The New Yorker just published “What Is a Woman? – The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism” by Michelle Goldberg. Her piece provides a good summary of the differences in political analysis between radical feminsts and liberal transgenderists, from their different views on gender and whether “girl brains” exist to the real-world effects on women. Having interviewed Lierre Keith and Rachel of DGR, other radical feminists veteran and new, and prominent transactivists, Goldberg provides a useful introduction to this decades-old debate.
The article makes clear the need for women to have women-only safe spaces for meeting, organizing, and letting down their guard. Goldberg describes the pattern of threats against and silencing of women who question queer theory, from deplatforming to cancelation of venues to straight-up death threats. (The article does not attempt to cover transactivists’ pattern of physically assaulting women who disagree with them.) The article quotes Sandy Stone, a man who identifies as a woman: “I am going to have to say [to women who want women-only spaces], It’s your place to stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go. It’s not our job to avoid you.” Sandy’s statement perfectly illustrates the male entitlement behavior radical feminists are working so hard to dismantle.
Justin Ellenbecker, one of the DGR members who joined the July caravan to the Unis’tot’en Camp, reports back on his experience:
I’ve had many opportunities over recent years to attend some of the best training in theoretical concepts and workshops. This action camp provided that and something deeper: a chance to join with those on the front lines, to be a part of actively resisting, guided by people who understand the need to militantly respond to the threats facing the living world. I personally witnessed before my eyes people undergoing radical changes as they saw the material needs for a true resistance as more important than their ideological purity. I spent hours on security, construction, and permaculture tasks where for once the work was more important than group affiliation or rumor mongering. Conversations always took a path towards how the environmental movement needs to start winning offensive battles, crippling the means for those in power to destroy living ecosystems. People new and veteran to this type of work were tossing away the shells of symbolic dogmatism they had long sheltered themselves in, and craving more concrete ways to challenge the dominant culture. I dare say I found a place where my pessimism and extreme caution weren’t a necessary facet of negotiating the world of activism.
This is a place to get work done, and there is much work left to do. If you think you can possibly make it to the area, directly support the camp. If you can’t make it in person, donations of money and materials are always needed, and there may be ways to volunteer from afar. Please get in touch!
DGR member Will Falk has been writing a regular series on his experiences at the Unis’tot’en Camp blockade of proposed pipeline construction. We’ve highlighted some of them here already, but thought it would be useful to link to the whole series of thoughtful essays on what it takes to build a true culture of resistance, and for members of settler culture to ally with indigenous peoples on the front lines:
Women’s Liberation Front is a radical feminist organization dedicated to the total liberation of women. With several DGR members involved, they fight to end male violence, regain reproductive sovereignty, and ultimately dismantle the gender-caste system. They put on the recent Radfems Respond event and are actively seeking new members and new chapters to expand their activity.
Robert Jensen, a radical activist and professor in Austin, TX, wrote an article last month on the debate within feminism on transgenderism. His piece clearly presents the disagreements between radical feminists, who view gender as a patriarchy-enforcing social construct to be abolished; and the transgender movement, with a more liberal approach of encouraging individuals to choose their own gender roles without challenging the larger system.
The goal of radical feminism is a world without hierarchy, in which males and females would be free to explore the range of human experiences—especially experiences of love, whether sexual or not—in an egalitarian context.
Nothing in a radical feminist analysis minimizes the social and/or psychological struggles of—nor provides support for violence against—people who identify as transgender or people who do not conform to patriarchal gender norms but do not identify as transgender. Radical feminism is not the cause of those struggles or the source of that violence but rather advocates for an egalitarian society with maximal freedom without violence.
Listen to a few pages of the chapter “Legacy” from What We Leave Behind, the book by Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay. The passage is read by Seymour Lyphe, originally aired on his show RAGE Radio: Resistance Against Global Ecocide.
Skills for Solidarity is a free online program to help the non-Indigenous better understand the issues facing Indigenous Peoples of Canada, hopefully leading to more effective campaigns for environmental and social justice activists. This is crucial work for non-Indigenous Peoples and highly recommended. Although oriented towards Canadians, anyone can view the Module videos and download the accompanying workbooks. This crucial educational work is highly recommend for all members of settler culture.
Skills for Solidarity will provide an introductory overview to our nations’ shared history.
Our hope is that those who participate in the program will leave with a better understanding of how they are connected to and responsible for renewing the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Peoples, and a toolkit to help us continue exploring effective ways of working together. While we will not walk away knowing everything about our nations’ histories, we will hopefully be better equipped to ask questions about how to engage in solidarity work in a meaningful, authentic and effective way.