A very important post.
“No historian has ever shown the slightest interest in what became of Xanthippe and her three small children after Socrates’ suicide. Such mundane matters are beneath the consideration of great men and their biographers. To protest that Socrates’ chosen martyrdom brought catastrophe on the four innocent people who depended on him would be merely womanish.”
Excerpt From: Greer, Germaine. “Shakespeare’s Wife.” McClelland & Stewart, 2008. iBooks.
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If we take all reference to biology out of what it means to “be a woman” – we are left with only being able to express ourselves in terms of gendered stereotypes. These are obviously inaccurate. Therefore, to take biology out of the meaning of womanhood, is to reduce “woman” to either a sexist stereotype, or to render it meaningless altogether.
The BBC recently commissioned an article on Claude Cahun by Aindrea Emelife that suggested she was transgender, and not the lesbian artist, photographer and activist whose work was rediscovered by …
Source: Claude Cahun: Lesbian
I’m working through some ideas here that really go against the grain of current beliefs (I use this word deliberately) about gender and sexual “identity”.
I think it would be worse now than it was in the nineties growing up as female and particularly as a lesbian. I think that Neoliberalism, with it’s bastardisation of feminism and the promotion of identity politics, has made it worse.
There has been a cultural shift towards the primacy of the individual and rather than recognising and fighting against gender as being oppressive, we have just added more categories of self expression and called it “doing/queering gender.” Look, we are all special little snowflakes with our own personalities and ways of expressing ourselves in the world. That isn’t gender. Gender is hierarchical, gender is oppressive, gender is about hegemony, it is about class, it is not about clothes or how we feel. Let’s critique the very notion of gender itself and advocate for liberation, not for more bloody boxes.
Let’s critique the idea that there is such a thing as an innate gender identity. We all live in a society dived into 2 genders, 2 classes of humans divided by biological categories. Creating more “genders” doesn’t fix that problem. Class oppression exists despite how a person “identifies”. As individuals, we should have the right to express ourselves however we choose. However, this does not change the fact that gender itself is an ideology, a class structure that oppresses women, and that the personal identity of the individual will not challenge this system. In fact, the more categories we create, the more we entrench the ideology that gendered stereotypes are essential and real. Expanding the categories we have, changing the meaning of terms like ‘man’ and ‘woman, undermines women’s ability to recognise and define sexism and misogyny because they becomes meaningless terms based on categories now defined by individual subjectivity.
Feminism becomes meaningless, women’s liberation becomes meaningless, because if language goes down this path then there is, objectively, no longer such a thing as a woman. The same thing happens when the term lesbian become something other than a description of a females who sexually desire other females, to the exclusion of men. If we are to recognise that there is structural oppression, then the terms which define these categorisations of oppression must not be fluid.
I do not IDENTIFY as a woman, I do not IDENTIFY as a lesbian.
I am a woman because I was born female. To be a woman is to be a female. To experience this gendered society/culture/system as a female subject to patriarchal oppression.
I am a lesbian because I am a female who is sexually attracted to females only.
Gender and sexuality should not be compared or conflated.
My point is that these are not categories that should be defined by individual subjectivity because to do so would not only make the terms objectively meaningless, but would also have the effect of rendering us politically silenced.