So an Image Gets Posted on the Internet…

It happens all the time. Someone says something on the Internet. Someone else says they’re wrong. Bystanders hop in. And then it’s suddenly a battle royale. The argument boils over like a thunderhead on a muggy summer afternoon, and the next thing you know, you’re stranded in a hailstorm.

The example of this I’m about to give isn’t unique. In fact, it’s boringly routine. It spans different venues of social media and pits two dug-in sides against each other over nothing more than an image.

This is that image.

Women and feminism

It was posted to the BraBusters group on Facebook along with text – which I can no longer find – that said something to the effect that “Transwomen aren’t women, and our feminism focuses on women who were born women.” Again, paraphrasing.  (See comment,  below. I’m told that the image was posted without comment)

Then, this happened:

THIS photo was removed from FB after relentless reporting from the trans lobby for claims of transphobia. Because the word woman is transphobic now.

To the trans lobby, loud and clear, let me say this to you: You are the antithesis of feminism. You deliberately destroy feminism. You are antagonizers of women who are organizing for our own freedom. You are oppressive, manipulative, abusive people. You have no place in feminism. None. Feminism is for and about WOMEN and always was! If that bothers you, I do not care! Feminism has always been about FEMALES. We are not a dirty word and we have a right to our own liberation from oppression.

The above statement was posted to Tumblr, along with the original image.

And we’re off to the races.

As of right now, there have been 145 replies to that post on Tumblr – which, for the record, is the most godawful format for having a discussion/debate/knife fight with words ever created.

Like I said, this is all pretty normal for a day on the Internets. But here’s why I’m calling it to your attention.

I’m going to try to fairly characterize the responses in this discussion. For the sake of not losing everyone, I’m not going to post them all here. Just the highlights. However, you can get all of the comments that I’ve culled from 145 Tumblr reblogs at the end of this post (keep in mind that many of the responses are just “likes” that have no additional commentary. Since there’s no way to know which comment in particular was “liked,” I’m just disregarding those.)

I’m trying to give an accurate picture of the kind of terminology being used by both factions. Namely, in this case, radical feminists and transactivists. I’m specifically focusing on comments that may be considered inflammatory, including threats of violence, use of cuss words, belittling, ridiculing and the like. And I’m adding in “misgendering,” or the perception of misgendering, because one side of this debate takes sincere offense to that. Ready? Here goes.

Radical feminists:

  • “good job being full of shit and bashing women. lolololol except women’s oppression isn’t fucking funny.”
  • “We don’t go around yelling that Rosa Parks didn’t speak out for feminism (that I know of?) therefore her anti-racism was bullshit.”
  • “boohoo white male misogynist”
  • “How in the motherfuck am I a transphobe? Please enlighten me.”
  • “OMG. Woman born with a vagina. Woman born with a vagina. Woman born with a vagina. Now what, angry internet person?”
  • “Maybe if you directed your energy thataway, you might get something done. Instead, y’all gang up on people on Tumblr because SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET and accomplish nothing. But. Get as mad as you want. Stomp your feet and have your tantrum. I hope it makes you feel better. But I’m not buying into it.”
  • “what happened to “transwomen are women” and other quee quee turning of words to mean what they want them to mean”
  • “Can lookatthisfuckinradfem just not….be anymore? Just the fact that they hate us so much to make the blog in the first place, let alone actually hate follow so many of us and then continually harass us has me so fucking weary. Radfems don’t pull this kind of shit and yet we’re the evil scum. I’m so sick of this.”
  • “Men have privilege and power over women. MtoF are men. They threaten to rape, beat, and murder women for disagreeing with them. For DISAGREEING. These are males who threaten to rape females for not agreeing with them. You support that. Yes, bye.”
  • “HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH THIS is coming from a MAN who claims to be a WOMAN and therefore an authority on FEMINISM and he is now going to mansplain appropriation.”
  • “So I guess you have seen a lot of cases where women, when they disagree, threaten to rape each other. I bet that happens a lot. Or is it just men and men claiming to be women (so men again) who tend to threaten rape to a woman when she doesn’t agree? And why might that be? Could it be because he holds power over her in patriarchy and was socialized male? Ding ding ding. Really, how often to born females threaten to rape each other for disagreeing? Cause I have ONLY ever seen if from men and men claiming to be women.”
  • “I not a man, dudette. I’m a chick, and I have been raped so many times I literally cannot count them. Transwomen are males. That’s why they threaten to rape women when they are angry.”

