Investigating the Lesbian Klan: The Rise of Cultural Feminism

Not all lesbians are members of the anti-transsexual Klan.  Nor are all lesbian feminists or even many lesbian separatists.

There is nothing inherent in the left/liberal precepts of lesbian feminism that requires the systematic bigotry that a minority within the lesbian community have deployed towards transsexual and post-transsexual women.

In spite of their claiming the label “Radical Feminists” their over all policies share little or nothing with the original “Radical Feminists” who grew out of the left and had more in common with the women of Weatherman, and the Trotskyites than they do with with those who claim that label today.  In the early 1970s to be a Radical Feminist meant that one acted radically rather than sitting around theorizing and engaging in vicious word games.

As early as 1972 there was a divergence from that form of feminism, which tended to view women’s oppression within the context of the oppressions of race and class.  This meant erasing the contributions Marx and Engels made to analyzing the origins of the family.

One of the early demands of what Red Stockings came to describe as “cultural feminism” came in the form of Robin Morgan’s Good-bye to all that… *1

Women had played a major role in every aspect of left wing movements in the US since the days of  the Abolition Movement.  They were part of the Labor Movement (Mother Jones and Elizabeth Gurly Flynn) They were part of the Communist Party (Dorothy Ray Healy).  The Anarchist Movement (Emma Goldman Lucy Parsons) The Black Civil Rights Movement (Angela Davis, Elaine Brown)  The Anti-war Movement, the Environmental Movement ETC.

In “Good-bye to all that” Morgan demanded women leave movements where they had worked for years, movements they had committed their lives to working with all to join what was at the time a middle class white women’s movement.  She laid out all the crimes of the alternative hippie communities yet never much focused on the misogyny of the mainstream media or corporate America.

This actually kept me from fully committing to feminism as I was working class and saw how oppressions of class and race meant that while all women were oppressed by sexism, many women carried much heavier burdens of oppression than others.

You see I was part of the anti-war movement and the counter-culture being trashed by Morgan, a well to do, former child star.  We were trying to build a new society and dealing with sexism wasn’t the only issue.

A couple of years later Jane Alpert, an acolyte of Morgan wrote Mother Right:

Letter from the Underground:

Dear Sisters in the Weather Underground:

I am addressing this piece to you, in spite of the fact that my concern at this point is with a far broader spectrum of women than your tiny band of forgotten leftists, because it was our arguments of the past year that convinced me to publicize my conversion from the left to radical feminism. I realized after these arguments that for me to keep silence would only support the illusion that the “underground” is united around the male politics which you still espouse, and these politics and practices are too reprehensible to me as a feminist to protect them by silence. I know that seeing this letter, which you thought you would receive as a private communication, here in print will shock you and that you will regard much of its content as a breach of the tacit code of honor among political fugitives. Nevertheless, my own politics demand that I share with all women my knowledge of the sexual oppression of the left, if only to warn other sisters against the pain that has been inflicted on us. Perhaps you personally will never open up to feminism; yet the experiences I am going to relate may speak more effectively to women involved in other branches of the left, from McGovern organizers to Socialist Workers Party members. And I have some hope that the impact of a public statement may do what none of my private arguments have succeeded in doing: persuade you to leave the dying left in which you are floundering and begin to put your immense courage and unique skills to work for women-for yourselves.

This letter and Morgan’s overt support of both Jane Alpert and this position struck me and many other left wing feminists as a betrayal on the order last seen by those who named names at the HUAC and the McCarthy hearings during the Red scare of the 1950s.

But even more insidious was another part of “Mother Right” which renounced the truly radical thinking of Shulamith Firestone while furthering the separation from the Left and counter-culture that had been started by Morgan.

“Mother Right” argued against the idea of women as female people  endowed with same abilities as male people.  While earlier feminists asserted that differences were not biological but  rather the result of patriarchal conditioning “Mother Right” introduced the idea of biological essentialism, the concept that men and women were completely different and didn’t share a wide variety of overlapping traits and talents.

