A Sunday school teacher asks her students "what is brown and lives in a tree?". No answer. "What is brown and lives in a tree and has a big bushy tail". No response. "What is brown and lives in a tree and has a big bushy tail and eats nuts?". Little Johnny bravely raises his hand and says "Miss, I know the answer is always Jesus, but that sure sounds like a squirrel". We have the same problem in political discourse around gender and sex. We are pretending we no longer see the reality of women and their vulnerability, for fear we may upset the pseudo religious "progressive" narrative of intersectionality.
Intersectionality, like so much of social theory now, is steeped in Marxism. It involves a range of "intersecting" and opposing groups in the same way that classical Marxism uses class. The new "classes" are grounded in the innate characteristics of sex, race, gender and sexual identity. According to progressives, the diagnosis of all societal inequality and injustice is due solely to institutional and systematic sins of patriarchy, racism, homophobia, islamophobia and transphobia. The really bad news is that if you deny seeing these things in the "system", these sins live in you as well. Feminism has embraced intersectionality as its "fourth wave" and frankly, it is getting a little out of control.
When Courtney Herron was murdered in a Melbourne park last year Dan Andrews said "This is most likely about the behaviour of men.". Unable to shut my face, I replied to a comment on an ABC forum and objected to the "all men" narrative. A young woman called me a "not all men apologist". I explained that it wasn't just that some men were not murderous sex offenders, but that by insisting they are, you can develop blind spots to women's needs. Ms Herron was homeless, she had drug and alcohol issues and the lighting in the park was very poor. Did we know if there were shelters around where she could have gone? Can we do better for vulnerable women? The young feminist then said to me; "I am always disappointed when I find a woman who won't support other women".
Such an insult would normally prompt me to eye rolling, but I had recently watched my sister die, and I recalled with a pang of guilt the relief I felt when my sister, Andrea, breathed her final breath. Andrea had two terminal illnesses and it was cancer that mercifully took her. Huntington's Disease (HD) would have led to a far worse death and caused crippling mental illness. It had been a long road for Ann, of mental health facilities, homeless shelters, doctors, bureaucrats, tears, fights and drama. So many times, I had left her knowing I couldn't make her safe. Anyone who has supported someone with a mental illness will know the feeling that you could pour your entire life into them and it still wouldn't be enough. Andrea was the third woman in my family I'd watched die after long periods of mental illness. At the same time, I had been doing my best to bring my own daughters to womanhood. My life had been nothing but supporting and raising women for the last twenty years.
Single women without the mental or physical ability to protect their body, property and finances are more vulnerable than most. When your answer to every question about men's violence toward women is "patriarchy" and "educating men", you ignore the ways women's vulnerability may be shielded by societal systems. These systems almost always involve men, whether they are family, friends or professionals. So, lets ease off on the "all men" crap, shall we?
Completely disappearing from the progressives' radar are the problems that are too awkward for feminist's new bedfellows. Female Genital Mutilation, grooming gangs and child brides are all difficult issues to raise when your intersectional allies may accuse you of Islamophobia. Even more troubling is that intersectional feminists are obliged to cede the definition of women, not to transgender people, but to activists. Trans activists have insisted that we not only accept that biological males live as women, (which is their liberal right) but that we must pretend that we see no difference between a trans-woman and a biological woman. More than this, we must believe in our hearts that there is no difference. "Woman" we are instructed by our new sociological priests, is something that is completely a condition of choice.
What I didn't see coming, is that with the joining of the alphabet letters (LGBTIQ), lesbian feminists are being told that they are not worthy of their political ground if they refuse to accept a lover who is a trans-woman. To sexually preference a biological woman is a rejection of the alphabet narrative, and this would make one a TERF. I am getting a feeling that picking on lesbian feminists is a step too far.
The commercial trade of women's bodies into surrogacy has been reframed, because gay men may require surrogacy service for the production of families. So, the ability to hire a womb has become a reproductive "right". In the early nineties the question of whether surrogacy was exploitation of women would have been answered with honesty by every feminist. Now, like the Sunday school question about the squirrel, feminists under the power of Marxism have replaced the true answer with the "right" one. Feminists haven't smashed the patriarchy, they've just got themselves a new daddy, his name is Karl.
In exchange for dominance, the intersectional feminist must stay in her lane. She has sold her soul for the right to advocate only for herself, for her own advancement, and that of her "allies". She is allowed to call for higher wages and more seats on boards. But in claiming her lucrative place in the new cultural hegemony, the intersectional feminist has led us to a place where women and their true vulnerabilities have disappeared.
JK Rowling is the latest in a string of women who have dissented from intersectional feminism by saying that women are biologically different from trans women. She is a financial and cultural giant but imagine if she was a woman who worked in a shop. A woman without the kind of power that Rowling has would be wise to be quiet. Like the kids in the Sunday school class, she would be wise to wait and see if someone else will to speak up first. I am not wise.
Since progressives control the bulk of cultural production in the western world, we are all becoming accustomed to the simplistic answers that are required for the complex questions that women face. I am a religious person, I understand the attraction of stable doctrine, but this is a secular state. A secular state is not an atheist state, it is supposed to be a state neutral to both religion and ideology. It is time we raised our hand and told the truth.