This is our truth, tell us yours
One of my least favourite slogans of all time is “no bad whores, just bad laws” or its variant, “no bad women, just bad laws”. The latter doesn’t even have to small attraction of rhyming but both seem to be popular with organisations who campaign for sex workers rights. It is of course natural for people to want to build communities, and part of that building is to create an us and them, with us being good, and them being awful.
This was brought into sharp focus by the many transphobes posting on the #ISeeTara tag, and the petition they have started against her transfer to a male prison. In one of those MRA or terf moments many are mentioning the fact tara has previous convictions as somehow proving her gender. To terfs it seems women are really sugar and spice and all things nice. I can understand in some ways this temptation to frame being female as somehow nicer than being male. I have come across many variations of it over the years. Women who talk of yonis, of how we are closer to nature because we bleed monthly, who talk about the sacred feminine with a completely straight face. It goes without saying that these attitudes tend to be expressed by white cis women to whom the words cultural appropriation never occur.
Women are nice, the declare, women are natural nurturers, if women ran the world there would be no wars, if women ran business there would be breast-feeding rooms in every office.
See what I mean about not being able to spot MRA or terf sometimes.
Natural nurturers, or get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. It’s also the argument used by the quiverfull movement, an obsession with our wombs as defining us, and of course why caring jobs are undervalued and underpaid. After all if its natural to care, then asking for money is unnatural, why would you want recompense for something which you would do without it? This also feeds into the idea cis women who chose not to have children are unnatural, denying their very nature. It used to be believed that childlessness itself was harmful to a womans physical and mental health, since it was so obvious her only reason for being was to carry the next generation.
One cannot extrapolate from one person about an entire class of people, but to the idea women never start wars, I give you Margaret Hilda Thatcher.
I hope you get my point. These gender essentialism ideas that women are somehow softer, the gentle, fair, weak, sex are not only disproved by the actions of actual women, but reinforce century old ideas of women as lesser humans. Patriarchy has denied women full adulthood for so long because of this “innate weakness”. We cannot fight to defend ourselves, so a man must do it. We are in thrall to our hormones, to our wombs, so cannot be trusted in responsible positions, this is still being used against Hillary Clinton, a post menopausal woman who somehow will be a danger to world peace due to PMT.
Should I mention PMT is a western cultural construct with no basis in fact? (unlike PMDD which it is almost impossible to get treatment for or taken seriously).
Or should I mention that the terf construct of a woman who doesn’t fight back being somehow more real means only women who are victims are acceptable? Of course this feeds rape culture, and their attitudes towards sex work. A real woman protects her sacred yoni at all costs, she knows that the feminine “magyik” is damaged by the phallus. A real woman would be so damaged by sex with strangers, by sex for money, that they would never allow it to happen. A real woman not only cannot be a sex worker, but they cannot be raped, for death is always preferable to the pollution caused by the penis. MRA or Terf, you decide? You might think its a leap from the terf gender essentialism of real women, to real rape, but it is the logical conclusion of their insistence violence is inherently male, and somehow proof of ones gender.
Sometimes I have to pause, and wonder how someone can call themself a feminist when every argument they have simply reinforces patriarchal standards, then I remember that’s where the money and acceptance lies.
Women can be violent, women can be abusive, hell go to the Bigg Market any Saturday night and you will see how alcohol fuels violence by women, very often against other women. Go to any Haven holiday camp for your summer holidays and you will see those natural nurturers screaming at their children as they drag them back to their caravan as the bar closes. This is not me having a go at other less acceptable women. I do not see myself as any different, what we share is class. The terf insistence that a woman with convictions for violence is somehow not a woman is based in their classism as well as their transphobia. My fellow blogger here can probably tell the pampered women claiming violence is never done by women stories that would make their hair stand on end. We both exist outside their nice middle class enclaves, their academia and womens groups, their world where a woman never headbutts someone or glasses them.
Working class women are treated as modern-day inmates in bedlam as it is, simply look at any of the benefits street shows, or even the reports on WAGS, women with ideas above their station. Middle class women historically have spent more time and energy policing working class women than they ever have trying to challenge male violence and behaviour. It goes back to that idea of us as nurturers again, producers of the next generation. Our only value to society is via our wombs which produce the next generation of workers to toil for the benefit of the middle classes, and so our diet, drinking, and dress is policed. When we do have children, we are attacked for having too many, or having them too young, or in the wrong type of relationship. The middle class policing of working class bodies impacts every section of our lives.
[I wonder if this can be moved a step forward in fact. Is there so much middle class feminist disdain for sex workers and trans women because neither of us put our wombs to the acceptable use of the bourgeoise? Trans women because they dont have them, sex workers because they demand the right to control them?]
Tara Hudson is also being targeted by many because she has sold sex. Somehow this is used to reinforce the terf claim she is not a woman. Odd since they also claim that only women sell sex and that sex work itself is an expression of male violence against womens bodies. Its almost as if their arguments about sex work are built on foundations of sand, and are actually about reinforcing patriarchal standards of acceptable female behaviour. Attacking sex work is again another attack on working class women. Carter wrote briefly of the closure of EAVES yesterday. Their ideological attack on a job mainly done by working class women, and their use of power and privilege to threaten to sue anyone who spoke against them means very few outside middle class feminism will mourn them. However I do wonder how much the hatred of people like EAVES for sex workers was based on the fact that sex work is one of the few jobs where working class women can approach incomes they think are theirs by right.
I do not know if Tara Hudson is a good or a bad person. I know she has convictions and has pleaded guilty to headbutting someone. I know this makes her no different to thousands of working class women across the country. There is a good piece here from her solicitors about the general failings of our criminal justice system to make any positive difference to the people who end up in our courts. Lots of them will be neither good or bad, not in entirety. They are just people who did something wrong, like Tara. Each will have their own story, that story will often not fit middle class morality, that story will not however be used to assign their gender, unles of course they are trans.