For centuries feminists have asserted that the essential difference between men and women does not lie in biology but rather in the roles that patriarchal societies ( men ) have required each sex to play. The motivation for this assertion is obvious: women’s biology has always been used to justify women’s oppression. As patriarchal reasoning went, since “God” or “nature” or “evolution” had made woman the bearer and nurser of the species, it logically followed that she should stay home with the children and perform as a matter of more-or-less ordained duty all the domestic chores involved in keeping and feeding a household. When women work outside the home, we have the most menial and lowest-paid tasks to perform, chiefly because any labor a woman performs outside the home is thought to be temporary and inessential to her, no matter how she herself might be inclined to regard it. Naturally, then, the first healthy impulse of feminism is to deny that simply because women have breasts and uteruses we are better suited to wash dishes, scrub floors, or change diapers. As newly roused feminists, we retorted to evidence that women might be intrinsically better suited to perform some roles than others by pointing out that men have been forcing these roles on us for at least five thousand years. After such time, conditioning and habit are so strong that they appear to be intrinsic and innate.

However, a flaw in this feminist argument has persisted: it contradicts our felt experience of the biological difference between the sexes as one of immense significance To begin with, it seems obvious that biology alone would, in primitive societies, have dictated different roles and different powers as appropriate to each sex. And biological scientists have indeed assumed, for the most part, that the physical passivity of the female mammal during intercourse and the demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing clearly indicate a role of women as biologically determined, and inferior. In response to this, Shulamith Firestone, with the publication of The Dialectic of Sex in 1970, articulated the definitive feminist antithesis to this idea by denouncing biology as reactionary. Agreeing that biology had necessarily been an all-powerful determinant of social roles in the past, Firestone went on to argue that the advances of technology made this tyranny potentially obsolete. Women are still enslaved to their bodies not because of biology but because the patriarchy will not permit the use of technology to interfere with men’s power over women. However, in Firestone’s view, the dialectic of history, in which the sexual relationship underlies all other power relationships, indicates that A feminist revolution is inevitable. This revolution will put technology to work to literally free women from biology, from pregnancy, childbirth, and the rest, thereby eliminating the last difference of any importance between the sexes and ultimately causing the sexual difference itself to wither away, in the course of evolution, together with all forms of oppression.

I think that Firestone is visionary in perceiving the sexual relationship as the basis of all power relationships, and in predicting that feminist revolution will therefore result in the end of all oppression. However, the evidence of feminist culture, which has accumulated largely since the publication of her epochal book, suggests that her analysis of the role of biology was deficient and that a third possibility, which is indeed a new synthesis of the previous views, may well be correct. The unique consciousness or sensibility of women, the particular attributes that set feminist art apart, and a compelling line of research now being pursued lay feminist anthropologists all point to the idea that female biology is the basis of women’s powers. Biology is hence the source and not the enemy of feminist revolution.

The root of this idea lies perhaps in buried history. It has increasingly been acknowledged that the most ancient societies worshiped a female diety or deities, and that menstruation, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and all other phenomena associated with female biology were surrounded with taboos. Furthermore, a number of these ancient societies were matrilineal: property and social identity were inherited through the mother rather than the father. Whether women had any secular power in these societies is a subject of dispute, and most archaeologists and anthropologists have felt that women didn’t have any power except over a few religious rites. But most archaeologists and anthropologists have been men, whose imaginations could not quite grasp a society in which women held real power, even a pretechnological society. (For example, the section on “Amazons” in the authoritative Oxford Classical Dictionary spends all of one sentence dismissing the notion the Amazon tribes ever existed–though these tribes were acknowledged by nearly every ancient historian who wrote about preclassical times.) Feminists in many branches of science and historical research have been reexamining the evidence for the existence of ancient gynocracies, or women-ruled societies. Among the more visionary and lyrically persuasive (if somewhat factually problematic) of these recent studies is The First Sex by Elizabeth Gould Davis. Davis hypothesizes that patriarchal society began only after barbarian male tribes violently overthrew the ancient, peaceful, and relatively advanced gynocracies, in which women were not only worshiped but were actually temporal rulers. These ancient gynocracies may have existed throughout Asia, northern Africa, the Arabian peninsula, and the Mediterranean area and persisted as late as 2,000 B.C. in some areas, such as Crete. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that Davis may be proved correct in the near future, and her thesis has been stated in a more tentative style than hers by several other highly respected scientists.

Those of us who considered ourselves radical feminists in the original sense of the term i.e. left wing Marxist-Leninist feminists felt utterly betrayed by the direction Morgan and others seemed to be moving in.

Eventually our branch of feminism became known as “Liberal Feminism”.  The branch that goes out and demonstrates for rights.  Some times in a manner that is reformist and sometimes in the case of those who fight globalization and the corporatocracy, radical.

Cultural Feminism, also referred to by some as “gender feminism” diverged from political feminism which was denounced as “reformist”. Something I always found strange given the reactionary positions masquerading as radical thought one found in in the writings of the cultural feminists.

