I have been thinking a lot about how society has been regressing. Women’s rights have rolled back. Abortion was made legal in 1973, after countless women lost their fertility, health or even their lives in backstreet abortions. When I was a teenager, Dirty Dancing with its subplot of a home abortion gone wrong, shocked me to the core. It felt so far in the past, so much of ‘yesterday’ that I took for granted, my entire adult life, that civilized countries have access to safe and legal abortion services. I took it for granted, and now it is gone. The real-life tragedies and horror stories caused by Roe vs Wade being overturned have yet to be written but they are inevitable. Women are going to suffer life changing horror as a result of this decision, and it could all have been avoided if it was not for toxic Christianity and the rise in power of the patriarchy. The backlash is real.
The backlash is real – single sex bathrooms have been the norm since 1920! The urinary leash set upon women, unable to leave the home because they can’t find anywhere to pee that is safe, is now back in play, with people born male put before female rights to female-only spaces, that are safe to be vulnerable in. Perhaps women just want to pee safely too. Radical idea, I know. I personally make sure I don’t drink or eat before I go out, or while I am out, in case I have to use the bathroom and have to cope with a male body in that private enclosed space. Be kind is a one way stream, flowing from women and towards men. It is a shame that other streams cannot be made in private away from the male gaze anymore.
Lesbians – women who are attracted to women with no dicks involved at any point in time anywhere – have no dedicated space in Pride, pushed out so that straight men – men who love women – can mimic femininity and take that label too. Words have become meaningless, men found a new riff, a new way to subjugate women, to push us out, to take all of sports, all of the spaces, and erase us utterly: to become us and then edge us out of our shelters, spaces and rights.
The overturning of Roe vs Wade is just another symptom of this backlash against women’s rights and actual feminism. Feminism does not include men. Feminism that includes men is not feminism at all. Feminism does not just center women, born with sex organs that are verifiably female, who survive girlhood and have all the mess and troubles that being a woman drags along with it, feminism IS women, about women and only women. It is ours, and yet the men want in on that too.
A man can declare himself pro-feminist, and I will applaud him and ask politely that he take to task the men that hurt women: that men police men. If you know a man is abusing his wife, or hear misogynistic talk about women, another man pulling up the offender, talking to him about his actions and words, is probably the only way the abusive woman-hater will ever stop.
I can faintly hear in the background “But, Detroit, I love women! I am a nice guy! I am different.” As always I know and accept this. I gave birth to a wonderful young man who understands and behaves impeccably, however I don’t ever want to hear men whining that they are not like this. I don’t want to hear it. Don’t tell me. Go out there and prove it. I don’t want excuses. I don’t want credentials. I have no need of patting any man on the head and reassuring them that ‘he is not like this at all.’ I am not here to take the mother-role of soothing men’s fragile feelings. There will be no ‘there-theres’ from me, no cookies or affirmation. If you are not the problem, good. Now examine your actions, words and motives and go out there and make a difference. Educate the young men around you, police the men who need it, and if you want to tell me that you know no men who are like this, go draw a placard, and get out there and peacefully protest the overturning of Roe vs Wade. Be the change in men that you see in yourself. Go protest the gender-based violence that is perpetrated, the fact that so many women lose their lives every year to violent men. Go protest abysmal rape conviction statistics. Show up for your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, and make a difference in their lives. Work to bring down the patriarchy, take your share of sex divided spaces and respect women’s right to privacy.
I fully support people being who they want to be, living their truth, but that truth, that need for affirmation cannot be at the expense of women or lesbians. Transwomen are not the same as women, a fact. Equal, but different, and to that end, their needs and wants cannot supersede those of women. We need Pride events which are single sex for same-sex attracted women and the women that they love. We need private bathrooms, which are separated by sex not feeling. We need easy and safe access to abortion services because sometimes contraception fails, sometimes women’s lives are at risk because of pregnancy. Just look at the current case of an American traveler in Malta, her life in danger, the fetus is not viable, and she was refused a termination to remove the fetus which is a danger to her very life! The USA is heading there fast. Women’s rights have gone to hell in a handcart, done a full circle back to center men and only men in their myriad and varied forms.
Of course women, especially those of us that veer towards the left politically, are all about kindness. The handmaidens are men’s most vehement supporters. They push the patriarchal agenda, not realizing that their motives are far from fair and pure. It is a dance some women do, a mating dance to show men that they are better than those nasty women who speak up and call the Patriarchy on its bullshit. Sometimes it is a matter of survival, I honestly think that some women believe that if they are good enough, compliant enough, if they parrot the correct ideas, then they will be allowed to survive, and perhaps even thrive.
Writing openly, creating openly, standing by the Sisterhood is a dangerous position to take. It is like standing over a precipice and saying ‘go ahead, cancel me.’ I truly think that the only way forward, the only way to create is to be true to myself. To not hide in the shadows, to not snuff out my outrage and my fears and to say, now we are faced with the biological reality of ‘not all women have children, or can have children, but only women can get pregnant, and only the mobile gametes of the male can fertilize women’s immobile gametes’, can we all agree on what a women is? Can we agree that there are differences, not superiorities, but differences, and that women, as a class, need to be protected, even if we need to add the third, but equal, class of ‘transwomen’ and ‘transmen’ to the group of sex based characteristics which need provision and protection in their own way? Professional swimming is adding a class for transwomen, so that XX women can fairly compete. This template, whilst not ideal, is fairer. Whilst I hope that society in general will follow that pattern, I am not very hopeful. The patriarchy is simply too strong, too embedded and too outraged that women have a voice and we are refusing to be silenced, to give up on its newly found method of controlling women. The mess women find themselves in will not be easily fixed.
Women’s rights have now reached a critical point. We are fighting for our lives, our futures and our safety. We are fighting for the right not to have to deal with men, not to have to fuck them, or pretend that people who have dicks or had dicks are the same as us. Equal but different, that is my rallying cry. Be kind, but not self sacrificing. Make provisions, but not at the expense of those of us born female who have all had to survive the systemic abuses of the patriarchy.
This should not be a radical statement. This should not be a dangerous act. To write this and say this should not feel like fear. Instead, it is a testament to how bad things have got that to write this and say it, and even think it or believe it is and feels immensely frightening. I hate no one. Not even the man who abused me, though I have no forgiveness for him either. I am phobic of snakes and rats, not people, though I am understandably wary of men. Mutual respect, mutual kindness, a society built on protecting those that need it and the rights of all groups of people in an equal way that does not put others at risk. Right now, women do not have equality, we have nothing like it. It is not even close.