Ten thoughts on: Jenni Murray: “Be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman'”

10. Creating divisions within an womankind class is not feminist

Feminism is about fighting for womankind as a whole to achieve equality. It’s just not about straight white cisgender women arguing for their own equality.

Women of colour are one of the most obscenely oppressed groups in our society. As a white woman, I recognise that the injustices that Muslim women face, for instance, are complex and I would never presume to say that a woman that chooses to wears a hijab is a victim, nor would I chose to say that she was as privileged as a christian or atheist woman; In some islamic countries, women cannot even drive. If I want to be a feminist, I have to want to further the emancipation from oppression of muslim women, both in terms of the western world’s views and the potential inequalities that come with her religion. Muslim women that cover are women. Muslim women that don’t are women. If I want to be a true feminist, I have to want to further the fight for equality for all women especially women of colour.

I have heard people argue that gay transgender women are not “real women because they’re not even interested in sex with men”. This is clearly offensive to me as a transgender woman. However it smells of the centuries old debate about whether lesbians are real women. It sounds ridiculous to even ask this. This viewpoint clearly oppresses women and this archaic debate does not reflect the accepted views of our society. If you’re a thinking feminist there’s no way that you would argue for anything  other than the rights of gay women, queer women and lesbians to have the rights of any other woman and indeed any other human.

What about weight? Being an obese woman furthers the gender pay gap.  The following is quoted from the Guardian article that claimed that this fat tax equates to $9000 per year:

If a woman is overweight, employers are less likely to select her to fill a higher-wage job that involves interacting with the public. Overweight women are more likely to make less money than people of ‘normal’ weight and, tellingly, plump women earn even less than men who are overweight or obese. The data is from new study by Jennifer Shinall, assistant professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School.

Is this a fat shaming issue or a woman’s issue? Well the effects of weight don’t affect men in the same way according to the study. As a feminist, this is something that I oppose. Women should be hired and paid according to their skills and talents.

I know women that have given birth through c-section that feel that society makes them feel like they failed as a woman. Judging a woman because she had a c-section whether it was medically necessary or elective is not the act of a feminist.

What about women that chose to pursue their career and not to raise children?

Creating any kind of woman quality bar creates oppression. The above examples are cartoonish. Most people would never say that a woman of colour was not a woman. Nor would they declare that a lesbian shouldn’t use a woman’s changing room because their sexuality might make other women uncomfortable. I couldn’t imagine anyone I know saying that a fat woman had lost her right to be really be a woman. But what if you start to say things like “women are have two X chromosomes; It’s just a matter of biology” or perhaps start to adopt some of the silly exclusionary sayings that Greer has adopted about women bleeding or having smelly vaginas. This attempt at defining woman invariable excludes a small, but vulnerable group of women. Judging people because of their genetics, sexual preference, or their choices of clothing and makeup is simply not a feminist behaviour.

  • White, straight, cisgender women are women.
  • Black women are women.
  • Muslim women that cover are women.
  • Muslim women that don’t cover are women.
  • Lesbians women are women.
  • Queer women are women.
  • Fat women are women.
  • Thin women are women.
  • Women that love sex are women
  • Women that are aromantic are women
  • Women that are asexual are women
  • Women that wear makeup are women.
  • Women that don’t wear make up are women.
  • Women that wear dungarees are women.
  • Women that wear high heels are women.
  • Women that wear flat shoes are women.
  • Women that are menopausal are women.
  • Women that are post menopausal are women.
  • Women that have Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome are women.
  • Women that have Swyer syndrome or XY gonadal dysgenesis are women.
  • Women that don’t have periods are women.
  • Women that have hysterectomies are women.
  • Women that have c-sections are women.
  • Women that chose not to have children are women.
  • Women that focus on their career are women.
  • Transgender women are women.

This list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to add to it in the comments.

  • skyler

    Thank you! Some people tend to think that male chauvinists treat people based on their chromosomes rather than on behaviour! I think everyone should be free to live the way they feel comfortable! We can’t brand people as mentally-ill for being homosexual, likewise we can’t pinpoint transgenders for their difference! Everyone’s different, if we follow the trans-exclusionary logic, we should create a wide spectrum of categories to tag people. Not everyone’s got the same experience of life, but we must keep in mind that persecution is not acceptable anyway, people don’t need you to be a woman or black person to harass you!

    • Amy Collins

      Thanks for reading and your comment. Your point about excluding different groups of women was precisely what I was alluding to on the last page. Middle class, educated, straight white cisgender women shouldn’t get to dictate which classes of women they want in their club.