Open up ALL the toilets

So about that dopy Zoe Williams piece telling feminists to be more embracey

I have written nothing on trans issues for seven years. A now-familiar row had broken out in the feminist movement back then, and I assumed that feminism would soon re-orient itself away from which body parts define a woman and whether or not the word “womxn” signified an assault on our sense of selves, and towards what I thought was obviously the more fundamental question of the movement: who has it worse? Feminism, in my life’s experience of it, takes the side of the oppressed. That is our raison d’etre.

You see what I mean by “dopy.” Of course that’s not feminism’s raison d’être – why would it be? Feminism takes the side of women (see: the “fem” bit). Yes feminism tends to be on the left, yes feminism tends to be in alliance with other movements, yes feminism should be intersectional; all of that; nevertheless feminism itself is about women, not “the oppressed” in general. Isn’t it funny that other social justice movements don’t tell themselves that they’re not about their own issue but a much broader and more general one? Isn’t it funny that it’s only women who are told to be about everyone? The universal caretakers.

Something something, Williams says. Old prejudices, pent-up hatreds, something something.

But all that prejudice did not just evaporate, and the very idea of a trans person became its great release. All this pent up feeling exploded on to this one group, who – to put it mildly – could have done without it. It was, and remains, obvious which side feminism would be expected to take in this fight: the side of compassion and fellowship. We would recognise the importance of being an ally in a battle that we had been through.

Because we are all mommy. What was feminism about again?

Seven years ago, I thought this was quite an emollient argument, having gone nowhere near definitions, biology or absolutes – a call to rejoice in everything that made the women’s movement meaningful and victorious: strength in numbers, solidarity and, ultimately, love.

Say what? How does she mean “emollient”? Why is she calling a call to rejoice an “argument”? What kind of strength in numbers and solidarity is it for an oppressed class to embrace the oppressor class? Is this political discussion or Sunday school? “Love” is all very well but it doesn’t replace rights or justice.

… there is a bizarre idea ossifying that “real” feminists are being hounded out of the discursive space by trans activists. Rather, what has occurred is the systematic enclosure of the debate, so that unless you want to go to the mats about toilets, your point of view is not relevant.

You know…that’s some strikingly bad writing there. Bizarre ideas ossify while feminists are hounded and spaces are discursive – it’s a queasy mashup of abstract and earthy that does not work. And what is “systematic enclosure of the debate” when it’s at home? And how do you go to the mats about toilets – are you scrubbing them or flushing them or peeing on them or what?

She does it in the next paragraph too – it seems to be her thing: hyper-concrete metaphors that make no sense and look absurd.

The experience of trans men, for instance, has been more or less erased, because the core issues have been whittled down to such a sharp, conflicted point

Why would a sharp point be the reason something was erased? And how do you “whittle down” issues to a “sharp, conflicted point” anyway?

Again, it is tactical and convenient to portray trans inclusion as a Trojan horse that all the young idiots allow in

No – not illuminating, not relevant, not helpful.

The terrible quality of the writing makes it hard to focus on what there is of the argument. Next paragraph – “It is astonishing that the idea of the “women-only space” is being touted as a fundamental pillar of the movement” – ugh, god, how can a space be a pillar? THINK BEFORE YOU METAPHOR.

Sorry; must concentrate. Seek tiny ghost of argument waving feebly through the forest of dreck metaphors.

Women-only space was a realm protected from our Harvey Weinsteins, where we could talk about our Harvey Weinsteins; it was not a hallowed place where we communicated through our ovaries. It was where we came together in unity against people who hated us. I can’t imagine the mindset that would exclude a trans sister from that.

Sure you can. Just pause to remember that the “trans sister” is a man. Maybe if you bumble through life thinking ideas can be pillars and issues can be whittled it’s difficult to grasp the point; get someone to help you if so. The trans sister is not a real sister, because he is a man. There is a chance he is even one of “the people who hate us.”

What are we doing, trying to consecrate the public lavatory as a place so precious to the experience of womanhood that we have to be exclusive, rather than inclusive; that we have to characterise ourselves as a set of vulnerabilities, rather than strengths?

What? Public toilets are supposed to be inclusive before anything else? Then why do they have walls at all? Why not just plunk the

Image result for toilet

down in a convenient spot and leave it at that?

She winds up with a kind of pseudo-Shakespearean ode:

Solidarity is boring to talk about, but fascinating and empowering to live. Solidarity is not exclusive or pedantic; it is compassionate and fights oppression where it finds it. That is its lifeblood. That is why trans women are women, or womxn.

It’s also why eagles are rabbits and bears are salmon and wolves are squirrels. Everybody join hands and sing.

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