The Eternal Triangle
Trans activists condemn radical feminism and patriarchy for equal but opposite positions too. This is like a triangle effect, with all three sides having over lapping things in common, but being very different and having a total different world view. It’s hard to resolve because most things are between two sides, with different and opposing ideologies.
In much the same way as queer theorists and queer activist’s group radfem together with patriarchy, members of radfem group trans activists with patriarchy/conservatism and men’s rights activism. Men’s right activists can be assumed to be the voice of the patriarchy, and they tend to group trans activists and radical feminists together. They see them as being after the same thing, because to them both trans activists and radical feminists want an end to gender as they know and want it. Abolition of the sex role system, or an end to how sex is currently classified, would still bring disruption to traditional sex roles. The patriarchy is not gonna run a system where the category of woman is made up of feminine identified people, and allow people with the capacity to get pregnant to identify out of that class. Men’s right activists are learning to use Trans and radfem against each other whenever they can, while they are at it they can frame any feminist as an anti trans feminist, and it appears to act to shut them down. It appears that wherever one stands on the three sides the other two sides look closer together, and none of them are. It’s just a case of all three ideologies looking like they over lap in some way, and all three having a different idea what the system is or should be.
Below are three examples of what i think a revolution based on the ideals of the three main ideologies would look like.
Example 1: A Radfem Revolution.
No more gender system in terms of masculinity and femininity categories, but biological sex remains. Marriage is abolished, and women get full rights over their body and lives. The sexes are treated the same socially from day one, and females are recognised for their biological bodily needs just as males are. Females get to define from their own subjective angle what those needs are, rather then having them defined by males from an onlooker angle.
To patriarchy this is the end of being able to assign females to a subclass forced to base their mode of living in the world around male desire for access and control of them, and their reproductive capacity. The seat of the patriarchy is with traditional conservative men who want things to go back even more then now, back to the stage where women are wives and mothers only, and in lifetime marriage contracts with one man. A radfem revolution means no hope of that at all, ever again. The main generational chain of the sex role scripts is forever broken, sex roles are no longer passed down from mother to daughter or father to son, and instead evaluated and thrown out. Under patriarchy this is the generational chain, and it depends on sex roles not changing much between each generation. They depend on the survival of the patriarchal family structure, where males are head of the house and pass this role on to their son. Once the generational chains are broken then sex roles are harder to put back in place. When men lose power as a class over women it’s harder to re organise and regain it, because it took generations to establish. A massive revolution now would probably break the chain and the patriarchy knows it, the men’s rights movement along with the rise of the far right is a symptom of this knowing.
For genderists a radfem revolution sounds like a moving around of the power bases, a transition to a new social system that does not leave room for them to identify around gender identity, or out of biological sex categories. It looks like everyone has to live in the bodies they are born with, and no longer able to call themselves men or women (or other) based on self identification because the platform to do so has gone. This looks like a transition from a “gender binary” where more power exists at the male base, to one where power is evenly distributed between the two, and anyone in the middle is still stuck, along with anyone who wishes to move their identification from the one “assigned”.
The problem is the definition of what it means to be assigned a gender is viewed differently by genderists and radfems. Radfems view sex as something that is determined at birth, and gender to be a social system that assigns masculine and feminine roles based on sex. When a baby is born checking to see if it’s male or female is important, because the body has different medical needs and develops differently at different stages, even apes sex their young. Not sexing infants would be failing them, because it would be failing to provide them information about what will happen to their body biologically, regardless of anything they do socially. We look down at our own bodies and sex ourselves, and living in each sexed body is a different experience regardless of culture. Running the same track wearing the same clothes will be a different subjective experience in each sexed body, and growing up is a different physical experience in each body regardless of culture. It’s hard to know how much of that experience would be changed if culture was changed, and people were not treated differently for doing the same thing as the other sex. It’s hard to separate body feedback from social feedback, and see the true source of the dysphoria. The thing that makes this hard is the sex role system, and this is the thing that would be abolished in a radfem revolution. Its possible less people would get sex dysphoria after the gender system is abolished. This is because all the sex based feedback for behaviour would be abolished, and people would find their own individual limitations rather then be told them. It may be the sexed anatomy’s different limited expectations give different feedback, and some people will still not be happy with this and develop a sense of sex dysphoria. These people should be free to make whatever modifications they like, even if that includes transition.
