An enormous confetti bomb of white privilege and transphobia has exploded through my entire life in the past week, and as I’ve been doing a lot of pretty important writing about it, I’d like to share some of it with you here. There are two core issues at work here. The first concerns SlutWalk, and the second concerns the environmental movement. In both cases, the best of the worst of white privilege and transphobia have precipitated. All in one week! If you’re having a bad day, I’d advise against reading this post until you’re in better spirits.
Also, profanity warning, and trigger warning for racism, mega radfem transphobia, and misogyny.
Almost as soon as I hit the publish button on my last post, which is a rather brutal criticism of systemic racism against indigenous peoples in Canada, I learned that the third year of the ever-controversial SlutWalk Vancouver had been announced, and is set to take place on June 2nd. For the sake of transparency, I signed up to volunteer last year for the express purpose of bringing my dissenting opinion directly to the demonstration. Also, one of the organizers last year (and this year) is an incredibly racist woman I used to have the misfortune of living with, and when I finally couldn’t take any more of her shit, we didn’t part ways amicably. Unfortunately, last year, I became ill shortly before the event was taking place, and had to cancel on my commitment last minute. This year, I decided to publish this open call to boycott SlutWalk in its third year, detailing one of the central problems of unchecked racial privilege and colonial ideology as my primary reasoning (which I learned about by listening to dissenting women of colour, who brought this criticism directly to the first-year and second-year organizers, several times, in several mediums including face-to-face interactions). Here’s a sample of what I’m talking around:
But this indigenous woman, who had been working doing community outreach directly in the DTES for years, called [the first-year organizers'] bluff. She plainly stated that no one from SlutWalk Vancouver had come into the DTES to enquire into how they could get the indigenous communities involved in their action; but rather, that their approach to this aspect of their event was to wait for women of the DTES to come to them and ask to be involved. “And why would they?” she asked. “The word ‘slut’ is heavily racialized.”
She explained to them that by choosing to call it “SlutWalk”, the Vancouver organizers had automatically excluded the possibility of involving indigenous communities because by virtue of its name alone, it was unsafe to even consider participating in it. By incorporating the word “slut” into its branding, its name is a thoughtless reflection of a lifetime of being treated as being sexually available simply for existing while visibly racialized, from a very early age. By promoting the idea that the purpose is to “take back the word slut”, the organizers had extinguished the prospect of involving women of colour and their communities, because the word “slut” is not theirs to take back—for it was never theirs to begin with. For women of colour and especially indigenous women, she told them, clothing has nothing to do with their experience of slut-shaming. They are branded as “sluts” on the basis of their skin colour alone, no matter how they are dressed and no matter even how young they are.
Now, I happen to be white, but I also happen to have life experience that has taught me powerful lessons in what it is to be seen as sexually available simply for existing—I am an incest survivor. I side with women of colour on this one, because what they’re saying even speaks to my experience as a whitey. That nagging feeling during the momentum of the first year that something about this event wasn’t safe enough for me. I also included these thoughts in that first entry on SlutWalk. But there are still more troubling layers of racism involved in SlutWalk, far beyond one of its organizers in Vancouver being known to me personally for her racism, and even beyond the alienating namesake of the event. I’ll warm you up a little with a quote from the very same post, located a little further down:
SlutWalk organizers were very generously given the benefit of the doubt in the first year. Despite the fact that Robert Pickton had already been arrested, charged, and put through an internationally acknowledged criminal court trial for serial murder; and despite the fact that Thomas George Svekla (who is believed to have viciously murdered more Edmonton-area women than even Pickton boasted about in relation to his victims from Vancouver’s DTES) had also already been arrested, charged, and put through a criminal court trial for serial murder; SlutWalk organizers all across the country were given the benefit of the doubt that perhaps their knee-jerk response to the inciting incident didn’t permit them the privilege of thinking through the impact of calling their action “SlutWalk”. Despite the fact that it is reasonably well-known that indigenous women are up to eight times more likely to be exposed to sexual violence than white women in this country, SlutWalk organizers were given the benefit of the doubt. Despite the fact that it is legitimately clear that both Canada and the US are continued colonial occupations of the ancestral homelands of indigenous peoples; and that it is reasonably well-known that in order to establish these “countries”, indigenous women were not only explicitly targeted for sexual violence, but stereotyped as wildly promiscuous in order to legitimate these attacks upon them, were colonized through mass rape and sexual slavery, and have been persistently targeted for eugenicist “experiments”, SlutWalk organizers were given the benefit of the doubt. And despite the fact that this is a clear and distinct repetition of history that had already played out in the colonization of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, by many of the same European colonial powers, SlutWalk organizers were given the benefit of the doubt. Despite the fact that virtually no colonial government has ever been held accountable for these horrendous atrocities against women all over the world, SlutWalk organizers were given the benefit of the doubt. I could continue in this very same vein, but at this point, literally everyone who is sufficiently literate and with an active social conscience should already see the point.
