Other Stuff · Queer

Feminist Friday: Feminism is a Queer Issue

We’ve been doing these Feminist Friday discussions for a while now. I’ve noticed commenters, on our posts and on feminist articles in general, often disagree with the need for feminism because they don’t want to single out one issue, they prefer to focus on “equality for everyone.” Sometimes this is just a dismissing tactic, other times it’s an honest preference. Either way, being feminist doesn’t mean I can’t be other things at the same time!

Everyone should be equal, sure, but not everyone is treated equally, and it’s important to point out which groups are disadvantaged and discuss ways to fix that. For concrete progress to be made, we have to move beyond ideology and start talking specifics. That doesn’t have to be a reductive or exclusionary process, though. Focusing on women’s issues also helps men, for instance, and women’s issues gay rights are human rightsinteract with other identifiers like race and class and age. That’s called intersectionality.

Personally, I’m very interested in queer rights and queer issues, and they overlap with feminism all the time. Gaybashing is about “not acting like a man.” Lesbian and bisexual women are raped to “turn them straight” or punish them for not being available to men. Trans-bashing is even more blatantly a “gender role” issue. Anyone who doesn’t fit into a neat, visually-obvious category of “male” or “female” is subject to hate and violence.

Feminism is about affirming the worth and equality of women. If our culture actually believed men and women were equally valuable, there wouldn’t be such a stigma attached to being “neither.” If it was okay for women to dress and speak and act as they please, it would also be okay for everyone else to do that. And likewise, as queer people become more accepted, there should be less and less of a pressure to WipeOutHomophobiaFBfit into gender-based behavioral stereotypes for everyone.

Our culture thinks men are the default and women are something extra, and that “they” have the power and moral responsibility to police deviations. This hurts everyone — men, women, others, and anyone of any gender with the slightest “unapproved” interest. It’s not “ladylike” or “okay” for a little girl to play with trucks, for goodness sake!

When the culture actually believes that women are equal human beings, queer people will be much safer and better off too.

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19 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: Feminism is a Queer Issue

  1. I think it is so important that Feminism be about and advocate for LGBT people just as vehemently as they did for the right to vote. And not only do we need to do it, we need to declare it and make it clearly known that it is inclusive. Our feminist circle here is on the same page with this but I’ve read enough and seen enough to know that there are still groups of people who feel left out of the feminist cause. And you make this so clear when you say “For concrete progress to be made, we have to move beyond ideology and start talking specifics. That doesn’t have to be a reductive or exclusionary process.” EXACTLY. I don’t feel left out, as a white woman, if we focus on LGBT issues. Or if we discuss how black girls and women are specifically viewed as a threat in our culture. I don’t understand people who do get threatened when we try to expand the focus.

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    1. Yes! There are groups out there that really do want to be exclusionary. Groups that feel trans women should be excluded from feminism really say a lot in their whole approach just by saying that much… And similar groups are likely to overlook how not everyone’s experience of womanhood is white. That’s another reason we should get specific — to be MORE inclusive and let it be known that we are.

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  2. Intersectionality is HUGE. It’s so so important–especially when we look at how equality of the sexes doesn’t disadvantage men but empowers them too (okay, it empowers women more, but they have farther to come).

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  3. I think that often what happens is intellectual dishonesty—and it’s not always intentional, but sometimes it is. There’s a dishonesty attached to changing “black lives matter” to “all lives matter” and “yes all women” to “yes all people.” It’s always a way of derailing an ongoing conversation. And it’s dishonest in the sense that, while on the surface level the change sounds like it is a positive one, all inclusive, what is insidious about it is the erasure that has to happen in order to change the specific to the general. We cannot erase our differences overnight just by ceasing to acknowledge they exist—-especially those promoted by institutionalized racism and sexism. At times, mainstream feminism has been really callous and indifferent to issues of race and sexuality. It’s beginning to embrace those differences in a whole new way now. But there have been, since at least the first feminist wave, significant contributions by women of color and of varying sexual identities to feminist causes and writings. Highlighting those differences now and allowing them to help guide how we deal with cultural problems is a positive development for feminism.

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    1. Wonderfully said, as always.

      It’s kind of like when you come out to someone and they say “Oh, I don’t believe in labels. Everyone’s the same.” Sometimes they’re really trying to be welcoming, but in effect, it’s saying “I’m going to ignore this part of you.”

      Very happy to see feminism expanding to embrace the intersectionality that’s always been there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you!

        And yes—the intersectionality is really important. We can’t eliminate difference by not talking about it and suddenly refusing labels. Intersectionality is a good tool for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve noticed commenters, on our posts and on feminist articles in general, often disagree with the need for feminism because they don’t want to single out one issue, they prefer to focus on “equality for everyone.” Sometimes this is just a dismissing tactic, other times it’s an honest preference.

    I think a lot of times it’s also that many people have a false idea of what feminism means. The ‘Why I don’t need feminism’ Tumblr is filled with such misconceptions.

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  5. Love this! People forget that a lot of people are a part of more than one oppressed group. I am a woman, a lesbian, gender-queer, and I’m black. All those groups intersect with each other on different issues. I can care about more than one at a time and honestly, feminism addresses a lot of the problems I face across all my identities.

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for pitching in as well! 🙂 It’s also perfectly possible to be privileged in one area and discriminated against in another. I guess it’s just hard for people to address those kinds of complexities, they want to make it simple.

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      1. I think another issue is people in one discriminated group can discriminate against another group too. For example women who don’t support trans people. This makes it hard figure out who is fighting with or for who and who is against who and adds a whole other layer of problems. It also prevents any progress from being made :/

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        1. Quite so. People feel like there’s not enough equality to go around… Or they might have a constellation of beliefs making them feel like men and women are equal but it’s NOT okay to be in between or that trans people aren’t “really” the gender they are. Doesn’t make a bit of sense to me, but obviously it happens.

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  6. Yes, this: “If our culture actually believed men and women were equally valuable, there wouldn’t be such a stigma attached to being “neither.”

    Not a lot to add here. Good job putting this succinctly. I knew we’ve published various versions of this argument in other Feminist Friday posts, but I don’t think anyone else has put it in such an up-front and straighforward way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks! The post kept getting pulled in several different directions, and in the interest of time, I thought it might be good to have a short declarative post we can link to if needed. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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