One of the nastier aspects of being a Second Wave Feminist has always been the trashings. Particularly so if one is a left wing working class feminist who was treated for transsexualism.
I mean this started with Robin Morgan’s original “Good-Bye to all That” which I’ve always given huge points as a truly great rant but next to no points for attacking virtually every male on the left or who was cutting edge on the cultural revolution and I might add by extension the women who were involved with either those men or those cases.
I mean.. supporting Valerie Solanis who was one insane woman who might have generated some quotable lines most notably involving miles of puke and willing pussy… but damn it she nearly murdered one of the great out gay artists of the 20th century. Talk about misdirected rage.
Starting in about the mid 1970s, shortly after Robin Morgan trashed Beth Elliott for having the audacity to be both a lesbian feminist in Daughters of Bilitis and a woman born transsexual Robin Morgan turned around and embraced Jane Alpert who in turn wrote a truly reactionary statement called “Mother Right”.
Separate but equal. Rigidly defined roles instead of breaking down roles Alpert’s piece tended to glorify them and marked the start of a reactionary branch of feminism described by Ellen Willis and Alice Echols as “cultural feminism”. Cultural feminism colonized the title of radical feminism and became what we consider radical feminism today, a quite different critter from the mid-1970s era radical feminism.
At this point many lose track of what happened but something very crucial to understanding the trashing of WBTs as well as the backlash against feminism that drove many women from it occurred.
Two people, WBTs entered the discourse. Jan Morris and Dr. Renee Richards. Both had tons of male privilege and entitlement. Enough so that I as a working class WBT understood that the way they weilded that privilege and entitlement would seriously piss off women who worked for years as women without ever managing to garner even a portion of that privilege.
Enter Mary Daly… Mary Daly (from Wikipedia) “Before obtaining her two doctorates in sacred theology and philosophy from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, she received her B.A. in English from The College of Saint Rose, her M.A. in English from The Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in religion from St. Mary’s College.”
Catholic by indoctrination and employed by a Jesuit College (Boston College)
Mary Daly furthered cultural feminism at the expense of practical radical feminism aimed at equality. One insane fantasy based mythology for another. In her book Gyn/ecology there is a comment made almost in passing about transsexualism being a male problem and “Frankensteinian” in nature.
Quoting from a review of Janice Raymond’s A Passion for Friends Claudia Card writes of Raymond “Writing partly out of her 12 years experience as a nun.
According to numerous sources Daly, was also the dissertation adviser to Janice Raymond, whose dissertation, published in 1979 as The Transsexual Empire. According to various allegations the relationship between crossed the line separating professional and personal in what would normally be considered an ethical violation.
Raymond’s history as a nun as well as her questionable relationship to the controversial Daly raises questions regarding the legitimacy of her doctoral thesis and later published work.
A work deemed by many to be little more than a hateful hysterical screed leveling contradictory charges at straw dogs of fictional creation. Ironically Raymond leveled the worst of her charges not against those transsexuals who embraced the feminine mystique thereby perpetuating sexist stereotypes but rather against those WBTs who were integrated into the feminist movement. She attacked those who were among the hardest working women in the movement sowing dissention and factionalism with her outrageous charges.
Raymond created the destruction she accused WBTs of being responsable for. The taking of sides and angry accusations were in many ways one of the last straws for numerous women fed up with years of trashings for various reasons.
It is only today with the power of the Internet to collect information as well as the snippets of detail here and there that people who have been oppressed by the hate of Raymond and daly are finally able to to question the source of that anger.
Is it feminism or is it the hard fanaticism of Catholicism?