I find it difficult to believe that we women have to keep saying this and writing about it, but I guess we do because men’s voices are the only ones people want to listen to, not ours’; but make no mistake, “TERF” is a slur created by men to silence and even shame women. I was reading a post by GallusMag the other day where she talked about a man who claimed to be a woman who works for Twitter and who is accused of rape. In the comments section, GallusMag (who was locked out of her WordPress blog because of that post, which is WordPress’s way of telling women that if you write about their friends and colleagues, they will shut you down and fast) posted a pic of a news agency, The Daily Dot, actually using the word “TERF” as if it is a normal, accepted word by everyone and not a word made up by men in their ongoing effort to silence women in the issue of transgenderism. It made me incredibly angry because this was supposed to be a news organization, or at least, that is what I am lead to believe. Maybe they are a trash-rag that doesn’t really report the news so much as they report gossip and innuendo?
So let’s talk about this slur for a minute. A lot of transgenders and their allies like to keep saying that it is simply a description of radical feminists who are “trans-exclusionary.” But let’s get real here, ok? This slur may have started out as a simply description by a man who felt slighted by some women who feel that men, even in dresses, should not be allowed in certain spaces that are for women, spaces like restrooms, changing rooms, showers, dressing rooms, etc.; but the word went way beyond a description and into slur territory within a few minute of it being created.
First, there is no “TIRF” or trans-inclusionary radical feminist. There is, in fact, no term that is opposite of “TERF” that is used, ever. There is only “TERF”; and that term is used to silence, to bash, to put down, to shame, etc. not just radical feminists, but all women who see biology as a real thing and gender as a social construct. It is used against women, especially women who disagree with men who claim to be women, in any way.
Second, the term is not just hurled at radical feminists. I as just called a “TERF” this evening and I have never purported to be a radical feminist, not in any of my tweets or writings’ but there I was, having label thrust upon me against my will, a label that by its very “definition” shouldn’t include me. But as I said, this slur isn’t just for radical feminists, it is for all women who disagree with men, especially men claiming to be women, i.e., trans “women” or male transgenders.
Let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s think about how (metaphorically) rape-y that is to have a label such as “TERF” or “trans-exclusionist” or “trans-exterminist” thrust upon a woman against her will. Slurs that she has never claimed, never called herself, never acknowledged, but slurs that are forced upon her, whether she likes it or not. That is a part of rape culture, is it not? To force something onto a woman that she does not want? Something that she has not given you permission to do. Especially when this comes from a group of people who want to self-label and do not want others to label them. How hypocritical of them to then force women to accept a term that they all know well and good is a slur meant to silence women.
Third, the only time women can even seem “trans-exclusionary” is when we want to have women-only spaces, like restrooms, dressing rooms, social gatherings, rape crisis centers, shelters, etc. But that is no more “trans-exclusionary” than it is for POC to be “white-person-exclusionary” when they desire POC-only spaces. Just like POC should be able to gather without white people so they don’t have to watch what they say around white people or cater to white people or have white people take over everything, we women should be allowed to have our own spaces without men, without having to worry about what we are saying around men or that they men will take over. Just like POC whould be able to gather and discuss what it is like to be a POC in this white-dominated world, we women should be allowed to gather as sisters and discuss what it is like to be females in a male-dominated world. We should not be slurred with “trans-exclusionary” simply because we wish to gather with other women in female-only spaces.
We should also be allowed to feel safe. We should be allowed to have penis-free restrooms, dressing rooms, shelters, jails, rape crisis centers, etc. so that we can feel safe. For thousands of years, the penis has been used as a weapon, as a weapon to control women, to hurt women, to exert power over women. It has been used as a weapon and we are seeing more and more how trans “women” are accused of or convicted of the rape and murder of women but they continue to be allowed to be placed in female prisons even if they still have their penises. This is so wrong on so many levels but in today’s PC culture of not wanting to offend these men, they are not placed where they are supposed to be: with other men. Instead, the rights and the safety of women are circumvented for the rights and safety of men who claim to be women because they are afraid of, you got it: men.
Before someone jumps into the fray and says that trans “women” have the right to feel safe as well, to that, I say two things: (1) of course, (2) but women are not a threat to trans “women,” men are. Men are dangerous and men do almost all of the damage to women, transgenders, and every other group out there. Women should not have to forgo their own safety to guarantee the safety of men from other men. If trans “women” wish to truly feel safe while respecting women’s need for safety and privacy, why don’t they create their own space, their own restrooms, their own rape crisis centers and shelters, their own changing rooms, etc.? The answer is clear: because (a) they don’t respect women and (b) they don’t want to be safe from men, they want what women have, they want to take over everything that woman is and that women have.