A fact that is apparently not acknowledged often enough is that both Pickton and Svekla explicitly targeted indigenous women. Pickton explicitly boasted that he knew no one would come looking for them, among other sickening remarks about how much he had been getting away with. Another fact that is perhaps not openly acknowledged often enough by me personally is that I was homeless in Edmonton while Svekla was preying upon up to 75 Edmonton-area women, most of whom were indigenous. I was living in a women’s homeless shelter, and I was seriously weighing whether or not to attempt survival sex work to get out of there, in large part because although men living in the men’s shelter at the time could continue to receive social assistance, women in the women’s shelter couldn’t. In that homeless shelter, while I was living in it, one of the survival sex workers (possibly two) that Svekla is believed to be responsible for murdering, was also living there. She disappeared shortly after I got out by agreeing to move in alone with a complete stranger, and was found in an utterly horrific state which was described in detail by local papers. And where did I head to when I left Edmonton? But the very city where 49 women disappeared on Pickton’s pig farm. To suggest that this history hits close to home is to have already understated it. And I’m not the only one who works to raise consciousness about these events, either. I talk about one other woman whose demonstration at City Hall was co-opted by someone involved in SlutWalk in the first year, in this entry about the history of SlutWalk racism (which also features a couple of important images, so you might want to actually read the full text):
While it would appear that this image isn’t an exact copy of the protest on the steps of Vancouver City Hall, it is nevertheless immediately reminiscent, and I would have an extremely difficult time believing anyone who argued to the contrary. I actually confronted this very fact three years ago, and the only answer I received in regards to this issue was that it’s ”a stock photo”. Given the nature of the City Hall protest and the initial purpose of SlutWalk, the two are inextricably linked. But given the immediate conceptual problems of racial privilege that SlutWalk promotes as if it was anything else, whereas the City Hall protest was concretely and directly confronting racial privilege, the two protests cannot be said to be working in the same direction. SlutWalk works against everything the City Hall protest worked towards, whether it means to or not, and this particular image solidifies that relationship by co-opting the central visual trigger with a blatant disregard for where it comes from. Where that visual trigger comes from isn’t some stock photo website where someone paid a couple dollars for the rights to use an image. In Vancouver, that visual trigger comes from a heinous serial murder spree during which indigenous women, engaging in survival sex work in the most socially marginalized area of the city, were explicitly targeted. I don’t know what message the organizers were actually intending to send out to the general public with this choice of imagery, but it reads implicitly as making light of these horrific injustices.
