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Thinking differently

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Well. THAT was refreshing!

Saturday July 16, I attended a one-day conference in London at Conway Hall. The conference was called “Thinking differently: Feminists questioning gender politics”.  it was organized by Julia Long and Sheila Jeffreys, and featured radical feminists speaking critically about the deeply sexist construction of gender, particularly as it is currently promoted by transgenderism.

I’m here. Here in London! Well, I’m in Hitchin, a little medieval market town about a 30-40 minute train ride away from London. I’m staying with a couple of friends. They came too. It was a great way to begin my visit here in the Ancestral Homeland (which I always capitalize because, well, why not?).

Julia Long opened the day with a warm welcome and a call to not only think differently, but to speak and to act upon what we are thinking. Otherwise, of course, we and all our potential allies will be rattling around thinking we’re unhinged or wrong, and we won’t get anywhere. So speak up! Stand together — we are responsible for each other’s well-being.

The first speaker was Sheila Jeffreys. If you don’t know her work, you should take some time to read her. She’s prolific, her scholarship is rigorous, her research impeccable and her writing is very accessible. None of that obtuse pun[ctu]ation that a lot of academics like to use, for example. Her most recent book is Gender Hurts.

Right outta the gate, she pulled no punches (to mix metaphors). “Transgenderism is a social contagion”. She described how it has been socially constructed, and became institutionalized in the 1990s. David Valentine, who worked in the AIDS outreach industry at the time, promoted the idea that cross-dressing gay men were actually “transgendered”. Of course, the NGOs, medicine and social services picked that up and promoted this–in fact, those whom the powerful identified as transgendered did not themselves so identify.

This is very like what has happened to women in prostitution. They themselves started circulating information about particularly dangerous johns, and providing each other with what slender protections they could imagine together. By and by medical professionals, social workers, and others tied to those kinds of institutions picked those tactics up and repackaged them as “harm reduction” and started administering them to the women engaged in street prostitution. They also took up and promoted the term “sex worker” to these women, and made the claim that it was stigma that was most harming them, not the violence of the men entitled to buy them for sex. the women who started the “bad trick” sheets and other peer support services didn’t want to institutionalize “sex work” — they wanted to provide each other with some protection, some comfort, some hope of better. Then the very people who might be able to help women get out of prostitution, merely “met the women where they’re at”, re-named them ‘sex workers’, and rabbited on about how they make choices and should be respected for their choices — and left them there in poverty and sexual servitude. You might say, “no, no, come on, that’s not what happened, that’s not so” — but it is.

That’s an old report, that link, but they stand by those ideas. And you know what, the same people who want to legalize all aspects of prostitution (and let me again clarify — prostitution is something that men do to women — it is an institution driven by male demand for orgasm-whenever-he-wants), are also among the main promoters of “transgender rights” to enter/take over women’s organizations, services and female spaces.

Alright. that’s where i went with that — Sheila went on to describe how transgendering is a source of significant funding for pharmaceutical companies and institutions of medicine (as is harm reduction in relation to drug use and prostitution, by the way). It is an entirely iatrogenic phenomenon — that is to say, it is a medical condition created by medicine. It’s not a thing on its own. It’s not like, say, epilepsy — which is a thing, but was, until recently misunderstood as demonic possession or something. No. It’s more like gay conversion therapy on steroids. when someone displays behaviour, tastes, attributes that do not conform to those supposedly appropriate for their sex — the new ‘go-to’ diagnosis is, instead of homosexual or ‘invert’, transgendered. And a whole big machinery heaves into operation to turn the gay boy or the lesbian girl into a ‘proper’ girl or boy. I’ll say it again, ‘transgendering’ is gay conversion therapy on steroids —

Look, I have to go, but I’ll continue this in another post. There were so many great ideas, and excellent analysis on Saturday, this will take a few posts– stay tuned!


About easilyriled

My mom was Edith, my dad was John. I have a brother, who is Shawn. I have many friends and allies and mentors in my life. I'm white, over-educated, working in a field for which I am not yet trained, messy, funny, smart, lesbian, feminist "Not the fun kind", as Andrea Dworkin said. But I, like the feminists I hang with, ARE fun. Radical feminism will be the roots of our shared liberation. Rejection of sex-stereotypes (gender) and male domination will give us wings.

8 responses »

  1. Thanks for the early blow-by-blow. Looking forward to reading more! Do you know if the event was recorded?

  2. blow by blow yaasss. thank you.

  3. Oh yes big thanks from me too and waiting breathlessly for the next chapter. I don’t believe I’ve ever read such clarity describing what “sex work” is and how it became. Of course. Part of the poverty industry. Wonderfully clear and simple, and obviously TRUE.

    Hugs and xxx’s and gratitude to all the women who spoke and whom you meet, from me.


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