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It has been very interesting reading and listening to different women’s reactions to Lawford-Smith’s book. So far I haven’t run into any woman who has denied that its publication is a genuine accomplishment and recognizes her determination and grit dealing with the shit she has been stuck with, whether or not they agree with Lawford-Smith’s arguments as developed so far, and I think that says a great deal.

I do feel like compared to others perhaps I read a different review, because it does strike me as substantive, though not as detailed as I might like – there are clearly word limits that had to be managed on this one. Perhaps because of being a historian myself, I sympathize with critiques of Lawford-Smith seeming to omit important links in the chain of work and writing that connects to her own, but I also think she too must have been dealing with space constraints in terms of how many pages the book could be. She has more to write yet besides, so it is probable that she will be building on this book in future.

I read the book through twice, the first time in its entirety, the second time chapter by chapter with more thinking.

Given those petitions organized against her publisher to stop the book, it's astonishing that there's so very little about trans activism in it. It's a book about feminisms. I'd say she spends much more time discussing the ways the female body and its reproductive system is expected now to be for rent or for sale as just your ordinary low-paid female job, and I found those chapters really interesting to read.

Her treatment on intersectionality is also quite useful, because this book is the first place I have seen a theory-based criticism of the new feminism which I always used to think of as the ice-cream parlor feminism:

Give everybody who comes in at least three scoops of all flavors, all the toppings and lots of extra sauce, i.e., demand that the movement is all things for all people. That the ice-cream and toppings would run out in no time then demands that it must be rationed and hence the oppression hierarchies to decide who gets it.

It's not that great a parable, because everyone can be the customer of ice-cream bars, but feminism was originally intended to be a social justice movement for women and girls (female people), just as anti-racism was intended to be a social movement for people of those races which are mistreated and discriminated against, and just as LBGetc. was created, initially, to be a social justice movement for those whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual.

But now it's overwhelmingly feminism which is not allowed to specialize, though the alphabet soup is also facing similar pressures (lots of quirky straights in it). And now the concept of intersectionality in feminism has been thoroughly confused with an 'all lives matter' type of 'inclusiveness', and the outcome is a mess. She does talk about some of that, but there is scope to go much deeper.

I'm disappointed in the 4W piece; it's not a substantive critique, but rather a disagreement over whose sword is sharpest right at the moment the barbarians are pounding at the gate. Seriously, the major points are that Lawford-Smith doesn't cite all the book she might have, her list of things we should be fighting and fighting for is too long, and it's unclear that GC feminism is a new iteration of radical feminism. Whoop-te-do. Both the author and publisher were very brave in getting the book out there, and the association of OUP means makes it much more possible for others to get published on the same topic. That's a big deal, indeed, it's a helluva big deal.

Yeah, I'm mostly really happy it's been published by and set a precedent and hopefully legitimises the topic in academia further. It also provides a more contemporary source for radical feminism talking points... even if it doesn't bring up anything "actually new", it can at least make the point that radfeminism remains critically relevant today.

Also, if I'm honest, Kara Dansky's book is not all that.

Yes, Dansky's is a good little book to hand out as a 101, but not a deep treatment for sure. But again, very helpful to have it exist!!!

I will read the book. But feminism in the past had many groups-from the radical feminists to the NOW feminists to the "I'm not a feminist but...". Most ppl will probably fall under GC rather than radical feminism. Gender stereotypes may be a means of who has power over who, but denying any biological basis isn't going to work either. Eg.- males of many species ARE more aggressive- it is part of their reproductive imperative- they don't fight for access to females because they are bored. The primacy of the female in the survival of children is biologically based-from pregnancy to breastfeeding.

My experience was finding my way to a GC space where radical feminists are, learning more about the issues with which radfems concern themselves, and finding myself in agreement with some of the major ones. I think GC feminists are going to be pretty solid allies of radfems if not fully in agreement. You just can't help it. Once you're peaked, you start looking at everything quite a bit more critically.

I agree with you - some "stereotypes" have been quite credibly proven to have basis in nature. I wish we could have radical feminism that acknowledges that..

Fwiw, I consider myself a radfem and I acknowledge that our biology/nature affects somethings that can create "stereotypes", especially relating to childcare and such. Biology is famously the science of exceptions, so as long as the stereotypes aren't treated as law for all women (or men) then it's fine by me. But biology goes a long way to explain the behaviour of the sexes in many other animals, that humans would be an exception is silly to me. That we maybe somewhat uniquely able to rise above some of our baser instincts/programming in some instances (females especially seem capable of this) because of our brains even compared to other primates... well, there might be something there. But we are not above or separate from nature. I know there are radfems who see it this way, and some who don't. I think most will acknowledge that nature affects us to some extent at least.

[–] sohh 4 points Edited

I'd love to hear more about her perspective on gender abolitionism. Without having read the book yet, my feeling is that it's not enough to remedy the harms to women's rights that have been done by the trans movement. TIPs aren't just trying to be feminine men or maculine women. That's gender nonconformity, and no one has a problem with that (except maybe some ultra-conservatives). TIPs literally want to transform into the opposite sex, in both form and function. Particularly TIMs. TIFs may be more amenable to what GCs have to offer.

Edit: hit post too soon

This is such a good point that I hadn't thought much about. Are you saying that if we did abolish gender (whatever that might mean), then there would still be some/many/most (?) TIPs wanting to 'change sex' or 'live as the other sex' -- i.e. actual transseualism? It's hard to imagine that world, mainly because it's hard to imagine a gender-norms free world.

Do you know of any radfem analysis that grapples with this, i.e. gender abolition might end something called transgenderism but then we'll just be stuck with ... transsexualism? I need to read 'Gender Hurts', wondering if Jeffreys deals with it.

I don't know of any analyses that cover this, but let me know how Gender Hurts is if you get to it before I do!

SulphuricMirror above gets at the root of my beliefs. I don't think a gender norm-free world is possible because those norms are rooted in real biological differences. Of course, norms don't have to be as restrictive or demeaning as they are today, but the sexes will always be regarded differently. That's what it is that TIPs can't stand because they have an identity crisis and believe that they need to fundamentally change what they are to feel better. What bigger change can a person make than transforming into the opposite sex?