Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille

A collaboration with Hypotaxis.

About a month ago, AfterEllen.com published a lengthy trans-apologist piece absolving men-who-feel-like-women of all culpability in the destruction of women-only and lesbian space. The article was the usual, run-of-the-mill, “Why all you dykes gotta be so uptight?” bullshit espoused by liberal feminists who are far more concerned with protecting the delicate male ego than supporting women, much less lesbians. Unsurprisingly, the article culminated with the author expressing hope that the word “lesbian” will be diluted to accommodate men and no longer denote “female homosexual.”

The article was the same old trite, man-centric, mental-Cheetos one might find on Everydaymisogyny.com or the TransAdvocate: Lesbians are mean because they don’t want dick. Radical feminists are mean because their politics center women.

Predictably, the author of the AfterEllen.com article cited “internet sensation” Cathy Brennan as being the meanest mean of ALL TIMES, fixating on her as though she is the ONLY woman who is of the opinion that female isn’t a feeling, and that women have a right to, and need for, woman-only space. For liberal feminists, gay and trans advocates, Brennan has, in a sense, become a synecdoche.

And while many in liberal media, gay media, and trans media like to portray Brennan as the ONLY one who holds gender critical perspectives, as the ONLY woman who doesn’t believe one can identify their way into the class of female, this is, of course, not true. Many women share Brennan’s position on gender and on female-only space. Unlike her, though, most of us have been scared into silence or, at best, pseudonyms. Because even the mildest criticisms about our gender-sick, woman-hating culture are met with profound hostility.

 Also, Cathy Brennan is a person, not a synecdoche.

We’ve made no secret on our blogs of the fact that we are actual friends of Cathy Brennan. The kind of friends who talk about movies and music and many other things that have nothing to do with queer/trans politics. Because we’re, you know, human. And none of us are actually obsessed – or even care that much – about what strangers say or do. We do, however, care about women and girls and, as unpopular as it may be, dykes. We do, as friends, share a mutual refusal to accept the toxic, misogynist beliefs that are so deeply a part of queer/trans dogma.

And our words, our critiques, our questions are treated as literal Molotov cocktails, literal punches, literal knives. Histrionics, hyperbole, and gaslighting are the only rafts allowing queer/trans “logic” to remain afloat. Women know this.

Cathy Brennan knows this, and has been outspoken on the matter. She’s called bullshit on rhetoric and legislation that will directly harm women and girls, and because she hasn’t hidden behind a pseudonym, because she has been completely transparent about her identity, she has become a target for liberal feminists and trans activists (most of whom are male).

Once again, while Brennan is a prominent advocate for women and girls, she is also an actual person, and when writers make libelous claims about her, she has every right to defend herself. A lie is a lie, even when it serves your special persecution narrative so very well.

And here is a lie: The author of the AfterEllen.com article claims that Cathy Brennan “doxxed” MtT’s.

We’re not really down with techie/internet speak, but from what we understand, “doxxing” involves digging deep for a person’s personal info – like their telephone number, home address, family members, etc., collecting that info and publishing it in a public forum. Exactly like what the TransAdvocate did to GallusMag of GenderTrender, because they didn’t like her perspective on gender politics; because she sometimes offended men who identify as women.

Doxxing is actually really fucked up. It’s a symptom of an unhealthy obsession. It’s a particularly pernicious form of cyber stalking. So when you accuse someone of doxxing, it’s a serious accusation. And if it’s a false accusation, it’s defamation.

Having been wrongly accused of doxxing, Brennan filed a lawsuit.

AfterEllen.com’s response to the pending litigation cited “proof” that Brennan had doxxed an MtT. The “proof”? A link to the webpage of someone who once publically threatened the lives of Brennan’s children in a terrifying Twitter meltdown that went entirely unnoticed by gay or trans media. As further proof of “doxxing,” AfterEllen.com argued that Brennan “published the whereabouts” of the original article’s author. Basically, Brennan mentioned that the author was a hairdresser in San Francisco, information that even the most cursory Google search would provide.

AfterEllen.com is sad that Brennan pushed back after one of their writers made a false, defamatory claim. See, liberal feminists, trans activists, and formerly lesbian publications (like AfterEllen.com), care very deeply about “fighting back,” “speaking up” and about “justice” when we’re talking about men and men’s rights not to be identified as men and men’s rights to colonize female spaces. Liberal culture cares a lot about men’s feelings and men’s rights, and there’s simply no room for women, especially not those who are lesbian, especially not those lesbians who don’t need or want men’s approval.

By the way: We see a distinct parallel between liberal feminists who center men, and working-class people who vote Republican because they suspect, deep inside, that they’re going to be rich one day. The latter group has unhinged its collective jaw to swallow whole the lie America sells: Our nation has no class or economic system holding anybody back no matter where or when or to whom they were born.  These working-class people, who believe they’re only one genius idea or one lottery ticket away from taking their rightful place among the rich, vote with their imaginary wallets instead of the ones they actually have – and claim their allegiances are due to “morals” or “family values.”

