically defend yourself as well as mentally defending yourself. So although we fight under the same banner of feminism, the heterosexual normalising of the female and these feminised body types and dress that continue to perpetuate patriarchal norms, does not understand my ideas of equality. This is because they still believe themselves to be more vulnerable than men and dress in a way that makes them vulnerable to men.
The debate that goes on around being more vulnerable because of the clothes we wear i.e. skirts, you can’t be upskirted, in trousers, or the continuation that certain behaviours and beliefs around body type have kept us vulnerable in a male-dominated society is no longer being heard.
To coin the phrase ‘male privilege’, can be viewed in the same way as ‘white-privilege’, and unless you’ve experienced how those privileges affect your life in all ways, how can you truly understand female politics.
So for me who has challenged notions of strength, dress, vulnerability, etc, find it difficult to support any group that normalises these behaviours yet flying the flag of feminism. Choosing to confront heterosexualised norms as well as patriarchal ideas of female and feminity is different from those women who speak of equality yet still continue to promote certain normalised notions around behaviour and dress. The same is true for trans women.
I also go back to my first question, why is this debate not happening with women who have transitioned to men?