It can appear like the body is a prison and you need to change it to be you, while not be able to see the chains hanging over that body which are put there by the patriarchy and coded pink and blue. When you get close to being you, or doing something outside the rules of the sex role scripts they pull the chains, and it feels like its the body that’s a trap. When the body is changed they stop pulling on the chains because now how you act is inline with what’s expected or a closer fit, it can feel like the new freedom came from transitioning but could be that more gates are open, or they are no longer putting obstacles in the path. If in some people sex dysphoria is a natural fact of human biology and not a result of the chains of sex role scripts, then the only path to addressing it is the destruction of the obstructive sex role system together with recognition of biological sex as real and the basis of that dysphoria in those people.
Most genderists have a different idea as to where the chains are, to them a social system that stops them either medically transitioning, or living in role represents the chains, and from this angle a rafem revolution looks like the chains are intact or tighter.
The radfem argument is that the reason we label out the sexes with names like man or woman and assign them different roles is because of patriarchy, and the “need” to know who is who so the power and oppression flows to the right people for the job. Females are given a code of behaviour that aims to make them more agreeable, and boys are given a code of behaviour to make them become dominant men. Boys learn from men that they are the dominant class and what they must do to retain that power. Some individuals fall by the wayside, but the majority fall into the pattern enough for males to retain dominance over females as a class.
When this system is destroyed social identification of sex in the form of behavioural expectations and roles will go and physical sex differences will remain. The genderist argument is that experience in the sexed body is subjective, along with gender identity and it will remain will when the system is abolished. To a genderist gender itself is not constructed, its boxed off into the two constructed categorises of biological sex, which turn gender from a spectrum into a binary. To a genderist the system is created from an assumption that the natural order is a clear cut male or female, and anything else is an anomaly which must be corrected. Genderists will insist masculine privilege and not male privilege is what holds the system (patriarchy, gender binary) together, and they will insist its femininity itself as a section of the gender spectrum that’s oppressed and not females. Some will insist the reason for female oppression has nothing to do with their reproductive organs, and is because they naturally possess more feminine traits, and these traits that are oppressed on some cosmic level. Genderists fail to see the error of this because if this was true we would be living in a very different “gender binary”, and gender would be assigned in a different way to what it is now, way lot closer to the genderist ideal yet under a system of oppression very much like now. The difference would be that all those assigned to the class of woman would be people with traits and expressions assigned feminine rather then people with a certain set of reproductive organs. If femininity was the oppressed thing they would want to make sure the person was old enough to be screed for signs of it before they were assigned social privilege or power, to avoid risking it being able to hide our and take charge. Oppression is not about suppressing anything, it’s about extracting something and the sexed bodies mark out what’s extractable. Those with bodies marked biologically female are forced to behave in a way that makes access to those bodies easy, and this is ingrained while young. The real truth is the patriarchy wishes to socialize out of females anything that would make them more likely to refuse the subservient role assigned to them based .. yes on their junk. The junk matters because people with vaginas in most cases have wombs attached to them, control of these is the purpose the sex role system was created.
It is highly likely though that after a radfem revolution society will careless about who is a man and who is a woman and what it means for others. People wont be taught they have to do a certain script based on biological sex, so wont be looking out for those braking the rules they are living by. Women bodies wont be subjected to the patriarchal public gaze, so the main reason for enforced visual gender presentation checks will be removed. It is highly likely there will still be a space to identify as whatever you wish, and do with your body what ever you wish. Getting everyone else to except you for it wont be possible, but it likely wont be needed in the way it is now, because society s eye wont be on people based on sex or sexed appearance as a primary thing like now. It will be the same situation with sexuality, when people are not watching or caring, then coming out or staying in the closet will be meaningless from the perspective of others. If gender dysphoria or subjective sense of gender holds any possibility of surviving a radfem revolution, then it will do so free from all the chains.
Example 2 A genderist revolution where the “gender binary” is destroyed.
Here categories of male and female are not automatically assigned, all traits are placed on a spectrum and everyone is understood to be on that spectrum in a way that allows a person to be high on both masculinity and femininity at the same time or low on both regardless of what parts they have or desire to have. All labels in regard to gender are personal and subjective, and people don’t assume peoples gender or pronouns by any method other then asking or waiting to be told. In much the same way we don’t assume peoples name by just looking at them, gender is no longer assumed. People a free to change it at any time, and the organs of their body are no longer seen as sexed, or linked with identity. It just happens that approx 49% of the population have penises, and another 49% have vaginas, most of the people with vaginas have ovaries and a good proportion of those can get pregnant. The hormones and the effects on the body are looked at from the perspective of effects and side effects on other systems, and understood as only factors rather then as sex norms, and even the concept of a sex norm seems barbaric. The idea of a normal level of hormones is as taboo as saying there is a normal way of dressing or acting. It appears like for most of human history people were divided into two groups based on one endocrine gland set in the body, and assumed that outcomes would be similar for people based on the presence of hormones being shared. Any needs individuals have because of having certain body parts are now addressed as an isolated thing as opposed to a sex grouped thing. Its not assumed anyone with a uterus has a pair of breasts(or that breasts go in pairs), or a certain way of looking or going about the world. When a person goes for treatment regarding their uterus, lack of any of the mentioned things does not mean they don’t get what they need for the organ in question. Biological sex is now reduced to a set of traits, not a grouping of two basic plans. How much of this will be a medical disaster or impossible is hard to fully prove, but i suspect it will lead to lots of conditions getting missed.
