That headline would have seemed like a parody or a joke a few short years ago. But alas, here we are.
A tweeter recently advised that if you attend the women’s march,
“it is CRUICIAL [sic] that you do with an INTERSECTIONAL mindset. Centering reproductive systems at the heart of these demonstrations is reductive and exclusionary.”
Guess who this tweet was posted by? Nah, the quiz is too easy and you’ve already guessed. It was posted by a male. Specifically, the kind of male who wants to make his interest in sex-role performativity define and supersede women’s issues. Judging by Twitter and all sorts of other social media, he echos the sentiments of many other males who aren’t getting the attention they desire from feminism, as well as females who have learned to make disgruntled males their highest priority even within their own movement.
This tweet occurred in a context in which a woman booed and held a sign at a women’s march to protest a particular speaker, a male called “Hailey Heartless” whose feminist credentials included bragging about his job as a self-proclaimed “sadist” and hoping to school women on such vital life skills as “taking amazing selfies” and “contouring.” And in the context of heightened worry about the “exclusiveness” of pussy hats (with claims of racism sloppily tacked on–nobody’s labia are fuchsia–to make the claims of male-exclusion seem less silly). No word yet on whether Trump was also “exclusive” when he grabbed pussies instead of dicks during his sexual assault rampages.
I think even trans activists themselves have lost track of what they stand for. What was once a plea to stop equating “womanhood” with female reproductive organs, as in the phrase “abortion services for women” (versus just “abortion services”) morphed into a bizarre assertion that female reproductive organs are never to be mentioned in any context EVAR. (Dicks are still ok, of course, especially at women’s marches).
But also. Female reproductive issues are women’s issues.
It was not until males became involved in feminism that these claims of “exclusion” surfaced. Somehow, before transgender activism, women who didn’t have personal experience with some of the concerns of feminism refrained from yelling at and trying to silence other women who did. For example, some women don’t use birth control, like lesbians, infertile women, older women, celibate women, and some members of that rare and prized species, the intersex woman. And yet, these groups of women understood the importance of birth control. They refrained from showing up at women’s marches and trying to shut down workshops on the topic.
There’s a really simple reason why.
Feminism, like any activism, is not about gains for individuals. It’s about freedom from oppression for an entire class of people.
As it turns out, birth control is more than a neat little thingie that might get an individual woman out of a bind. It’s a big, enormous, societal thing that means the difference between life and death, freedom and slavery, having a career and being financially destitute, being an independent agent and being beholden to a husband, participating in public life and not, being sick and being well. For women. It means all this, and more, all over the world.
As it turns out, lesbians, infertile women, older women, celibate women, intersex women, and all sorts of other kinds of women, by virtue of being women, care about this. We care about this because its relevance is obvious to us. Its relevance is obvious to us because we have the bodies affected by these issues and we live in the world that punishes us when we are not vigilant about protecting our bodies.
We can visualize how our life would change if we got pregnant accidentally, got raped, had to navigate the world with small children, felt trapped in a home with a domestic abuser, got a fistula, lived where non-virgins are stoned to death, and many other reproduction-related horrors. We can visualize this because we are women. We wouldn’t think of saying, “I don’t need birth control, so screw the rest of you.”
That’s why feminists are appalled by female genital mutilation, even when it’s geographically remote. That’s why we care about health services for poor women even if we have our own money and health insurance. That’s why we want teenage girls to get better school guidance counseling even if we already have a good job. We don’t feel “excluded.” We feel solidarity.
If you don’t feel solidarity with a group of people, there might be a reason for that.
Let’s think about what topics “include” rather than “exclude” the participants of the average women’s march.
Approximately 50% of the people in the world have two X chromosomes and the reproductive organs capable of gestating young. Let’s call them “women” for convenience. Because we need a word for that. And let’s think globally, because women in developing countries need the gains of feminism the most. What’s discussed at a feminist event isn’t just for the women present. It’s for all women.