Transactivists:

  • “HEY MAYBE THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOU USE A BIGOTED ASS-BACKWARDS DEFINITION OF WOMAN AND IGNORE ALL OTHER FORMS OF OPPRESSION, ASSHAT!”
  • “feministninja is gross. boohoo white lady.”
  • “You said you are a WOMAN BORN with a VAGINA! Fucking transphobic as HELL. DIAF (die in a fire) bitch. Why don’t you say that to my FACE you fucking BIGOT SCUM!”
  • “I cannot believe that you would turn this into a joke. People are DYING because of your transphobia. You are literally KILLING WOMEN by saying things like that. I know someone who committed suicide and you turn this into a game. HOW DARE YOU BE SUCH A BIGOT!”
  • “I never said I was against violence. Lol I am very much pro-violence; pro-violence against scum who have privilege/power over others and use it to oppress them. You’re like, not even fun to argue with. Haha bye.”
  • “Would you shut the fuck up you racist transphobic piece of shit. I’m going to appropriate your face with my fucking fists. Haha bye.”
  • “Men have privilege and power over women, yes, but transwomen are not men you twisted, backwards little fuck. Anyone can rape another person. They don’t have to have a dick. Please shut up, jerk off into the void, and die. Thanks c u l8r alligator hope someone kills u.”
  • “You know what fartman I’ve had it up to here *holds out hands rull high* with your ass backwards logix I really hope you fall in front of the subway or something you little fartman piss baby noob. Wahhh here’s your pacifier. How dare you downplay the instances of rape that transwomen suffer for your gross agenda and accuse them of being men and rapists? You’re a sick fuck. My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. You’re not invited.”
  • “Whatever fartman. I’ve never seen a transwomen threaten to rape a cis woman when she was angry. Not saying it hasn’t happened but go on and keep making up wild stories shitlord.”

So. I concede that there is belittling and name calling on both sides. But:

  • Threats of violence or invitations to die coming from radfems? 0
  • Threats of violence or invitations to die coming from transactivists: 5

Now, I’m not saying that this is the result of male socialization as a child, or the unfortunate result of “you’re a special snowflake” millennialism (oh god help us in the coming decades).

What am I saying? I’m saying, would you just take a fucking look at this? And this is what happens, time after time, when these arguments come around. I’m tired of it. Can you get why maybe women want a space for women-born-women only? Can you get why we don’t want these people next to us at MichFest?

Here are the comments in full:

Radical feminists:

  • “cis is a misogynist slur, and you do not know the color of the woman who posted this or how much money she makes. two of the women banned for posting this are latina, one is native american, two are exited women, and all of them are in poverty. i know all of them personally. good job being full of shit and bashing women. lolololol except women’s oppression isn’t fucking funny.”
  • “Feminism is about women’s lib from male supremacy. Period. Anti-racism is about dark skinned people’s lib from white supremacy. Period. We don’t go around yelling that Rosa Parks didn’t speak out for feminism (that I know of?) therefore her anti-racism was bullshit.”
  • “boohoo white male misogynist”
  • “I’m actually a woman born with a vagina and I’m not white lol jokes on you bro.”
  • “How in the motherfuck am I a transphobe? Please enlighten me.”
  • “OMG. Woman born with a vagina. Woman born with a vagina. Woman born with a vagina. Now what, angry internet person?”
  • “I promise you, no one is dying because of “my transphobia,” which is really just an opinion that differs from yours. People are dying because other people who are *actually hateful* are shooting, stabbing and strangling others (and hint: those people are men). Maybe if you directed your energy thataway, you might get something done. Instead, y’all gang up on people on Tumblr because SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET and accomplish nothing. But. Get as mad as you want. Stomp your feet and have your tantrum. I hope it makes you feel better. But I’m not buying into it.”
  • “Please tell all that to the woman who said the initial thing about being a woman with a vagina. Cause she’s calling me a transphobe for saying feminism is about women. You a radfem?”
  • “what happened to “transwomen are women” and other quee quee turning of words to mean what they want them to mean”
  • “Tumblr is so fucking disgusting”
  • “Can lookatthisfuckinradfem just not….be anymore? Just the fact that they hate us so much to make the blog in the first place, let alone actually hate follow so many of us and then continually harass us has me so fucking weary. Radfems don’t pull this kind of shit and yet we’re the evil scum. I’m so sick of this.”
  • “Why does everyone believe SO COMPLETELY that Brennan is like our hivemind Queen or something? She doesn’t speak for all of us, or even MOST of us, and never has.”
  • “Men have privilege and power over women.
  • “MtoF are men. They threaten to rape, beat, and murder women for disagreeing with them. For DISAGREEING. These are males who threaten to rape females for not agreeing with them. You support that. Yes, bye.”
  • “HAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH THIS is coming from a MAN who claims to be a WOMAN and therefore an authority on FEMINISM and he is now going to mansplain appropriation. Well, since you’re an EXPERT at that, how about you just let me in on your ways so I can appropriate like a boss after your fashion. But if the word ninja really bothers you, blame Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for poisoning an entire generation with a hateful word.”
  • “So I guess you have seen a lot of cases where women, when they disagree, threaten to rape each other. I bet that happens a lot. Or is it just men and men claiming to be women (so men again) who tend to threaten rape to a woman when she doesn’t agree? And why might that be? Could it be because he holds power over her in patriarchy and was socialized male? Ding ding ding. Really, how often to born females threaten to rape each other for disagreeing? Cause I have ONLY ever seen if from men and men claiming to be women.”
  • “I not a man, dudette. I’m a chick, and I have been raped so many times I literally cannot count them. Transwomen are males. That’s why they threaten to rape women when they are angry.”
  • “Here have a look at your team, team violence, threats, and abuse. That’s your corner, right there, this is who you are defending: http://feministninja.tumblr.com/post/48756677256/what-trans-activists-regularly-say-to-radfems
  • “Julian Vigo hits the nail on the head with this analysis of Cis.: cis privilege is an invention—that gendered privilege exists for men, not women.  They also maintain that patriarchy oppresses trans women and that radical feminists do not play a role in trans oppression. The concept of ‘cis’ privilege falsely situates gender-conforming men and women as equals, relative to self-identified trans people. This is problematic for radical feminists because trans politics prioritises the oppression of gender non-conformity through trans as the primary source of gender oppression.  Conversely, feminists prioritise women’s oppression as the primary axis of gender-based oppression (ie. gay men being in danger because they could be perceived as women-like).  Certainly, gender non-conformity is dangerous for everyone—trans identified or not (ie. butch lesbians). But gender-conformity is dangerous to women in ways that it is not dangerous to men, according to the radical feminists: women are targeted as women regardless of whether they gender conform or not while men are never targeted as men. Men are only targeted when they are gender non-conforming.”
  • “~social justice~”

Transactivists:

