This Newsweek cover declared “Women in Revolt”. We were!
We, at the Kansas City Women’s Liberation Union (KCWLU), celebrated the supreme court’s 1973 court case, Roe v. Wade, the day it happened! The court held that women in the United States had a fundamental right to choose whether to have abortions without excessive government restriction and struck down a Texas’s abortion ban as unconstitutional.
At that time my feminist friends and I believed we were heading towards the full inclusion of women’s rights even though we lived in this patriarchal society. As a result of this 7-2 court decision we were jubilant and full of youthful optimism.
I was 28 and working for TWA as a flight attendant. I was actively involved in my flight attendant union. MS. Magazine was an important news source in my life. The KCWLU had become central to my life, and those women were central to my “coming out” as a lesbian.
Women all over the world were challenging males and male domination of our lives. Men, and the women who allied themselves with men, were unprepared for our rebellion.
What has happened in the last fifty years to overturn this assurance of a woman’s right to control her body and her life choices? No simple answer to this question exists. However, in my exploration of possible answers, I listened to this NPR interview on Fresh Air, finding it to be quite helpful.
Yesterday, June 23, 2022, Terry Gross interviewed law professor Mary Ziegler. Her newest book about the abortion struggles is Dollars for Life. In the interview Ziegler details how the anti-abortion movement helped push the courts to the right, and upended the GOP establishment. It’s quite a story!
Discussion in that interview included examples of how the radical right leaders carefully used abortion for their own ends. The growth of right wing radio and cable TV networks became a useful vehicle for confrontation and inflammatory rhetoric. Ziegler also explains how the court case of twelve years ago, Citizens United, deregulated campaign financing allowing big donors to dominate the outcomes of elections in the U.S. Here’s more about that court case.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is a controversial decision that reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections. (emphasis mine)
I’m now 76. I’m still learning and strategizing. We are still “Women in Revolt”. It’s hard to know what we can do to make a difference. However, learning how we got to this place is one effort I’m making–this interview helped me see the “bigger picture”.
I hope you will listen to the interview with law professor Mary Ziegler. I expect it will bring up questions and observations from your own life experience. Let’s keep talking, reading, writing, and making trouble for those who deny our humanity.
by Paula Mariedaughter
The Trojan Horse is one of history’s most famous tricks. The Greeks were laying siege to the city of Troy, and the war had dragged on for ten years. The Greeks built a wooden horse, which they left outside the city. The Trojans believed the horse was a peace offering and dragged it inside their city. Later the Greek soldiers, hidden in the horse, killed the guards and opened the city gates to their army. The war was won with this clever trick.
Browsing at my library, I found this book, Misogyny: The New Activism by Gail Ukockis (Oxford University Press 2019). Both curious and wary I brought it home. I was wise to be wary. Much of her anaysis of sexism is quite valuable. But, reader, beware! Read her words and note her strong bias, evident when she willingly refers to gender-critical feminists as TERFS!
“Trans issues were weird to me as a child, and it took me years to develop enough knowledge and sensitivity to become a trans advocate. Hopefully, my story proves that positive change is possible. Gloria Steinem also went through a similar change of heart regarding trans women. In 1977, she had publicly attacked Renee Richards as a ‘frightening instance of what feminism could lead to’ and “living proof that feminism isn’t necessary”. She asked, ‘If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?’ She even praised the book Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male in 1983. Today, though she is a strong advocate of trans rights. Some of my readers may be trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFS) who believe that trans women are not “real” women. However, I posit that it is a human rights issue for people to claim their own gender (or nongender) identity.” p.224
This is followed by three pages of glossary of “Terms and Issues” all from the trans-inclusive perspective! We know the trans ideology is ubiquitous! Young lesbians report having been involved in the queer/trans community and have put aside their own doubts and questions in the name of “inclusiveness.” Young lesbians are not encouraged to read earlier feminist writings and to then decide for themselves. (Note: Radical Feminism: A Documentary Reader, edited by Barbara A. Crow, would be a valuable place to start because it is comprised of pivotal documents written by U.S. radical feminists in the 1960s and 1970s.)
This author describes herself as an educator and a social worker. She has taught a course on Women’s Issues for over a decade and authored a textbook, Women’s Issues for a New Generation: A Social Work Perspective. Young people are continually exposed to the misogyny of instructors and texts that pretend that biological females are irrelevant in any definition of woman. She is educating with a strong anti-radical feminist bias! She dares to write a book about misogyny that will please the patriarchial institutions which published it and who will then use it to instruct young people. Let’s remember that her livelihood in academia depends on her endorsement of the trans ideology.
