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Gender Critical Feminism is Fascism

Some penguins will trade sex for rocks.

 

Meghan Murphy was booted from Twitter recently for spewing transmisogynistic and anti-sex work garbage. Cue: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! Meghan Murphy as an individual human person is a complete joke, having edited Feminist Current for nearly a decade, a site consisting of random pepperings of George Soros conspiracy theories muddled together with the language of feminism. Nonetheless, her “gender critical” ideas are gaining traction among so-called feminists and fascists alike, and that’s the part that worries me.

Many “gender critical feminists”—aka TERFs and SWERFs—have aligned themselves with violent allies, proclaiming, much like the alt-right does, that “men aren’t women” and “sex work isn’t a thing.” In a pitiful blog post with endless martyred complaint about her locked Twitter account, Murphy whines:

While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis [sic] of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets […] have attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective […] the left seems to have taken to ignoring or refusing to engage with detractors or those who have opinions they disagree with or don’t like [while] the right continues to be interested in and open to engaging.

Raise your hand if you see a lucrative YouTube rant about “Red Pilling” on the horizon!

The alliance between “gender critical feminists” and the alt-right has been forged on mutual bigotry: hatred for trans people and sex workers. “Gender critical feminists” are willing to sacrifice access to medical care, abortion, and self-determination in their alliance with the alt-right for the sole purpose of harassing, doxing, and generally inciting violence against trans people and sex workers.

Historically, factions of white feminism have flirted with fascism, from the overt racism of the Suffragists in the US to the Christian Temperance Movement here and abroad.

It’s time to give serious consideration to the fact that these factions are still alive and well.

Jason Stanley recently described fascism as having three distinct and alarming qualities: a mythic past, cultural division, and a targeted attack on truth. The alt-right exemplifies these qualities, from “Make America Great Again,” to the carefully cultivated division between “patriots” and The Other and ruthless attacks on the press wherein oppressors suddenly lay claim to victimization. Let us not forget that Hitler wrote an entire book about his “struggle,” detailing the myriad ways he believed himself oppressed.

Gender critical feminism is helping to perpetuate a mythic past, cultural division, and a targeted attack on truth, and it’s time for all the Meghan Murphys of the world to be exposed as the fascist bootlickers they are.

 

Mythic Past: While the alt-right conjures up mythic pasts that are entirely race-based and, of course, racist, gender critical feminists rely on myths about their own oppression. This is where their hatred for trans women and their hatred for sex workers intersect—in order to maintain the illusion that patriarchal oppression is solely rooted in genitals, secondary sex characteristics, and reproduction, gender critical feminists must create fantasies of “real” women and “unreal” women. According to gender critical feminists, trans women are not “real” because of secondary sex characteristics,while sex workers are likewise “unreal” because we complicate the notion that sex and reproduction are patriarchal tools for controlling women. Certainly, the fact that we live under a heteropatriarchy is undeniable. And of course the sex industry, like all industries under heteropatriarchy, operates in specific ways on account of existing under oppressive social systems. But gender critical feminists argue that sex industry workers perpetuates these oppressive social systems, which is akin to blaming low-wage laborers for capitalism. Moreover, this purposeful scapegoating of the sex industry makes sex workers the barometer by which “respectable” feminists measure their own “purity”: real women don’t hurt other women, gender critical feminists imply. Real women, real feminists, should starve to death before giving a commodified blowjob. For the cause!

The complexities of sex work fuck up the notion that women specifically and womanhood more generally have linear, concrete timelines. Gender critical feminists motion vaguely towards a nonexistent pre-patriarchal past where womanhood was biologically determined and somehow absolutely uncompromised by men.

Narratives of a mythic past necessitate socially constructed ideas of purity. Often, the conflation of social purity with sexual purity is the first step in normalizing fascist regimes. There’s a reason every fascist regime in contemporary history closed their country’s brothels as a symbolic gesture of “purity,” something Madeleine Albright briefly analyzes in Fascism: A Warning.

Cultural Division: As Megan Murphy herself admits above, gender critical feminists are in bed with violent conservative movements and organizations like Shared Hope International, Men’s Rights Groups, and literal Nazis. For anti-choice organizations like Shared Hope, biopolitical power over marginalized bodies is essential for maintaining a gender hierarchy. For men’s rights activists, discursive warfare against identity politics, particularly those that challenge cisheterosexuality as normative, is essential. For Nazis, the preservation of “respectable” white womanhood is a means by which white cishet men define masculinity. Nazis need the social structure of white womanhood in order to exercise violence over bodies of color; “respectable” white womanhood is thus a barometer by which Nazis measure the value of other bodies.