  • “HEY MAYBE THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOU USE A BIGOTED ASS-BACKWARDS DEFINITION OF WOMAN AND IGNORE ALL OTHER FORMS OF OPPRESSION, ASSHAT!”
  • “read: my feminism will be about white middle class ciswomen or it won’t be feminism lolololol”
  • “feministninja is gross. boohoo white lady.”
  • “You are transphobic though!”
  • “You said you are a WOMAN BORN with a VAGINA! Fucking transphobic as HELL. DIAF (die in a fire) bitch. Why don’t you say that to my FACE you fucking BIGOT SCUM!”
  • “I cannot believe that you would turn this into a joke. People are DYING because of your transphobia. You are literally KILLING WOMEN by saying things like that. I know someone who committed suicide and you turn this into a game. HOW DARE YOU BE SUCH A BIGOT!”
  • ““Radfems don’t pull this kind of shit” L O L”
  • “So, are we just going to ignore the fact that people like Alice Walker used the term Womanist because the Feminist movement of the day made it clear they didn’t give a shit about the plight of non-whites? Intersectionality is the best thing that ever happened to Feminism.”
  • “Reblogging publicly available images and adding criticism is not harassment. And don’t worry, I couldn’t possibly hate any of you as much as TERFs hate all trans* people.”
  • “No no. They don’t hate trans* people they just think they don’t have the right to exist, shouldn’t have access to basic civil liberties, and have group leaders who endanger the lives of queer youth.”
  • “Because everyone knows race and class issues don’t affect women. Oh wait? They do? In fact they affect women even more seriously than they affect men? Oh, in that case, it seems really fucking silly to have a feminist movement that doesn’t also try to address those issues as well.”
  • “I never said I was against violence. Lol I am very much pro-violence; pro-violence against scum who have privilege/power over others and use it to oppress them. You’re like, not even fun to argue with. Haha bye.”
  • “Would you shut the fuck up you racist transphobic piece of shit. I’m going to appropriate your face with my fucking fists. Haha bye.”
  • “No they’re not. And if anyone made a sweeping generalization like that about literally any other group, I like to think you’d find it appalling. I find you appaling.”
  • ““MtoF are men” Hahahah Hahaha Hold on I’m not done holding my sides”
  • “I’m gonna take a wild leap here and guess that the woman unironically calling herself “feministninja” is white… …and doesn’t see why a white person misappropriating a western stereotype of a chinese pronunciation of a japanese word is problematic, either.”
  • “See….and earlier she acted like violence was unacceptable. YOU are the transphobe fist woman. You go around saying vagina. That is a transphobic word, and we all know it.”
  • “Men have privilege and power over women, yes, but transwomen are not men you twisted, backwards little fuck. Anyone can rape another person. They don’t have to have a dick. Please shut up, jerk off into the void, and die. Thanks c u l8r alligator hope someone kills u.”
  • “You know what fartman I’ve had it up to here *holds out hands rull high* with your ass backwards logix I really hope you fall in front of the subway or something you little fartman piss baby noob. Wahhh here’s your pacifier. How dare you downplay the instances of rape that transwomen suffer for your gross agenda and accuse them of being men and rapists? You’re a sick fuck. My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. You’re not invited.”
  • “Whatever fartman. I’ve never seen a transwomen threaten to rape a cis woman when she was angry. Not saying it hasn’t happened but go on and keep making up wild stories shitlord.”

Uncertain:

14 comments

  1. wwomenwwarriors

    Hey just wanted to let you know that I know the admins of the Bra-Busters page and they confirm that the image was posted alone. The words “transwomen aren’t women” were never posted with the photo. It was assumed by some passing trans activists that the image must be about them. I hope you’ll consider editing that, because it misrepresents the events.

  2. Tia

    To me this says a lot about internet “debating” but does little more than reinforce generalisations about feminists or transactivists. Why do these (clearly very angry) people feel the need to claim some kind of ownership of an intellectual position… and why is ownership (whether factory or retro fitted) of a particular body part in any way relevant to that position? Yes, the (presumably mostly born male) trans lobby have a noticeably more male arguing style than the (presumably mostly born female) feminists… however given that the vast majority of cis males are capable of debate without resorting to threats of rape or violence, I find it hard to believe that this behaviour is in any way broadly representative of transwomen in the real world. I do find the original image objectionable, as I strongly disagree with it’s content – feminism isn’t about women, it’s about humanity – surely even those who are short sighted enough not consider all of humanity their family, or their “we”, have mothers, sisters and daughters? History suggests that prejudice is normally overcome through unity of the oppressed and the significant proportion of the un-oppressed who give a shit about other human beings. Sadly I see little hope for feminism or transactivism if the arguments given here are representative of either movement… you can almost smell the patriachalists mirth has they leave vagina owners to thrash out some bizarre debate about authenticity… can’t help but wonder how many females were actively mysogynised in the real world whilst their sisters were busy having or observing this debate…

  3. I have a lot of trouble with this comment. Why have something called “feminism” at all if we can’t even let it be about women anymore? Feminism does and has always focused on the things that impact women primarily, such as women’s right to vote, access to women’s health care (birth control, abortion, well woman exams), pay equity, protection from violent partners, etc. There’s nothing wrong with a movement based on the dignity of all people; in fact, it’s called “humanism.” It’s a good thing. But even then, there’s still a need to make sure women are equally treated among humans. And if you hadn’t noticed, humans have had a problem with that for thousands of years.

    And if you find that saying “feminism should be about women” is objectionable? Don’t even know what to say. You and I are so far apart on that one, I don’t see the point in continuing the discussion.

    PS – “vagina owners.” Really?

  4. Tia

    In fairness I’ve probably been somewhat ambiguous there – and am perhaps to some degree guilty of the same reactiveness which I suspect gripped some of the transactivists when commenting.