I see the acceptance of the trans ideology as a modern “Trojan horse”! One source explains that a “Trojan horse” is anything that looks innocent but, once accepted, has power to harm or destroy. In a similar vein, the Trojan horse effect is described as any disastrous result of an anticipated gain; or, the masking of a dangerous agent within an innocent garb.
The “innocent garb” here is the pretense of inclusiveness. Women and Lesbians who value women’s spaces and organizations and festivals are denigrated, threatened and dismissed. Our thoughts and feelings are not considered worthy of “inclusion”. Perhaps with enough “knowledge and sensitivity” (as the book author said earlier about her conversion), the woman-hating of the trans ideology will become clear and that awareness will create the next generation of trans critical feminists.
Fueled by our outrage last June at the “inclusive” policy that excludes gender critical women from local Pride events we created a Lesbian Story Time event at the Fayetteville Public Library. We had learned that Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc is exclusively authorized by the City of Fayetteville to operate the NWA Pride Parade and the associated events.
We are not an associated event. We are lesbians demanding lesbian visibility as our right to be free human females. In reading our flyer, note that the word lesbian appears fifteen times! We are women identified women who thrive in the company of other like-minded women. We invite lesbians and allies to share time meant to honor lesbian women. Our lesbian culture is our lifeline.
Our lesbian and gay liberation movement has been hijacked. The T, standing for transgender, now dominates every lesbian and/or gay organization I know about except Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC). And OLOC has been severely damaged by the controversy about including males who identify as lesbians in their membership.
Many transgender activists attempt to dictate terms of gendered politics to the rest of the world. Liberals and progressives are continually asserting that the transgender community is the most oppressed among us! Liberals and progressives see no harm in the bullying tactics used by transgendered activists to insert themselves into women only spaces and to attempt to insert themselves into lesbian only space. Radical lesbian feminists who object to the erasure of lesbians and other women are dismissed and slurred with the invented label of TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). Violence and threats of violence against women and lesbians are common.
My own observation is that our gay pride events no longer highlight the oppression of lesbians and gay men. The interests of male to trans persons now dominate the agenda and the funding of most major lesbian rights organizations. The needs and desires of transgendered individuals now dominate. The desires and assertions and feelings of transgendered people are now center-staged!
Contrast this photo from 1974 of a grassroots Lesbian/Gay Pride Parade with the corporate sponsored glitz of today. I see “people power” here, not corporate and government controlled media events.
As I wrote last June in this column, “We who are fiercely loyal to lesbians and to the long term interests of women and girls have been demonized both locally and nationally for our carefully thought out criticisms of the trans gender movement. The symbolism of removing Gay Pride and becoming Pride events parallels the stigma now attached to gay young people. Young women who do not fit the stereotype for girls and young men who do not fit the stereotype for boys are now the prime candidates for transitioning. This generation of youths are the innocent victims of a questionable social experiment which will leave many young people sterile and hormone/drug dependent for their entire lives. The medical and pharmaceutical industries will thrive.”
Let’s talk about the history of women. Our history is one of the oppression of women by men and a history of women’s resistance to that oppression. Rain and Thunder: A Radical Feminist Journal of Discussion and Activism is a favorite place for me to study about the lives of women and girls. In reading the latest issue, I found this, “Patriarchy, or the colonization of the sex class of women by the sex class of men, is the oldest form of oppression known to the human species. Over a period of at least 6,000 years, men have established various systems by which to suppress women’s agency, exploit and control women’s bodies, and extract unpaid female labor.
Author Thain Parnell continues, “In the latest twist, the patriarchy is attempting its most ambitious feat yet, to disappear its crimes via the erosion of the sex classes themselves. Trans activism is a trojan horse designed to force Western women back in their place, and in other countries serves as a useful wedge….” Her article is “War Games:The Many Guises of Male Brutality” in the Summer 2019 issue of Rain and Thunder.
