Real Women, Fake Feminists

I’m way too busy to spend a lot of time deconstructing the latest furore over the realness or lack thereof of trans women. However, I did want to post part of the speech I made at the Women’s Equality Party event in Bristol a week ago. Here you go:

Related to that, I want to put an end to the nonsense idea that there is a right way to be a woman. When I started gender transition back in the 1990s, if I had turned up for a psychiatric appointment dressed like this* I would have been told to go home until I had learned to wear a dress like a proper woman. Trans women have fought long and hard against that sort of stereotyping, and you should too.

Women can be engineers, they can play rugby, they can cut their hair short, and they can wear blue. Being a woman, or a girl, is not about performance, and it is absolutely not about the toys you play with as a child. Far too much nonsense is talked about this in the media. That nonsense is harmful to all children, but it is particularly harmful to transgender children, and to children who don’t want to be forced into gender stereotypes but have no desire or need for gender transition. Putting an end to gender stereotyping is, I hope, a cause that we can all agree upon.

Sadly all too many female British media pundits are all too fond of defining what a “real woman” is. And it is not just the likes of me that they go after. One of the main reasons that I don’t listen to Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 is that whenever I have had to tune in (usually because they have been talking nonsense about science fiction and why it isn’t for women) they have had features intended to shame women in some way. Just like the women’s sections of mainstream newspapers, they are overly fond of telling women that everything they are doing is wrong, particularly mothering which it seems almost impossible to get right. If you took these people seriously you’d end up with the opinion that everything bad in the world is somehow the fault of bad mothers.

So I find it particularly galling to have a Woman’s Hour presenter wag her elegantly manicured finger at me and tell me that I know nothing about feminism. I might not be an expert, but I’m damn sure that feminism involves more than looking down your nose at other women and telling them that they are doing woman wrong.

* I was wearing trousers (by Monsoon), a t-shirt and a jacket (by Ann Taylor). According to ancient Greek historians trousers were invented by the Amazons so that they could ride horses more easily. Real men, the Greeks insisted, wore short skirts; with no underwear.

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One Response to Real Women, Fake Feminists

  1. Antiqueight says:

    You have taught me much about feminism and being a feminist and how to treat women and what “real” is when it comes to being a woman. For which I thank you.

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