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Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive
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Taylor (seffietay) This book hits so many important points right square on the head. It's one of my favourites from last year, I can't wait to discuss it with the group and hear everyone else's thoughts on making movements more inclusive.

Alexa (AlexaNC) This article from The New Yorker might be of interest, "What is a Woman? The Dispute Between Radical Feminism and Transgenderism, Julia Serano has a mention in it:

message 3: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments Aargh! Can't get this book from my library yet.
Don't know much about this topic really, this New Yorker article just kinda blew my mind.
I'm suspicious of the backlash against the radical fems, once again women and women's spaces are being attacked. Don't get it.

Taylor (seffietay) This book is so so so good. Serano discusses trans-exclusion at length (so important to bring this into the light) and also feminists excluding other feminists/women for not being "feminist enough" (something I have ample experience with, personally).

The article made me pretty mad, but it's good that people are talking about this. There are so many people out there that need to expand their views of feminism as it has been evolving over decades in ways that some people seemingly can't accept. The whole Mitchfest thing makes me feel nauseous; implying that just because trans women were born physically male they are a threat to the safety of the womyn at the fest is outrageous. And the vandalism of the trans camp? WTF how old are these people? 12? Grow up.

I'm interested to see how this discussion pans out!

message 5: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments Why are transwomen attacking radical feminists? That's the part I don't get.

Taylor (seffietay) My understanding is that trans women are fighting for their right to be included in the feminist movement. They want to be able to attend events like Mitchfest without judgement or harassment by radical feminists because they were born physically male and have transitioned to female. Mitchfest, if you were wondering, is a women's only music fest where the organizers have specifically stated admission is for "womyn-born womyn" only, under the assumption that anyone who was born male-bodied, despite whatever stage their transition may be at or the fact that they identify as women and not men, pose a threat to the safety of the women at the festival because they still consider them to be men. Many radical feminists refuse to use female pronouns when addressing trans women and actively force them out of women only spaces. It's very harsh and unfair (to put it lightly). This book is about trans women fighting for their right to be included in these types of events and to eliminate trans hate. Julia is far more eloquent than I am though so definitely check out Excluded! Her previous book Whipping Girl is also phenomenal.

message 7: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments I'm not sure that makes it okay. I don't think it's trans hate either. There IS a difference between transwomen and women-born-women, isn't there? Even if that difference is seemingly minute to transwomen.
I think there's something to what the radfems were saying about having lived an experience as a girlchild. Gosh, there certainly was for me. Just like there was something to living the experience of being a girlchild in a boy's body, for transwomen

I think for me, as a woman of colour, I feel suspicious of any person who is demanding access into a space that I'm a part of, even if that person is a woman and a feminist. Is intersectionality not supposed to be respected? The idea that we have some shared experience, and other experiences that are solely ours in a unique way?

I also don't like the abuse. I have a big No to that. Just because somebody excludes you, there's no reason to be hateful and abusive. It's counterproductive because the people you're abusing will be defensive now and REALLY suspicious of you.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying it by comparing it to the womanyst experience, or seeing it from that point of view. I'm open to understanding more on this topic. I need to get hold of this book, or Whipping Girl.

message 8: by Taylor (last edited Aug 07, 2014 08:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Taylor (seffietay) It's definitely a complex issue. There is a lot of abuse coming from radfems towards trans individuals as well which I think is horrendous. Yes it can be argued that the experience of growing up female is something a trans woman misses out on, but I don't think we should discount the experience of growing up feeling disconnected from your physical body. That is an experience that womyn-born womyn miss out on. The idea of cissexual privilege being lorded over trans individuals makes me, personally, feel uncomfortable. Surely a space can be found for all individuals that acknowledges that everyone has struggles and wants access to a safe and supportive community free of phobias.

