Can we please get over the idea that lesbians owe it to trans women to consider them as sex partners? Really.

A Radical TransFeminist

I’ve been overwhelmed and delighted by the reaction to Significant Othering: Attraction Down The Privilege Gradient. It seems to have gotten most of its attention on Facebook, with over 200 shares, which makes me happy because it means that people are engaging with it on an individual level.

Now that it’s a few weeks on, I’d like to come back to the subject with a roundup of responses. One of the downsides of conversations taking place on Facebook is that they’re taking place in isolation, so part of the idea is to bring some of the threads back together with this post.

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  1. on reading the thread i discovered some promising insight from the blog author (also some serious LACK of understanding of the real nature of radicalism, radical feminism, liberal feminism and of the difference between the two, but HEY! one battle at a time!) so I attempted to take that seed of insight and nudge it into blossoming. it will be interesting to see if we get a flower! here is the comment I posted there:

    Lisa, I am actually impressed that you have one of the more womyn-sensitive perspectives on this critical issue in terms of respect by the trans community for womyn, and so I am hoping that you will be able to hear what I am saying. I would like to go back to discussion of the use of the word “demand” and give you a persepctive that may help you to better understand why womyn find it SO objectionable.

    You had a very insightful comment further upthread that I found to be extremely perceptive and sensitive; “On reflection, there are two places where this kind of demand up the privilege gradient isn’t justified. The first is towards survivors, because there’s no world in which non survivor groups making attraction-politics demands of survivor groups is “up” any kind of privilege gradient.” WOW. you GET it. THANK YOU.

    Now I am hoping you can make the mental jump that is so hard for those outside of the survivor group to understand. ALL womyn, every single one of us that was born and raised as a girl and a womyn and that knows we are at risk of impregnation, ALL of us are survivors. This is the thing that people who haven’t been raised up under the CONSTANT threat of sexual violence don’t get. Just like those of us who have lived our lives as white people can never fully understand the fear people of colour live with, those not raised as girls really don’t understand on a visceral, emotional level what it is to be raised with that fear. And to be raised in a world where none of us escapes untouched. There is a continuum of abuse, and some is more severe in a particular instance, but the pervasiveness is itself a huge factor. Whether it is being groped on the bus, grabbed in the cloak room at school, abused by family or friends, “date” raped, bullied, catcalled, followed on a dark street, EVERY woman has experienced male sexual violence. And the reality is, most of us it has been WAY more than once and most of us have had at least one very severe incidence. I myself suffered years of CSA, have been groped in public places dozens of times, escaped an attempted rape twice, been flashed/subjected to the sight of public masturbation 5 times and have had to physically beat a stalker bloody, in a public place, to get him to back off. I am pretty much average. So understanding this, perhaps you can see that it is NEVER acceptable to DEMAND sex from any womyn, ever.

    If it is true, as you said, that “there’s no world in which non survivor groups making attraction-politics demands of survivor groups is “up” any kind of privilege gradient”. Then the only way you can suggest that womyn are ever ““up” any kind of privilege gradient” is if you deny the constant male sexual violence that we are subjected to. Since the most basic and fundamental assumption of radical feminism is that womyn, as a class, are subjected to constant male sexual violence, the only way you can deny that reality is to deny radical feminism. So……yes, one can NEVER “demand” anything sexually, even so much as attraction or consideration, from ANY WOMYN. It is not feminist. It is NOT radical. and it is NOT ok. (and it IS perceived and felt, on a gut level, as VERY triggering. and that MUST be respected)

    Yes, it is completely reasonable to EXPECT that no-one should EVER characterise any other human being as: gross, repulsive, unattractive, disgusting, icky, ugly, nasty or anything remotely in that universe. THAT IS WRONG. But a woman can certainly say, “you are a lovely and loveable person, but just not my type” and that is always going to be reasonable. I don’t have a problem with being EXPECTED as a womyn to acknowledge the humanity and beauty of any and every other human being. But I most certainly DO have a problem with anyone DEMANDING that I find them sexually attractive.

    I have reason to believe, based on prior evidence of your perceptiveness, that you CAN get this. Thanks 🙂