Biopolitical power over marginalized bodies, discursive warfare against identity politics, and the preservation of white—or, more broadly, “respectable”— womanhood all sound oddly familiar, don’t they? Gender critical feminists wish to eradicate human and labor rights for trans women and sex workers.They claim to the be the victims of more marginalized identities—e.g., trans women are invading “their” spaces and sex workers are propagating patriarchy, as these ridiculous narratives go. Here, “respectable” womanhood has been replaced with notions of “real” and “unreal” women.

Attack on the Truth: We know empirically and without a shred of doubt that nature exhibits variation, from fluid sex and gender to commodified romantic relationships. Reptiles will change gametes based on the weather alone, as one example.Many primates engage in gender-bending performativities; bonobos, for one, are famous for their multi-gendered orgies. Primates, including apes and monkeys (as well as hominids!), have been observed having transactional sex and even some penguins will trade sex for rocks when rocks are scarce.

Humans—like other animals in nature—are variant. We know that sex chromosomes are not binary, biologically. Like, literally, there are more than two “sexes.” Most are familiar with the sex chromosomes XX and XY, but other arrangements, including XXX, XXY, XXXY, XXXXY, and XYY are possible in homo sapiens sapiens. Denying the actual science of sex, even within a scientific paradigm where sex itself is so abstract as to mean anything from chromosomes to the shape of one’s genitals, is a patent attack on the truth.

We also know that the introduction of binary gender came with the growth of capitalism and Protestantism, as cultures dating back to 500BCE recorded a spectrum of gender/s prior to colonization.

Humans also trade sex for a variety of reasons and have done so, at least in terms of recorded history, since the Agricultural Revolution. More importantly, we also have the data on labor rights. We know that in countries with more labor rights for sex workers, violence, including sex trafficking, decreases. We also know that trans women in the sex industry are more likely than cis women to experience violence there. Labor rights for sex workers are implicitly rights for trans people. Denying empirical and historical evidence to support an ideology rooted in a kind of debauched moral crusade is an attack on the truth.

In gender critical feminism, there is a refusal to acknowledge the nuance and complexity of sex work. This discourse will often often resort to rhetorical tactics like referring to sex workers as “prostituted women.”

This language denies agency by design. It helps propagate a mythic and linear timeline of womanhood, it punctuates the divide between “real” and “unreal” women in service to some illusive notion of respectability, and it paves the way for the cognitive dissonance necessary to deny all scientific evidence on the complexity of gender and sex.

I hope the irony of being alienated from one’s peers and from an online platform that facilitates both community and paid gigs isn’t lost on Meghan Murphy. Indeed, all of the Meghan Murphys of the world helped make this fascist bed where policies like FOSTA pass with bipartisan support, where the alienation of marginalized people is a key tactic in destroying ideas and support networks. Now, the Meghan Murphys of the world get to lay in that bed now that Twitter has finally banned deadnaming.

But while gender critical feminists like Meghan Murphy prattle on about the hardships of being booted off Twitter, sex workers, specifically trans women of color, will continue facing the brunt of their tyranny.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I feel like it’s wrong for to say Murphy was suspended from twitter for spewing anti sw garbage when she 100% wasn’t and would probs still be on there if she had limited herself to being swerfy?

  2. This is a little bit nitpicky but I’m not sure why you singled out the secondary sex characteristics when generally those are the ones that are easier to change. This is especially true for trans men, who tend to grow hair easily but don’t have as great of options for bottom surgery, but it’s also true for trans women.

    • primary sex characteristics are variant and gender critical feminists are generally obsessed with bodily characteristics they think they can see + the socially constructed meaning they’ve given observable traits … but I address primary and secondary sex characteristics in the piece, among other traits associated with “sex” and gender, so I’m not sure what you mean by “singled out.” If there is a better way of addressing these issues, I can certainly edit the piece!

  3. This is so stupid. She was banned for “misgendering” a male pedophile who is currently suing 16 working class women for not waxing his balls in their private homes. Get your facts straight and remain neutral

  4. For years I’ve wondered why TERFs and SWERFs were even called feminists by anyone but themselves. I really can’t see any relation to actual feminist goals and values in what they do. Like a certain fascist group that called themselves “national socialists” they seem to have done nothing but take a label to fool others about their goals.

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