In society many people are dressing for the activity they are doing while working, no one is given less suitable clothing for the job because of the shape of their genitals. No one is given or excluded from jobs based on any assigned social category based around their genitals or other biological traits. Male power over females cannot exist officially here because no established assigned sex category exists for anyone. Everyone self defines their own gender identification and pronouns, all expectations of people based on biological sexed organs have gone. Society appears to be evolving close to the radfem ideal of society in some ways when it comes to sex roles, the sex class of woman has been abolished along with male power. This is because women have been abolished. Only those with true sex dysphoria medically transition here, and transition is a subjective thing where the person adapts their body to how they want it rather then on the previously abolished concept of what parts go where.
After this revolution it will take a few generations for people to adjust, more so in the sexuality compartment, and the results of this will prove once and for all if sexuality is a construct or if its innate. Will it move along with the new definitions of gender, or will it still continue to look for a set of biologically sex features. In a sense its no surprise genderist theory can appear conservative, its easy to draw a line through being asked to not look at the persons junk when factoring in sexuality, because both traditionalists and genderists have asked this, but from a very different angle. In a sense genderists solve some problems, because in a true genderist world going around the street marking out people as sexy women based on physical attributes will be taboo. Not because its objectifying, but because you did not stop to ask them if they identify as a woman, or even if they are wearing that dress as part of a feminine expression or a masculine one. It will force mysogynists to actually think about the person as a person on some level, rather then a passing target marked out for such treatment.
In this genderist future the patriarchy as a system has been broken, but misogyny has survived the break and is still being directed towards those who can get pregnant. The fact biological sex is no longer grouped as a category of people makes it hard to record how people are living, and covers up the fact most people with the ability to get pregnant are doing all the child care, and are still poorer. Once people know peoples pronouns or what junk they have things change. Most of those with less physical strength also have uterus’s and no allowance for this biological factor is made, so in athletics they very rarely win and are more likely to be the victims of violence regardless of how they dress or what they call themselves. The system is a more advanced version of the equality system we have now, only with more gender options. For every door that closed to misogyny another one opened. Radfem have completely lost the ability to use most of their language, and class analysis is impossible because there is officially no sex class named woman. The genderist system has just made it harder for misogynists to find their target, created more obstacles in the path and made it look like things got better for a while. Until misogyny finds a way around the changes.
Example 3 Return of full control to patriarchy and re-establish traditional sex roles.
Sex roles are recognised as a necessary social system needed for the structuring of society and the welfare of children. Gender conformity is viewed as a moral obligation. Gender non conforming people are viewed as immoral and selfish, a disease that will lead to the downfall of society. How some radfems view trans people is how traditionalists view all those who break out of sex roles, selfish, disordered and going against nature. All those born with male biology are socialized into traditional masculinity with the expectation they become men of the world, and fathers and husbands. All those born with female biology are socialized into traditional modest femininity. They have to remain chaste until marriage, bear children and tend the home. Work outside the home can be done only in the form of charity after marriage, unless she is widowed or has the money to afford childcare. Women prior to marriage may work in low paid sex assigned roles, and must live under the rule of their farther. Contraceptives are only available to married women at the husbands discretion, she cannot use them to refuse to bare him children. Only heterosexuality is legal and no one may change their gender unless undergoing all the surgeries possible at the time, and following a strict social role program. They are not allowed to marry someone assigned the same sex even after transition. There is no equal pay acts; the sexes have strict dress codes. Women cannot stage a divorce, rape within marriage is not recognised and domestic violence is allowed.
This scenario will not suit radfems or genderists, this is how things were not so long ago and still are in many parts of the world. This is what men’s rights activism truly wants, and it’s what the far right wants. Its what we may all go back to if we spend much more time arguing about trans vs radfem issues and defending gender theory at the expense of radfems.