Thanks Guys, But No Thanks

I spend a fair amount of time watching the TERF nonsense than goes on on social media without actually getting involved. It pays to know what your opponents are up to. There is a pattern to how this stuff goes.

The TERFs, of course, make a point of being inflamatory and offensive whenever possible. They want to provoke a reaction, hopefully an angry one that they can later claim is violent.

When trans people and cis women oppose them they generally react with harrassment, mobbing anyone who dares to speak out. Cis women, they will often accuse of being trans. They make disparaging remarks about these women’s appearance as if this somehow proves that they are “really men”.

But sooner or later some cis man will gallantly leap to the defence of his friends. It is great to see, and I’m very grateful, but it is not always helpful. Because as soon as this happens the tone of the TERFs changes. They suddenly switch to a narrative of, “Help, help! We are being oppressed! How dare men tell us who is allowed to call themselves a woman?”

You see, the long term objective of all of this is to cast the disagreement, not as something between trans people and a small but vociferous minority of cis women, but rather one primarily between women and men. On their side they want people to think that they have all women, and some men (you know, good, feminist men like Donald Trump and Mike Pence); and on the other side they want you to think there are mainly just Bad Men.

The point is that this argument looks much better if they can point to actual cis men who are opposing them. That allows them to talk endlessly about how their opponents are “men”, without them having to make themselves look ridiculous by having to give the likes of me as examples of such “men”. They have actual men that they can point to instead.

So I’m afraid that this is a fight where the brunt of the work has to be borne by cis women. There are many other things cis men can go and do, like refusing to be on manels and calling out their misogynist mates. And of course we are very happy to have support behind the scenes. But as far as the public fight goes, cis guys, please stay out of it where possible.