I really want to hear what everyone has to say about this book and also the issue of exclusion in general. This is a great book for the group :) do any group members have any experience with exclusion, particularly in the feminist arena?

message 9: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments I hear you. I would love to be a part of creating a space like that. Sounds magical. And I'm not even kidding.
There's too much fighting.

message 10: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 282 comments Stephanie wrote: "do any group members have any experience with exclusion, particularly in the feminist arena?"

In 1989/90 a couple of lesbian feminists in my university lesbian and gay society in the UK made it known to me that they wanted me to leave the society because they found out I was sleeping with men. I was doing this to try to work out my confusion with my sexuality.

They didn't demand that I leave the society, but I was still quite shocked that they thought it was their business.

I can't imagine this happening these days.

Taylor (seffietay) Karima wrote: "I hear you. I would love to be a part of creating a space like that. Sounds magical. And I'm not even kidding.
There's too much fighting."

SO MAGICAL! It needs to happen!

message 12: by Taylor (last edited Aug 07, 2014 02:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Taylor (seffietay) Natasha (Diarist) wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "do any group members have any experience with exclusion, particularly in the feminist arena?"

In 1989/90 a couple of lesbian feminists in my university lesbian and gay society in..."

Ahhhhh so frustrating! Did you stand your ground?

I experienced a lot of drama in my early twenties for being "too femme" in a local radical/feminist space. In my city there are specific punk houses that put on shows and events that I used to attend with my then-boyfriend. I would show up to see the bands that I liked and have a few beers with the members of the house and everyone else in the "scene", wearing the same clothes as everyone else - cons, black pants, camo jacket, plain t-shirt, band patches I screened myself etc etc blah blah - but also chose to wear makeup and had my hair long at the time. There were many women there that just couldn't get past that and it eventually pushed me out of the scene and any feminist/music events completely.

They would do things like come up to me with a sharpie marker mustache drawn on their face and say "Look I can wear makeup too!" or make comments about my shaved legs when I wore shorts. One time my friend told me that she was at one of the houses helping a friend do their (plural pronoun) makeup and one of the other women said "Careful not to wear too much or you'll look like Stephanie." Another time I tried to have a conversation with a couple girls about DIY sewing and mentioned you could get a portable sewing machine that resembled a hair straightener, and was met with an "I wouldn't know what a hair straightener looks like" type of response followed by an interrogation on if/why I straightened my hair. I don't, but was a teenager once and have obviously tried it... so because I know what a hair straightener looks like suddenly I'm a victim of the patriarchy without a brain of my own? No one ever made an attempt to get to know me, I was completely written off and actively excluded and ridiculed because I chose to wear mascara and lipstick to local shows. I'm still pissed about it, really. I fully respect everyone elses gender expression, why can't I expect that same respect back?

message 13: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 282 comments Stephanie wrote: "Ahhhhh so frustrating! Did you stand your ground?"

Damned right. I didn't leave.

Stephanie wrote: "I experienced a lot of drama in my early twenties for being "too femme" in a local radical/feminist space."

I think this is historical stuff, isn't it? I can't imagine anyone giving a toss about excluding someone who wore make-up now? Sorry you went through this, though. ...

Taylor (seffietay) Natasha (Diarist) wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "Ahhhhh so frustrating! Did you stand your ground?"

Damned right. I didn't leave.

Stephanie wrote: "I experienced a lot of drama in my early twenties for being "too femme" in a l..."

I'm not that old, just 30! hahaha

I'm glad you didn't leave!! What a bunch of baloney. It was definitely none of their business.

message 15: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Holme (natashaholme) | 282 comments Stephanie wrote: "What a bunch of baloney. It was definitely none of their business."

These were the same women who voted against bisexuals being allowed into the lesbian and gay society in the early 1990s. They lost the vote.

message 16: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments My experience isn't one of overt exclusion, but I felt unseen nonetheless.

I was a volunteer at a women's centre, we were all feminists, and we used to have once a month supervision meetings and trainings where we would discuss a different topic every time. I was the only woman of colour, and there was no space for me to share my experience as such.