As an atheist, I found it very difficult to get caught up in and devote much energy to the whole goddess worship movement that seemed to be an essential part of cultural feminism.  If the concept of a sky-god already seems absurd, it doesn’t much matter if that god is male or female.  Honestly I found some of the “research” on pre-historical matriarchies to be sketchy at best and requiring the same level of skepticism I used in reading Erich von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods”

Dancing naked around a fire with a bunch of other women was edifying in terms of fun and a fuck of a lot less work that working to elect a candidate that would support the ratification of the ERA. Except, it somehow seemed less relevant to smashing the patriarchy than doing the hard work of organizing.

Yet the cultural feminists started using their essentialism to dominate the political discourse.  They did this by claiming ultimate victimhood and wearing that ultimate victimhood as a badge of honor that gave them veto power over the political feminists and lesbians.  After all it was their goddess ordained, mother right, to have the voice of authority.

This essentialism along with ultimate victimhood became a tool of personal power and dominance.  A tool for shutting down the politicals and assuring the destruction of any sort of broad based feminism that worked on a wide scope of issues.

The attacks on transsexuals starting with Beth Elliott showed the basic elements of what became cultural feminism.  Particularly the essentialist elements.

There was a popular feminist button in 1969 that read, “Biology is not Destiny”.  I remember this button because I had one and wore it.  It was a statement of liberation that said one was not limited by their biology to specified roles.  In those days we talked about the sameness of men and women, the overlapping of talents, skills etc.  How male dominance was a product of social engineering.

Incidentally Dr. Benjamin and others who pioneered the treatment for transsexualism reinforced the idea of an over lapping of the sexes rather than a sharp dividing line.  Dr. Benjamin spoke of the many criteria of sex differentiation.

The essentialism of cultural feminism on the other hand was very much into the “Women are from Venus/Men are from Mars”  dialectic.  This like any other fundamentalist line of thinking  requires that ideology trump any possible form of contradictory evidence. Even when that contradiction is a living, breathing, thinking person standing there messing with your theory.

Transsexuals mess with Cultural Feminism’s Essentialist Theory

In later posts on this subject I will go into some of the contradictions the existence of transsexuals create for the Cultural Feminists prime theory of essentialism.  Like creationists they tie themselves in knots, presenting arguments not supported by evidence.  They will resort to lies, slander and false accusations to gain support for purging not only post-transsexual women from the ranks of lesbian feminism but anyone who supports post-transsexual women.

Who can blame them.  Transsexuals are the contradiction that devastates their ideologically self contained world.

1.  I confess to a love hate relationship with Robin Morgan.  Many of the books she compiled and edited are and have been a part of my essential feminist library since the early 1970s.  On the other hand I have felt that Morgan’s claiming to be a lesbian while in a heterosexual marriage and enjoying heterosexual privilege was an insult to actual lesbians.  While other women who wrote the works featured in many of Morgan’s anthologies were being trashed as seeking stardom for the mere act of putting their names on the writings they worked to produce, Morgan was never shy about putting her name on the anthologies she produced and edited.

A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

From The New York Time Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

By CHRISTINE STANSELL
Published: August 24, 2010

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification.

Proposals for giving women the vote had been around since the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848. At the end of the Civil War, eager abolitionists urged Congress to enfranchise both the former slaves and women, black and white. The 14th Amendment opened the possibility, with its generous language about citizenship, equal protection and due process.

But, at that time, women’s suffrage was still unthinkable to anyone but radical abolitionists. Since the nation’s founding, Americans considered women to be, by nature, creatures of the home, under the care and authority of men. They had no need for the vote; their husbands represented them to the state and voted for them. So, in the 14th Amendment’s second section, Republicans inserted the word “male,” prohibiting the denial of voting rights to “any of the male inhabitants” of the states.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/opinion/25stansell.html?ref=opinion

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Feminist, Gender, History, Human Rights, Politics, Sexism, Social Justice, Unequal Treatment. Comments Off on A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage

One Little N-Word

Laura Schlessinger, who may have a doctorate just not in psychology or psychiatry has been spewing hatred and bigotry towards LGBT/TQ people for years.

For those of you unfamiliar with this self appointed dispenser of advice from the fetid swamp land of ultra right wing hate radio and television Dr. Laura has had a radio show for years.

During that time she has told women it is their own fault if they suffer spousal abuse but that they will go to hell if they divorce.  Unlike so many for whom I use the label of Christo-fascist Dr. Laura is different, she is a Judeo-fascist.

