understanding the fringe

As someone who has always considered themselves a feminist, and quite radical by persuasion, I was surprised to discover that there’s a lot about some parts of ‘radical feminism’ I find illogical and potentially harmful. In the last few weeks I’ve been exploring some of those issues: discussing similarities with extreme religions; looking at the unscientific negation of any kind of gender expression; querying the tendency to malign all men.

I was still left feeling mildly confused about exactly where this subgroup of radical feminism pulls its theories. I’ve read some deeply tragic personal stories that help me understand where some of the fear and bitterness comes from, but I couldn’t understand where the ‘academic’ element could slot in with anecdotes. I couldn’t understand how conclusions not rooted in reality, words so very far from seeking equality for all humans, could gain any kind of traction.

Pink helped me out with this link to Rational Wiki, which, for me, has made sense of this entire group. Here’s a quote from one section:

TERFs have been known to collaborate with the Religious Right. Notable instances include Cathy Brennan’s collaboration with the Pacific Justice Institute in order to harass a trans woman via death threats, and generally acting as their mouthpiece;[20] and when Sheila Jeffreys said she aligned with the “radical right” regarding transgender legislation.[21]

Their particular transphobic rhetoric also owes a lot to wingnut homophobia in its structure, showcasing the same homosexuality-as-a-choice; when Jeffreys noticed RadFem2012 was cancelled and labelled a hate group, she said:[22] (emphasis added)

Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue.

The bolded part is eerily similar to what the radical right have said about homosexuality; specifically, it resembles a quote about such by neo-Nazi Paul Fromm:[Note 8] gender identity as choice instead of something a person is, as well as a massive persecution complex.

But, I’m very much aware there are two sides to every story.

Two buddies in my blogging network subscribe to this branch of radical feminism, and I’d like to hear their thoughts on whether the opinions presented on the Rational Wiki page are accurate. I’ve been following some of the people in wider blogging networks who also subscribe to this branch of radical feminism, and I’d be interested to hear their thoughts on this also.

So, Roughseas, The Arbourist, stop trans chauvinism, Anti-Porn Feminists, Purple Sage – and anyone else who is interested – is the Rational Wiki page linked to above a fair representation of the issues or are there any statements you feel are inaccurate? It would be interesting to have your input.