Worthwhile Feminism

Abi Wilkinson, a young feminist left journalist, tweeted this comment yesterday:

“I don’t know if I’ve stated this publicly so I should: the only worthwhile version of feminism is trans inclusive. Different women have different kinds of experiences, all victims of patriarchy, all women. How is this even up for debate?”

So here is my response about what worthwhile feminism really is:

I don’t know if I’ve stated this publicly so I should: the only worthwhile version of feminism is woman centred. The only worthwhile version of socialist feminism is centred on working class women. The only kind of female is identified by her biological sex characteristics. There are many victims of patriarchy, but the only worthwhile version of feminism knows that women are the main victims and that all other victims are also the victims of male dominance in all its manifestations.

There are many aspects to sex discrimination but sex discrimination is real. Our mothers and the trade union movement have built protections for us from discrimination that we should do everything we can to defend.

Women share near universal experiences as women from sexual harassment, belittling, discrimination, lower pay for equivalent work in status or value to performing domestic and sexual labour. Not all women give birth to and raise children but only biological women can give birth. Each human is carried and borne by a woman, each of us has a birth mother.

The experience of womanhood and girlhood can only be measured and made meaningful by observing female sex characteristics. Rendering adult human females ‘cis’ or ‘Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB’) is meaningless at best and erasure of women at worst. Being female is not an identity, it is a biological, material reality. Being working class is not an identity it is an economic, material reality. This material reality shapes all the experiences and influence one has. The only worthwhile version of feminism or socialism knows this to be true. How is any other sort up for consideration?

Of course there are many specific experiences that come from being a transwoman, being born male, is one for example. This is a universal experience of transwomen. The only form of worthwhile feminism can acknowledge this truth. The only kind of worthwhile feminism acknowledges that this creates a conflict of rights between women and those males who seek to self-identify into women’s spaces such as rape crisis shelters, women’s prisons, women’s sports and women’s structures for political representation.

Patriarchy is not a ‘gender system’ but the imposition of rigid gender expectations onto the dimorphic human species based on their biological sex. Patriarchy imposes dominance by one sex over another and cannot be undermined through the extreme reversal of sex stereotypical roles requiring medical and surgical modification. Patriarchy can only be undermined by the acknowledgement that gender is constructed, it is culturally and historically specific built onto the permanent sex characteristics of males and females. Patriarchy can only be undermined by the rejection of gender roles between the sexes. Only a feminism that has the sophistication to understand this is worthwhile.

Women, adult human females, generally express solidarity to all human beings facing hardship, discrimination, hatred. Kindness is our hallmark. Women are not supposed to benefit ourselves. Calling on women to be “inclusive” is not radical but plays to the deeply ingrained sexist socialisation of women. Women are capable of the greatest acts of solidarity and inclusion and we will always reach put to others who need our help. But worthwhile feminism says that we should be given the courtesy to be at the centre of our own movement and to shape our own demands free from misogyny, dismissal, slander, slurs and violence. So I am publicly stating the worthwhile version of feminism is both female and class centred. How is this even up for debate?

Ruth Serwotka originally posted the article above to Facebook on 9th October 2017.