This makes her an oddity as there is this incredible history of Jewish support for so many truly progressive causes here in America.  The neo-con movement has been the exception rather than the rule.

In some ways right wingers have been given a pass for their spewing of hate.  I guess it sells in Peoria, a mythical standard of heartland America.

The reality is the full force of the state has been used and abused in the silencing of nearly every progressive cause that has reared its head in America.  This has included laws that make it difficult if not impossible to form labor unions capable of wielding power equal to that of the corporations.

The labeling as Red of anyone who dares speak the dreaded word “equality” or stand for the subversive cause of social justice.  Speaking of the labeling of people as “communist”.  why is there no equivalent of Godwin’s rule regarding red-baiting?

Dr. Laura is part of a tradition of hate speech on the radio and television, protected because it sells products without too much “blow back”. What makes Dr. Laura different from many of the spewers of bigotry is that she is not some dubiously credentialed fundamentalist preacher spewing misogyny and homophobia from the sanctity of the pulpit, nor is she some ignorant pundit reading ultra right wing neo-Nazi talking points that pass as political analysis to gown and hood wearing bigots stoked on “White Panic” and “Gender Panic”.

While working on this I received a bulletin from Media Matters for America that had two parts related to this essay:  http://mediamatters.org/research/201008180029

Malkin, other conservatives voice support for Dr. Laura

Following Laura Schlessinger’s announcement that she will end her radio show in the wake of widespread criticism for her use of a racial slur, Michelle Malkin and other conservatives have responded by praising Schlessinger and her comment that, by quitting the show, she will regain her First Amendment rights.

Michelle Malkin, aka “the rabid Shihtzu” is engaging in a typical right wing tactic of lying with regards to the First Amendment.  Freedom of Speech is no guarantee of a platform. Were this defense of Dr. Laura but a thread in a tapestry, a history of defending free speech on the part of the “rabid Shihtzu then perhaps it would not be such an egregious distortion. But I have never once seen or heard anyone on the right wing ever once support “Free Speech” for anyone on the left.  I’m not referring to a commercially financed platform for where one gets paid for speaking their piece. No, I’m speaking about the right wing defending say the rights of protesters to gather, march and present their position.

If anything the right wing spewers of hate use their platforms to not only belittle the opinion of their opposition (much the same way as I use my platform to belittle them) but they use state power to deny their opposition any platform at all.  It has long taken great courage in this nation to support progressive cause such as equality and social justice.  Too often people on the left have had to face blacklisting, spurious laws enforced by the state, police state type tactics directed at even the most innocuous of groups (hence my using the example of “Quaker Vegans for Peace” as organizations subjected to fascist police state tactics). Too often demands for equality and social justice for people who Dr. Laura slurred by use of the N-word have been met by Concerned Conservative Christian Citizens and their lynching rope.

Schlessinger announces end to show after racial rant
Schlessinger: “I articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” On August 10, Schlessinger launched into a racially charged rant, during which she — in her own words — “articulated the ‘n’ word all the way out — more than one time.” Among other things, Schlessinger told an African-American caller that she had a “chip on [her] shoulder” and later stated: “If you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.” The next day, Schlessinger apologized.

During an August 17 interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, Schlessinger announced that when her radio contract expires at the end of the year, she will not renew it. She said that, following her racial rant, “my First Amendment rights have been usurped by angry, hateful groups.”

I can’t help but wonder how one can cry censorship when one is not being forced to resign as a result of engaging in the spewing of hateful speech, when in point of fact one has had an entire career of many years and has earned big bucks getting paid to spew misogyny, homophobia and other right wing garbage that has contributed to a hate movement that has denied LGBT/TQ people their equal rights.  How is voluntarily not renewing one’s contract, censorship?

Would anyone care to bet that Dr. Laura has another even more highly paying platform  to preach hate from lined up and awaiting her signature on a new contract?  Contrast that with the victims of the right wing black list of the Hoover and McCarty eras.  Those people had their careers destroyed not for preaching hatred and bigotry but for taking stands that supported among other things, opposition to Franco, support for labor unions and support for racial equality.

No…  Dr. Laura’s use of the N-word was not some sort of courageous stance taken in the defense of free speech. It was simply a public airing of what is all to often voiced among those claiming to support “traditional values’ those who wrap themselves in the flag in order to hide their swastikas and Klan robe.

