A (cis, feminist) friend of mine posted in horror on Facebook this afternoon. Said friend had just visited Radfem Hub for the first time. “UNBELIEVABLE,” she exclaimed.
I’m fairly certain I had a similar reaction when I first went to the site. It’s always unpleasant to stumble across a series of staggeringly unpleasant attacks upon your being and personhood; as such, I recommend that any readers approach Radfem Hub with extreme caution.
At the same time, I don’t find it particularly threatening any more.
I mean, let’s take a look at what Radfem Hub actually stands for. It’s described as “a radical feminist collective blog”, and as such you might expect to find articles on all kinds of different subjects related to patriarchy and the oppression of women. Instead, the current front page of the site displays article after article dedicated to the evils of trans people, trans activists, trans allies, and the insidious influence of trans ideology upon the wider feminist world. You have to scroll way down the page before there’s even mention of a pro-choice agenda and a now-obligatory potshot at 50 Shades of Grey*. And then the transphobic posts start up again.
Radfem Hub isn’t really a radical feminist site. It’s an anti-trans hate site.
I don’t say this because I’m interested in redefining radical feminism. I say this because, surely, a radical feminist site – even a radical feminist site populated by transphobes – would have something else to talk about beyond hating on trans people. There are so many other things to worry about in the world! I mean, take for example the London Feminist Network yahoo group: it’s pretty clear that trans people aren’t welcome there unless they toe a particular line, but the group’s members at least have far more to discuss than whatever it is we’ve done to annoy them lately. In contrast, the population of Radfem Hub seem to have little to do other than hate on trans people.
Ultimately, it’s not that threatening. Sure, the actions of those such as bugbrennan (who has a nasty habit of publicly outing trans people) are pretty disturbing, but the site itself is bound to only ever appeal to a small group of bigots. There’s no way it’s going to appeal to the radical feminist mainstream, who are way too busy tackling stuff like the gender pay gap, capitalist exploitation of women’s bodies, nasty propaganda from “pro-life” groups and the like.
In a way, I’m reminded of The Christian Institute. This lot are a non-denominational group who state that they exist for “the furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom”. Their actual activities seem to consist largely of posting homophobic witterings on the Internet and shouting in vain at the government to do something about that awful homosexual agenda.
The Christian Institute cast their net a little wider than Radfem Hub (going for Muslims and pro-choice activists almost as much as they go for LGBT people) but it’s pretty obvious what they are. They’re a hate group. And as such, they’re never going to gain too much sway within the world of mainstream Christianity, even as the Catholic and Anglican churches desperately try to block the government’s plans for the legalisation of gay marriage.
So here’s the thing. As long as groups like Radfem Hub and the Christian Institute remain dedicated to hate, they’re only going to gain so much traction. I’d be much, much more worried if they had much to say on issues that might actually interest anyone beyond their core audience.
* For the record, I agree with Radfem Hub that 50 Shades of Grey is deeply dodgy, although I dislike their predictable “kink is necessarily bad!” approach to the issue.
Even Julie Bindel described RadfemHub as being “rabid maniacs”. RadfemHub denounced her for daring to meet Paris Lees, and for not being zealous enough in hating trans people. It looks like (although I’m not sure) they also said something nasty about Ms Bindel at the RadFem2012 meeting because she tweeted to Cathy Brennan that “it was a tactical, political and strategical error to criticise me publicly…please leave me alone”. It looks like these radfems don’t just hate trans people – they hate those daring to *not* hate trans people!
Oh, yes, Hamish. We cis women who dare speak or act in support of trans women are dubbed “Handmaidens of the Patriarchy” because we’re enabling the evil anti-woman agenda of the trans community. I’d adopt that as a title somewhere except it’d be grossly misinterpreted outside of context.
LOL @ ‘rabid maniacs’ — yeah that pretty much sums up my experience the few times I’ve tried to engage in conversation in some of those spaces. I do find some radfem trans arguments compelling, but whenever I’ve tried discussing/exploring the ideas further, I was quickly shot down, “accused” of being male and/or trans, and generally shat on. So I stay away and watch from the sidelines, processing all arguments (of varying politics) to figure out what makes the most sense to me.