Finally, most women care about other women. There are some women who are so conditioned by the patriarchy that they believe the misogynistic bullshit that men and rape-culture spews down all of our throats. But most women want other women to be safe, they want us all to have our own private spaces, away from men and their penises. As I said, the penis has been used as a weapon against women for thousands of years and most women would agree that not allowing men and their penises, even if under dresses, into our private spaces where we are half naked and vulnerable or where we are running away from abusive men or where we are going for help and treatment after having been raped is something that all women should have without being called “TERFs” or “trans-exclusionary” in any way.
I know this because, as a butch woman, I have received the “look” from women in restrooms or changing rooms when they think I am a man. There have been women who say things to me in an effort to get me to leave the restroom or changing room; and in one instance, there was even a woman who physically tried to keep me out of a restroom, thinking I was a man and shouldn’t be in the women’s restroom. So I know that most women care about other women and other women’s safety; but men are trying so hard to shame these women into hating the rest of us for wanting our own space and using the slur “TERF” is one of the ways that they do this.
They threaten all woman with “TERF” if they don’t allow all men into all women’s private spaces and that is how “TERF” is used as a slur. It is used to control women by using shame to get them to see men in dresses as women and treat them as women when they are not. It is time for women to stop fighting against other women and fight with us. Stop allowing men who claim to be women walk all over you and demand that you see them in a certain way when common sense and science tells you to see them as they are; and stop allowing men to create and use slurs like “TERF” to silence your sisters who do see them as they are: men trying to re-define woman and abolish what the word really means so they can take over all of our spaces, once and for all.
You speak with such a clear and honest voice. Thank you!
Thank you for that! 🙂
Reblogged this on graceaware.
[…] Make No Mistake, “TERF” Is A Slur. […]
Thanks for the clear breakdown on the meaning of “TERF”. As I was reading your article I got to the part where you said:
“the only time women can even seem “trans-exclusionary” is when we want to have women-only spaces, like restrooms, dressing rooms, social gatherings, rape crisis centers, shelters” And
I thought “hell yeah”. In fact, the term makes a lot of sense, to the extent that it felt like a word Radical Feminists should Claim as our own. Imagine a sign outside all womyn’s spaces, women’s shelters, health centers and rape crisis centers, subtitled:
“Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist Designated Space”
…in the same way Lesbians were slurred as “dykes”, then we took our term back. We made “DYKE” a beautiful thing. Like back in the day, working in women’s bars, there was no sign, but when men would come to the door, they would NOT BE ALLOWED IN….And no one had to explain a thing…an EXCLUSIONARY space? ….DAMN RIGHT.
The one term that doesn’t work for me as far as “re-claiming” is the term “n****r”. There is too much actual and historical oppression and abuse, used for too long as a whip, a lash down through the centuries, to be “re-claimed”, memory which my younger black sisters and brothers do not walk with and often don’t recognize. (Just an example of a word that can’t be “re-claimed”)
If the word “TERF” is a word that people need to get rid of, or not use, then that is a choice and so be it. But the term “TERF” is actually, exactly the expression of what a Lesbian, or woman-born-woman space should be, except that the “Radical Feminist”, or reference to womyn should be first. Women who collude with men, or who are afraid, may not be able to deal with W-B-W truth. What a gas it would be to flip “TERF” on it’s head, reclaim it, make it ours and take it’s power away from trans. For example, It’s time Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival was subtitled “Designated Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist Space”! YES, EXCLUSIONARY, praise the Goddess…Maybe then we’ll get back to our truth…stop men, or men who think they are women from getting in our way. We shouldn’t even be listening to these assholes. We are the only ones who can NAME ourselves, although a name BASED ON anything about “trans” is inappropriate. Our name must be Womyn Centered; we can reject tran’s feeble attempts to label us. Important : “TERF” may be a description of a quality of a place, or a center, for example, but it is NOT OUR NAME and should not be misconstrued as such.
Don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, but this seems kinda ridiculous. Blogs and the internet are entertaining but they aren’t real life. We are Womyn-Born-Womyn. We’re the only ones who can protect our WBW space and we are the ONLY ONES who can NAME OURSELVES. Praises to the Goddess…and I hope we can get our shit together, my Sisters. See you on the path.
Peace – Ashe Womynborn
sister, thank you for speaking the truth. we will not be silenced. we will not give up. we will scream until the mountains crumble beneath our feet.
this isn’t over. until we decide it is.
CORRECTION: re-worded as: Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. subtitled: Radical Feminist Space (trans exclusionary)
Exactly. We are being named against our will and that name is centered on transgenders when it should never be centered on men, just women. I am not going to re-claim this slur simply because it is centered on men. If I were to name myself, it would be centered on women, never men. Thanks for your response.
Unfortunately, it will probably never be over for us. This ongoing fight with men will last for a good long time, I think.