Evidently, between the two pieces of writing, I managed somehow to hit a nerve with the third-year SlutWalk Vancouver organizers (my guess is because I’m white, my criticism is visible to them — otherwise, I’d have just been ignored). After the known-racist one wrote me to whitesplain the criticisms of unchecked racial privilege away, I updated the first entry with a screenshot of this rather damning private message, which indicated that she neither understood what white privilege means, nor even believes it to exist. Then I received further correspondence from the other third-year organizer, asking-not-asking for me to take the screenshot and any references to her fellow organizer down. After trying to police my tone when I didn’t immediately concede, I decided to take it down, and assured her that if she finds herself missing it, it’s now part of a whole new entry which includes her correspondence too. Here’s my writing detailing the completely useless and wildly immature correspondence I received, and how I addressed it, both in the conversation and outside of it. Meanwhile, several other people began giving positive feedback that indicated that I have made them think twice about attending the event. Apparently either that or the way I tore them several new assholes over their correspondence with me made the organizers even more upset. So one of them (the known racist who thinks white privilege doesn’t exist) decided to violate my privacy and out me as trans. For extra irony points, this actually occurred while I was addressing Vancouver Parks Board with my experiences and observations of others’ experiences, as an openly trans and genderqueer person, who does not feel safe using their facilities when they are open to the general public. Here’s where I wrote about that (which, again, includes images):
Alice deleted the comments before I could have taken a screenshot of them myself, perhaps expecting that this would magically erase any trace of her decision, even though in one of the photos, several other people were tagged. My friend, on whose photos these comments were posted, was reasonably uncertain of what she should do about the comments, as she had never before known my birth name and simply found these gestures both confusing and incredibly creepy. The several other people who were tagged on one of the two photos have also not known my birth name over the entire duration of our acquaintanceship. It suffices to say that Alice intentionally and successfully violated my privacy, and outed me as a trans person, even though she did then delete the comments within the hour. I guess she was hoping no one got any emails about it. LOLWHOOPS!
That seems to have effectively shut them up and fired several hundred cannonballs through their little white settler privilege parade float. I’ve since moved on to expressing dissent about recent insight into a radical environmentalist group (Deep Green Resistance) which has been exposed for promoting transphobia (which it also doesn’t believe is a Thing — it’s almost like there’s a pattern forming here or something):
From the article wherein DGR compares claims of transgender identity to claims of transracial identity (I have much more to say on that, too, momentarily), Scofield writes that many radical feminists “believe the only reason a man would transition to a woman is to rape women, while any woman that would transition to a man only does so to escape sexism and assimilate into patriarchy.” These are all-too-common aspersions cast frequently by radical feminists, which again exploit social constructions of gender, to essentially scaremonger the general public into thinking that transgender individuals are simply elaborate con artists with no morals. As one stealth transwoman (among several who are known to me) once put it, it’s utterly astounding that men actually believe she has endured social rejection and emotional abuse by family members, friends, and greater communities; moved across the country several times; maintained hormone replacement therapy that has forever altered her body’s chemistry and physique; and even underwent a sex reassignment surgery at the risk of possibly never coming out of the operating room or never being able to climax again for the rest of her life; all just to fool some poor unsuspecting guy into sleeping with another guy. That’s right. She was referring to prospective male partners, whose crises emerge from a profound sense of homophobia. It is at this point that I am happy to point out that the radical feminism movement is led by lesbian separatists. Although, apparently these are women who are also rather tragically homophobic, for “lesbian” often does not mean to them what it means to anyone else.