Dr. Laura let her sanctimony slip and revealed her true face.  One that is as ugly as Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism  or the racism of Aryan Nation.

Were it only true that Dr. Laura would be reduced to Blogging without sponsors and supporting that blogging working in a Big Box Store.

Historical Clipping: Where Some of the Mythology Arises

Change-of-Sex Surgeries at Johns Hopkins: About 20 Done So Far

By Tony Ortega, Mon., Aug. 16 2010 @ 6:00AM
Categories: Clip Job

November 6, 1969, Vol. XIV, No. 56

Life’s Such a Drag, They’d Rather Switch
by Charles W. Slack

For the past five years or so, the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore has been offering a change-of-sex service to certain carefully screened patients. This service has its psychotherapeutic and hormone-therapy aspects as well as its surgical procedures and thus demands the participation of a team of specialists representing plastic and reconstructive surgery, gynecological surgery, urology, endocrinology, and neurology, in addition to psychiatry and the press. It is the psychiatrist who, together with the patient, makes the final decision as to whether the rest of the team goes to work or not.

Just how well their work was going became the topic of a symposium last Wednesday evening as the Gender Identity Clinic (this is what the Baltimore physicians and surgeons call themselves) gathered to review progress before colleagues at the New York Academy of Medicine. “Trans-sexuality in the Human Male and the Sex Reassignment Operation” was the title of the meeting and it brought out the biggest crowd the halls had seen since sexual responsters Masters and Johnson did their thing at the Academy a few years back.

Most people who undergo the sex reassignment operation come to the Hopkins clinic with more or less normal male genitalia and leave it with genitals looking and functioning more or less like a normal female, although there are a few who qualify for (and hence get) the approximate female-to-male treatment.

The demand, at least in the U.S. and Sweden, is about 2.7 to one in favor of urogenital men asking to become women. In the Union of South Africa, for some reason, it is reported that there are more urogenital women who want to become men. Data from the remainder of this globe are not yet available.

Wide publicity attended the Identity Clinic’s first sex-changing success in 1965 and, since then, more than 1000 people have written Hopkins requesting the operation (or at least more information about it). The head psychiatrist on the U.S. team, Dr. Jonathan Meyer, mailed a fairly detailed questionnaire to everybody who wrote in and well over half the people filled it out and sent it back. The questionnaire provides good information about U.S. citizens who wish to change sex.

The typical applicant is 25 to 30 years old, in the lower-middle-class income bracket, and is apparently law-abiding in every respect not related to trans-sexualism. More than half have tried psychotherapy but most complain, usually bitterly, that psychological treatment is no help at all with the problem (one or two report that psychotherapy is okay for the side issues although definitely not good for the main trans-sexual hangups).

Hormone treatment is a different matter. Almost all trans-sexuals take hormones before trying to go for surgery. Female hormones taken by males produce female secondary sex characteristics such as breast development. Male hormones taken by females produce an enlarged clitoris. Opposite-sex hormones also produce (or reinforce an already existing) low sex drive. In fact, weak sex drive is one of the surprising characteristics of trans-sexuals as a group. Since so many people who want to change their sex take hormones, it has not been possible, until now, to find out whether they would be different from the rest of us if they didn’t. The Hopkins clinic was able to assemble, from its large volume of applicants, a small group of males who had never had female hormones. Endocrinologically speaking, they turned out to be no different from normal males. Thus, in all probability, the desire to change one’s sex does not ordinarily stem from physiological causes. (There is some hint that damage in the temporal lobes of the brain may be involved but the evidence is not overwhelming.)

Of those who apply for the operations at Hopkins, only a small per cent qualify. The rest, presumably, if they are persistent, must go elsewhere — which, at the moment, means out of the country. To get one’s sex reassigned in Baltimore, one must not be diagnosed paranoid-schizophrenic or otherwise psychotic. One must be living continually (preferably continuously) as a member of the opposite sex. This means more than cross-dressing and changing names: people with conjugal or pseudo-marital relationships are preferred. According to the doctors experienced in interviewing trans-sexuals, those who are really committed to the trans-sexual life represent only about five per cent of those who apply. Really committed trans-sexuals are often well adjusted to their altered role. The very adjustment makes them genuinely frightened of discovery and with some good reason. As trans-sexuals, they pass as the opposite sex. Thus exposure could mean legal, social, and occupational disaster.

