A Rose by any other name…

It was the most progressive of times. It was the most regressive of times. It was less than twelve months since Oxford dictionary’s word of the year had been lie. As a professional wordsmith and feminist it was a surreal moment to be alive.

A female writer, and especially one with an angle on gender was constantly in danger of using the wrong word. Furthermore, there were many stipulations about identity that a woman who wrote needed to consider. It was called a privilege check, and its purpose was to keep the little woman in her place, and boy did it work. By the time a girl had finished ticking off all the different ways her various privilege might inform her argument, she’d need a lie down, or a stiff drink, or something stiff…

It probably started with Alanis Morisette in the mid nineties and the innocent mis-appropriation of irony. Going on to sell millions what the song Ironic proved was that redefining a word had vast commercial potential. By 2017 words were evolving faster than the above average intelligent individual’s mind. In some cases, there was no guarantee that the words used to describe something in the morning would be the same by tea-time. This was a source of huge concern for the writers and the feminists, and most especially the feminist writers.

Some stopped writing because they could not keep up with the pace of change and the retribution when they used the wrong word, because it had meant something entirely different, only a few short hours before. No-where was the war on language more prevalent then in the feminist community. In the trenches the rad fems clung to the traditional view of the word ‘woman’, as per Oxford dictionary. They fought a daily onslaught of threats and insults from the lib fems who sought to liberate the word woman from the confines of an actual literal meaning.

‘Course the rad fems had their reasons for wanting to hang on to word woman and many subsidiary terms like vagina and breasts, uterus, period and lesbian. And the writers were also invested in the word woman retaining its meaning, because once words start to lose meaning then the ability to communicate diminishes. And writers are communicators.

The lib fems favoured changing the word woman to the word people, as this would make it more inclusive. Of course it’s impossible to argue that the word people is less inclusive than the word woman, but to many, that’s the point.

Eventually all writers and feminists had to pick a side, and most especially feminist writers. Did they favour the old world view where men and women were two distinct biologically different but fundamentally interdependent groups of people? Or were they  willing to be pioneers of a brave new world, where ideas are so vast and experiences so unique, that no dictionary need dare contain them?

Whilst woman and all its related terms vagina, breasts, uterus, womb, period, lesbian were up for reallocation, the word of the year, fast overtaking lie was binary with a non before it. Non-binary was the term used to describe a growing sub culture of people that believed themselves to be neither woman nor man, boy nor girl. A short, sharp look in their underpants was no longer a determinant factor in what sex they might be.

It was all very confusing for those who dared dig into it, because when viewed objectively, it made no sense at all. Gender was replacing sex as the deciding component in what defined the terms man and woman. The biologically reality and difference that distinguished two groups of people was being eroded, like it did not exist. Only, it continued to exist, it just became more difficult to logistically speak about.

‘But, do you know where babies come from?’ became a controversial phrase and yet, babies continued to come from wombs, and wombs continued to come attached to women. And, it was still her tit that a baby drank life from, and her belly that was bent out of shape.

The lib fems argued that it was crude to reduce women to their body parts. The rad fems countered it was cruder to pretend women weren’t reduced to their body parts, systematically, by the patriarchy.

The rad fems had it on logic, and reason, but fell down somewhat in style and presentation. There, the fur coat no knickers lib fems, brought the house down. Though their words, at best, distorted meaning, at worst,were just plain unintelligible, they spoke them with such pezaz.

And they appealed to that deep, real fear we all have, that we’re actually a bit stupid. Truly, people were so terrified of being exposed as not getting it, that that they suspended all their ability to critically analyse what was being proposed.

And, it is here, we now sit, in this pivotal period in our history as thinkers, as seers, as knowers of stuff, as people who must pass on to our children a semblance of biological sense. ‘Coz kids deserve biology. More than that that, kids need biology, especially teenage kids, especially teenage girls. And I’ll tell you what else girls need- words.

 

 

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There ain’t no cis in sisters.

I’m not really sure what a cis woman is, which seems unfortunate given I am one, allegedly. I am sure what allegedly means, it’s an unproven claim. I know that word well because every time a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, the media gets that word in. Because it might not have happened. The woman might be making it up. Women do. Cis women, I mean.

Cis women have no real expectation of justice. This is reflected in the fact that only 15% of rapes are reported to police. So, those crimes you read about every day, that allegedly happen to cis women, are actually the tip of the iceberg.

Well over a million cis women will experience domestic abuse in the England and Wales this year, if last year’s statistics are an indicator.  20% of these women will see their perpetrators face criminal proceedings. That means the vast majority of these women victims will never see a man punished for his crimes against them. By inference, many of these perpetrators will go on to abuse, beat and maim other cis women. Two cis women will be killed this week by their male partner or ex partner. It’s almost as if putting the word cis before the word woman makes her no more lightly to to gain any measure of fair treatment.

Cis hasn’t really taken off in the real world, but is huge in feminist circles. Yeah, you read that right. The average woman on the street will give two fingers to the idea that she has to put a three lettered word before her sex, but self declared feminists are queuing up for a more complex way to describe their sex than plain old woman.

The fact that it is linguistically impossible to be cis and feminist seems to have gone over these women’s heads. Cis, in this context, means to be aligned with the gender that was determined at birth. No feminist ever aligned themselves with their birth gender. Whatever individual event, or series of them, took them to the door of feminism, their core motivation is always the same. An inability to accept the limitations placed on them by gender roles they were assigned, after their sex was determined. The very act of becoming feminist and standing up for women’s rights is a slap in the face to the gender expectation of women to be submissive. See?

Women are a class of people that are oppressed by another class of people (called men) under a system of oppression called the patriarchy. The patriarchy maintains its stronghold through violence and resource control. An obvious example of this is the universal obsession with birth control which leave women’s most basic health in the precarious hands of various religions and ideologies that value the seed she carries over her right to life.

Men don’t fear dying in child birth or being forced to carry a fetus they don’t want because men can’t get pregnant. There! I said it. We all know this, of course, ‘coz anyone old enough to read this started life the same way. We all had to serve our time in a woman’s womb, and whether pushed out of her vagina, or cut from her belly, we all had to sever that umbilical cord, before we took our first breath. So, lets hear it for all women everywhere, who have made the writing and the reading of this blog possible.

The cisters won’t like me now. What with the cis feminist is a paradox and men can’t get periods admissions. The cisters hate it when you talk sense. It confuses them, profoundly. This is evidenced by the censorship their ideology demands. Disagree, and we will call you TERF or SWERF  (These are real acronyms, I’m not making them up). Disagree louder, and we and we will demand your exclusion from our conversations, in the interests of inclusion, obviously. Disagree loud enough and we will get you fired, or at the very least, make sure you are never safe to speak publicly again.

In the past month, Linda Bellos has been no platformed, Julie Bindel has been harrased whilst promoting her new book and Helen Steel was surrounded by a mob at the anarchist book fair. Yeah, you read that right too.

As feminists, and as women, we need to ask ourselves what is progressive in telling women to STFU? As feminists we need to fight for all women to be heard. Even…cis ones.