Dear Feminists: I Feel Unsafe

Silly me. I thought feminism was about upholding the rights and dignity of women. Turns out feminism is nothing more than a new variation on an old theme: subjecting women to the demands and prejudices of the powerful.

We women know by experience that our very womanhood is a risk factor in life. Across countries, continents, cultures and ages, men have nearly always been the sexual aggressors, and women on the receiving end. Rape is almost exclusively a crime perpetrated by men. Only in very recent years have we stretched the definition enough that it could be understood any other way.

And so we circle the wagons. Women go to the bathroom in groups- have you noticed? It’s not because we like the smell of each other’s poop. Women intuitively know that we are safer in herds.

Feminists have taken various attacks on rape in all its forms, and from a distance one might think they genuinely care to protect and empower women. But a recent phenomenon- the transgender/transsexual movement- proves otherwise.

Let me explain.

I would venture to say that worldwide, the plight of women is desperately worse than that of most black Americans. Women are still bought and sold as slaves. As we are becoming increasingly aware, in some countries women can be stoned to death for owning a cell phone, going to school, driving a car. Rape and sexual degradation are a way of life in many cultures, and women have no voice in the political process by which to demand justice or change.

And yet, in this country, if a white person dresses up in blackface, mocking the physical appearance, dress, vocal inflections and mannerisms of black Americans, that person can be expelled from school and a national outcry will rise, demanding that at any price, no matter how extreme, black individuals must be made to “feel safe”.

Meanwhile, if a man dresses up in “girlface,” mocking the physical appearance, dress, vocal inflections and mannerisms of women, we are supposed to applaud his (her?) courage.

Bull. We’ve come a long way in our ideas about race, and most people know that no white person dressed in blackface can truly understand the black experience- the childhood memories of parents, grandparents and siblings relating their stories of pain from racism and prejudice; the heritage gained from ancestors who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad, or earned independence and lived successfully in the North, or immigrated more recently from Africa, after slavery’s abolition, or are black but not African and tired of being called “African American”. A costume isn’t an identity.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t matter if you felt black, had always wished you were black, or felt out of place among white people. If you are not black, you are not black. This in spite of the fact that race, unlike sex, actually is relatively fluid- you can be 1/2 black, or a white African citizen, or dark-skinned with light-skinned siblings. Despite very real racial complexity, we still don’t grant non-blacks the right to identify as black.

Yet we grant this right to men. The right to dress in girlface and not only pretend to be women, but to actually publicly identify as women.

And this, dear feminists, puts the lie to your cause. It is deeply obvious that men can’t become women by dressing as women, or even by getting boob jobs and hormone treatments. The fact that you turn a blind eye to this reality degrades the experiences of real women, and ultimately makes the world less safe for us.

Nationwide there is a push towards an extreme of political correctness, in which schools, businesses and other public buildings are now establishing gender-free restrooms. When women protest, we are labeled and shoved in a box with the racists, sexists and homophobes.

How dare anyone minimize the experiences of women who have been assaulted, molested, raped by men- women who have every good reason not to want wolves in sheep’s clothing invading our most personal space. Do we owe this to society? Do we women, who endure the majority of sexual crimes, who learn to fear our sexuality the moment we first experience unwanted attention in adolescence (or earlier), who experience depths of sexual experience men can only imagine- menstruation, childbirth, miscarriage, infertility, menopause- owe it to society to invite men in girlface into our private circles?

While a national outcry has been raised over black people feeling unsafe, women who feel unsafe in the current sexual climate are asked- especially by liberal feminists- to be nice and keep quiet. Funny, that’s exactly the message to women I thought feminism had been fighting against since its inception.

I recently watched a Youtube video in which a young woman who reviews reusable menstrual products answered a question from a subscriber about simulating a period. The video cheerfully demonstrates how to mix food coloring, corn starch and water to create a substance resembling blood, which can be poured onto a pad or into a menstrual cup for any transgender person desiring to “experience” a period.

I thought, “Must be nice.” Must be nice for a man to be able to choose to “menstruate” as a weekend arts and crafts project.

In third world countries, disposable menstrual products are utterly unaffordable. Girls routinely miss a week of school each month while they menstruate at home, in a corner, over a pile of ashes, sawdust or leaves. Dropout rates skyrocket when pubescent girls miss too many days to keep up with their classes.

Later in life, these girls will experience childbirth by third-world standards. A visit to the websites of relief organizations will teach you that in many remote areas, a complete midwife kit consists of a pair of gloves, a pair of scissors, and a piece of string. Well-meaning donors send ultrasound machines that cannot be used because there is no electricity.

I know I’m spoiled. I can choose between plastic and cardboard tampon applicators. I can save the planet by switching to a reusable menstrual cup. I can get Depo-Provera injections and forego menstruation altogether. But I know that all these privileges are an accident of my birth in an affluent nation. My financial status does not fundamentally change my female identity. Had I arrived into the world in a village in rural Nepal, I too would be menstruating in a hut, subject to the same taboos and prejudice. Were I to find myself transported there now, my previous life of comfort and privilege would do little for me.

As feminist ideology becomes increasingly weird and disconnected from reality, it becomes increasingly a luxury for the wealthy. In most of the world, people can’t imagine an expense so frivolous as changing sex according to personal preference- and no sane man would ever attempt it. There’s so much work to be done towards protecting women’s basic rights that I can’t comprehend why we’ve added a Right to Pretend to be a Woman to the list of priorities.

My identity as a woman is something I’m proud of, and proud to share with courageous women around the world- true women of all colors and throughout all centuries who have felt the pains I feel, wept the tears I’ve wept, learned the lessons I’ve learned. While I respect the right of any man to play dress-up when the mood strikes, I ask that he not lay claim to an identity that women have forged through centuries of common experience- and above all, that he not ask real women to recognize his claim.


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