The gender-clinic physicians are strong in their agreement that the genuine trans-sexual is not a homosexual. Often enough homosexuals will inquire about or even apply for the operation in the mistaken belief that it might relieve some of the social and sexual pressures now upon them, but during the extensive interviewing given all applicants the homosexuals are disqualified or, more likely, disqualify themselves when they find out what it’s all about.

In the first place, sexual reassignment is not really an operation but a series of procedures. While under observation by the team, and while using hormones, one must first live for a period as a full-time member of the opposite sex. Then those parts of the process which are reversible (breast removal in the female-to-male, breast development in the male-to-female) are undertaken before such irreversible as removal of penises. Before any surgery is undertaken, the team spends a good bit of time talking to the prospect and explaining just what to expect and not to expect. One can understand why this would be necessary. The aim of the operative procedure is basically to satisfy the patient by (1) removing the external genitalia associate with the undesired sex, (2) replacing them with the external appearance of genitalia associate with the desired sex (penises are made from skin grafts from other parts of the body), (3) for male-to-females, providing a functioning simulated vagina. The whole team participates in one way or another during the operations. Reoperations are far from rare and, unfortunately, the whole process is tinged with trial and error. Only about 20 people have been switched so far here in the States, but the clinic is presently going at the rate of one a month. The big-volume sex-changers have so far been the Japanese, Turks, Danes, and Swedes. While admitting that the foreigners might be a bit advanced on the aesthetics of reconstruction (practice makes perfect and they’ve had more change), the U.S. doctors express uniform dismay at foreign lack of attention to urological complications. One gets the impression that as long as the job looks good, the Turks are happy — never mind what develops urogenitally after the patient gets back home.

There can be no doubt that people should have the right to be free of such fears and to pursue such happiness — through hormones or trans-sexual surgery or through any other means medical science can come up with. The pursuit of happiness down one-way streets must not be denied. God Almighty, however, help those psychiatrists to direct this traffic wisely.

Posted in History. Comments Off on Historical Clipping: Where Some of the Mythology Arises

Gender… Schmender #$%@&^*

The whole ideology of gender is purely sexist bullshit.

Gender is a pure social construct, a fiction that oppresses both men and women but more women than men.

When I hear “gender assigned at birth” I want to slap someone. I wasn’t assigned a gender at birth.  The doctor looked between my legs and said, “It’s a boy.”  I was assigned male by reason of having a penis there later in life I had an operation that reassigned me to female based on that same genital appearance factor.

When I came out in 1969, I came out as a feminist.  Women in the collective gave me clothes. While the guys claimed they respected me but they also started treating me in a way that told me they expected me to adhere to the sex roles both hippie and movement women were expected to adhere to.

When other movement women saw this they introduced me to feminism.  When SDS split into Weatherman and other factions I became Weather, largely because of Bernadine Dohrn.  You see there weren’t very many strong women’s voices in SDS and the Anti-War Movement.

Bernadine Dohrn gave great rants…  Maybe months later on reflection you went WTF but at the time…  Oh how I admired her audacity and how she inspired me to act courageously.

I also learned from other radical women. Putting women and the interests of women first yet never forgetting that sexism was only one axis of oppression. Consciousness raising and analysis gave me/us an understanding of what the world expects of women.

Many of us who were dealing with having been born with transsexualism owe far more to feminism and the feminist movement than we ever did to Stonewall and the Gay Liberation Movement. We weren’t gay men even if we had male lovers.  Especially if we had male lovers… being transsexual and having a male lover meant we were straight or more accurately heterosexual since straight also had other connotations.

We weren’t some “T” so recently grafted on to what was first a Gay Liberation Movement.  We were women in transition to female having to deal with the same sexism as natal female women had to deal with.  It didn’t much matter if we were radical feminist Weather Nation women or Cosmo “Sex and the Single Girl” women.  We had to deal with sexism and pay discrimination as well as sexist assumptions based on what are now called “gender” stereotypes.

Gender was something used to keep women oppressed.  It was the idea that women are weak and stupid; fit only to be sex objects or mothers. Daddy’s little princess until given to a man only to lose her last name and become his property.* Gender became a way of telling feminists that they were not real women since they questioned the marketing of very high profit items based on pandering to a sense of insecurity in one’s own womanhood or attractiveness.

When feminism challenged those who were dealing with transsexualism part of the challenge was due to the tendency of so many of us to embrace all the marketing of gender without insight or even a sense of irony.

But gender as it is so often used today is if anything a far more sneaky and loaded with subtextual readings semiotic. Gender has now replaced sex in so much of the common discourse that we look at the construct as reality and skip over the subtextual readings of the semiotic.