Thank you Big Boo. So often WBW are being slurred, maligned and forced to respect others while, at the same time, great disrespect is being heaped on us. You are so correct – centering on womyn is the essential thing. The right to name and to exclude is OUR prerogative. Here’s to our strong sisterhood. Goddess Blessings.
peace – Ashe
Thank you for this!!!! So true! It’s all about men erasing women, calling women names, oppressing us…. it’s the same old patriarchy.
Glad you liked it Bev Jo 🙂
then i will die fighting. alongside my sisters. the battle is glorious because in fighting we are free. we are free. resistance is liberation.
So if men are the problem, where to masculine of center women, and trans men fall into all of this?
First, lol at “masculine of center women.”
Second, trans “men” are female and therefore, not men.
maillot psg pas cher
It`s really useful! Looking through the Internet you can mostly observe watered down information, something like bla bla bla, but not here to my deep surprise. It makes me happy..!
This really helped me understand the point of view I often associate as being “TERF.” I really appreciate the honesty of opinion and it’s really given me a new perspective of this slur I use. I personally am an intersex person who eventually decided to express as man, although legally I am a woman. I am engaged to my MtF partner and sometimes my fight for equal rights for trans and intersex persons blinds me to the needs of women. For that I apologize. I get the need for a free space from penises. Mine and my partner’s was used against us so frequently I almost separated myself from it – my partner as well. I never really understood why cisgendered women would be so abhorred at the idea of trans women using women’s restrooms or going to feminist events. I was not allowed to go to either women’s or male’s restrooms for a time. A gender was forced upon me. People threatened by penises wanted me to use the men’s restrooms, and people threatened by vulvas wanted me to use the female’s restrooms. I don’t like the gender binary forced upon me, and I seek solace with allies that sympathize and understand that. I can assure you with utmost confidence, trans and intersex people don’t want what women have. We want the right to be able to choose how we express our gender. The problem is, there is only two restrooms. Which should I use?
Thanks for your comment. You have the unique distinction of being both intersex and trans and I can’t even imagine how that must feel for you. I have no answers for you re: the restroom question because you are in a position where you can use both but are told to use neither. I don’t know what I would do in your position, to be honest.
I have to disagree with one of your statements though: ” I can assure you with utmost confidence, trans and intersex people don’t want what women have. We want the right to be able to choose how we express our gender.” I believe you when you say that YOU do not want what women have, you just want to be free to express yourself, but almost all of the MtTs that I have come across want what women have. They don’t want their own restrooms, their own shelters, their own rape crises centers, etc., they want what women have set up for women to be their’s as well and I feel that is wrong because it harms women. Wanting to express yourself in your own way is one thing, but when it starts to harm a group of people who have these protections and sex segregated areas set up for a reason (and that reason is safety related), then that is where I have to draw the line.
Again, thanks for your comment. You are actually the first intersex person who is also trans I have come into contact with and I appreciate you sending me your thoughts on the matter.
Reblogged this on FeistyAmazon and commented:
Rihgt on BigBooButch!!! You say it like it is in clear language!
Thanks for your clear explanation BBButch on TERF and your passion and all my passionate Sisters on here fighting for ALL our WBW spaces!!! Including Michfest…and beyond. Not just for our safety which is essrntial…but ALSO to hear each other’s sacred Voices and speak our truths without bio male interference so we can grow in all our Powers and Freedom!!!
Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.
Reblogged this on Thou wouldst still be adored and commented:
I have been labeled TERF for not wanting to expose myself to male-bodied strangers in dressing rooms or saunas.
I know there’s a word for people who make women expose themselves to people they do not want to expose themselves to and it’s not a nice word!
Much love to you for keeping radical feminist theory alive!!! I will never stop fighting the TERF and CIS slurs used against us and will add this to my arsenal of radical/ 2nd waver articles that I constantly share to help battle 3rd wave Fakery going on today!!! May you stay strong and healthy and live and long beautiful life!! Bless you!!
Thank you so very much! 🙂
Thanks for your sensitive article. A lesbian online tried to call me a Terf because I disagree with Jenner being placed on a list as advancing feminism. She was very bullying about it, just because I don’t agree with her. I was looking for a term opposite of TERF, and find there is none…but it seems there should be, based on the hostility of this woman. I believe transgender has their own issues. Feminism for 51% of the population is something else entirely, that has not been given its due respect. And thank you for bringing up the bathroom issue – it IS a concern, and I feel we are having this micro-minority’s demands shoved down our throats, along with everything else we have to endure. I can hear this person now accusing me of being a “victim” – I am merely acknowledging reality. This is just exasperating.
It is very sad that our sisters are so brainwashed by men that they can share men’s delusions of being “women” and also attack other women for disagreeing with that delusion. Honestly, it is the saddest part of this whole thing. It truly breaks my heart.
Thanks for your comments sister.
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