    Agreed, feminism is, by it’s nature, about women in the sense that women are it’s subject matter. However, I don’t believe it’s about women in the sense that it serves only the interests of women, that it should only be of interest to women, or that it’s something that should only involve women. I believe that feminism is a matter of critical importance for the whole of humanity. As the original meme suggests two alternative views of feminism, one that is exclusively “about” women, and one (implied by the “or…”) that is (the reader is left to draw their own conclusion) somewhat broader – to me, perhaps about the overall balance and place of gender specific identities in human society? It’s understandably, perhaps even intentionally, provocative to those it might be perceived to exclude.

    I can also understand why women-born-women might want a space for women-born-women only, in much the same as any other group of people, whether bound by gender, religion, race, or interest might from time to time also want a space only for those who share certain attributes. However, to suggest an association between the feminist movement and that desire for a space only for “people like me” seems immensely divisive. For feminism to achieve it’s objectives, it must be a movement of all people, regardless or (birth) gender or any other characteristic.

    Vagina Owners… slightly tongue in cheek perhaps, but the term “women” didn’t seem entirely appropriate in the circumstances..

  5. To be a completely inclusive movement of all people would dilute feminism. It makes it less offensive to those who disregard women’s issues, but it also makes the movement lose focus and effectiveness. Also, those already in positions of power in society, specifically white men, gradually become the leaders of those movements. Do women even matter at that point except as just one of the many groups represented by it?

    I see it enough: Someone will criticize a group, such as animal rights activists, for not focusing attention on some other issue, such as poverty (I question whether these critics actually contribute to anything themselves). At best, these people are naive in that they don’t realize that people can contribute to many causes and that a movement that is about everything ends up being about nothing, but oftentimes, it’s a malicious attempt to derail a movement by portraying it as either wasting its time or as discriminatory against other groups, specifically the white man who feels threatened when minorities organize.

    Besides, there are already organizations that are very inclusive and fight for “humanity” rather than just one section of it: they’re the Republican Party and the Democrat Party.

  6. Tia

    The subject of feminism is, by definition, women, and if that definition were to be expanded then the term would obviously mean something else entirely.

    However, excluding women born as men from being the subject of feminism is to either deny such people’s right to femininity – ie. not accept that they *are actually* women (cue justifiably angry transactivists)… OR, is to attempt to narrow the definition of “women” to suit ourselves.

    Narrowing the definition of women seems like a pretty dangerous sport… do we consider it acceptable to exclude lesbian women (born as women) from femininity? Maybe we should exclude black, or white women too – perhaps women who are a different colour to me aren’t really women in the true sense? Or perhaps, more justifiably, all women who have ever, through choice, acted in collusion with white male supremacists – oops, that’d be pretty much all of us at one point or other (eg. last time we shopped at pretty much any store). I think the word’s dehumanisation, and the end point isn’t feminism. It’s “a group of women like me”.

    Independent of debate regarding who the subject of feminism is, stands the question of whether a man, regardless of his current gender identity, can consider himself a feminist in terms of philosophy, belief, and action. Maybe better if I avoid getting started on that one.

  7. Sorry, but regardless of the topic all you get from the Internet is narrow minded bullies who believe their way is the only way. It is very easy to do this from behind a keyboard. Good post….like.it

  8. Well that just proves that internet debating will get you nowhere. I just think it’s sad some people jumped the gun and saw some hidden meaning in it. I mean, if you are born a woman or actively identify as a woman, you should have felt included in this statement no? Anyway..

  9. Actually, the DIAF comment was apparently intended to be “sarcasm”, as was the one below it in your list, about suicide. Later in that whole mess, the same poster (androninja) started posting trans-critical, pro-radfem things. Compare: http://androninja.tumblr.com/post/53376093682/routinestabbings-androninja and http://androninja.tumblr.com/post/53410914823/zeroambit-routinestabbings-androninja

    I made a similar comment about some of their other posts here: http://snowflakeespecial.tumblr.com/post/53392817810/hardscum-hardscumblr-twoshibaswalkedintoabar

    Not sure this actually “clarifies” anything though…

  10. Just touching base… You doing OK?

    • Thanks for noticing I’ve been gone. My dad died suddenly two weeks ago today. I will write about it at some point – well, I wrote about it already, but that was for family. I’m a mess, frankly. But less of a mess than I was a week ago. It just hurts.

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