So this is another one of those Twitter moments where 140 characters just won’t cut it…
The other day, I stumbled upon the Twitter hashtag, “SharedGirlhood.” I don’t know who started it or why, and I really don’t care. I found it interesting and chose to participate because I do think there is some definite value in women discussing some of the dark weirdness of growing up female. There are certain things, like when you’re told to stop being a tomboy or that your interests aren’t “lady-like” or that it’s your fault guys are staring at you (and then some), that tend to unite women across the worthless barriers of class, gender and sexual orientation. And to that extent, the hashtag has had some success.
However, when I looked at it just now, all I could think was, “What the fuck is going on here? Why did this evolve into a knock-down, drag out fight between feminists and trans-women? I wonder if I can make the fighting stop…”
First off, I’m a white, straight, cis-gendered, blue collar feminist. I believe that if you can’t make a forum open to everyone, then don’t make it at all–especially on a social media site that anyone with an Internet connection can use. I was pretty disgusted by the blatant prejudice against trans-women I was seeing. Frankly, this should be a chance to open the channels of communication among all women, and I do include trans-women as my fellow women–just as I count lesbians, bisexuals, and non-white women as my fellow women even if I don’t have sexual orientation or race in common with them.
We, as women, face so many of the same obstacles–especially in regard to personal safety and professional progress. Just because I don’t share the physiological starting point as tran-swomen doesn’t mean I will deny them their rights. Especially their right to self-expression.
On the other end of the debate is the accusation that somehow the hashtag was made for the exclusive use of affluent white women. Again, I found myself wonder, “What the fuck…???” I’m willing to concede that feminism’s own history of exclusion is indeed working against sometimes. In fact, I’ll go so far to admit that as a blue collar women without an Ivy League pedigree, I do sometimes feel shut out of the Ivory Tower, and do sometimes find myself thinking that some of these jerks need to learn how to pick their battles. So yeah, I can see where a lot of women who aren’t white, aren’t straight, and were born with different equipment about the pelvic region don’t feel as welcome as they should.
So, the exclusionist bullshit ends here. I have no interest in being told I’m not a feminist because I include trans-women in my feminism, or being associated with anyone who is interested in making feminism so exclusionary and prejudicial. Likewise, I have no interest in being told that the concept of a shared girlhood is invalid. Granted, differences in geography, religion, and so forth are going to make for some obvious differences. But the reason I posted a link to my own story, “Mob attacks on women don’t just happen in Egypt,” is because that really does happen to women all over the world. Being sexually assaulted and then being blamed for our own assaults does unite women the world over. In fact, it even happens to straight men, and I also welcome them in my feminism.
Perhaps I’m guilty of oversimplifying or being naïve, but so be it. I once saw an interview with Paul McCartney where talked about how proud he was of the Beatles’ legacy being about peace and love. I want a feminism I can be proud of, and to me, that means being open and tolerant to women of all backgrounds.