Erasure by inclusion

Today I learn that there’s a group called Zero Tolerance. Of what? Violence against women.

Zero Tolerance is a Scottish charity working to end men’s violence against women by promoting gender equality and challenging attitudes that normalise violence and abuse.

Good, good. (Mind you, in these troubled times, we need to be careful to say sex equality, but that’s a detail.)

We work to end violence against women through tackling the root cause of this violence – gender inequality. [sex equality]

We began in 1992 with a groundbreaking and radical Edinburgh-based poster campaign. The campaign successfully brought the issue of violence against women out from behind closed doors and into public consciousness by asserting that violence against women is never acceptable.

At Zero Tolerance our vision is clear: a world free of men’s violence against women.

Women need to be able to take power and access an equal share of our nation’s wealth. Men need to concede some of their money and power. We are not asking men to be nice; we are demanding full social, economic and political equality.

Our core belief is that men’s violence against women is preventable and should not be tolerated.

All sounds good.

But wait. What? What’s this?

But…trans women are men. Why would an organization set up to end men’s violence against women announce that it promotes “inclusion” of men and that it seeks to reflect that in everything it does? Why change the subject so thoroughly? Why can’t feminist organizations focus on women’s issues instead of on men’s?

Its position statement

It is our position that trans and non-binary rights are integral to, and contribute to, feminism. Scotland’s violence against women services provide trans inclusive services and trans inclusion plans have been in place since 2012.

Why? How? What do trans and non-binary rights have to do with feminism at all, let alone being integral to them?

There is no explanation, only the usual flat assertion.

This inclusive approach has not given rise to any concern or challenges. Rather, trans women have added to our movements through their support, voluntary work and as staff members.

Well that doesn’t tell us anything. It’s your experience that some men who identify as women make useful employees. All right, but that says nothing about why a feminist group says we must “include” men who identify as women in feminism.

Violence against women, homophobia and transphobia are all rooted in misogyny. We are committed to working with partner LGBTQI+ organisations to end this inequality, discrimination and violence.

It’s not that simple, to put it mildly, and even if it were, it wouldn’t follow that feminism has to “include” men and reflect that “inclusion” in everything it does.

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