Patriarchy and people

Milli Hill’s I will not be silenced is also relevant to that “mind your own fucking business” tweet of Christa Peterson’s. It is our fucking business; of course it is.

[T]oo many women have been silenced, and I don’t want to join them. There are conversations about women’s rights, women’s bodies, and the words we use to talk about women’s issues, which need to be had, but which have been made taboo in our current culture. And this is not healthy. Worse still, women like me have been used as an example to others of what happens to you if you raise questions. And others have seen these public draggings, and decided to keep quiet themselves. This kind of behaviour, in which dissidents are made a public example of in order to ensure compliance to dogma, does not have very good historical precedents. And yet it currently describes itself as ‘the right side of history’.

She’d been having misgivings about language like “assigned at birth” but had kept them to herself, because she didn’t want the monstering that would greet any questions.

However, on 25th November 2020 I was tagged in comment on an Instagram post about obstetric violence. This is a topic I’ve written extensively about, and that features heavily in my book Give Birth like a Feminist. 25th November was also International Day to End Violence Against Women, so I’d been reading a lot about violence against women that day and thinking about how obstetric violence sits within that and is often overlooked. There were several slides to this post, but this one jarred for me.

Wait. Notice anything odd about that besides the usual absurdity of “birthing person”?

The words “patriarchy” and “patriarchal” are allowed, but “woman” isn’t.

Why is that? Do they not realize that “patriarchy” is just as sex-specific as “woman” is?

Is it really only women who have to be erased and bullied?

Back to Hill:

My work and thinking around obstetric violence had led me to the view that it is ‘sex based violence’. Please note my use of the word sex here, not gender. Sex as in biological sex, not gender as in the social constructs around roles, clothing, behaviour etc. Like other forms of violence against women, obstetric violence happens to women because they are female. What I saw happening in this slide was a genuine mix up between the absolutely correct idea that the problem here is patriarchy, a system that oppresses and damages women on the basis of their sex, and obfuscating terminology that is unable to name the oppressed people.

It’s ok to name the oppressor but not the oppressed. Weird system.

So, as we know, she responded, and all hell broke loose. She provides a few screenshots of the many venomous attacks.

The situation seemed to be spiralling out of control, but what then made it worse was the organisation Birthrights joined in – and not to defend me. On the 26th November, right in the eye of the storm, they posted on Instagram, not naming me directly, but stating that they were ‘proud to be an inclusive organisation’, that they would use the terms, ‘women and birthing people’, and that they would, ‘not work with individuals and organisations who do not share these values and will always challenge, either privately or publicly if appropriate, those in the maternity and birth rights movement who speak or act in a discriminatory way.’. It didn’t take long for people to work out who and what they were referring to.

“You will erase women from your language, or you will be hounded out.”

Read the whole thing.

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