Whereas once upon a time the Cockettes Troupe in San Francisco deconstructed gender and showed it as performative through the usage of exaggerated costumes and the performing of equally over the top stereotypes taken from films of the 1930s and 40s I now have some people ask if these performers were transsexual or transgender. The answer is maybe some were.  One was in the Stanford program at the same time I was, others were gay men and some were natal females.

By breaking the rules of gender through Absurdist Theater they created both campy comedy and a critique of sex roles. One of the crucial mistakes in feminist criticism of more traditional drag is the assumption that women are the target when it often seems the aim is more a matter of ridiculing roles portrayed in movies.

But Second Wave Feminism went even further in delivering a devastating critique of sex roles as defining what the proper role of women was.  When women dared step beyond the stereotypes and enter male dominated career field they were told that doing so would un-sex both women and men.  Fashion magazines and all sorts of corporate interests dished up massive loads of propaganda aimed at undermining the confidence of women seeking equality of opportunity.

One of the critiques of transsexual to female people is that we have not been socialized as women. This is an assumption that is often times contradictorily both true and false. Transsexual to female people grow up as transkids and are influenced by the same sales pitches and indoctrination as natal women yet they are told it is something they must adhere to and we are told it is something to be ashamed of.

This makes it hard for us to have a critical eye regarding this propaganda when we first come out. We may acquire it with experience but it is equally possible for us to join the masses of women who march to the beat of Sex in the City rather than to NOW and more radical feminisms.

At some point sex became gender and roles acted replaced that which was written upon the body. The ironic labeling of sex as a definer of maleness or femaleness as essentialism has resulted in many people with a poor understanding of feminist theory using it as a careless accusation.

Dividing people into classes of male and female based on the appearances of genitalia would mean that heterosexual post-SRS women and men would be able to legally marry partners of the other sex.  No more Christie Lee Littletons, no more Nikki Araguzs.

But when the misogynistic reactionary forces of both religious fundamentalism and ultra right wing politics united to defeat feminism as well as LGBT/TQ liberation and the progressive movements of the 60s and 70s they seemed to unite with corporate interests in reasserting misogyny.  Trying to sell sex roles and their importance after 15 years of serious feminist critique was more of a struggle than repackaging sex roles as gender.

The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan was supposedly a self help book for women.  In reality this 1974 publication was grounded in the rising right wing Christo-Fascist backlash that also spawned the rise of the homophobic bigotry of Anita Bryant and crew.

Along with Phyllis Schlafly these genderists put forth an ideology that could have been penned by the late transvestite activist pioneer, Virginia Prince.  The ideology was one that kept women in their places by telling them that they weren’t real women unless they filled this total woman gender role.  The same gender role feminists had critiqued under the name of “sex roles.”

Now I view “gender” as a culturally defined social construct that varies a great deal according to culture and time (see Margaret Mead’s work.  BTW her “debunker” were right wing McCarthyites).

With western modernism the naturally occurring over lapping of sex traits and abilities lead to a lessening of rigid gender roles that are more often found these days in non-western cultures.

Defining people as real men or real women based on gender is a characteristic of conservative values often based in religiously fanatical cultures which is why I find the embrace of “gender” as definer by Transgender Inc. to be more reactionary than progressive.

I read a story on Bilrico about some creep beating an infant boy to death to make him act like a man. http://www.bilerico.com/2010/08/man_kills_17-month-old_boy_for_acting_like_a_girl.php This is the problem with putting so much emphasis on gender.

In the real world an Emo boy even with nail polish and a magenta streak in his long black hair is still a boy.  The rocker girl with facial piercings, tats and black leather motor cycle boots is still a girl.

Of course without the ideology of transgender Thomas Beatie is a masculine woman who dresses and acts like a man when she isn’t having children.  But c`est la vie.  And no I wouldn’t mis-gender him like that even though I am supremely irritated by the neo-quiver full thingie.

Gender is masculinity or femininity not maleness or femaleness.  We got suckered into discussing that core identity of male or female as being gender based on Stoller’s book (Sex and Gender) way back in the 1960s.  We didn’t have a whole lot of information to operate on and lacked a vocabulary to describe what we were feeling.  We should have used “core sex identity” for that sense of being female trapped in a male body.
Little did we realize that even then introducing “gender” in to the discourse was using poisoned seeds from the fruit of a poisonous tree.  The misogynistic world according to Virginia Prince became the bullshit crop of the transgender social construct of gender.