When I tried to create a space by volunteering my experience of how it was slightly different for me, it was always met with outright silence, and then, an "Ok" and then on to the next topic. Even when the topics for the day were things like Racism or Immigration. I just didn't get it.

I look back now and think that instead of leaving after 6 months, I should have challenged that. But I was in the midst of dealing with issues regarding my sexuality at the time, so I had to choose where to put my energy and just let it go.

Alexa (AlexaNC) Karima wrote: "My experience isn't one of overt exclusion, but I felt unseen nonetheless."

What really stinks is that even now you clearly feel the disappointment of not having succeeded in opening their eyes. It's not right that all that responsibility should have been on your shoulders. You were doing your half of the job, you were sharing, they weren't doing their half, of truly listening!

message 18: by Kat (last edited Aug 07, 2014 11:58PM) (new)

Kat Trina | 9 comments I feel like things are really moving along though, thankfully. Maybe it's just where I'm living now, but in all the events I've gone to younger feminists seem to take intersectionality as necessary or even inherent in queer/feminist discourse.

Last May a national lesbian group held a weekend getaway for lesbians and bisexual women in Saitama, near Tokyo - called "Dyke Weekend". There were a couple of trans lesbians, two trans men, and at least one gender queer person present at the event, in addition to all us gay cis ladies. Toward the end of the event there was a discussion circle where we talked about past events and suggestions for future ones. It came out then that the original event (which is 30 years old) was lesbian, cis female only. the 90's saw lots of fighting for bisexuals to be allowed to join, and this year's event was the first time transfolk were explicitly allowed to join, after many heated debates. Literally all the participants, save the organizers, seemed to agree that non-gender binary people belonged there just as much as the rest. The only dissenting voices were a couple of Japanese ladies in their late 40's - some of the original group of organizers, who, though not aggressively transphobic, couldn't quite separate the idea of femaleness with sex and who were worried that allowing trans women to participate would be a "slippery slope" that would end in cis men participating as well. But even they were forced to acknowledge that the pretty high turnout of non-cis people didn't at all negatively affect the quality of the event.

One of the transwomen present at the event is also a writer for Jezebel. She shared a really interesting, relevant article about communities and belonging in which she argued that such spaces are generally founded on a commonality of experience. She also discusses how most transfolk and cis women make one community, since we all have had the experience at one point in our lives or another, of what it means to be a woman... either as a cis female, as a trans man who spent their earlier years being seen and treated as a woman, or as a trans woman who suddenly has all her privilege ripped away the moment she starts to present as female.

Kat's article here

For those who are still dubious about transfolk's place in "female" spaces, I recommend taking a look.

message 19: by Reem (new)

Reem | 22 comments That was an enlightening article. Thanks for posting.

message 20: by Alexa (last edited Sep 30, 2014 02:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alexa (AlexaNC) As for the book itself, I'm just now about a fourth of the way through. I seem to recall reading some criticism of how it was more a series of essays than a coherent whole. Personally I'm really enjoying the essay format (although it clearly has an overarching purpose - perhaps I'm totally mis-remembering those comments). I like the way she takes just one piece and clearly focuses on it. She's so readable. And personally I'm feeling called out for some unrealized assumptions I didn't realize I'd been harboring. Great stuff!

Alexa (AlexaNC) I love the way she's equally excellent at impassioned advocacy and scientific analysis!

Taylor (seffietay) Julia Serano is super smart and it's awesome. Has anyone else finished this?? I had so many "YES" moments when reading it, and I'm really curious to see what everyone else thought

Alexa (AlexaNC) I'm about 90% done with it; it just keeps getting better and better! And then totally coincidentally I just happened to read this today:

Alexa (AlexaNC) This book is full of great points - this might be one of my favorites: "being a feminist is not about the personal choices we make about expressing our own genders and sexualities, but rather our commitment to challenging gender entitlement, both within ourselves as well as other people."

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