Our place, as lesbians, this weekend of “Pride Celebrations” is with other LESBIANS! If you live in Northwest Arkansas, come join us at the Fayetteville Library. Invite any allies. If you live elsewhere, call your local public library today and reserve a space for a June 15th Lesbian Pride Celebration. Keep it simple. Invite lesbians to share their stories. Last year we had several young lesbians drop in and join us for our celebration. Use our flyer as a prototype. Lesbian visibility depends on lesbians willing to be visible. We all have our stories to tell. Listening to one another is a great gift.
Atlanta, Georgia in the 1970’s. That huge Lesbian Feminist Alliance banner would not be permitted at today’s “inclusive” Pride parades which exclude radical feminist groups!
It is always exciting to find our work, whatever form it is
taking and wherever it is happening, being recognized and applauded.
There is a prestigious science prize in England called the Maddox
Prize. Based on what they call “sense about science”, it is awarded to one or
two people each year for challenging the misrepresentation of science and
evidence in public life. This year Stephanie Davies-Arai, the founder of a
website we really like called Transgender Trend (transgendertrend.com) was nominated
for standing up for science in the face of difficulty or hostility. Davies-Arai
had this to say about her nomination.
“… I believe that children and young people deserve nothing
less than our dedication in ensuring healthcare and education policies which
are based on robust scientific evidence. Through Transgender Trend I will
continue with my commitment to disseminate clear, factual, research-based
information to support parents and educators in making fully-informed choices
regarding the children in their care, despite the continued allegations that we
are a ‘hate’ group.”
The website went on to say:
“At Transgender Trend we believe that facts can never be
transphobic, that the school curriculum must be science based and that public
debate on this issue must be facilitated without fear. The honour of being
shortlisted for this prestigious science prize we see as a validation of
everyone who is risking defamation, bullying and their very livelihoods by
speaking out to establish evidence in the face of ideology.”
Sometimes it seems we are short on allies in our push to
support and create female-born spaces and to discuss the issues raised by the
reality of people transitioning and the ones detransitioning. In this xxamazons
space, we have a firm belief that men do not become women ever, nor do women
This group in the UK (United Kingdom) is a good resource some
of us have relied on to help with our thinking on the issues. Their website subtitle
is: “Parents questioning the trans narrative.”
I wish the parents of some of the children I’ve known or
known of who have transitioned had read and paid attention to the site.
Here are a couple of statements from their welcome page. The rest are well worth reading.
“This site is for everyone who is concerned about the social and medical ‘transition’ of children, the introduction of ‘gender identity’ teaching into schools and new policies and legislation based on subjective ideas of ‘gender’ rather than the biological reality of sex…
It is for feminists and allies who are concerned about the
erosion of sex-based rights and protections for women and girls.”
This site was behind the book many of us have read either in
full or in part. The title of the book is Transgender
Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body edited by Heather Brunskell-Evans
and Michele Moore. It is a collection of essays about the current theory and practice
of transgendering children.
Some excellent thinking is represented.
There are many wide-ranging issues about the practice of
transitioning. It is good to know that we are not alone in challenging what is
Creative actions by strong radical feminists always intrigues me! On the morning of January 29, 2019 feminist activists across the United Kingdom (Britain and Wales) and across Ireland had dressed various female statues with black t-shirts and a strong message. The t-shirts these uppity women used quoted from the dictionary: “Woman, noun, adult human female”. How simple, clear and direct.
Organizing such a coordinated action could not have been simple. Read what these determined women wrote about the action organized by ReSisters United. Here is the strong statement from the home page of their website https://resistersunited.org/ “ReSisters United was formed by women across the UK and Ireland, because we recognized the assault on our hard-won rights and freedoms that gender identity ideology could pose. Resisters United is therefore a feminist movement focused on women´s rights, centering women´s interests and experiences, and for this we make no apology.”
More than fifty cities and towns had this new chance to read the clear definition of who is a woman. Our gallery of photos was pulled from over 100 photos displayed on the ReSisters United website here: https://resistersunited.org/gallery/ One of my favorite photos showed a statue of Sappho wearing one of the ReSisters t-shirts. Sappho was a lyric poet from antiquity who wrote about love between women. Sappho lived in the Mediterranean including Lesbos during the sixth century BCE and was widely known. Her poems were performed to the accompaniment of the musical instrument called the lyre, thus she was a singer/songwriter of her day singing about love and desire between women.