The way Transgender Inc. uses gender is not the least bit liberating.  It can’t be as it is based on a construct that defines membership in the sex class of female or the sex class of male not based on what one commonly uses.  Male and female are generally based on whether one has a penis or vagina.

Yet the simple reality of hole or pole unites both Transgender Inc and the religious fanatic/right wingers in finding ways to tell women born transsexual that their pussies do not really make them women.

FBI admits probing ‘radical’ historian Zinn for criticizing bureau

While many babble on about how free people are in America I have tended to question the reality of that freedom. Too often that freedom seems to mean one is free to work wages so mean and parsimonious as to give meaning to the term “wage slavery”.  Oddly that freedom doesn’t seem to extend to the rights of labor to organize, form unions and strike for better conditions, otherwise why would workers who try to exercise that freedom be fired, subjected to beatings and arrest or sometimes even murdered by those who are authorized to enforce the nations laws.

Why are people of color, women, LGBT/TQ people considered subversive and anti-American when they ask that the nation that claims to stand foursquare for freedom, justice and equality honor those claims by giving people of color, women and LGBT/TQ people those things the nation says it is most proud of.

Why are those who peacefully dissent and point out the short-comings, the bait and switch nature of these claims spied upon by secret police when our government tells us that only totalitarian governments use secret police to spy upon citizens who peacefully dissent.  Why is it okay for a nation that claims to stand for freedom of speech turns around and black lists those who have the audacity to speak out against the injustices of racism, imperialism, sexism and homophobia?  Are terminations and black listing the marks of freedom or of an authoritarian police state?

Is it more radical to petition an authoritarian state to be allowed to become part of that authoritarian state than it is to work to end the authoritarian state that oppresses so many?

The late Howard Zinn exposed the reality behind America’s image and showed us how it was so often a bright and shining lie.

For this he was investigated by the FBI and I am sure by secret police squads all over the country.  His crime being a truth teller with the courage to speak that truth to power.  I am not surprised at their attempts to have him fired and blacklisted as that is the nature of those involved in the maintaining of the authoritarian aspects of corporate freedom and the government by and for the rich.

From Raw Storyhttp://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0730/fbi-admits-probing-zinn-criticizing-bureau/

By Daniel Tencer
Friday, July 30th, 2010 — 3:22 pm

FBI files show bureau may have tried to get Zinn fired from Boston University for his political opinions

Those who knew of the dissident historian Howard Zinn would not be surprised that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI kept tabs on him for decades during the Cold War.

But in a release of documents pertaining to Zinn, the bureau admitted that one of its investigations into the left-wing academic was prompted not by suspicion of criminal activity, but by Zinn’s criticism of the FBI’s record on civil rights investigations.

“In 1949, the FBI opened a domestic security investigation on Zinn,” the bureau states. “The Bureau noted Zinn’s activities in what were called Communist Front Groups and received informant reports that Zinn was an active member of the CPUSA; Zinn denied ever being a member when he was questioned by agents in the 1950s.

“In the 1960s, the Bureau took another look at Zinn on account of his criticism of the FBI’s civil rights investigations.”

Continue reading at: http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0730/fbi-admits-probing-zinn-criticizing-bureau/

Posted in Abuse, History, Police Abuse, Questioning Authority, Social Justice. Comments Off on FBI admits probing ‘radical’ historian Zinn for criticizing bureau

Allegories Gone Wild: Comstockery Was No Laughing Stock…

From God is for Suckers

6 June 2010 by KA

“Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it” –  Macbeth, Act I, Scene IV

In a recent post, Mr. Garton expounded upon the sexual horrors that some would perpetrate upon us. Sadly, American history is rife with those who would gird our loins for war against our wills. Anita Bryant, for instance, led a vicious movement against gay rights that was religiously motivated. The AFA (American Family Association – what a gentle name that hides the insanity of its members) to this day is virulently anti-gay and labors mightily to foist other violations that run contrary to the (many) principles upon which this country was founded.

As outrageous and horrid as these recent efforts to deprive the few of the liberties granted to all, a brief history lesson will chill the blood and clench the knuckles white with rage. We can breathe a sigh of relief that these days are past us, but we must always be on guard lest the past come back with foaming jaws to bite us in the ass.

Anthony Comstock was a sexually repressed control freak, who left vivid scars on the sexual psyche of America:

Continue reading at: http://gods4suckers.net/archives/2010/06/06/allegories-gone-wild-comstockery-was-no-laughing-stock/