Correlatively, liberal feminists believe that if they center men’s needs, wants and imaginings when it comes to women’s status in the world, they’ll earn “just-like-men” status (the kind of status they might earn in developing nations by having six or seven sons). “Just-like-men” women aren’t bitches who insist that “women, not people, have abortions” or object to being called “cis.”

“Just-like-men” women argue that freeing the nipple is GREAT for women because they should be able to take their shirts off in public just like men; that being fucked for money is FINE for women because it’s a woman’s empowering choice re: what to do with her body, just like men (please disregard the economic and political factors that go into that choice for the vast majority of women in the sex trade, or that that men don’t get naked for empowerment or you’d see powerful men doing it) and hey! Look over here at this privileged white university student who escorted for a year, got a book deal, and then went right back to college to get the kind of education that saves her from EVER having to fuck for money. “Just-like-men” women don’t give the tiniest hoot about lesbians unless they’re grinding on each other for male amusement.

Hell, so-called lesbian publications hardly even write about lesbian culture or issues of importance to lesbians unless it’s in the context of how lesbian culture can become more accommodating to males who feel like women. Doubt us on that? Consider that AfterEllen’s article about “Lesbian Abundance” was actually about MtT’s who feel excluded by lesbians.

Oh, and it took no time for Advocate.com to run a finger wagging piece written by Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn Ennis, which makes a point to, in the style of your average grocery-store checkout tabloid, use an unflattering screenshot of Brennan as a lead-up to making more false claims about what she said during an interview with Don/Dawn/Don/Dawn last month, including the statement, “she made it clear in a July interview with The Advocate that she is strongly opposed to civil rights protections for trans people.” This is a patent lie, and can be easily refuted by listening to the recording of the interview: http://genderidentitywatch.com/dawn-ennis-of-the-advocate-magazine-interviews-cathy-brennan-july-13-2015/

But no one – not the so-called lesbian publications and organizations, not the trans publications and organizations, not the liberal feminist publications and organizations – are really interested in presenting the truth about what women like Brennan, women like us, say in regard to gender politics. Men and their concerns have hijacked formerly pro-lesbian, pro-woman outposts and are now interested in campaigning, fully and decisively, against women’s rights to question gender, against dyke’s rights to say, “Thank you, no. Not interested in sucking dick,” against any opinion, any perspective, any thought that pokes holes in the collective delusion that maintains any man can be female if he “feels like it.”

These organizations and publications are hell bent on bamboozling women into believing shared girlhood does not exist, that males who feel like women suffer more than any woman or girl ever has, that failure to prioritize male beliefs in gender is an act of violence, that the denial of any man’s desire – whether it is to use female restrooms, attend female-only concerts, or be housed in female prisons – is akin to murder, is a human rights violation, and that men’s psychological needs will always be more important than the needs and safety of women and girls. In fact, if you deny a male person what he wants, he might even commit suicide.

We saw an amazing – amazing in the truest sense, e.g., we were gobsmacked – MtT internet meme yesterday.  It said: “The most important thing you can do as an ally of mine: Ask me what I want and need, then try your best to give me that.”

Really let that wash over you, women who center men. It undoubtedly feels great when men call you the sensitivest, inclusivest, bestest ally all of all time, and you get a frisson of superiority when you stick it to “TERFS”– kind of like how the Duggars feel towards the rest of the sinful, front-hugging world – but: Do you really want to be everyone’s mommy? When was the last time a trans person, or a man, asked you how they could be your ally, as a woman in this world? Not recently? Why do you think that is?

Anyway. None of this is anything new. It’s the same old male manipulation, male aggression, male entitlement designed to make women feel crazy, to make women doubt themselves, to make women turn on reality and turn on one another.

The bearers of today’s misogynist philosophies are, more often than not, men who feel like women. Their forums for espousing their shockingly anti-feminist, anti-woman ideas are often the very publications where women, dykes in particular, once sought community and solace.

Women have come to expect that when we challenge the status quo, when we question the systems put in place to marginalize us, to make us feel like shit, we will be set upon by those who need to uphold the status quo, those who built the systems. This is just a fact of life for those of us who are female; maybe even more so for those of us who are dykes. No one fucking cares what we think, or how we feel until we express what we’re thinking; what we’re feeling – and then we’re vilified. We’re not supposed to disagree. We’re supposed to always put the proverbial cock in our mouths and pretend we enjoy it.

But here’s the thing, while we have come to expect it, there’s no rule that says we have to accept it.

Despite the trans/queer/liberal feminists’ strong investment in language, thought and perception-policing, American women – even dykes! – live in a country where free speech is (ostensibly) sanctioned and where there are, in fact, libel laws. So what this means is, until further notice, women can actually have ideas and express them. AND if you make shit up about women, because our words hurt your feelings, or because our ideas don’t fall in line lockstep with the bullshit liberal drivel you’re peddling, women can SUE you.