Sappho is a Right-On Woman, Still! Do you know the book I am referring to here? Sappho Was A Right-On Woman: A Liberated View Of Lesbianism by Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love published in 1972 was a treasure for many of us who came out as a woman-loving woman in the early 1970s!
message from Liverpool ReSisters https://twitter.com/LiverpoolReSis1 “The temporary addition of t-shirts and banners to notable female statues around the UK – such as Cilla Black in Liverpool – was a coordinated effort with women on a national scale. The simple definition of “woman: adult human female” on the t-shirts was to show how diluted this word has become in recent times and our concerns about the impact this has on every woman’s life. If “woman” is not clearly defined, law and policies cannot be written or enforced to best serve women. In September 2018, one representative of Liverpool ReSisters spoke to Liverpool City Council, asking for its mayor and councillors to consult women’s groups on retaining single-sex provisions in the city. This request was denied. The women of Liverpool and in many other places across England, Wales and Scotland will not allow ourselves to be silenced.
As ReSisters United, we take to the streets to create a dialogue among our citizenry. We use peaceful means of protest in order to encourage discussion and debate, so that women’s voices can be heard and our privacy, dignity and boundaries are maintained.”
Negative newspapers: from Wales Online: T-shirts labelled ‘transphobic’ left hanging on statues across Wales They have been spotted in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Pembrokeshire
(see more below)
Here’s why some trans people have said the ‘definition of a woman’ campaign is transphobic from Inews.co.uk
A group of anti-trans activists have been condemned for spreading “transphobia” in “a desperate grab for headlines” as they vandalised statues of feminist leaders with anti-trans slogans across the UK. The group, named ReSisters United, were spotted attaching t-shirts, bags and banners to feminist statues in Sheffield, London and Liverpool with the definition of the word “woman.” The items, which were draped across the likes of Cilla Black in Liverpool, Millicent Fawcett in London and Amy Johnson in Kent on Saturday featured the words ““Woman, noun. An adult human female.”
The group tweeted:
“Overnight, women all over the UK came together, organised with one
purpose – to define ourselves and our boundaries. Woman is not a
feeling.” The vast majority of the signage has since been removed
due to its offence to the transgender community. But why does the
definition evoke offence, and how have members of the transgender
‘A desperate grab
for headlines’ One transgender woman, who works as a developer and
whose name is not disclosed said the action was part of “a
desperate grab for headlines.” “This is from a group viscerally
aware of the failure of their ‘movement’,” she said. “They’re
doing this because it’s one of the only ways left for the cause to
get publicity.” Trans woman Natacha Kennedy said that the t-shirts
are a “coded threat” to the trans community. “By sticking to
the dictionary definition, these transphobes can say, ‘but it’s
only the dictionary definition!’, except we know it isn’t just
that. Context matters and in my opinion, these t-shirts are being
used as a symbol of hate. Trans women are adult human females,” she
added. Because they do not use hate speech, a lot of passersby might
dismiss what they are intended to mean, she argued. “For trans
women it’s a coded threat, designed to sound innocuous to most
people, but designed to make trans women, who routinely face abuse
for not being ‘real’ (or even human) feel intimidated,” Ms
One parent of a
trans male teenager has said that the offence of the t-shirts is all
about context. She likened the incident to one that plagued black
footballer John Barnes during his career, which saw someone from the
crowd throw a banana onto a pitch during a game at Everton in 1988 in
an act of racism. “A lot of people will say it’s only a
dictionary definition on a t-shirt, how can you get upset over a
statement of fact?” she said. “But it’s like when you say if
it’s only a banana, how can you get upset over a piece of fruit?”
“Context matters,” she added.
Other members of the public who have spotted the t-shirts have updated them to include a more diverse set of definitions for what it means to be a human – and a woman. Lecturer Jane Francesca Fae is one of the people who tweeted a picture of one of a modified t-shirt. Listing “cisgender”, “trans” and other diverse identities, she questioned the “bigots” defining womanhood. “After the local bigots/fascists turned up and stuck a WomanStandUp t-shirt on our (kneeling) Sappho statue, some other folk seem to have nicked it and put this up instead…Other members of the public who have spotted the t-shirts have updated them to include a more diverse set of definitions for what it means to be a human – and a woman. Lecturer Jane Francesca Fae is one of the people who tweeted a picture of a modified t-shirt listing “cisgender”, “trans” and other diverse identities as woman, she questioned the “bigots” defining womanhood.(end of negative newspaper article)
As a woman proud to be a biological female, like the majority of the world, I’d like to add two more powerful images with clear messages!