See, that’s the problem – they just shut off dialogue immediately with ad hominem attacks. Maybe if they actually engaged in discussion with trans people/allies, they might stop expressing so much disdain for them (realising that, actually, the vast majority of trans people are feminists also). But when communication is halted, there’s no way bridges can ever be built…
Agreed. It’s frustrating because there is such potential for bridge-building and connection-making between so many sharp minds and beautiful Spirits. Some blogs seem to have decent sized readerships with probably only a handful of people actually commenting; if some blog owners didn’t shoo away, shit on, and/or censor commenters, they could be great spaces for Real Talk and Change and other GOOD things; there are conversations that desperately need to be had but can’t happen if there’s no safe space, where ‘safe space’ really means something.
I say this only because I am honestly confused… how can you ever say that the people at radfemhub have beautiful spirits? The bile and vitriol I have seen spewed there, advocating nothing but hate and murder for even babies just because they are boys, comes from the most depraved, evil souls I have ever had the misfortune of hearing speak (reading anyways).
I think I was the confused one when I wrote that because it’s not true — beautiful souls aren’t hateful.
I haven’t really spent much time at the Hub, my comments on this thread had to do with my experiences with radfeminism in general.
oops, meant to say “my experiences with *parts of* radical feminism in general.”
I agree that there are many radical feminists who aren’t transphobic. Honestly, the language of hate and all round obsession, is a complete waste of everyones time.
I’m sorry there is so much hurt around this issue.
I am a feminist , not trans, but intersex. I take every opportunity to speak up for respectful inclusion of everyone in feminism, and for letting everyone voice their own specific experiences around sex and gender. I find it sad and disrespectful however when arguments like the one here fight one semantic disrespect with another (the presumptive and other-imposed term “cis” is as much an erasure and dismissal of the wild variety of non-trans women’s relationships to gender as other forms of mis-gendering are).
I also find it horrifying when the term TERF (which does have a valid place re sexist hate like that of Greer) is misapplied to silence anyone specifically addressing or foregrounding the specific embodied needs of female-bodied women. Yes, feminism should include all women regardless of bio-sex, as it should also include all females, regardless of their endorsement of gender constructs. Where we go wrong is when people are not allowed to voice and represent the parts of their experience that hold relevance for them in a particular context, or around a particular issue. I applaud that there are both general broadly inclusive women’s forums (for woman identified people of all embodied experiences) as well as specific trans-feminist forums. There should however also be allowed specific female embodied interests, without the assumption that this is anything other than an attempt to directly represent their specific needs and experiences.
The needs and vulnerabilities of females around pregnancy. motherhood, childcare, and often being born into treatment as chattel are specific important and certainly as important as trans-bodied feminist issues. Female embodied experience also deserves a distinct voice re commodification of female bodies (be that sex work or adoption farming), which includes sex-specific as well as gender-specific social and biological vulnerabilities. Last but not least “cis” also totally obscures and silences intersex experience.
Respect involves being reasonable in letting everyone speak and represent their own interests. The silencing dialogues which use erasure -speech like “cis” and misconstrue appropriate female representation on sex-differentiated experiences are just as excluding as truly nasty TERFs like Greer (and if anything only serve to offer some evidence for TERF paranoias. Just because an awful person like Greer or Bindle accuses someone of being silencing doesn’t eliminate the possibility that it is true. From my viewpoint both extreme ends of that conversation are excluding, erasing , reductive and silencing. We need to welcome diverse voices , not struggle for a single accepted voice to lord it over a melting pot. Being critical of gender, of religion and of the drive to a single approved narrative are all important strands of feminism which shouldn’t be silenced, Just as trans feminism shouldn’t be silenced. Reducing all criticism of gender to being TERF is untrue and destructive when so many suffer due to their place in or deviation from gender expectations.