Just received the latest issue of Scavenger, which I will read voraciously later in the day. I love it: don’t always agree with it; but always feel I’ve been stimulated and provoked to up my game in the political thinking arena.
Anyway. There’s a good piece by a feminist blogger, known mostly as 3P, who poses the vexed question of just who is allowed to “reclaim the night”. Now: I am not going to get too deeply involved in this one.
I can understand why people take positions on both sides of this debate – and was interested to hear it surface at the weekend at Lady Fest (Kath Redfern, from memory, using it as an example of why the F-Word has ended up with the editorial policy it has – and if I’ve misremembered, my apologies).
At base is this question of who should be allowed to march: the fact that since it is about a process of reclamation, it should surely be up to those marching to determine who marches with them; but the counter argument that sometimes, by being too exclusive, the marchers can themselves re-inforce discrimination.
Thus, in the past, there have been questions raised as to whether trans women should be allowed to join such marches: also a number of incidents where sex workers have been excluded or made to feel very unwelcome.
This segues quite closely into the debate I have been having recently with Stonewall. My personal view when it comes to most activism is about building bridges, rather than walls. I was very pissed off both at Stonewall’s recent awards nominations and the fact that they then lived up to their name and “stonewalled” critics of that policy.
Still, the issue was resolved in a relatively amicable fashion and as most serious activists acknowledge: we may not agree with every single jot and tittle of Stonewall policy. But they remain a significant player – and they have both an impressive history as well, we hope, as an influential future before them.
Factions are bad – and I write that as someone active on the European political scene some 30 years ago and forced on one occasion to sit through some hours of Italian back-biting and in-fighting as a movement that ought to have been one of the left’s most significant forces in that country proceeded to tear itself into shreds.
Anyway. Back to 3P. She makes a number of points I agree with. First, the pragmatic: “a “women and trans folk” event probably means 97% cis women, 1% trans dudes, 1% genderqueers assigned female at birth, 0.7% cis men who turned up by accident, and maybe one trans woman who feels uncomfortable and leaves after half an hour”. In other words…it’s a bit of a storm in a teacup.
Second, in respect of “triggering”, often used as an argument against any remotely male presence: “your trigger is not a carte blanche to violate the freedoms of others”.
Finally, more widely: “These days I am more into trying to build alliances across difference”.
Yes. I’ll tick all three of those boxes. I’m not going to take a specific position on Reclaim demos: I think it would be arrogant of me to do so…but it is fairly obvious which way I lean. If anyone wishes to persuade me otherwise, or discussing the issue in broad terms, I am interested in hearing the counter-arguments.
All the best,