Even if we weren’t friends with Cathy Brennan, our hats would be off to her in filing this lawsuit. We believe that women – even those who disagree with us – should be able to use their words, and use their intellect, to speak their truth, and to openly criticize social movements, political ideologies, and legislation that appears harmful. Open, honest discourse is important and healthy. Dissent is healthy. And it’s also healthy, and appropriate, that when a major publication publishes damaging, outright, lies about an individual that individual ought to defend herself by making use of the legal system.

The culture, especially in liberal circles, has done a lot of work on a lengthy fiction that portrays lesbians with a radical feminist analysis as beasts, as slightly subhuman assholes, because we understand basic biology; we reject the notion that gender stereotypes are innate realities; we’re not terribly interested in male feelings and approval, and we’re pretty blunt about sometimes wanting space away from dudes (even those who “identify as female”); we prefer romantic attachments with other female human beings, and our activism, our political discourse concerns itself with women and girls. We’re monsters because, to quote the amazing Andrea Dworkin, we’re “radical feminists . . . not the fun kind.”

And because of this fiction, the one where radical feminist dykes are virtually the same as Fred Phelps (seriously, that analogy has been bandied about a lot) or Hitler, it’s tempting for “fun feminist” writers to build on the storyline, to make shit up, to run with unfounded rumors. And it’s one thing to Tweet this shit, or spin these yarns over a craft beer at your favorite sex-positive-poly-queer-trans-feminine bar and grille, but it’s quite another to commit these inventions to print and call it journalism. That’s slander, sister.

So more power to you, Cathy. We’ve got your back, and the backs of all women who are done with being threatened for having a class analysis, who are sick of being silenced on matters that impact us directly, who are over being maligned and misrepresented; our characters and reputations carelessly sacrificed to the precious male ego, to the gender god, to liberal feminism. Fuck that. Fight back.

A meditation on the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival : 1975-2015

fest

The nutloaf was nutty. The drumming was drummy. I bought a dykey leather bracelet, got my period, howled like a wolf, showered in the open air and woke up in a tent underneath several inches of water during a thunderstorm. I washed dishes in a communal trough and let a silky wolf spider shimmy up my arm. I felt Lisa Vogel’s true love for each one of us in the fireworks show on Saturday at Night Stage.

It was Fest. It was the last Fest.

Before I left, I rubbed my new bracelet in the dirt and on the bark of trees in an effort to take the Land back with me. I tore off a piece of a fern, put it in my mouth, chewed, and swallowed.

I’m in the denial stage of grief: Lisa will hear our pain; feel our need; change her mind, I keep thinking. And then, more calmly: Even if Fest doesn’t continue in the same way we’ve known for the last 40 years, it’ll revamp; renew; reformat. We may not gather in 650 acres of pristine northern Michigan woodland, but we’ll figure things out on a smaller scale. Lisa gets to retire if she wants to. No one can be the lesbian Moses, leading us out of the desert of our lives, forever. Forty years is long enough for any job. It’s as long as I’ve been alive. 

“If you need it; if you want it; then create it,” we all heard from the stages – and though I appreciated the encouragement and felt a frisson of excitement at the idea of making something blossom out of the Fest seeds, I don’t think I’m alone in doubting that I can create exactly what I’ve needed, and got, in my years on the Land. The most creative idea I’ve got at this point has to do with an all-women’s potluck. And I don’t know any sisters in this town. So I feel sad and afraid.

The loss of Fest is serious and worthy of our grief. Many women depended on Fest to be:

  • The only place they ever got to fully inhabit themselves without the male gaze; without judgment; without fear; seeing themselves only through loving eyes and finding themselves enough.
  •  The only place they could set a bag down and walk away; knowing it’d be there when they got back.
  • The only place they could travel from a great distance with only a backpack; knowing their needs would be met by the Land and the women on it.
  • The only place they ever experienced a week without men – and, more importantly, with only women – and if you haven’t experienced this, I can’t explain its transformative power.
  • The only place they ever spoke – or listened – to a much older woman or a very little girl.
  • The only place no one treated them as inferior because they were deaf, or disabled, or a single mother, or had a full beard, or worked a blue- or pink-collar job.
  • The only place they really mattered to other people.
  • The only thing they were ever really a part of.

The “only place” part is, I think, a real indictment of the world we live in; of “Area 51.”

I know that women always have, and always will, find ways to connect and get our needs met – even in, or especially in, times and places deeply hostile to us. We are water that flows downward and rust that never sleeps, and this goes double for lesbians: What have we not done? Where have we not gone? When have we not carved out spaces for ourselves – and long, long before the Internet, when we were still criminals just by being who we were?

I know all this. I believe it. This loss, though, sisters. This loss.