That segment of the population needs advocacy for the problems associated with owning those particular organs (to include both taking care of those organs and mitigating the oppressions that happen to people who own those organs). Let’s call that advocacy feminism. I mean, we used to, and that worked for a really long time. It worked until we allowed the people who don’t need that advocacy to silence the people who do.
To this number we can, if you like, add those who “identify” as women. Transgender people make up around .06% of the population by the latest estimates. That percentage includes people who are already female, so we can’t count them twice. We need to identify only the males, or AMABs, if you prefer recasting reality as an oppressive delivery room practice. So as a guess, let’s take half of it, which is .03%.
So now the number of people who need feminism, plus the number who think they do, is 50.03% of the population, or 50.03 people out of 100.
Approximately 50 of those people need care and advocacy for concerns related to female biology. Approximately one-third of a person does not.
I think we’re being generous with the transgender estimate here, because a vast number of people in the world are too busy trying to find food and to avoid getting shot at to even seek the gender-expression-related validation that feminism apparently owes them.
So the topic of reproductive health includes most women, and should interest even those who aren’t “included,” if we care about liberating the class of women worldwide.
Talking about female reproductive organs destigmatizes female sexuality and female bodies, which is absolutely imperative to creating a world that will stop tolerating the host of torturous societal crimes committed against women all over the globe.
We live in a world where female toddlers are held down to have their genitals sliced off so that the men who will choose them for marriage can be sure they are “pure.” We live in a world where men throw acid in the faces of women over sexual rejection, leaving them blind and disfigured for life. We live in a world where stoning a female teenager to death for rejecting a marriage proposal is called an “honor killing.” We live in a world where grown men marry nine-year-old girls.
As long as we live in this world, we absolutely cannot thwart the vital work of destigmatizing female bodies in favor of debating the universality of the symbolism conveyed by knitted hats.
Anyone who puts up with this type of derailing is an enemy to feminism and to women.
Any male who prioritizes policing “inclusiveness” over solving the heinous problems facing women worldwide demonstrates how very little he understands about womanhood.
And what did the presumably more “inclusive” speaker talk about?
Selfies. Contouring. Celebrating sex work.
The woman carrying the sign didn’t look like a narcissist, a makeup aficionado, or a prostitute. Maybe she felt “excluded” by these topics?
Women in developing countries don’t have time for selfies or makeup tips, either. And when they perform “sex work” it’s often because they were kidnapped and sold into its service. So they’re not exactly in the mood to celebrate.
It would seem that selfies, contouring, and celebrating sex work are rather exclusionary. And being exclusionary is a problem, isn’t it? Should we ban these topics? Isn’t that how this works?
Our renowned speaker also offered to teach women how to “practice excellent hygiene.” Does he know that “hygiene” is one of the justifications for female genital mutilation? Is he aware of the long history of religious traditions that exclude women from public life for being “unclean”?
Could there be a reason for his complete and utterly inappropriate empathy fail in this matter? For example, that he’s not a woman by absolutely any useful definition?
Interesting, isn’t it, that it’s the navel-gazing genderqueer crowd, in their relentless pursuit of validation, that has the incredible luxury of dismissing the actual violence faced by many women in the world in favor of fashion concerns. And yet, it is this same crowd who so often professes their “intersectionality” and laments the “white privilege” of everyone else.
Hailey Heartless is a male fetishist who enjoys hurting people for a sexual thrill. Hailey Heartless cares more about fashion than women’s issues. He thinks that women need his advice on how to clean themselves. He wants you to shut up about your gross vagina and your period. These are all deeply conservative traits that he shares with countless other run-of-the-mill men.
Fetishism is almost unheard of in the female population, and five of the six most common fetishes involve clothing. What he’s doing is not a female thing. It’s a male thing.
Women, this person’s desire to wear a latex corset, pee in a new restroom and be called by his preferred pronouns are not your issue.
Reproductive health, among other things, is your issue. It is a women’s issue.
We have to stop waiting for males to tell us that it’s ok to fight for our rights. They are not going to. We have to fight for them anyway.