I actually had respect for the founders of Deep Green Resistance, and I’m not alone in that. In fact, they are the very people whose film I linked to in a previous post — a film which passionately calls for concrete action to bring down oppressive colonial structures that threaten the environment and ultimately the future of the human species that depends upon it to live. Admittedly, that particular piece of writing wasn’t my best work (I never said I’m a professional, I just blog here), and perhaps the film also could have been better produced (except who would ever take the risk of funnelling corporate cash into it, and at what cost to the dominant message of the film?) Are you familiar with when I wrote about calling for a voluntary boycott of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, on the basis that their racism is unacceptable? That, at least if you are going to continue using their ideas, you should flat-out refuse to give them credit for it (however, I want to be clear in that I’m not talking about promoting plagiarism or intellectual theft, so much as thinking twice about using their ideas, especially in writing) in order to send them the message that you won’t tolerate their racism? This is the same kind of decision I and many others now have to make in regards to DGR. “But that’s about transphobia!” you might say. “Are we supposed to boycott shit over transphobia too?” Well, yeah, actually. That’s what social justice and privilege-checking involves sometimes—letting go of it or even taking a stand against it when you find out how it contributes to systemic oppression. And in the case of DGR, it’s also about racism:
To Keith, gender is a fiction novel—until it doesn’t read the way one’s chromosomes do, then it’s real and biologically determined, so live with it instead of going to such elaborate lengths to trick her into buying your false narrative. For her gender narrative is so clearly objectively true and superior for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And to Keith, gender isn’t a biological or essential fact. That is, unless a given person’s essential gender “condition” (i.e., genetic phenotype or biological sex) doesn’t align with the fictional narrative being projected in the presence of a deeply unsettled radical feminist, in which case then it is an essential fact, and your body is just a walking record of human rights violations and women’s systemic oppression. Oh yeah, and all of those human rights violations and oppressions originate from violence against people whose biological “gender” is “woman”, WhichNeitherIncludesTranswomenNorTransmenBecauseYou’reAllFakingIt AndNoneOfYouEverWereOrEverWillBeWomenEvenThoughAllTransmenAreWomenPretendingToBeMen, even though gender isn’t real and yet would necessarily have to be for any part of that statement to be even remotely logically consistent or make any sense at all.
The mental gymnastics required to talk like that with a straight face must be utterly exhausting. No wonder Keith let that little gem, which basically amounts to Grey Owl’s autobiography, slip out in such shitty linguistics, effectively revealing her deep contempt for indigenous peoples and a profound ignorance about their cultures. Yeah. That’s right. Cultures. The plural of one singular culture. The reality of a rich diversity of cultures spanning two continents, as opposed to the Pan-Indian narrative she has so vaguely painted a portrait of, as if straight out of the literature she must have learned everything she ever wanted to know about “native people” in order to validate her contempt of them.
You know who else is getting exhausted around here? Me. I’m getting tired of finding out about amazing people with revolutionary ideas, who still haven’t learned how to check their social privileges, and who, as a result, insist on excluding as many people as possible from working towards a better world for anyone other than themselves. It’s a good thing that on the last day of this past week, I finally found an outlet for comic relief after reading a second anti-colonial group’s declaration of siding with DGR. This second group is called “The Crimes of Colonialism” (COC), and essentially calls all who are born genetically female a bunch of cunts. Several times:
Yeah, that’s right. COC’s vision of systemic male violence means that while unemployed men are suddenly becoming business partners with Colombian drug lords, the only commodity women in the same economic position are left with is the ability to fuck anything that fits into their birth canals. This means that, contrary to reality, COC believes that not only does sex work not require any degree of intelligence or skill at all, but no woman would ever choose to engage in sex work unless she had been involuntarily stripped of all other options first (see what I did there? Stripped!) I guess all those law students who work as high-paid dominatrices, escorts, and strippers to circumvent cyclical dependence on student loan debt are really just pretty fucking stupid, huh. Then I wonder how exactly they got so good at acting like they were smart enough to go to law school in the first place!
But wait! That’s not the end of it. The article states that “the X chromosome carries a couple of thousand genes but few, if any, of these have anything to do directly with sex determination.” See how much fun trying to play geneticist is?! Believe me, it’s even more fun making fun of people who have no idea what they were talking about when they used Fox News as a citation.
Not to mention that two settlers living in North America are likely to have more in common genetically, regardless of their race/ethnicity, with each other than the darker-skinned between them has with a random guy hanging out in Nigeria, precisely because of fucking crimes of colonialism. Dumbasses. Moving on.
I just can’t wait to start slamming more radfems who think the term “cisgender” is offensive. Or for that matter, to pass out quarter-page flyers at SlutWalk Vancouver that explains how incredibly racist the event is, both in concept and in leadership.
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